Education

Making sure our schools are training students for jobs of the future.

Preparing our students to compete for local jobs

With the explosion of tech jobs in our area, Amazon and too many other companies are recruiting from outside our state. Washington's public education system should be the envy of the nation and we should be training students for the jobs in demand! Instead, our high school graduation rate of 79 percent lags behind the national average of 83 percent.[1] We must provide adequate funding to improve our education system and ensure our students are prepared for the workforce.

Making smart investments in education

I support the Supreme Court's McCleary decision, which required the legislature to provide additional funding for K-12 education.  I also believe we need to be vigilant about how this money is spent. We must track our outcomes to ensure that the money leads to actual and significant improvements and is not wasted. We can and should implement thoughtful accountability measures that don't stifle teachers' creativity.

I also support evidence-based investments in education. There is a lot of research showing which types of educational investments work best for our kids.  Studies show that the quality of a teacher is the main factor in how well a child learns. Other successful interventions include class size reductions, better programs for high performing students, one-on-one tutoring for struggling students, free breakfast for students at low-income schools, and developmentally-appropriate school start times. [2],[3]

Investing in Early Childhood Education

We can’t continue to shortchange our kids.  The legislature needs to fund access to free, high quality universal preschool and early learning programs for all children. Few policies have as much consensus as the benefits of early childhood education. Early education levels the playing field.[4]  In a developed country it is unconscionable that we don't give all kids the support they need to be kindergarten-ready.

Currently, the legislature does not consider this basic education. We need to change that. Research shows that lack of family wealth is largely correlated with early academic struggles. Worse yet, educational achievement gaps at kindergarten generally persist throughout a child’s education. [5]

Promoting Vocational Training

With the increasing complexity of our manufacturing jobs we need better vocational training during high school so students who choose this direction can graduate ready for the job.  Many employers in our area complain that they can't find locally trained skilled workers to fill their positions.  We don't need everyone to have a 4-year university degree, and there is great value in vocational training.  

I also support internship and mentorship programs to connect employers and students early on.  This will encourage students to stick with their program and understand there are good job opportunities at the end of their training.

I also believe Washington’s technical and community colleges need to work with local trade unions to enhance apprenticeship programs for those who choose to enter a career as an electrician, plumber, construction worker, or other trades.

The Facts

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the legislature has failed to sufficiently fund K-12 education.  Under the state constitution the legislature’s first and foremost duty is to adequately provide for K-12 education.  The ruling, often referred to as the McCleary decision, required additional and more equalized funding for public schools, which the legislature finally provided for the 2017-2018 budgets.

Unfortunately early childhood education was not covered under the McCleary decision and there is no requirement that it be funded because the legislature has not deemed it to be part of basic education (The Court required basic education to be fully funded but left it to the legislature to define what basic education is).

 

[1] http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/washington-states-high-school-graduation-rate-inches-closer-to-80-percent/

[2] http://picusodden.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/WA-Evidence-Based-Adequacy-Study-July-2006.pdf Page 64.

[3] https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/564577402/simple-solutions

[4] Chaudry, A.  (2017). Cradle to Kindergarten. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Pages 73,74

[5] Chaudry, A.  (2017). Cradle to Kindergarten. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Page 102