Education continues to be the most prevalent discussion in Olympia. Last week, the majority party in the House passed their version of an education bill. It presents some good foundations upon which we can begin to have a conversation. But, it's not yet a comprehensive fix to the problems presented by McCleary.
Some of the positives presented by the plan that passed last week include increased equity in pay for teachers, and better accountability for students.
In fact, both parties agree teachers deserve a pay raise. Democrat and Republican plans both put starting teacher salaries above $45,000.
But I believe there is more work to be done.
Currently there are serious inequalities between school districts across the state – both in terms of funding for students and quality of services provided. To fix our broken K-12 education funding system, I believe funds must be ample, equitable and accountable.
Ample: More funding across the board, including higher starting teacher salaries.
Equitable: Students in Manson should receive the same educational opportunities as a student in Bellevue. This can only be achieved through increased local control.
Accountable: Funds should be spent the way they are intended to be spent. If funds are allocated to alleviate crowded classrooms, that is precisely what they should be used for.
As we move forward, these three platforms will serve as the cornerstones of the services for which I advocate. Again, conversations are ongoing about the best way to fix our broken funding system and move forward.
I hope to hear more from you in the coming weeks about the best way to fund education and prevent a McCleary decision from happening again – because we all agree the students of Washington state deserve world-class education opportunities.