'Tracking the Truth':  TV ads for Initiative 1351, to reduce class sizes in public schools

SEATTLE -- Voters in Washington are being asked on the Nov. 4 ballots whether to reduce class sizes throughout the state’s public schools.

Initiative 1351 mandates not more than 17 kids per class in kindergarten through third grade, and not more than 25 in upper years.

I-1351 doesn’t come with money attached; instead, it directs the Legislature to find the funds.  The state’s teacher’s union is spending millions on the effort, including commercials that are blanketing the airwaves.

In the most recent TV ad, supporters are clearly trying to press home the point that we are behind the curve:  “Our state currently ranks 47th out of 50 states in class size,” said Washington science teacher Desi Saylors.  “That’s unacceptable.”

Here’s the main claim of the ad:  That our state currently ranks 47th out of 50 in class size.

In other words, almost at the bottom of the pack.

We are calling this claim:  True, but with an important footnote.

The source for this is a 2012 study by the National Education Association, and doesn’t take into account that our Legislature has since added $119 million to reduce sizes in some kindergarten and first-grade classes.  So, this ranking could have changed slightly in the past two years.

There is no organized opposition to I-1351, although most of the state’s newspapers have come out against the measure.  They regard it as an unfunded mandate that would cost the state billions to implement.