Partnership For Learning
Chair of Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Commitee
Sen. Steve LitzowChair of Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Commitee

Opinion: More school funding should be tied increased student learning

State Sen. Steve Litzow, the new chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee, writes in the Seattle Times that when the state provides more money for schools (as a part of the McCleary lawsuit), it should be tied to increased student outcomes. In other words, more bang for the buck.

Writes Litzow: "Last year Washington’s Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to make “ample provision” for public education. Since then, public discussion has centered on more money for schools — something I support.

But spending is only part of the challenge. Today, state spending does not connect to student learning. More state funding should result in more student learning and higher achievement."

By 2018, nearly 70 percent of jobs in Washington will require post-secondary education or training. The means those students who are not prepared for life in the workforce will be angling for a small percentage of jobs that likely won't pay a solid family wage. If more students are prepared for college and career, they will be able to fill the thousands of jobs Washington state companies are offering, but can't fill with Washington, or even American, talent.

Litzow makes this point in his op-ed: "The ultimate goal for education funding should be a well-educated society, with all individuals capable of participating in the job market and in democracy.

One important goal, easily measured, is to improve graduation rates. Unfortunately, here in Washington our high-school graduation rate has steadily declined to 76 percent. We are failing one of four children. Many graduate without the skills to meet the high demands of our local job market."

Litzow's op-ed hits on the 2013 education policy priorities of the Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning: more accountability for student outcomes needs to built into the system as more funding becomes available. That way the public knows how their local schools are performing and if their investment in education is paying off in students being more prepared for college, work and life.