“I think a lot of times, people look at the roundtable and think we’re those who believe everybody needs a four-year degree,” roundtable president Steve Mullin said during a recent meeting with The Columbian’s Editorial Board. “We’re working hard to dispel that myth.”
Because of that, leaders emphasize another finding of the study: Only 31 percent of high school students in the state go on to build professional credentials by the age of 26. In other words, Washington is not adequately preparing students for the jobs that are opening up. “We’re No. 2 (among states) in reliance upon imported talent,” Mullin said.
That is where the discussion about education comes in. For years, Washington, along with most other states, has based funding upon the professionals in a particular school building. And that creates inequities.
As The Seattle Times’ Claudia Rowe reported in an insightful article in January: “The Everett School District, for example, receives about $120 more from Olympia, per child, to teach English to nonnative students than Seattle Public Schools does, even though there is no particular difference in these students’ needs.”
The Washington Roundtable recommends funding based upon the actual students in a school and the number of those who require additional help by virtue of being English learners or being homeless or having conditions that hamper their ability to learn.
That, of course, is the simplistic explanation, but it is one that has been embraced by the Republican-controlled Senate in its budget proposal. And it is one that makes a lot of sense.
The hard part will be getting Democrats and teachers’ unions to listen. The current way of allocating school funding will not die quietly.