There’s to be a rally in Olympia this Saturday mostly by the WEA-RA delegates who will have their Saturday session cancelled. The purpose is to “send a message to the legislature to fund our schools.” And we get to wear red--you can imagine how excited I am.
Only Democrat politicians are headlined to speak. Since all three budget proposals from the House, Senate, and Governor—and even the one from just the Republicans in the House—all increase funding for schools, why aren’t legislators from all parties included? Yes, I can understand that some might be more in line with our agenda, or more favorable to a particular goal. But, honestly, this is just another political rally for the Democrat Party.
What about our Republican and unaffiliated members? What about those, like me, who are un-enamored by Democrats who are largely to blame for much of ed reform? No Child Left Behind was co-sponsored by Democrat Ted Kennedy and passed by a vote of 87 to 10. Our two disastrous new evaluation laws were passed by a Democrat legislature and signed into law by a Democrat governor. Race to the Top and STEM competitive grants, and the appointment of Arne Duncan as Education Secretary are the responsibility of a Democrat President.
The WEA needs to be a non-partisan, professional organization. We ought to hear from all decision-makers respectfully. When we disagree or favor another approach, we should act accordingly. Instead, WEA caricaturizes Republicans as two-dimensional figures unable to participate humanly in the public education debate. What are we afraid of? Are Republican ideas and Republicans worthy of automatic, continual, and vociferous vilification? Do only Democrats have the answers?
In my school district, all three Republican legislators visibly supported doubling our levy rate. On Whidbey Island, we usually have Republican legislators and we engage with them in mutually respectful ways.
For the WEA to continue to act as a wing of the Democratic Party, it marginalizes its members and influence, and shows that not only is it a toady of partisans but also intolerant of full debate and those with whom we might disagree.
This approach needs to change. Otherwise, the WEA will continue to be disrespected by many in this state.