This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
Last year’s McCleary decision is not just about money.
As the Washington Supreme Court noted 14 months ago, the state constitution mandates that the Legislature “make ample provision for the education” of all the state’s children.
What does “education” mean? The court defined it – logically – as “the basic knowledge and skills needed to compete in today’s economy and meaningfully participate in this state’s democracy.”
It’s a question of quality as well as quantity.
You could spend fortunes feeding fast food to kids, and they’ll grow up malnourished. Likewise, the Legislature could dump another
$5 billion a year into the K-12 system without offering students the skills they need to survive in the 21st-century economy. More money is necessary, but not sufficient.
Lawmakers this year have been taking important steps toward improving the quality of public education in Washington.
One pair of bills would create a date certain – July 1, 2015 – for increasing state high school graduation requirements to 24 credits.
More important, the credits must mean something. The plan is to align graduation requirements with college admission requirements. Students shouldn’t just be given a piece of paper when they graduate; they need the intellectual tools to succeed in a four-year college, two-year college or technical-vocational program.
As things stand, many students – especially from low-income families – have only a foggy understanding of what college demands. They often wind up with a hodgepodge of credits that don’t add up to a marketable high school diploma.
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