Teachers from across the state are converging on Olympia today. Why? They're holding a bake sale on the steps of the state Capitol to bring awareness to the issue of overcrowding in Washington state classrooms.
Members of the Washington Education Association are asking lawmakers to suspend high school assessments as a requirement of graduation and instead spend the money to reduce class size. Statistics show Washington as having the third-worst student-teacher ratio in the country.
The WEA suggests that by suspending the tie between high school assessments and graduation, the state could save nearly $50 million.
The suggestion comes at a time when legislators are debating to measures that would suspend class size limits approved by the 2009 Legislature. Senate Bill 5475 and House Bill 1251, if approved, would both eliminate requirements that were previously approved that would have restricted the number of students in kindergarten thru 3rd grade to just 25 students per classroom beginning in the 2011-13 biennium.
A spokesman for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction says the only current state-wide restrict on class size is the state fire code which limits the number of people who can be in a room. Any limits on student-teacher ratios are enacted at the local level.
Currently there is no bill before the legislature that would suspend high school assessments.