Throughout my time in Olympia, I’ve advocated that public schools deserve our “first dollar,” not our “last dime.” But writing a larger-and-larger check is nowhere near sufficient to improve K-12 educational opportunities. We must target our investment toward evidence-based programs and pedagogy that are shown to improve educational outcomes. We must constantly measure student growth so we can expand investments in proven strategies and move on from ideas that may have sounded good but result in no improvements among students. And these investments can’t take place in a vacuum—we must recognize that certain geographic and demographic groups are starting further behind others and strive to close that gap as quickly as possible.
I have sponsored a number of bills consistent with this philosophy, such as HB 2728 (to help struggling 3rd graders catch up in reading, as the school drop-out rate is exponentially lower among students who can read at grade-level by 3rd grade compared to those who can’t) and HB 2868 (to, among other things, assist kids falling behind in the transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school).
In recognition of this work, I’m honored to share that I was one of the first legislators to be endorsed in 2018 by the non-partisan education advocacy group Stand for Children. Stand for Children “strives to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate high school prepared for, and with access to, college or career training.”