No School Closures: Tax the Rich

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School Closures Threaten Our Communities. On May 8, during “teacher appreciation week,” the Seattle School Board voted unanimously to consider: [You can find this article as a leaflet (pdf) here  … Read more

School Closures Threaten Our Communities. On May 8, during “teacher appreciation week,” the Seattle School Board voted unanimously to consider:

  1. in summer 2025: closing 20 of our 70 elementary schools. This plan would disrupt thousands of families, force student relocations, and jeopardize educator jobs. It would be the largest school closure in the US since Chicago in 2013.
  2. immediately: reduce school budgets by around $5.7 million
  3. immediately: increase class sizes in secondary schools from 30:1 to 31:1. 
Photo of protest on May 28, 2024

[You can find this article as a leaflet (pdf) here  | The Seattle Caucus of Rank-And-File Educators in SEA (SCORE) has put together this leaflet | Please also consider signing this petition against school closures]

School Closures Do NOT Save Money

The argument is that school closures will save money so we  can magically have fully funded and resourced schools. Everyone knows that school closures don’t save money:

▶ The Seattle Times (May 9) says significant savings are unlikely simply due to building closures without staff layoffs

The website The Urbanist reports (May 15): “Superintendent Jones also said in 2023 that closing schools would not provide immediate budget savings and that savings may not materialize for two to five years. In a recent podcast interview with KUOW, school board president Liza Rankin also acknowledged that their closure plan might not save money. Since the majority of SPS’s spending is on staff, savings would only come through mass teacher layoffs.” 

▶ The experience with school closures all around the country shows: closures do not save money. Closures hurt public education, students and families as well as educators. 

Not the superintendent, not the School Board – no one believes that closures lead to better funded schools with more staff. Why are they promising educators and families a “system of well-resourced elementary schools” while moving in the opposite direction? 

⬛ Intended or not, the School Board and the Superintendent are giving up on high quality, well funded public education for all of our diverse students, families and communities. Instead, they are pushing the school system in to a downward spiral where lower quality schools will lead to more parents pulling their kids from public schools, thus worsening the enrollment and funding shortfalls.

⬛ Intended or not, this is a plan that will result in significant cuts in the number of educators. 

The Result will be Privatization and Charter Schools

  1. This is an austerity plan that will lead to worse education for students: Class sizes will get larger. There will be less staff per student. Schools will be less rooted in our communities, more anonymous, and less able to serve the many different needs of our diverse communities.
  2. It will lead to an increase in the number of charter schools and  privatization of public education. As the The Urbanist (May 15) wrote: 
    • “Under state law, if a public school district closes a school, and they put it up for lease or sale, charter schools have the right of first refusal to rent or buy that building. Unless SPS plans to leave 20 school buildings closed and gathering dust, this plan could initiate the privatization of nearly two dozen public schools.” 
  3. This is a plan that will lead to a death spiral of public education: Declining enrollment is used as an argument for cuts that lower the quality of education, which leads to further declines in enrollment. This will only increase economic and racial injustice.

There are alternatives to cuts and closures:

1) Tax the Rich to Fund Our Schools: Seattle Public Schools claim in their email to all families (May 9) that there is no alternative to school closures: “If we maintain the current system, we will need to reduce services.” We say: Let’s change the current system where corporations receive welfare and schools are underfunded. 
School Districts all around Washington State face the same challenges and are about to cut education. This is unacceptable.  

Seattle, Washington State, and the federal government have failed to adequately fund education. Washington is one of the wealthiest states in the US, yet our schools are suffering. It’s time to tax the rich and Big Business who are raking in record profits.

2) We Need More, Not Less: Our schools are losing students, but the answer isn’t bigger classes and closures. We need smaller class sizes, stronger community ties, and a focus on individual development, inclusion, and both academic and social growth. Closing schools pushes us in the wrong direction and will only encourage more families to leave the public system. We need strong community schools.

3) Unused Space is an Opportunity: The district claims low building capacity (around 65%) as a reason for closures. This is a perfect chance to reduce class sizes without extra costs! Especially after the challenges our children faced during Covid, we need to prioritize smaller class sizes to support student learning and development. Our elementary schools should not have any classes larger than 18 students.
If we accept closing 20 elementary schools now, it will be much harder to get to smaller class sizes in the future – and that’s what students, families, and educators need!

The obstacles we face:

1) The political system is broken: We’re tired of politicians prioritizing corporate interests over our schools. The Democratic Party controls Seattle, Olympia and the White House. Billions go to corporate welfare, while our tax system unfairly burdens working-class families. When Boeing demanded billions in support, a special session in 2013 passed $8.7 billion of corporate welfare in a special session of the legislature. If that’s possible for one of the richest corporations on this planet, why can’t we do this for our students, families, and educators, for economic and racial justice in our communities?

2) The School Board is on the wrong track. We demand the School Board members reject all school closures, all austerity on the backs of our children and our communities, and to fight with us to demand Olympia provides the funding our students deserve.

Together we have the Power to Win:

A) The educators’ union (SEA), the parent associations, students and families, and many more are needed to come together to fight for fully-funded schools. Let’s build a strong movement to defend public education and win the funding for it by taxing the rich and big business.

B) If working people are going to win high-quality education, affordable housing, living wages, Medicare for All, and to stop the US funding for wars around the globe, we need to get organized, come together in strong movements, and build our own political party.  We need a political revolution against the billionaire class. That’s why we are working to build an alternative to the Wall Street Democrats and the even more dangerous far-right Republicans. If you are not a member of DSA yet, join us today:

C) We are fighting for a democratic socialist society – a society based on human need, not corporate greed. A society where we have democratic control over the huge wealth that working class people produce and can use in the interests of the many, not the few.

[You can find this article as a leaflet (pdf) here  | The Seattle Caucus of Rank-And-File Educators in SEA (SCORE) has put together this leaflet | Please also consider signing this petition against school closures]