A handful of parents held a news conference Monday to support a proposed state budget that rejects federal education reform money.
“Kick the addiction to federal dollars,” said Deborah Icenogle, spokeswoman for the Washington Parents Coalition for Academic Excellence.
The group, which met at the red wagon in Riverfront Park, said too many strings are attached to the federal Goals 2000 money.
The House and Senate have agreed on a budget omitting the money - about $16 million for Washington state this year.
The group applauds the Legislature’s move but worries Gov. Gary Locke will veto it.
Locke has until Saturday to decide whether to approve the budget or veto parts or all of it, said Chris Thompson, spokesman for the governor.
Icenogle called the proposed budget a step in the right direction and urged people to let Locke know they support it.
“This budget is an attempt to give some of that control back to the districts,” she said.
Locke hasn’t decided how to handle the budget, said Thompson. The governor does, however, support education reform.
The state will continue its march toward reform with or without the federal money, said Jim Coolican, deputy superintendent for public instruction.
“We would not be able to do as much without it,” he said. “It would be missed.”
Coolican said people who think the money comes with too many federal limits are misinformed.
“When you get Goals 2000 money, there are no strings that tie you to a national curriculum,” he said. “There is no national curriculum.”
For the past three years, Spokane School District 81 has used Goals 2000 money - from $60,000 to $100,000 annually - to write curriculum objectives that comply with new state standards, said superintendent Gary Livingston.
“That’s been really important for us locally,” he said.
In the past, state officials have said the proposed budget would still allow districts to apply for Goals 2000 independently.
But they’ve recently learned that’s not true, Thompson said.
“It apparently is in some states, but only for those that didn’t participate in Goals 2000 through October 1995,” he said, referring to a federal statute.
“Since Washington did participate prior to that, the districts wouldn’t be allowed to apply directly.”
Jeanette Faulkner, a member of the Spokane parents’ coalition, estimated the state would lose less than $8 per student by rejecting the reform money.
She contended the state would spend more than $46 per student implementing just parts of reform, such as teacher training and school-to-work programs aimed at preparing students for the work force.
“It’s a bad deal,” said Muriel Tingley, another member.
Coolican said he couldn’t confirm those figures.
Teachers will be trained to implement state reform anyway, “with or without Goals 2000,” he said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.