Did Teachers Union (WEA) Wipe Out $40 Million for Washington Schools?
Many experts seem to think so.
When it comes to the No Child Left Behind waiver, a growing number of critics say the Washington Education Association (WEA), which is the teacher's union, single-handedly destroyed $40 million worth of federal education funding.
As we've reviewed previously, despite it's failures and shortcomings, the 2001 No Child Left Behind program did at least have a laudable goal: to bring all students across America to 100% of reading and math goals by 2013-14. While it did NOT implement any national assessment tests, or new national standards, it did require states that received federal funding to implement their own tests, and have students make certain educational goals by last year. (By contrast, the new Common Core does implement federal across-the-board standards, programs, and testing with no local or state input or control).
Washington state, like many, applied for and received a waiver from certain elements of No Child Left Behind. Various states, due to a variety of factors, said they were going to fall short of 100% compliance. So the federal government waived some requirements as long as the states took steps themselves to boost educational efforts.
One of Washington's steps was a bill introduced this spring by Democrat Senator Rosemary McAuliffe of Auburn, that would include student test scores as one of a number of criteria in teacher evaluations. Keep in mind, not the only, but one of many criteria. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was satisfied with this idea, and was prepared to continue our waiver.
But the WEA, as the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation put it, finally dropped the "it's all for the kids" charade and showed it's true colors. They lobbied McAuliffe and other Democrats to vote AGAINST her own bill! As you've probably heard, the feds then cancelled the waiver, there goes $40 million in federal funding. Between Richland, Pasco and Kennewick, just over a million dollars left, Yakima will lose $1.2 million at least.
The WEA effectively shot down our chance at the waiver, even as the legislature is struggling to make the financial commitments from the McCleary Decision - which legally forces our state to spend certain amounts on schools, money we don't have.
Even Superintendent Randy Dorn and Gov. Jay Inslee, whom the Freedom Foundation says have never had a history of standing strongly up to the WEA, supported the bill. The WEA wanted no part of having teacher evaluations even remotely tied to student test scores. That would be too much accountability.
Some critics say the WEA and other teacher unions are not far removed from SEIU and similar unions that often cut off their nose to spite their face. Years ago, there was an infamously well-known man named Albert Shanker, who represented the national American Federation of Teachers. He was once quoted as saying:
"When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
Jeff Rhodes of the Freedom Foundation says the WEA just had their own "Albert Shanker" moment in rejecting the waiver bill.
Tom McCabe, who is the CEO of the Freedom Foundation said:
“Washington is literally the only state in the nation to lose its waiver. “We’re the only place where the union had enough clout to bully the Legislature into killing a bill that would have required even the appearance of accountability."
It's interesting to note that in his later years, the late 1980's and early 90's, even Shanker himself admitted that many teachers unions had become 'too big for themselves', had lost sight of their original goals, and began to look out for their own interests at the expense of schoolchildren and education.
We saw similar behavior during the Hostess Company strike in 2012. In order to "save" the company through a second reorganization bankruptcy, they asked their unions to compromise on certain wage and benefit levels. Their largest baker's union refused, 18,500 workers went on strike, and the company went out of business. Nearly 9,000 other bakery workers from another union who agreed to the compromises, lost THEIR jobs as well.
It wasn't until last year that Hostess was bought by an investor and returned, but with smaller versions of it's popular baked treats. The union "won" by not giving in, but cost itself and other workers tens of thousands of jobs. Like the WEA, they cut off their nose to spite their face.