The League of Education Voters, a non-profit advocacy organization that has backed previous efforts to reduce class sizes, announced Tuesday that it opposes I-1351, the statewide class-size reduction initiative on the November ballot.
The Washington Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, spearheaded a signature gathering drive for the initiative last spring, turning in nearly 350,000 signatures to put I-351 on the ballot. So far, the Class Size Counts campaign website lists endorsements from the Bellevue and Walla Walla school boards, the Tacoma Council PTA and several unions, along with about three-dozen individuals.
But not LEV, which explained its position on the organization’s blog:
As the organization that authored and passed Initiative 728 in 2001, LEV supports class-size reduction as one necessary, but not sufficient, gap-closing strategy for grades K–3 and high-poverty schools. Eight years later, we endorsed the re-definition of “basic education” developed by our State Legislature, which includes smaller class sizes of 17 in grades K–3 upon which McCleary v Washington is based.
So, given LEV’s history and commitment to smaller class sizes, why are we opposing I-1351?
We believe the pathway to providing a high-quality public education for all students begins with identifying and funding what works.
We know there is no single silver bullet that will close the opportunity and achievement gaps for Washington students. We believe I-1351 will preclude our ability to make investments in other proven strategies, such as early learning and college readiness.
The league’s vote to oppose I-1351 likely won’t surprise the league’s critics who see the influence of funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation behind the league’s support for charter schools and teacher/principal evaluations that include the use of student test scores.