January 22, 2006
School Levy Campaign Brochure

A Pierce County reader sent us this photo from a school levy campaign brochure for the upcoming special election:

Except that it wasn't exactly a campaign brochure, it is the front page of the official Pierce County Voter's Guide.

Of course its a political statement to equate the school levy with smiling children. Why not equate the levy with the smiling grown-ups who enjoy a monopoly on spending the money? My choice of school levy photos would include this picture of WEA President Charles Hasse along with a picture of his $187,000 pay stub. The pro-levy statements in the voter's guide, by the way, include some of the same types of the misrepresentations that I discovered the Seattle School District made in the 2004 levy campaign. There must be a levy campaign consulting firm that advises school districts on misrepresenting the facts about its tax increases to the voters --

For example, see page 7 in the voter's guide regarding the Puyallup levy:

This is not a new tax. Rather, this levy replaces a tax we are already paying.
Actually, it is a 7% tax increase from $30 million in 2006 to $32.3 million in 2007.
Our tax rate will stay the same for the next four years
Actually, the dollar amount of tax each taxpayers pays will increase by roughly 8% a year. The "rate" (i.e. percentage of assessed value) will stay the same only if one's assessed value increases at the same rate as the tax.

Vote YES on these levies only if you wish to reward public agencies who engage in dishonest advertising. Not that voting NO on a school levy does much good -- they'll only keep running special elections every two months until they win.

Neumeier-Martinson said the levy elections are usually successful, while bond issues usually take two or three tries to pass.
...
In [February] 2002, the levy failed by less than one percent. Officials had to finance a second election and it passed in April 2002

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at January 22, 2006 12:38 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Hmm. The photo is interesting. Out of six children, one lone little Caucasian boy. Is that supposed to represent true demographics of Pierce County? Are they trying to say that if we don't vote for the levy, we will be voting against minority children? They have enough money with the present levy rate. They just need to spend it more wisely.

Posted by: katomar on January 22, 2006 01:19 PM
2. NO,
NO,
REJECTED!

Posted by: dcat on January 22, 2006 01:25 PM
3. People get the government they deserve. The way to stop this obvious corruption and money gathering is to vote these people (probably democrats) out of office

John Stossel wrote a great article about school.

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/JohnStossel/2006/01/18/182750.html

When they start offering vouchers for parents to choose which school to go to, then I will be more supportive of these campaigns.

Posted by: Jason Woodruff on January 22, 2006 01:30 PM
4. Yup, I'm for vouchers, too. But then I guess that's one bit of "pro-choice" our liberal elites don't approve of.

Posted by: katomar on January 22, 2006 01:33 PM
5. above link easy to go to now!

Now you are talking!

Posted by: dcat on January 22, 2006 01:33 PM
6. Yup, I'm for vouchers, too. But then I guess that's one bit of "pro-choice" our liberal elites don't approve of.

Posted by katomar at January 22, 2006 01:33 PM

I don't care!!!

Yawn this is getting old! Oh well I have a good life and child free and happy! MY CHOICE! I hate smoke in my face too!

I would like to focus on better things to come like CONDI for PRESIDENT!!!

Posted by: dcat on January 22, 2006 01:39 PM
7. Huh?!

Since I moved here I have seen

1. The gas tax go up 15 cents
2. Car Tab prices increase
3. business taxes increase
4. banning of out of states consumer purchases of alcohol and tobacco
5. Housing prices hit double digit increases for th e past 3 years.
6. State budget surplus

But the state has no money to fix our problems?!! Something is seriously wrong here.

Posted by: Mobius on January 22, 2006 01:49 PM
8. That is liberal Seattle for ya! They love paying taxes!

Posted by: dcat on January 22, 2006 02:10 PM
9. Way to 'out' these dishonest officials, Stefan. Leaving aside the issue of whether or not to support the measures, when these kinds of misleading tactics are used, it's an affront to the citizens. Period.

Posted by: Michele on January 22, 2006 05:10 PM
10. Here in Kenmore there was no information available on any of the levies or the bond issue. Checking with King County it was revealed that no information was going to be forthcoming from the city either.

WTF?

If you can't give me enough data to make a rational choice, I vote against!!

Posted by: H Moul on January 22, 2006 05:32 PM
11. It's precisely that type of underhanded PR that has made me unwilling to support school levies. We used to vote for all of them, but no more!

Our taxes for education are already high, so I'm not going to support more taxes as long as the WEA and the Democrats are running the show.

BTW, I'd like to have vouchers and more Charter schools also. It's time to have more choice.

Posted by: Clean House on January 22, 2006 05:49 PM
12. H Moul:

Plenty of info is available on the Northshore School District (Kenmore) bond proposals. From KingCo try:

http://www.metrokc.gov/elections/contests/measurelist.aspx?eid=1210

Or, from the school district:

http://www.nsd.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=funding_facilities.overview

Northshore has a good record in getting their bond issues passed, so their schools are well-funded and the envy of surrounding districts. Their test scores are rising and they have excellent enrichment programs including one of the best music programs in the state, an International Baccalaureate Diploma program, and outstanding support for gifted and advanced students. It's interesting to note that total property tax collections are limited to the amounts approved by voters, so the levy rate gets adjusted if home values increase. As a result of the strong housing market, the levy rate has decreased from $5.17 per thousand in 2002 to $4.34 per thousand in 2005. If the proposed measures all pass, the rate is still projected to decrease to $4.21 in 2006.

As I mentioned earlier, due to strong community support for Northshore schools, my guess is these measures will pass. But, we can always use your support!

Posted by: scottd on January 22, 2006 08:17 PM
13. First, let me make clear that I fully support the two levies that Bellevue has on the ballot. We have school choice - private schools. The levy is a lot less than tuition.

Having said that, I know that Bellevue is playing the same game about the "replacement levy". It was one of the points that Wynn Cannon made. But the Times published quotes from Mr. Cannon that made him sound like a doddering old fool (he made it easy for them to do so), which suggests what side the Times reporter is on.

I wish they would just be honest and straight forward.

Posted by: Janet S on January 22, 2006 09:30 PM
14. Actually, vouchers are bad too. Vouchers form yet another government welfare program, albeit one that at least encourages folks to take the money and choose their own schools wisely instead of our appaling public schools.

A far better strategy is tax incentives. It's always better to motivate people in a positive greed based way rather than a negative gun-to-the head forceful way.

There should be a direct incentive reduction in taxes for any one who chooses to unburden the public school system and send their kids to a private school.

I live in Pierce County, I was pretty shocked by that voter guide cover picture as well. And if you are reading this and live in Pierce County, vote the Dome down too. There's no reason why the public should be paying to turn the Dome into a luxury facility. If the Dome can't be run successfully as a profit generating business by the City, then it should be sold to the highest bidder.

The government has no incentive to run the Dome to a budget, so it follows that all they can do is run it in to the ground and then come begging to the taxpayers to bail them out. More of the same.

Posted by: Jeff B. on January 22, 2006 09:57 PM
15. Conservatices are not into public schools. Hmm... Why do you guys care, anyway? You don't send your kids there. You guys do private schools (like wealthy Seattle liberals, too). Here's a voucher plan I like:

http://www.mattmilleronline.com/articles.php?id=58

Problem is, you conservatives like not vouchers, but cheap vouchers. And how can you ever expect to attract better teachers when the starting pay is only $32 grand? I know, I know, you guys hate teachers (or their unions, you might say), but would you want to teach for such low pay? Conservatives have proven you get what you pay for.

Posted by: Belltowner on January 23, 2006 12:09 AM
16. "Conservatives have proven you get what you pay for." So, Belltowner, can you say (as an implied non-Conservative) that you got what you paid for? What exactly has the dominant liberal approach to public schools done that was worth buying? Of course, we do get the mantra of "underfunded, underfunded," which causes "caring" people to throw money that way to save our children. Perhaps throwing money that direction isn't the best solution when most of it seems to be either not reaching the children, or not spent in effective ways.

Posted by: pseudotsuga on January 23, 2006 06:06 AM
17. I don't understand the problem with the wording of the Puyallup levy. There is already a portion of property tax that goes to the maintenance and operation levy; what is being voted on is a continuation of that tax. It's not a new tax.

To say it's a new tax is like arguing that when the revenue from sales taxes increase it's a new tax. It's the same tax. Prices go up, so the amount I pay goes up, but it's not a new and different tax.

Posted by: Julie B. on January 23, 2006 06:25 AM
18. Belltowner - I'm surprised to see you over here. I usually see your comments over at HA. This issue must be an important one to you. Are you an educator?

I think the Pierce County voter's guide is doing a bit of promotion for the various levies that are to be decided on Feb. 7. That picture of the kids is a little "too innocent" to not be a political ploy. Pierce County may not be as blue as Seattle and KC, but it's pretty darn close. Every time I have to go to the Pierce County Annex over on 35th Street, I fell like I'm walkiing in to a small Democratic Convention of sorts.

Posted by: Libertarian on January 23, 2006 07:47 AM
19. pseudotuga-
"Perhaps throwing money that direction isn't the best solution when most of it seems to be either not reaching the children, or not spent in effective ways."

Well, perhaps, but if we funded education the way we fund Iraq, The DoD... Conservatives throw good money after bad in the Mid-East, but not for our kids. Wasting $$$ is not good, but conservatives are much more tolerant when it comes to "guns", but less so with "butter".

-Libertarian

Not an educator, I just hate demogogery. I do care about this issue. I find it hilarious that you think showing kids smiling on a voters guide is a "ploy". These Feb. elections are ALL school levies (and T-Dome), so it makes sense to put kids on the cover.

Posted by: Belltowner on January 23, 2006 08:49 AM
20. I hope that you folks who have spoken out in support of the school levy, particularly in Pierce County, have taken a look at the WASL results for Washington State. Please do so. Compare the Pierce County schools with the statewide results. As if the statewide results were not bad enough, most Pierce County schools only did about half as well as the state average. Now, please tell me how our money is being well spent. Of course, it may make a lot of folks feel really good to pay more money, year after year, but I prefer results for my investment. Most of us, in the real "working" world would be fired for such non-performance.

Posted by: katomar on January 23, 2006 09:02 AM
21. DONT GET ME GOING ON THE DOME ISSUE...WHEN WILL THE VOTERS WAKE-UP AND LISTEN TO THE TURTH!!!

THE DOME HAS LOST MONEY THE LAST SEVEN YEARS (3.5 MILLION)PLUS OPERATING COSTS OF $5.5 MILLION A YEAR, NOT BECAUSE OF THE BUILDING BUT BECAUSE THE MARKET HAS CHANGED. COMPANYS LIKE VIACOM OWN THE PRODUCTION COMPANIES THAT PUT ON THE SHOWS AND CONTROL THE VENUE'S THAT THEY PLAY IN. WE COULD SPEND $200 MILLION ON THE DOME AND IT WOULD NOT BRING IN ONE MORE GIG!!!

LADDENBERG (SOUND TRANSIT), MAYOR BILLY BUMBLE(TACOMA), HAROLD MOSS AND THE REST OF TACOMAS ELITE ARE STUCK ON THE CONCEPT "THAT IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME". WE BUILT A NEW CONVENTION CENTER AND ALL WE'VE GOTTEN IS $100 MILLION MORE DEBT AND A $2 MILLION A YEAR LOSS IN OPERATION COST!!!! THIS IS JUST ANOTHER "WORKS" PROJECT FOR THE CONTRIBUTORS TO DEMO'S!!!!

Posted by: TACOMA PHLASH on January 23, 2006 10:52 AM
22. Belltowner--my own SISTER is a teacher, and a darn good one,too. I'm proud of her. She doesn't whine, either.

Posted by: Misty on January 23, 2006 12:00 PM
23. 1) I have looked at Bellevue's WASL scores, and they are pretty good. The test reflects the style of teaching in the district, so there is no "teaching to the test". Students are already expected to be able to explain their answers. And once the test has some meaning to the student, you will see scores rise dramatically.

2) Those going into teaching know that the pay and benefits won't make them rich, but it will provide a decent living, particularly if it is a second family income. It's like moving in next door to an airport and then complaining about the noise. What did you expect?

Teachers are really not as difficult to find as you might think. They would be even easier to find if the barriers to entry thrown up by the NEA were lowered. Having a certificate does nothing to ensure quality - it is just a hoop to jump through, that takes time and money. I know of a lot of moms that would get into teaching in an instant, but don't want to go through the hassle. These are highly educated women who stayed home to raise kids, and now could be real assets in the classroom. In fact, a lot of them are providing free labor to the schools as classroom volunteers.

Posted by: Janet S on January 23, 2006 12:17 PM
24. "Belltowner--my own SISTER is a teacher, and a darn good one,too. I'm proud of her. She doesn't whine, either."

Perhaps you misunderstand me. I am very supportive of your sister. I don't think she's a whiner. In fact, if she's an excellent teacher, she should be paid better than her fellow teachers, and should be able to max out at $100,000. If she's good

Janet S.

"Those going into teaching know that the pay and benefits won't make them rich, but it will provide a decent living, particularly if it is a second family income."

If you pay shite wages, you get shite teachers. They shouldn't have to take a vow of poverty.

Posted by: Belltowner on January 23, 2006 01:22 PM
25. MT. VERNON TEACHERS WENT ON STRIKE A FEW YEARS AGO FOR MORE MONEY AND GOT IT...THEY ARE SOME OF THE HIGHEST PAID TEACHERS IN THE STATE, THE DISTRICT SPENDS ALMOST $11,000 PER STUDENT AND HAVE THE LOWEST TEST SCORES. THE GRAD RATE IS ABOUT 63% AND AVG. SAT SCORES ARE IN THE LOW 900'S. "THE BEST MONEY CAN BUY"

Posted by: TACOMA PHLASH on January 23, 2006 07:23 PM
26. Belltowner: My sister doesn't whine about her wages. She considers herself to make a good salary. (lives in CA). She DOES acknowledge that Cal. Teacher's Assn (Like the WEA up here) union treats its members unfairly, however. She has taken steps to correct that, too. That's but one of the reasons I'm proud of her.

Posted by: Misty on January 23, 2006 07:29 PM
27. Until I see some accountability from the Department of Education in this state on how they spend the money. I will not vote yes for any increase. I am sick of the politicians that keep saying TRUST ME. IT IS BEING SPENT WISELY. I tried off and on for a year to find a listing of projects that the Department of Education funds and what % of the funds make it to the local school district.
I am already paying an extra tax because my daughters are in school. The School they go to has to raise thousands of dollars every year to provide special programs. I do not want to pay more. I think this year alone to the local School I will be sending in over $500 just so that my girls can attend various activities. We get nickeled and dimed to death. If you do not pay (One Case a weekend retreat $120)you do not get credit for that project. It adds up. I am supporting my local school I will not support the state who seems to send it everywhere but the local school district. And I like my local school.
But I will vote no because I do not see any accountability. The hiding of where the money is spent including the Federal Level(Which is audit every year and has never passed the audit. They can not tell where all the money is going. Again it said."Well the money was not wasted we just dont know were it went." If the feds cant balance the books I know the State will never let out the true data on how the money is spent.

Posted by: David Anfinrud on January 23, 2006 10:01 PM
28. I know that it seems like a lot of money to pay, but go and look at what the local levies pay for. This money does not go to the state. I agree the state is very bad at how they spend money in any area, but levy money is different. It is spent on textbooks, supplies and things that the students directly benefit from. It goes to the district directly. Without this money, and it most of the time is not new taxes, but the existing amounts, many things that actually allow students to learn will be cut.

Posted by: quiet supporter on January 25, 2006 08:41 AM
29. You are incorrect. School districts may only run levy elections twice in a calendar year. If they do not pass, the district must wait a year to try again. This kind of levy failure can be devestating to a school district.

Posted by: lapin on February 7, 2006 06:17 AM
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