Braun questions bill to stall move to smaller K-3 class sizes

OLYMPIA…Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said he is dismayed by new legislation that would again delay long-standing efforts to reduce K-3 class sizes. Braun, an architect of the landmark education-funding updates enacted in 2017, had cautioned against the same move in 2018:

“Research shows that smaller class sizes in grades K-3 contribute to better educational outcomes, which is why the Legislature had earmarked more than $500 million toward class-size reduction. But last year the majority party made it possible for that money to go toward salary increases, and now that it’s been bargained away, this bill comes along to make our K-3 students and their teachers wait even longer.

“Class size counts. The education unions in our state have long been supportive of lower class sizes, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to this bill. Parents also expect the Legislature to hold to the commitment it made to deal with crowded classrooms. Even if the majority goes ahead with lifting the bipartisan lid on local levies, and opening the door to big property-tax increases, I don’t know why parents would consider paying significantly higher school taxes if the promises made about reducing class sizes aren’t kept.”