Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Recession, An Education Reform Opportunity

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 25, 2009

Washington State’s budget deficit and the current recession forces the Legislature to examine every department and program for savings including a major cost center, K-12 education. It should provide the impetus to overcome teacher’s unions and the lobbyist for all manner of education sacred cows. The budget is a golden opportunity to adopt reforms that save money and provide more value for the investment.

The Washington Policy Council recently published an education reform program that addresses eight proposed improvements: 1 ) Put the principal in charge. 2 ) Give parents choice among public schools. 3 ) Let teachers teach. 4 ) Double teacher pay. 5 ) Replace the WASL. 6 ) Create no-excuses schools. 7 ) Transparency – put school budgets and teacher qualifications online. 8 ) Make the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed office. Their recommendations do not necessarily cost more money and are largely common sense reforms. Implementaion, however, would require courage on the part of legislators especially Democrats who would have to face the wrath of one of their major sources of campaign funds, the education lobby. The WPC plan is a must read for every legislator and citizen.

Even liberal groups like the League of Education Voters are beginning to see the light. While they still push for higher Pre K-12 spending, they support high standards, improved math and science programs, accountability and accept some form of performance-based pay. Unfortunately, you have to give your name and address to get a copy of their 2009 Citizen’s Report Card on Washington State Education but it is worth the pain of being on another mailing list.

About four years ago, I published my own list of reforms. I updated it recently adding two more suggestions. (See Education Reform)

If this is the year of “Change”, then education is a great place to start.

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