I’m getting to believe no one in our community knows about the state Legislature’s failure to meet its single “paramount duty” to address the inequitable funding of basic public education (McCleary vs. State of Washington). Most workers don’t get to stay on the payroll doing nothing year after year. Our taxpayer-funded representatives in Olympia get to do nothing each year despite a Supreme Court ruling and assessment of fines.
I’ve come to my own conclusion on why this is. Despite the dedicated, focused and energetic young advocates we have for public education and improving outcomes for all our children, there is an old adage at work: “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.”
I’m one who believes in unions, and I don’t believe they have lost their ability to influence public policy, especially the teachers union. They are in multiple numbers in every county of our nation and able to strategically target communication to the public with current and retired teachers who have personal relationships with voters. So, to see how things are going, let me do the math. I can probably get Chris Rock to vouch for me. Starting in 2000-09, Great Recession and all, property taxes went up over 5 percent (the share for education by over 7 percent) compounded annually. If we go an even dozen years, the numbers are 2.6 and 4.9 percents, respectively. We all know that labor is the largest component of public institutions, so the rhetoric question for teachers is, “Did your salaries increase that much each year?”
My conclusion — the treacherous old codgers running the parties have convinced unions that they need to cater to their 150 votes in the Legislature instead of the hearts and minds of over 4 million registered voters who sent them to Olympia. The unions get to beat their gums in the offices of “pay-to-play” legislators while the public is oblivious to the compelling information that the unions have compiled. Thinking all is well, the public goes wandering about looking for Pokemon characters. Suddenly folks up north threaten to strike, and the public reaction is a dumbfounded animus toward the unions instead of the “pay-to-play” politicians failing to do their jobs.
In case we haven’t paid attention to current events, tons of “pay-to-play” money went to anointed party insiders named Bush and Clinton, but, in the end, however crass and mildly nauseating, a barnstorming television character got the people, not the parties, to put him in the White House. In case history is a blur, a band of unprivileged produce pickers in central California captured the hearts and minds of America to bring change through the power of the people, not party bosses. Unions, the force is strong within you, but it helps no one to keep it hidden.
Hiroshi Eto, Federal Way