Friday, September 11, 2009

Teachers strike for reduced class size

It seems class size is the crux of the Kent teacher's dispute. With no class size cap for the Kent school district, perhaps it is not unexpected that they have some of the highest in the area.

30 - 32 kids in an over crowded classroom, many who are English as second language and special needs kids who need extra help is hardly an optimal teaching environment.

I don't know how many parents would think those numbers are ok. Perhaps that is why, for now at least, the parents seem to be strongly supporting the teachers. This dispute has much bigger ramifications and people from all over the state are watching what happens closely.

Now we find out, the Kent teachers are defying a judge's order and may potentially wrack up daily fines if they do not return to work on Monday. Talk about shooting the messenger!

How can this end anything but badly?

Washington state voters repeatedly have shown they want reduction in class size and are willing to pay for it. It's better for the kids. Its better for the teachers. The state saves money in the long run by students having the best chance at a good education the first time around. Yet, the state still does not fund it appropriately and leaves school districts, like Kent, and so many others holding the bag.

The Kent school district, in this case, says they just don't have the money to reduce class sizes and unfortunately, I believe them. School districts have their hands tied all over the state where the funding has been slashed.

What happens when already cash strapped school districts have even deeper cuts? Mayhem! Like in Kent. And, frustrated, annoyed, cynical parents and teachers fume all over the state.

When will our state finally deal with this burr under the saddle? Where is the leadership on this issue? It is long over due and time our state government took their jobs seriously and get down to business and do the hard, uncomfortable, heavy lifting that is needed for education. State government is not just for assuring cushy tax breaks for corporations and negotiating trade deals. Education funding should be, MUST BE, at the top of the list!

I would suggest creating a brand new revenue stream earmarked for education. It is as simple as that. Introducing a moderate state income tax could take care of this, and quickly. Obviously we can't continue on the path we are going. But, does anyone in Olympia have the “cajones” to even suggest it?

Where is the leadership? They are failing our kids.

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