Teachers’ union promotes class size initiative for fall ballot

The Washington Education Association formally endorsed Initiative 1351, another unfunded mandate to reduce class sizes. The union describes it this way.

The initiative reduces class sizes for all grades. For example, I-1351 would fund class sizes of 17 students per class in K-3, and 15 per class in high-poverty schools. The initiative would also will reduce caseloads by funding additional education staff associates such as counselors and nurses, plus additional classified educators such as office assistants, custodians and paraprofessionals.

The intent language in the initiative says:

It is the intent of the voters that reduction in class sizes be achieved by the legislature funding annual investments to lower class sizes and to increase school staffing in order to provide every student with the opportunities to receive a high quality basic education as well as improve student performance and graduation rates.

Class Size Counts, a group with close ties to the WEA, is the initiative sponsor.

With the legislature already facing a multi-billion funding challenge to meet the McCleary requirement, this new obligation would add considerable new budget strain. Some will remember the fate of the last class size initiative.

If the measure qualifies for the ballot, we’ll be assessing the fiscal impact.

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