Governor proposes $155 million for math and science education

Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed spending almost $155 million on math and science education for Washington students.

Poor scores on the Washington Assessment of Student learning have shown Gregoire that students need better math and science training, according to a press release from her office.

Gregoire released her math and science proposal in the process of revealing her recommended 2007 budget, which calls for an increase of about $1.7 billion in spending for K-12 education. That includes $139 million for class size reduction and $381 for pay increases for teachers.

Her proposed initiative for math and science calls for reduced class sizes of one teacher for every 25 students; 750 additional math and science teachers; investments in teacher training; a bonus structure for nationally certified teachers to earn an additional $5,000 per year if they teach in a challenging school and another $5,000 if they teach math or science; expanded hands-on science instruction; standardized math curricula across the state in line with international standards; increased math and science scholarships.

Lakeridge Principal Ralph Allen questioned whether a standardized curriculum will necessarily improve math education, but said Gregoire’s initiative could be beneficial if it reduces class sizes.

“People tend to go back to curriculum, and I couldn’t disagree more,” he said. “It’s silly to think that going to X curriculum is going to make a difference... Out of the whole thing, if it results in smaller instruction units for math, for Mercer Island that will be the biggest difference because we’ve invested a lot in teachers, in curriculum.

“It has to do with how much time you have to spend with kids helping with math.”

Mercer Island Education Association President Mary Lindquist also said she does not like the idea of a standardized curriculum. “Kids just don’t fit into the same size little boxes and a statewide curriculum doesn’t address the differing needs of a Mercer Island and Forks,” she said.

She also said she hopes Gregoire’s proposal won’t stop with math and science.

“If this is the first in a series of such proposals, it’s wonderful,” Lindquist said. “I think what she is doing with math and science needs to be spread across the curriculum and include English and social studies and all the other curricular areas.

“I’m very encouraged by the money she’s putting into lowering class size for math and science and improving compensation.”

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