Education: This Year and Next
Issues around education have been making steady headlines in our papers and in our communities, from teacher strikes and the McCleary court case, to charter schools and STEM. As a state, we still have work to do. One fundamental problem we have left to deal with is how we compensate teachers, which can vary across the state. We also need to solve the levy inequities, where some school districts can pass property tax increases for their local schools, and other districts won’t or can’t, which negatively affects students. And, with the State Supreme Court ruling that charter schools are unconstitutional, legislative leaders have to find a way to make sure those students don’t suffer.
While we have issues to address next year, we made huge progress in this last session’s budget, including:
- A record $1.3 billion in new funding for public schools, which amounts to the largest increase in education funding in state history;
- $159 million in early learning to give every child a fair start in quality education;
- Funding for expanded cost-of-living-adjustments for teachers, long overdue and deserved; and,
- The state’s first ever tuition cut for ALL higher-ed students, with an additional $41 million in scholarships for high demand majors in science, technology, engineering, math and health care.
As we head into next session in January, I am hopeful we can develop a plan that addresses our remaining problems with levies and teacher compensation and mitigates the charter school ruling.
Special thanks to all the farmers’ markets around the Eastside!
As always, thank you for all the advocacy e-mails, phone calls, and letters I’ve received; making your voice heard is essential to the work we do here – so keep it up! Of course, if you have any specific questions about a bill or legislative issue, please don’t hesitate to write and ask.