State education consolidation proposed

By Hawkeye Staff

Jan. 5, Governor Chris Gregoire proposed a plan to put Washington state education under one roof.
This change would require a legislative decision and would produce a cabinet-level Department of Education. This department would be the combined education agencies of the state and have full authority to run the Washington state education system.
“Today in our state, we do not have an education system; we have a collection of agencies that deal with the subject of education. I think we ought to talk about what’s good for the student from the day they’re born to the day they get the degree they want to get” Gregoire said at a news conference referred to in The Olympian news source.
In control of this new department would be the governor appointed, Education Secretary, and a state Education Council, members will also be appointed by the governor. The Education Secretary in consequence would report to the governor.
“My biggest concern would be that it takes the voice of the Washington State voters out of the process. I’m not sure we need partisan politics entered into education because right now it [Super Intending of Public Instruction] is an elected none partisan position, so the governor doesn’t have any control of that office.  As soon as the governor has the power to appoint then it becomes a much more partisan position.” Andie Nofziger, president of Edmonds Education Association (EDA) said.
Currently education takes up more that half of Washington’s $32 billion budget. Reframing of the educational system would take on a $4.6 billion budget short fall and would have to be passed by legislation even as key state programs and services are struggling in preservation.
Along with this system rework, Gregoire is proposing other changes to be made in education. For seniors, their 12th grade year would become a “launch year” for student careers. Washington residents earning a Bachelor Degrees would become a priority. Pledge Scholarship Programs would also be developed to help, for low and middle income Washington state students.