WenEA Response to Wenatchee World on I-1351

October 21, 2014

Dear Safety Valve:
We were surprised and disappointed at the tone used in the Wenatchee World’s condemnation of the class size reduction initiative, 1351. The World has been a tremendous cheerleader for Westside High School, a facility that provides smaller, more personalized classes for students. The World has also been a great supporter of the Wenatchee School District’s Wenatchee Learns initiative, which helped our community identify “personalized learning” as its highest goal. Smaller class sizes will help all students in our state have a more personalized learning experience. Currently Washington’s students are struggling to learn in the fourth most crowded classrooms in the country. They deserve better.
In 2000, voters approved I-728 by a 72% margin. It reduced K-12 class sizes. The Legislature took the law off the books and has recently been held in contempt by the State Supreme Court for failing to fully fund K-12 education as required in the McCleary Decision. I-1351 gives voters another opportunity to tell legislators that they still support smaller class sizes for our kids.
Contrary to the position taken in the editorial, new studies indicate that money spent on lowering class sizes at all levels is the single most effective use of educational dollars. In addition to lowering class sizes, I-1351 also provides funding for additional counselors, librarians, nurses, and other support positions that provide direct services to students. Many schools have no librarian, a nurse who visits only one day per week, and counselors who are expected to serve over 500 students.
Most parents look for a day care that has a low adult-to-child ratio. Colleges and universities use small class sizes as a recruiting tool. Why? Because we all know that smaller classes create a better learning environment for our kids.
The editorial made several misleading statements about I-1351. We encourage voters to visit www.classsizecounts.org to learn the truth. Please support our students. Vote yes on I-1351.
The Executive Board of the Wenatchee Education Association