Our Special Session Priorities: 

The Washington state legislature has a chance to end the biggest inequity in Washington’s education system: how we fund our schools. In the 2017 Special Session, legislators must fairly fund education and start to level the playing field for students who are living in poverty, homeless, in foster care, with special needs, English language learners, or falling behind. McCleary demands that EVERY kid has a chance at a great education, and the Campaign for Student Success’s student-centered solutions are the right way our state can do what’s equitable and fair to help EVERY kid.

Today, Washington state’s education funding perpetuates deep inequity by funding education using a complicated formula based on staff ratio mix instead of student needs. This, combined with using local levy funding instead of adequate state funding, means wealthier districts receive more funding than lower-income school districts.

Our inequitable funding system has a real impact on our kids. In Washington state, one out of every five students does not receive a high school diploma – ranking us 41st in the nation for graduation rates. Only 50 percent of students read and write at grade level. Our state ranks 50th in the nation for making progress closing the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers. At its core, this is unfair and is what we must fix.

The Campaign for Student Success is urging Washington state legislators to address this inequity and meet the demands of McCleary. Our campaign’s student-centered solutions will prioritize funding the students who need it most, add funding to student-targeted programs, and make funding transparent.

Focus on directing more dollars to high-poverty districts. This means making two changes to tackle current policies that make our system unfair:

  • Eliminate the staff mix ratio so funding is allocated more closely based on student need. Currently, Washington state sends discretionary funding to districts based on bureaucratic hiring decisions, rather than directing funding to reach students based on need. As a result, students with the highest need actually get the least help.
  • Fix inequities in the funding system so EVERY student has a fair chance. Currently, funding inequity means that wealthy neighborhoods receive more resources while lower income neighborhoods receive less. The opposite should be true. Public education can and should be a great equalizer and create opportunity for all.

Seize this moment. Add more money and additional weight to certain student-targeted programs:

  • Direct $1 billion more for existing student-targeted programs including the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (TBIP), Dual Credit Programs, Special Education, Career and Technical Education and the Highly Capable Program. For this additional money to work, real guardrails must be put in place to ensure it serves the kids intended:
    • Dedicate funding to these specific student programs.
    • Protect funding from cuts in future cycles.
    • Direct funding to the school.
    • Ensure funds are spent on evidence-based practices that produce results.
    • Establish new targeted funding to support students who are homeless or in foster care.

Promote transparency to ensure funding reaches students:

  • Ensure all school spending is reported in the same way by adopting a Unified Chart of Accounts.
  • Ensure school-level data on how funding is spent and data on student outcomes is made publicly available, easily understood, and shared with parents.
  • Increase required parent and community input into school budgets.