When you have the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation and highest school construction backlog in the nation - and also the highest corporate tax breaks in the nation, it should be obvious that there is a corruption problem with the Washington State legislature. Submitting a motion to repeal billions of dollars of illegal corporate tax breaks is only a short term solution to our school funding crisis here in Washington state. The long term solution is to clean up the corruption in Olympia. In this article, I will outline my plan for ending the corporate control of Olympia. If you agree that we need to end corruption in Olympia, please share this article with other parents and teachers.
#1 We Need a Superintendent that tells the truth about our School Funding Crisis
Here are just some of the urgent problems facing our kids and our schools as a result of 20 years of out of control tax breaks to wealthy multinational corporations:
#1 Class sizes in Washington state are among the highest in the nation and getting higher every year.
#2 Washington state has the worst school construction backlog in the nation - and it is getting worse every year.
#3 More than 100,000 students are spending their school days in unhealthy poorly ventilated particle board boxes - the highest rate of unhoused students in the nation.
#4 More than 500,000 students are spending their school days in buildings that do not meet either the health code or the earthquake safety standards - placing the health and safety of more than 500,000 students and 30,000 teachers and staff at risk.
#5 Despite this disgraceful $30 billion school construction backlog, our legislature has placed a "poison pill" in the annual appropriations budget prohibiting the Washington state Department of Health from doing school health inspections.
#6 Nearly half of all students in Washington state are living in or near poverty. About 80,000 students are homeless.
#7 Despite these shortcomings, our legislature recently passed a bill imposing the most draconian graduation requirements in the nation on our students.
#8 Our teachers have among the highest workload and lowest pay of any teachers in the nation. Teachers are leaving in droves. Who can blame them. They are forced to survive on the fourth lowest pay in the nation. They are forced to deal with the highest class sizes in the nation. They are forced to work in schools that do not meet either the health code or earthquake safety standards. They are forced to impose draconian tests on kids that are not valid, reliable or age appropriate. They are disrespected by the legislature and the corporate media. As a result of the mass exodus of teachers in the past 4 years, half of our schools no longer have enough math and science teachers. We literally have many classes with no qualified teacher at all!
#9 Every year the opportunity gap between wealthy schools and poor schools gets worse and worse.
#10 Students who manage to graduate, despite all of these obstacles, face a mountain of student debt if they even manage to get into a good college.
#11 It would cost more than $10 billion per year to address all of these problems. We need to double school funding. Yet no one in the entire state legislature has submitted a bill in the past 20 years to provide more than a small fraction of the revenue needed.
#12 Billions of dollars in tax breaks for wealthy multinational corporations are contrary to several sections of our state constitution.
These are facts that the Superintendent of Public Instruction should be reminding parents, teachers and voters of on a daily basis. Instead, our current superintendent as well as most of the candidates to replace him spend all of their time promoting a series of gimmicks that have no hope of addressing our school funding crisis.
#2 We Need to Look at What Legislators Do - Not What They Say
Our state legislature consists of 147 people (98 Representatives and 49 Senators). Each of these 147 legislators claims that they care about our kids and our schools. Each of these 147 people has the power to submit a bill stating their solution to our $10 billion per year school funding crisis. They do not need to seek permission from anyone. Yet the brutal truth is that in the four years since our Supreme Court order the legislature to fully fund our schools, only two legislators submitted a bill that would have provided more than $2 billion per year in additional school funding. These two people were Senators Chase and McAuliffe - who sponsored Senate Bill 6093 - a bill I wrote which would have provided more than $5 billion per year in additional school funding by repealing a single tax break. The remaining 145 people all talked about how they care about our kids and our schools. But not one of these 145 people actually submitted a bill to comply with their Paramount Duty to amply fund our schools.
Yet year after year, parents and teachers keep voting for the same corrupt incumbents who created the school funding crisis in the first place. Ninety percent of all incumbents win re-election despite the fact that they violated their oath of office by failing to even submit a bill to fully fund our schools. Parents and teachers then wonder why our class sizes keep getting bigger and bigger while our corrupt legislature keeps passing more tax breaks for the wealthy corporations that paid for their re-election campaign.
Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was repeating the same mistake over and over again and expecting a different result. We as parents and teachers need to find a better way to determine who we should vote for and who will actually fund our public schools. We need to replace at least a few corrupt politicians to convince the rest that they will need to fully fund our schools and say no to corporate tax breaks in order to stay in office.
#3 We Need a More Accurate Source of Information about what is happening in Olympia
There is a related problem which is that parents and teachers do not currently have an accurate source of news to even find out about what is happening in Olympia.
Here is a graph of America's most popular news sources:
It looks like there are a lot of choices. But what they all have in common is that they are owned by, funded by and or controlled by a few billionaires. Media researcher Ben Bagdikian, has written several editions of a book called The Media Monopoly about the danger of the media monopoly for the past three decades. Below is a graph of his analysis of the consolidation of the number of corporations controlling the majority of the media in the US.
Instead of having lots of choices, what people really wind up watching and reading are the same phony marketing slogans repeated over and over again.
Consolidation of the media in the hands of a few billionaires makes it impossible for the public to learn the truth about the corruption that destroys our economy and our political system.
Not only has the quantity of sources plunged, but the accuracy of reporting also dropped as experienced reporters were fired and replaced by “talking heads” that do little more than repeat the press releases issued by their corporate masters.
The same powerful people who sit in the boards of the corporations of the military/industrial complex, the large banks, drug companies and oil companies also sit in the boards of the large media corporations. They have the power to hire editors and reporters who mislead the public and fire editors and reporters who tell the truth. Over time, this has led to the current culture of lies in the corporate news media.
Thankfully, the American people are starting to catch on to this scam. Gallup Polls used to show that two out of three people trusted the corporate media to tell the truth. Now, after decades of lying to the public, the majority of the American people no longer trust the corporate media. http://www.gallup.com/poll/185927/americans-trust-media-remains-historical-low.aspx
What is most encouraging is that only one in three younger Americans between the ages of 18 to 49 trust the corporate media. This means two out of three younger Americans are seeking alternative sources of information. These sources of information and new media are increasingly from independent online news websites. While the majority of Americans still get their news from television, in the past 10 years, Internet news websites have passed news papers as the Number Two source of news and information. We can should and must use the power of the Internet to break from from corporate domination of our elections.
#4 We need a Paramount Duty Report Card
To elect more responsible state leaders, parents and teachers need an accurate source of information about what is really going on in Olympia. We have an online school report card to learn the truth about our schools. I will use the Superintendent's website to create an online Paramount Duty Report Card to provide parents and teachers with an independent and objective source of information about the choices they have in each election. Voters can finally learn the truth as to who really care about fully funding our schools
As Superintendent, I will send every Senator, Representative and Candidate for the State legislature a questionnaire asking them how they will fund our public schools. We will then post their answers along with an analysis of every school funding bill on the OSPI website. Parents, teachers and concerned citizens can then search for information about candidates for the legislature by entering either their zip code to find the school district they live in and the legislative district they live in as well as who their legislators are and who is challenging them in the next election.
#5 We Need More Accurate Information on School Funding Options
To provide parents and teachers with information on school funding options, I will publish information about how much additional revenue is actually needed to fully fund our schools and the advantages and drawbacks of various funding solutions proposed by legislators and candidates for the legislature.
#6 We Need to Build a Coalition of the Caring to Support School Funding
I will also travel to every school district in the state to meet with parents and teachers to build a Coalition of the Caring to fully fund our public schools.
#7 We Need More Parents and Teachers to Run for Office
I will provide parents, teachers and students with online resources about how to run for office. Parents and teachers need to learn not only more about who represents them in Olympia but also about how they can and should run for office themselves. Together, we can, should and will expose corruption, clean up Olympia and restore school funding here in Washington State.
As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.
David Spring M. Ed.
Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction