What if the citizens of Washington State decided they wanted to have the best educational system in the 50 states? Our state and cities, Eastern and Western Washington, would thrive economically, culturally, civically, charitably, becoming centers of creativity and innovation which we need to compete in a world economy.
Massachusetts is the No. 1 education state in the union – it spends $ 3 billion more per biennium than Washington State does. To become No. 1, we might need to spend more than $3 billion, but the investments in Early Childhood Education alone will return more than $7 for every $1 invested. We should add early childhood education for students aged three and four to the definition of basic education, fully fund kindergarten through high school, add two years of post-secondary community college or technical school, and fully fund our four year post-secondary colleges and universities. But we cannot do all that this year.
The good news is that the Democrats and Republicans in Olympia want to address our education funding deficit under threat. Our courageous Supreme Court is insisting that the legislature uphold the constitution they swore to support and protect. The Washington State Constitution states that it is our paramount duty to fully fund basic education. What is the problem? Only politics and our underfunding of education since the Great Recession, and before. The Republicans are generally small government and embrace no or low taxes; the Ds propose measures to solve the problem but are blocked by the no tax Republicans. Taxes are how we invest in and create a society that we wish to live in, raise our children in, and create a good base for our grandchildren. Businesses understand this concept; we invest in what is important and know that there are no free lunches.
So it is time for all of us to hold our legislator’s accountable. It is time for us to call on them to create the most vibrant economic and cultural state in the Union. We must insist that they raise new revenue to invest in our school system.
Walt Krueger, Kirkland