Washington state’s education system is a mess, but could be a first-class, constitutionally protected right and an example for the rest of the country.
Accountability should be the most important word in the legislative process. The Legislature should stop by law the use of property tax levy and bonds for financing education. Washington state government should fund every penny of K-12 education.
If it is — and in fact it is — the state’s responsibility to fund education then it should be the state’s responsibility to account for the money and the academic achievement.
All employees of our system should be state employees and responsible to our state administration. Teachers should have a state contract where compensation is only adjusted for cost of living in metro or rural economies.
What can we average citizens do? We are the state and through our elected officials need to hold responsible everyone connected to education. This includes well-paid teachers; fully engaged principals; superintendents, especially superintendents and school boards until total responsibility is transferred to the state.
In order for parents, especially those with limited communication skills who need to help their children academically, the education system should help parents achieve those communication skills.
We should not be hoodwinked by slick reports, charts and graphs displaying improving test and graduation rates for getting more money with inflated numbers. (Remember the state and local educators that have been convicted for inflating numbers for getting more money. The same can be said of using low achievement to secure more money.)
If any student needs extra help at any level then get it, give it, or get out of the way. No kid can fail to graduate from high school in Washington state.
Our education system should not be an either/or situation; either it’s about the money or it’s about student achievement. It must be both all the time. As adults we should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Cliche intended.
Washington state’s motto, “Alki,” comes from the native Chinook people. It translates into “By and By.” That’s fitting for our current education predicament — court order. Looks like we should adopt a new motto: “Responsibility and accountability is the salvation of a democratic society”.
Then maybe we will not have to describe our children as victims, but will provide them the skills to call them leaders.
Larry L. Wewel is secretary of Learning Link, a Kirkland-based nonprofit tutoring center and a proponent of a bill in the Legislation, House Bill 2690, to create a pilot project of after-school learning labs.