It was difficult to watch school districts take the brunt of public opinion and face strikes when the fact is that school districts are at the mercy of budgets set in Olympia. Fully funded public education would support 100 percent of faculty salaries – not leave holes to fill with local levy money. Cost of living allowances and health benefits would not require school districts to rely on local levy money to make good on unfunded mandates. Counselors would not face 400 to 1 caseloads while trying to cover academics, social emotional troubles, assist with discipline and forced by necessity and compassion to be a human rolodex for social services. Fully funded would mean para-educators to support disabled students needing full-time support in classes, nurses tending to health needs and librarians helping self-directed study needs. Fully funded would support children so teachers can focus on teaching.
Given that reality, why would Sen. Mark Miloscia throw the first stone during the Mirror’s recent candidate forum and take potshots at our Federal Way School District? Here we are struggling to implement the good ol’ American workaround by taxing ourselves again with a levy because the state keeps shorting us on education funds. While voters in Auburn might be happy, how fair was it for our teachers in Federal Way to get their pay rate set at 6 percent less? He says to examine our past six years of scores, as if some reason will be found there.
The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) ended in 2009 and the Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) took over and ran until 2014 when the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) started. That’s like testing your health against sit-ups, then changing to push-ups, and now the mile run and blaming the coach for not hitting a higher percentage on each new standard. How’s it under SBA? Going up nicely thank you, and as the senator’s opponent Claire Wilson noted, graduation rates have continued to rise, even going back to that magic six-year window. There is nothing here to be mocked.
I think Miloscia would do well to stop mocking our schools and focus on his one and only job that has been neglected so long — no, not the Kabuki Dance stomping on victim’s rights for a small number of convicts awaiting the death penalty or trying to get the government to force women against their will to nine months of hard labor carrying children for child molesters, rapists or when they choose not to. No, we just wanted him to do his paramount duty to fund public education. Given what little help he offered from Olympia, it’s truly inconceivable that he would throw the first stone at our school district’s hard work improving educational outcomes for our children.