Education dodges drastic cuts
By GREG ALLMAIN
Mercer Island Reporter Reporter
April 18, 2012 · 4:44 PM
As the Legislature fought over Washington state’s budget the past few months, among the items most vigorously debated were drastic cuts to education that were put forward in some versions of the budget.
The Washington League of Education Voters noted the end of the struggle with relief.
On their website, the LEV commented that the Legislature passed a budget that keeps critical programs for kids intact.
The Teacher-Principal Evaluation bill also passed with bipartisan support with a vote of 46-3 in the Senate and 82-16 in the House.
A program called WaKIDS, a major part of Washington’s successful Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge application, will be expanded.
And a push to get rid of the writing assessment part of the state’s graduation requirements was ultimately rejected.
With the passage of the state budget earlier this week, and the preservation of education funding ensured, state superintendent Randy Dorn was also pleased with the outcome.
“I told the governor at the beginning of 2012, ‘No more cuts to education,’” Dorn said. “And when the final budget was passed, the issues I fought for on behalf of the kids of Washington state were spared. There were no cuts to the 180-day school year and no cuts to levy equalization. This was a particularly difficult year for budget consensus. The citizens owe a debt of gratitude to the governor and the legislature for protecting education funding.”
Outside of preserving general education funding, Dorn pushed for funding for reforms to streamline the process to either eliminate outright ineffective teachers, or put them on notice.
“This funding is needed to ensure all teachers and administrators receive the necessary training to implement this new and innovative way to help teachers improve their teaching practice,” he said.
Finally, funding was preserved for pilot programs to help close the achievement gap, especially among urban students.
“We are hopeful that these pilots will identify the practices that can be expanded statewide and ultimately be built into our basic education program to ensure that appropriate, ample funding is provided to help all students succeed,” Dorn said.
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Reporter Greg Allmain at firstname.lastname@example.org.