After Funding Fight, Washington Superintendent Sees Opportunity To Transform Schools
What should a 21st century public school system look like? Washington’s superintendent of public instruction says it’s time to have that conversation now that the state’s decade-long school funding legal fight is over.
State schools chief Chris Reykdal says the McCleary school funding case of the past decade shored up the public education system. But he feels the conversation shouldn’t stop there.
“If the foundation of the house is solid now, wouldn’t you want to remodel the 130-year-old education house,” Reykdal said. “Wouldn’t you want to rethink what we’re doing in light of how much the economy has changed and our global impact?”
Some examples: Reykdal wants to expand early learning opportunities, pilot longer school years and give students more opportunities to connect school to work.
Reykdal also wants to expand access to mental health professionals for at-risk kids, provide teachers more support in the classroom and ensure a continued emphasis on smaller class sizes, especially in the elementary grades.
The Office Of Superintendent of Public Instruction recently conducted a survey to find out what educators and the public think should be the education funding priorities in the coming years. The results are still being analyzed, but Reykdal said smaller class sizes are emerging a clear priority.
In the short-term, Reykdal sees the need for the Legislature to put more money into special education, resolve problems with the state’s new regional pay system and revisit newly-imposed caps on local school levies, which he thinks are too restrictive.
State Sen. Hans Zeiger, the ranking Republican on the Senate education committee, agreed that special education and career and technical education should be top funding priorities for the future.
“I think actually there’s a lot of bipartisan talk about priorities right now and so I’m interested in finding those areas where we can work together,” Zeiger said.
Zeiger also supports creating alternative routes to teacher certification to address teacher shortages, especially in the math and sciences. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re recruiting teachers into those fields,” Zeiger said.
The Washington Supreme Court recently ended its jurisdiction in the McCleary case after finding that the state is on track to fully fund its program of basic education by this fall.
Reykdal and Zeiger appeared on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program.
On Feb. 12, the Idaho House Education Committee gave its initial approval to a bill designed to keep transgender students from competing in girls’ sports. That means the bill could come back at a later date for a full hearing. Continue Reading Idaho Rep., A Former Basketball Player And Coach, Seeks To Bar Transgender Girls In School Sports
You’re invited to spend a weekend working with professional public radio journalists to make your own radio story. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to record and edit audio, conduct interviews, write a script, and speak on air. You don’t need to have any previous audio or journalism experience to apply. Continue Reading Hey Teens! Apply For The RadioActive Youth Media Workshop: Yakima
Idaho’s schools have some 16,000 English language learners, and the majority speak Spanish as a primary language. Yet English language learners make up only 25 percent of Idaho’s Hispanic students, the vast majority of whom speak English. Continue Reading Idaho Schools Superintendent Emphasizes Importance Of Improved Outcomes For English Learners