Our children face a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive world and they must have the tools to meet the challenges the future holds. An excellent education is critical in preparing our kids and helping them to achieve their fullest potential.
Unfortunately, Washington State continues to fail many of our kids. High school dropout rates exceed 20%, many high school graduates don't meet minimum college entrance requirements, class size reduction initiatives passed by Washington voters remain unfunded and the Supreme Court has ruled that we're not adequately funding education. The Legislature has clearly lost its focus on the kids and their future, instead favoring the status quo and the adults in the education system.
Given these failings, a broad coalition advocating reform of our public schools has formed, but efforts has been stymied in the Legislature, with many reform initiatives blocked by legislative leadership. And public demands to increase K-12 and higher education funding have been ignored in favor of other budget priorities. This needs to change!
However, simply throwing more money at education is not the right approach. Increased education funding can only be effective if accompanied by changes to the system. We must improve student outcomes and achievement, not lower graduation standards to give the appearance of better student performance. To increase performance, we must ensure our schools have strong accountability systems in place. We should expect results and hold principals and teachers accountable for attaining them, with achievement measures appropriate for differing subjects and levels of teaching. We must help our failing schools. But when that doesn't work, parents should have options to put their kids in the best educational environment possible. And accompanied by these and other changes we must re-prioritize state spending to ensure education is funded first and fully.
It is our paramount duty and moral obligation to educate our children and equip them for the future.