Opinion: Stop diverting education money to WSSDA’s lobbying operation and fund music, art and athletic programs instead

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center reveals how public school officials funnel millions in public money to one of the largest political lobby operations in the state.

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center reveals how public school officials funnel millions in public money to one of the largest political lobby operations in the state

Liv Finne
Washington Policy Center

Public school officials consistently say they don’t have enough funding, yet each year they give $3.5 million in public money to one of the largest political lobby operations in the state.  The Washington State School Board Directors Association (WSSDA) uses money taken from local education budgets to lobby state lawmakers and influential local officials across the state.

Liv Finne
Liv Finne

In its political activity WSSDA often works against the educational interests of parents and students.  For example, the national chapter of the organization, the National School Boards Association, recently called on the FBI to investigate parents who speak out at public meetings under the nation’s domestic terrorism laws.  Clearly their purpose is to try to silence parents who seek to hold local school board members accountable to their communities.

In another example, WSSDA backs state-level efforts to teach Critical Race Theory (CRT) to public school children under SB 5044, the bill signed by Governor Inslee in May.  This harmful and divisive curriculum says that white students are oppressors and that students of other ethnicities are disempowered victims.  Instead of fostering caring and independent minds, CRT pits students against one another, and deprives them of the agency to think for themselves.

National education expert Jay P. Greene has found that CRT, also known as “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” causes harm “by reducing and dividing us into ethnic and sexual identity categories while crushing actual intellectual and cultural diversity.”

WSSDA is at the forefront of promoting CRT training for school board members, as shown here.

WSSDA, through its “Educational Equity” program, appears to promote hiring goals and quotas on the basis of race, color and ethnicity, in violation of national law and our state’s Civil Rights Act.  (For more on core civil rights protections see my study “Know Your Rights” at https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/detail/know-your-rights-a-guide-to-critical-race-theory-anti-discrimination-law-and-civil-rights-protections-for-everyone.)

In 2012, WSSDA worked hard against the popular ballot initiative to create charter public schools.  Voters passed the measure anyway, and today 4,000 students attend 14 caring and innovative charter schools across the state.  WSSDA continues to work against charter school families, and supports funding inequities that deny learning opportunities to these students.

Local school boards tell us they are chronically underfunded and they regularly cut music, art, athletics and other popular programs.  The legislature should end the transfer of public money to WSSDA and instead direct $3.5 million a year to benefit music, the arts and athletics in Washington’s elementary schools.

Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.


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    Jack Burton

    The Brain Trust at the Washington Policy Center solves another fiscal problem caused by the evil liberals.

    $3.5 million dollars/2,255 elementary schools in Washington = $1,552.11 per school or
    $3.5 million dollars/1,802 public elementary schools = $1,942.29 per school

    I’m sure that will pay for plenty of supplies, coaches, and teachers. It’s like they’re not even trying to make a coherent argument, they just have a quota of how many times they can insert the words “Critical Race Theory” into their propaganda. I’ve communicated with Ms. Finne about Critical Race Theory and her understanding of the issue is similar to her understanding of funding education, which is to say nil.

    The Washington Policy Center is simply another propaganda arm of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a conglomerate of corporate interests that write legislation, provide it to state lawmakers, and have the state lawmakers pretend that it was their idea. And lo and behold, guess what ALEC has been pushing lately?


    I was half joking about the Critical Race Theory quota, but it appears the Washington Policy Center is just doing what they’re told. Keep up the good work Liv, don’t want to lose that funding.


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