Opinion editorial by Rep. Chandler: Prioritize education in state budget

By Rep. Bruce Chandler, special to the Yakima Valley Business Times

 

The Yakima Valley has some great education success stories. Trevor Greene, Toppenish High School principal, was recently awarded the National High School Principal of the Year. Jeff Charbonneau, a Zillah High School science teacher, is a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year. What makes these educators successful with students?

First, they are committed. Having grown up in the Valley, they have a vested interest in seeing the next generation succeed. Principal Greene told his students, “When I came here, I saw the future in your faces. I saw a little mischief at times, but more than anything I saw the possibilities.” We need more of such educators and administrators throughout our state.

Second, Greene and Charbonneau are innovators, and are supported in that innovation by their peers and administrators. Charbonneau created a series of college-level courses in math and science that allow his students to earn college credit before graduating. He engages students with fun learning opportunities in things like a robotics challenge, an outdoors club and yearbook.

How can the Legislature partner with success in schools to ensure students receive the very best opportunities? By prioritizing education first in our state budget. This isn't about just spending more money and hoping for better test results. It's about meeting our constitutional obligation to make education the paramount duty of the state. Fund education first, House Bill 1174, would include immediate enhancements to all-day kindergarten and smaller class sizes for kindergarten through 3rd grade. It's about early investment in children so they are set up for success.

Our new governor has said we need to be accountable for learning outcomes, and not measure success by the amount of dollars that go into education. I agree. Outcomes are measured in several ways: standardized testing, dropout rates, and the stories we hear from teachers and parents. When students are excited to learn, when they have been taught from a young age and with dedicated, innovative teachers, they share that and carry it forward for the rest of their lives.

In Grandview, Arthur H. Smith Elementary School is creating the first parent-teacher association in the district. Parents and teachers there recognize we all have a part in helping children succeed in their education. Parents need to be engaged in homework and meeting with teachers. We need teachers who are committed, relentless and innovative. Working together, neighbors and family will encourage lifelong learning. As your legislator, I am committed to ensuring education receives our first dollars, and not our last dime, based on proven results.

Rep. Bruce Chandler is a Republican from Granger. He represents the 15th Legislative District, which includes Grandview, Sunnyside, Zillah, Granger, Toppenish, Wapato, Moxee, Union Gap, Selah and parts of Yakima.

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