The office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction just released some encouraging news about the class of ... 2037.  Details in a moment but first, for your consideration, two quotes on the importance of a quality education for our children.

"I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way."


"We can not always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."


The first was from then-23-year-old pop goddess Whitney Houston. With global sales of more than 45 million copies, Houston's The Bodyguard (Soundtrack) is the all-time top-selling album by a female artist worldwide and the biggest-selling soundtrack album ever.

2009 American Music Awards - Show
Getty Images

The second quote is from the man who was America's 32nd President for a record 4,422 days, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who by most accounts couldn't sing a note.

Franklin D Roosevelt
Getty Images

Washington's Constitution Is Clear, Teach All Children Well

Both are singing the right tune about the importance of education.  The Washington State Constitution says Education is the State's HIGHEST priority.  So how are we doing on Job One?  The truth is we are spending lots of money, but our kids are not making the grade.

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Washington Education - Progress? Some. Still Failing? Yes.

A report from Washington's Republican legislators delivers the kind of education news that should keep school leaders in from recess and staying after school.

While the Legislature has spent years increasing funding to public schools, too many students have been left behind.  Student performance on national test scores has been trending down over the last decade and, after extensive school closures, state test scores are at their lowest since the state assessment began.

Since we aren't good with numbers, we'll go slow.  Six out of every ten Washington students, that's 60%, do NOT meet grade-level math standards.  Nearly five out of every ten students, that's 50%, do NOT meet grade-level standards in English language arts.  If Whitney was right, what does this portend for our "future?"

How Bad Is Washington's Decline?

With apologies to the good people of Mississippi, who routinely find themselves at the bottom of most national lists demonstrating "progress" of one kind or another, Mississippi was 49th in the country in fourth-grade reading ten years ago and now Mississippi students outrank Washington.

This is a story of decline despite investment.  A decade ago, Washington students used to rank in the top 10 on national assessments in both math and reading.  Today they rank 17th  in eighth-grade math, 19th in fourth-grade reading, and a ridiculous 27th in fourth-grade math.

Sirius education center in Sochi, Russia
Alexander Ryumin

Spending More Money Isn't The Answer For Educational Success

Even as student performance dips, Washington continues to dip into the piggy bank to pay for a system that's struggling.  Washington is among the national leaders in dollars spent per student and the report says Washington leads the West in per-student spending.

<p> </p><p> Washington 22-23 per student spending $19,114 </p><p>California      22-23 per student spending $17,848 </p><p>Oregon         22-23 per student spending $15,937</p><p>Idaho            22-23 per student spending  $9,524</p>

Ok. One last data point that points to an uncertain future.  The Education report shows that despite offering the most generous financial aid available in the country, Washington ranks near the bottom for students attending college within one year of graduating high school.  Somebody has some explaining to do.  Is that "somebody" Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal?

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Some Education Records Aren't Worth Celebrating

Perhaps Reykdal is playing the "long game with his announcement that a record-high percentage of Washington’s kindergartener"s (52.5%) are showing readiness for school in all six of the areas measured by the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills.

If the assessment is correct and the preparedness holds up, the class of 2037 stands a chance to move the numbers in a positive direction, but what about the success rate for the kids already in the education pipeline in decline?

Superintendent Reykdal's mission is to provide funding, resources, tools, data and technical assistance that enable educators to ensure students succeed in our public schools, are prepared to access post-secondary training and education, and are equipped to thrive in their careers and lives.

Teaching Students In Washington Is Too Important To Fail

Washington's graduation was a record 83% last year. A record!   And yet, forty other states had higher rates.  The Superintendent is excited that just 52% of new kindergarten kids test as completely ready for school. 52% is another record!  Somebody has some explaining to do.

Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-22
Washington State Legislative Sup

Mr. twice elected Superintendent Reykdal, Sir, can you sing? Here are some pretty good words:

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be

Job One: " to ensure students succeed in our public schools."   Let's go!

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