School superintendents are telling lawmakers that reducing the school year by five days will fix their budgets, report the Everett Herald and Seattle Times. This shows that they care more about increasing and maintaining the pay of school employees than about providing school days to children.
American students already receive so much less learning time than students in Europe and Asia, that they lose out on an entire year of schooling: From The Economist:
American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans. They have one of the shortest school years anywhere, a mere 180 days compared with an average of 195 for OECD countries and more than 200 for East Asian countries. German children spend 20 more days in school than American ones, and South Koreans over a month more. Over 12 years, a 15-day deficit means American children lose out on 180 days of school, equivalent to an entire year....
....A recent report from McKinsey, a management consultancy, argues that the lagging performance of the country’s school pupils, particularly its poor and minority children, has wreaked more devastation on the economy than the current recession.
Here is an idea. The total amount of money spent on salaries and benefits on the 101,900 school employees on the payroll in Washington’s schools is about $8.2 billion, about 83% of total operating spending. If they were to take a reduction in pay and benefits of just $42 a month, or .61%, this would mean a budget savings of $50 million.
School officials say over and over again the tax hikes they seek for education are “for the children.” What hypocrisy. The tax hikes they perennially seek are for themselves. Now that their spending desires exceed available state revenue, these superintendents are ready to hurt the children in order to protect the salaries and benefits of school employees.
The superintendents admit in the Everett Herald article that cutting instructional days is harmful to children, and that they hate to do it. This is dishonest political talk. It reveals that their strategy is to hurt the children in order to bludgeon taxpayers into agreeing to a tax hike.
Lawmakers could help by passing legislation requiring every collective bargaining agreement to pass along reductions in expected state revenue to the pay and benefits of employees, and to protect the school year for students. Many collective bargaining agreements require that any state revenue increases must be passed along in the form of increased pay and benefits for the adults, so why not require the reverse? Why do we continue to protect the interests of adults at the expense of the children?