Issue Position: K-12 Education

Issue Position

By:  Sam Hunt
Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Location: Unknown

Washington school funding is based on a 1970s definition of "basic education." One obvious change is what is now everyday use of computers in classrooms. The drafters of the definitions had no reason to predict the changes technology would bring, let alone other ways that technology would impact learning. What is now everyday routine component of education has no funding source. The new Core 24 proposed requirements--increasing credits for graduation to 24--would require that the state to fund six high school periods a day instead of the current five. The legislature created a select committee on education funding, and its recommendations will be presented later this year. One thing is for certain, we need to modernize and adjust the way the state funds its schools. Yes, it will take more money, but the Constitution establishes education as the state's "paramount duty," and we must recognize and fulfill that duty.

The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) should be used as a measure of a student's performance in priority subjects; however, it should not be used as a sole determinant of whether or not a student is eligible to graduate from high school. We need strong accountability in our schools, but we should not let a single high stakes test dominate. It can be a part of a series of requirements--grades, attendance, portfolios of student work, senior projects, etc. Our goal is to build well rounded students; not just students who can pass a test.

We need to restore emphasis on career and technical education (vocational education). Since a majority of our high school graduates do not graduate from college, we must have educational opportunities for all students not just the ones bound for college.