Issue Position: Educating to Compete
Governor Chris Gregoire was educated in Washington public schools and earned a teaching certificate from the University of Washington. She knows that a great education is the key to success for our children and our economy. Today's students leave school faced with a dramatically different economic landscape than their parents' generation. Globalization is transforming our state's economy from one based on natural resources to a knowledge-based economy where employers value education and training.
Washington's fastest growing industries, such as aerospace, high-tech and bio-technology, require highly skilled workers with a strong basic education, college and advanced degrees. However, these companies are struggling to find enough qualified workers. Governor Gregoire believes Washington businesses should be able to find the world's best-educated workers among our state's own citizens, rather than importing workers from other states and nations.
Every child in every community deserves good schools and great teachers. Children need caring families and early preparation to come to kindergarten ready to learn and thrive. Middle and high school students need guidance and support to learn the skills they need to graduate. Today, a high school diploma is essential, but it is not sufficient for most good-paying jobs. In order to compete, more of our students must have access to higher education. We need to make sure that there is enough room in our colleges and universities and that the quality and relevance of programs is the best available.
To build the best education system in the world, Governor Gregoire created Washington Learns, an 18-month comprehensive study to examine our state's schools and recommend ways to improve it. Washington Learns will finish its work and present its final recommendations in November 2006.
Recognizing that the basis for educational achievement is set in a child's early experiences, Governor Gregoire requested and signed legislation to create the Department of Early Learning. The new department consolidates more than a half-dozen childcare and early learning programs, giving real focus to helping our youngest learners thrive early in school and in life.
Governor Gregoire's leadership was instrumental in creating an innovative new public-private partnership, Thrive By Five- The Washington Early Learning Fund. Thrive By Five brings together private, philanthropic and public sector leaders to support and invest in early learning. The new Department of Early Learning, as an active partner in Thrive By Five, will work with corporations, charitable foundations and other leaders to support parents and improve the quality of early learning.
Kindergarten Through High School
Nearly one million children in the state attend public schools. We must hold ourselves to the highest standards and recognize that our competition is not just in Indiana, Iowa or California, but also in India, China and Europe.
Students today benefit from smaller class sizes and experienced teachers who received a well-earned cost of living increase, thanks to Governor Gregoire's commitment to fully fund two initiatives overwhelming passed by the voters.
We owe our students the tools they need to succeed and excel. Governor Gregoire led an effort to invest more than $28 million in additional tutoring for students who need help to graduate on time.
Running Start lets college-bound students earn college credit and make their high school education really count. Governor Gregoire supports this program and she championed Running Start for the Trades, a new pre-apprenticeship program for high school students who want their high school education to set them on a path toward a family-wage job in the trades.
Governor Gregoire understands how hard it is for families to afford higher education and has focused on expanding access to colleges and universities for working families. She helped increase financial aid by $26.9 million, expand grant eligibility for working families, create enrollment slots for 7,900 new students and create four-year programs in Tacoma, Vancouver, Bothell and the Tri-Cities.
Moving Washington Forward
Governor Gregoire knows that education is important in every job and she is committed to moving Washington's education system forward. If we invest in the best education in order to prepare students for the future, everyone benefits.