Landmark progress for students

The Legislature passed historic new funding levels and reforms for Washington’s public schools at the end of June, which will have profound effects for our state’s students, teachers, parents and taxpayers for decades to come.

In addition to providing a significant funding increase (which is detailed below), we also made fundamental reforms to ensure money is spent more effectively and equitably around the state. By doing so students from Puyallup and Tacoma will have the same support as their peers in Seattle and Bellevue.

I believe that we will come to view the education funding legislation as a landmark achievement. It’s certainly not perfect, but shows that our process can work — that Democrats and Republicans can come together and do big things for Washington.

Before we voted on the bill, I stood on the Senate floor and spoke in support as the son, grandson, and great grandson of Puyallup public school teachers. I shared the story of my great grandparents Ernest and Leata Zeiger who came west from Illinois in 1928 to teach school for a year in Washington State, and ended up staying and leaving a powerful education legacy.

They took part in a tradition of education that goes back to 1889, when the founders of our state wrote in the state constitution that education would be the “paramount duty” of our state and that Washington would “make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”

By passing the education-funding bill, I believe that we have done what it takes to fulfill those words in our state constitution.

Click here or below to view my speech on the Senate floor in support of this landmark change for our public schools.