Bellevue – Fall is here and school kids all around Washington are back in their classrooms. Families are getting back into their school-year routines. But WA schools still face some big challenges. Enrollment numbers remain down in most parts of the state. Half of Washington’s public-school students are unable to read and write at grade level and two-thirds can’t do simple math. Some education bureaucrats are still pushing failed social-engineering schemes.
Our government—at the federal, state and local levels—has to do better for Washington’s public-school students. Hope is fast approaching. Washington Republicans are committed to delivering high-quality, uniform basic education to all children residing within the state’s borders.
The WAGOP has developed a Project for Saving Basic Education, which focusses on kids, empowers parents, and supports teachers. It includes the following elements:
- Clarify state law to strengthen and protect the “broad discretionary power” of locally elected school boards to develop curriculum, select textbooks, hiring teachers and do all other acts and things that a school district does
- Narrow the mission and reduce the budget of OSPI and move those resources to school districts—preferably, into classrooms
- Narrow the mission and reduce the budget of WA’s system of “Education Service Districts” and move money and people to school districts—preferably, into classrooms
- Reform or repeal the state’s “prototypical school” budget model to fund special education programs and other specialized-learning programs more effectively
- Maximize parental involvement, in part, by launching a school choice program
- Properly incentivize teachers to give students the best possible education
- Reduce the number and compensation of school administrators.
Our plan has even be well received by national Republicans as Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R) recently expressed support in a joint statement for the WAGOP’s plan to Save Basic Education in the state:
“This has become a fundamental mission of the Republican Party and should be a fundamental mission of our country, to remain a strong and prosperous nation. We are proud to stand with the WAGOP and Chairman Jim Walsh in support of this plan.”
WAGOP also applauds Rep. Joel McEntire (19th LD) for his efforts to fund Basic Education for all students in Washington State. WA State Rep. Joel McEntire’s current bill, HB 1044, would clarify the process of funding construction and maintenance of school buildings in smaller school districts, in the aftermath of error-filled Wahkiakum School District court opinion.
The bill is the essential first step in remedying the physical-plant discrepancies faced by smaller school districts. And in bringing the constitutionally-required “uniform” basic education to all children, in every part of this state.
To be sure, public education is most effectively managed by state governments, not federal. According to Article IX of the Washington State Constitution, it is the “paramount duty” of the state government to “make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” As the WA State Constitution and separate state law establish, basic K-12 education is most effectively delivered by local educators, hired and held accountable by locally-elected school boards.
Still, the State of Washington’s growing deference to federal education priorities and its parallel concentration of the implementation of K-12 education policy in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) have failed to deliver high-quality basic education to WA children. This needs to end.
During the 2020-2021 school year, some 40,000 students left Washington state public schools. Clearly, we don’t want this repeated.
Finally, WAGOP is spotlighting good candidates in key school board races all around the state happening this fall. The first group of 37 spotlight candidates have earned support in all aspects of their school board campaigns. And a second group of 30 spotlight candidates have earned the same level of resources and support. Here is a link to WAGOP’s announcement of the first list.
WAGOP Chairman Jim Walsh says all of these efforts are part of the Project to Save Basic Education in Washington: “We must—and we will—do better. And we look forward to improving educational standards and results for all public-school students across Washington state.”