IT IS TIME FOR AN EDUCATION RENAISSANCE!
- Institute full funding of Career and Technical Education (CTE).
- Consolidate CTE training to include all 295 school districts in the state to take full advantage of private sector job opportunities at graduation.
- Invest in first year teacher salaries.
- Reduced drop out rate.
- Closing of the income gap.
- Increased involvement for young women in Science and Engineering.
- Closure of the racial learning gap.
- A strong economic outlook for Washington State.
- Strengthen Business and Industry in Washington.
FINDING THE PATH FORWARD
Education touches everything we do and provides the path to the future. It is vital that we solve our educational issues so that we can move forward with our society and take advantage of opportunities that are before us. This is not going to be easy and will not happen over night, it took a while to get to this point, however, where others see dead ends I see many opportunities. I see an opportunity to close the education gap, close the wage gap, bridge the racial gap, all while stabilizing funding for education, tall order I know, the education can has been kicked down the road for so long now it is time to stomp on the can and stop kicking it!
Please read on to see how my plan incorporates common sense with real world need to stop the erosion of education, soften the burden on tax payers, support and strengthen our private sector and provide meaningful opportunities for our young adults.
Boiling the frog –
Washington has been on a slow downward spiral for many years and now we have reached critical mass where we need to bring our education system back up to the top and modernize it in order to maximize our bang for our buck invested. According to the Graduation and Dropout Statistics Annual Report generated from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington States graduation rate was a little over 77% according to the April 2015 report, 65% graduation rate for low income students, and less than 54 percent for Native American students. Obviously, from the start these are alarming numbers and indicate bigger issues than just funding and we are going nowhere fast by not properly preparing young adults coming out of high school who are looking to enter the job market.
After years of being in and around aerospace and technical manufacturing I can tell you first hand that one of the common concerns from the business arena is there are not enough trained individuals to fill current openings as well as replace the aging workforce as they retire. The interesting thing about this comment is it is happening across the United States not just here in Washington which means there will be fierce competition for skilled workers now and well into the future. With Washington as a leader in aerospace manufacturing and development we are starting to see erosion in this area as the Southeastern United States competes for high tech companies such as Boeing, be it large major component factories or an O-Ring manufacturer the story is the same, where will the future employees come from?
Now couple this shortage dilemma with the nearly 25% drop out rate and look at all the lost opportunity. Young people drop out of school for various reasons boredom, loss of direction, and often with low income families, the desire to help support the families income needs with no hope of higher learning opportunities.
Let’s Turn This Trend Around!
Through CTE training and employer internships beginning with 10th, 11th, and 12th grades across the state we can turn these statistics around by engaging with all students on their way to a early career path. By the time they graduate they can move into a well paying job with skills that will last them a lifetime. Certainly, many students will move into a 2 or 4 year higher education track right after graduation but many will not and will choose to enter into the workforce. Industries around Washington state are anxious for new employees, with so many positions going unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers, these industries are willing to participate in a program such as this.
Part of my vision for Education Renaissance includes Micro-Credentialing for students by the time they leave high school. Micro-Credentialing is not meant to supplant full credentialing but rather provide a solid foundation for young adults to be able to enter into the workforce with a proficient skill level to attain a well paying entry level job. The concept of Micro-Credentialing is not new however, establishing it as a state wide program is, and it provides many opportunities for our education sector to partner with industry with the ultimate outcome benefiting the student. Many of the entry level jobs have pay scales starting at $35,000.00 up to $50,000.00 annually.
Many companies offer higher learning opportunities as part of the hiring package to round out their workforce and ensure employees reach their full potential. This is an important point in that low income students will then be able to compete for well paid, entry level work with opportunities in advanced education they could not achieve on their own due to cost. Now breaking the poverty cycle becomes real and most attainable.
My belief is that this programing can quickly be implemented in stages in the first quarter of 2017. The 2016 Senate kicked the can down the road to 2017 which essentially cost a year of progress in turning things around and choose to continue to “study” the issue. I, on the other hand, am not waiting but rather laying the ground work and seek to use the horsepower of the Lieutenant Governor’s office as a focal point to get this job moving, we simply cannot fail to get this job done!
Parts of the wheel don’t have to be reinvented just expanded and implemented through the Washington Workforce Board, where training combines classroom instruction with paid, on-the-job training under the supervision of a journey-level craft person or trade professional, this becomes part of the curriculum. The apprenticeships are governed by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council and administered by the Department of Labor and Industries. By implementing this framework state wide with the school system and industry, half of the work is already done saving valuable time. An important set of statistics that has been accumulated through the Workforce Board is that for every dollar invested in this type of programing the return to the taxpayer is $23 to 1 in projected additional lifetime taxes paid by a participant, plus the reduction in costs of unemployment insurance. Additionally, there is a projected $91 to 1 return to the participants lifetime earnings meaning this potential over time would be an incredible opportunity to break the earnings and poverty gap, put more money into the state economy, increase tax revenue, and for once stabilize education funding, easing the tax burden on the taxpayer.
Another intended benefit of my plan will contribute to the McCleary decision education funding shortfall estimated to require $4 billion to correct. My position is by engaging education and Washington’s business and industry there will be a tangible contribution that will carve away at the funding issue. Employee shortage has been an issue for years, what an incredible opportunity we can work together on and succeed.
Teachers are Rock Stars!
Our teachers have a tough and important job in our society. Unfortunately, when the issues become so politically charged as they have been the teachers lose their voice in all of the political noise. We need to return them to Rock Star status for the job they do, without good teachers our education system would continue to falter no matter how much money you pumped into the system. Like the other pieces to this education puzzle the protection of teaching positions needs to be addressed, just as we are seeing shortages in other professions so goes the possibility of maintaining teachers that rise to the task of training our children.
We can support our teachers with fair compensation, currently base pay for new teachers is $34,048 annually. In order to remain competitive and retain new teachers the compensation needs to be increased incrementally by at least 30% for Washington to remain competitive in retaining new teachers, roughly $22.5 million per year. Additionally, compensation adjustments should be implemented for years 2 through 5 as teachers progress in their career.
Charter Schools are not the enemy!
Charter Schools are not the enemy, Charter schools are funded based on student enrollment, similar to traditional public schools. When a student transfers from a traditional public school to a public charter school, the funding associated with that student follows him or her to the public charter school. Public charter schools do not add any new costs to the state’s public education system. They simply move funding associated with a student from one public school to another based upon the decisions of family rather than the state.
Charter Schools provide another opportunity in that they provide high-quality educational services to students with various learning needs and effective in benefiting low-income students, students from communities of color and English-language learners.
Charter Schools should remain under local control of elected School Boards to ensure accountability and meet the states constitutional requirements since it involves public funds.
Parent Partnership Program
This is an outstanding program that melds Home Schooling with Public Education, I am a little biased on this issue because my children are involved with this program through the Snohomish School District, basically how this works is students K-12 attend Public School 1 time per week and the remainder of the school weeks education takes place in the home under a predetermined and approved curriculum that meets Public Education Standards but also allows students to explore other areas of interest.
This melding of Home Schooling and Public Education allows greater parental involvement and still supports the Public Education system and our teachers. The teachers involved in this program are some of the most wonderful teachers you will find, they are committed to quality education and spark the imagination and interest of the students and I fully support expansion of programs such as this, it has been a wonderful option and the students love it, in my view it is Public Education at its best!