Liv Finne believes an increasing number of parents and local school board members want schools to drop partisan political causes and focus on providing a good education to their children.
Washington Policy Center
Last month the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) voted three-to-one to abolish the anti-democratic “weighted-vote” rule. WSSDA is funded by public education money (every school district is required to be a member). Years ago urban activists created the “weighted-vote” to make the largest school districts control the organization.
On September 22, however, representatives of the smaller school districts said “enough.” In a move to restore democracy, small school districts outside the Puget Sound area came out in force to abolish the rule in favor of a fair one-district, one-vote rule. This is good news for public education.
WSSDA is a statewide association of locally-elected school board members. As noted, membership is mandatory. Its 1,477 members represent 295 school districts across the state. WSSDA has a strong influence over setting public education policy. Its lobbyists in Olympia usually align with the powerful WEA union.
Since 1986 WSSDA has used a “weighted voting” system, allowing a few urban districts to control nearly all policy decisions and lobbying. The voices of smaller school districts were silenced.
Ending the biased voting system makes WSSDA more inclusive and gives all public school communities a say.
The Association then voted to defeat Proposal 44, a radical measure pushed by Edmonds and Shoreline school board members to require ‘diversity” and “global community” rules in the classroom and in sports programs. School board members knew, of course, that these are code words for policies that hide information about children from their parents and which deny girl athletes the right to fair competition against their peers (source: OSPI Policy 3211).
This last concern was confirmed on September 23rd when a boy took the third-place trophy away from a girl athlete at a cross-country meet in Seattle.
The vote to restore democracy at WSSDA is the latest response to top-down efforts to push harmful and divisive policies in public education. It is a predictable reaction to SB 5044, signed by Governor Inslee in May 2021. This law requires the teaching of racist CRT concepts of white supremacy and institutional racism in public schools.
Another bill, SB 5237, threatened to cut the funding of any school district by 20% if local officials didn’t comply. That bill didn’t pass, but it helps explain the surge of interest in school board races across the state, and why 46,000 families have pulled their children out of public education.
Indications are that public opinion is shifting. Increasingly parents and local school board members want schools to drop partisan political causes and focus on providing a good education to their children.
Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.
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