Report: Washington Doesn’t Prioritize Education Spending

OLYMPIA—JANUARY 31, 2017—Although it’s one of the wealthiest states in the country, Washington gets an “F” in terms of education spending, according to a recently released study.

“Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” published by the Education Law Center, compares state education funding systems using a variety of data. Among its findings, the report examined what the authors call “effort.” Effort refers to the total amount of state and local spending on education in relation to the gross state product, which is the total value of goods and services produced by the state.

In 2013, the most recent year for which complete data exist, Washington ranked 46th of the 50 states.

“Relative to our economic growth, we don’t put enough back into education,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We rank ninth in the country in terms of our per capita gross state product. Yet less than three percent of that wealth is spent on public education. We need to do better.

“As one comparison, Mississippi – which ranks 50th in per capita gross state product – puts more than four percent into public education.”

Reykdal also noted that the study ranked Washington 49th out of 51 (50 states and Washington, D.C.) in terms of wage competitiveness, which “compares teachers’ salaries to the salaries of other professionals in the same labor market and of similar age, degree level, and hours worked.”

“Our rank is a function of how much we value the talent we have,” he said. “We must improve! We need sincere conversations in this state about what it means to recruit and retain quality teachers.”

Reykdal pointed to Senate Bill 5607, which would overhaul education funding. “I’m very encouraged by the comprehensiveness of the bill,” he said, “and the willingness of the Senate to propose fairly sweeping changes. Any plan that moves the needle on student achievement must increase our overall investment in K-12 significantly, support our educators with market-rate compensation and drive more dollars into high-need communities.”

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