By Vanessa Longacre-Wilcox (Our Co-Legislative Rep)
Over dinner tonight we discussed just what exactly WAS I doing in Olympia today anyway? I wasn’t there testifying, I wasn’t there making public comments, I was just there as a parent and in support of those that were testifying. I will admit when I got there and was seated in the overflow room and was listening to a deep dive of the methods of data collection of teacher’s salaries I had a moment where I wondered, “Was I in the right place? Did I belong here? Was it worth my time? Did it matter?”
But then the public comments began and people who had traveled longer distances than I, began to speak. From the panel of Librarians I learned that virtually no state funds are used to pay for Teacher Librarians. That 77% of Librarians are financed through PTA funds. Which creates incredible disparities between schools. One West Seattle school has no funding for a library where as a school in NW Seattle has a budget of $13k. From the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education I learned that the current funding model is from 2007 and doesn’t even include the highly capable program. That program has never been fully funded by the state. From someone else I learned that in the Sammamish school district some class sizes are over 35 because of lack of classroom space. Someone spoke to not having funding for counselors, for school nurses, or art programs. From a 4th grader who testified I learned that some schools have toxic water coming out of their drinking fountains. One man outlined how schools were ill-equipped to handle kids in crisis and that children dealing with childhood trauma were punished which in turn was creating a school to prison pipeline.
And so it went. On and on and the more I heard, the more I understood how vital it was that I showed up. That I wasn’t just there representing my school, I was standing in solidarity with all the schools in the state. And the more I listened, the more I thought the most important thing we can do, is show up, in mass, every time, refuse to go away, and to demand an end.
(Oh, and vote…we need to vote.)