Statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the House and Senate Budgets:
June 14 — The state House and Senate have begun a second special session. Below is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the differences between the House and Senate budgets as they relate to the McCleary decision.
I have stated my opinion that neither the Senate nor the House budget levels for education are sufficient to satisfy the court order to show significant progress towards full funding of basic education. The two budgets, however, are not equal in terms of the effect on education. The House budget follows more closely to the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, while the Senate has opted for new policy items in lieu of satisfying McCleary.
Money Diverted to the Learning Assistance Program (LAP)
The Senate has chosen to defund a number of small but vital education programs. It is using the money saved from those programs to increase funding for LAP. But LAP was designed to help students improve their performance in math and reading, not to replace the programs the Senate is eliminating.
There’s nothing wrong with increasing LAP funding. The Senate’s budget, though, includes new policy items outside of the scope of McCleary. Any new funds appropriated to LAP ought to go toward areas that will satisfy the Court, such as full-day kindergarten and decreasing class sizes in early grades.
Cuts to Career and Technical Education (CTE)
I have long been a champion of CTE programs. They are a key to increasing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education, career readiness and graduation rates. And most important, these are the programs that are needed for our students to compete in the future global economy.
Both the House and the Senate budgets, though, cut funding for materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOC) for CTE programs. We know that MSOC is higher for CTE programs than for general education programs: the costs are used for shop equipment and tools, to name just two examples.
Some have said that not all MSOC money is being used, and therefore a cut is needed. But that argument is flawed. First, OSPI recovers the extra money. Second, there are safeguards to ensure that the money budgeted goes toward CTE.
Cutting CTE MSOC would have a chilling effect on the growth of CTE programs and would deny students education opportunities. The Senate’s budget cuts $49 million, which would dramatically reduce the ability of districts to continue to provide CTE instruction. The Senate’s implied message is that CTE, and by extension STEM, isn’t that important.
Flawed Assumptions on Graduation Tests
The Senate budget assumes that we can phase out our existing graduation tests and replace them with the new Smarter Balanced tests based on the Common Core standards, both of which will be coming online in 2014-15.
The problem is that the Smarter Balanced tests will be given in the 11th grade, and are meant to assess whether students are prepared to enter college or a technically advanced workplace. These tests are meant to measure how the system is progressing in terms of increasing student performance. They are not designed to be used as individual graduation tests.
Offering high stakes graduation tests for the first time in the 11th grade is unfair. In addition, the standard for high school graduation is proficiency in basic subjects, not the higher, “college and career” standard measured by the Smarter Balance tests.
The radical change in testing the Senate is proposing would lead to higher failure rates on graduation tests, fewer students graduating on time, more drop outs and far more money spent on the collection of evidence process.
Once again, I urge the Senate to abandon these policy positions and work with the House to fund the roadmap to full funding established by the Quality Education Council and previously passed legislation.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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