Meeting McCleary requirements and sticking with standards

The Columbian reports on where the Legislature stands at it heads toward final days dominated by finding budget for the McCleary school funding requirement. Relying primarily on Southwest Washington legislators for perspective, the story nonetheless captures the Olympia reality, one that’s been around all session.

Democrats are bracing for a tax fight. Many on the left have touted the governor’s proposals to tax polluters and institute a capital gains tax as ways to boost the state’s K-12 budget.

“It’s not difficult to look at the numbers — it’s black and white — to see there would have to be some draconian cuts in order to fully meet our obligation to fund education,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver.

But Republicans continue to push back and point to an uptick in the economy and increased revenue.

Eventually, the circle will be squared, as Sen. Ann Rivers says.

“I was trying to articulate this before and for me, it’s like not if we are going to eat dinner tonight butwhat we’re having,” [Sen. Rivers] said. “It’s not if we’re going to address McCleary, it’s how.”

While the funding battles continue, lawmakers are still being encouraged to stick with the Common Core standards. The Seattle Times reported earlier that, while some balk at them, Washington has not joined other states where the Common Core has become a flashpoint issue. The Times strongly endorsed the standards in a weekend editorial.

Common Core has been relatively uncontroversial in Washington with broad support from the state schools chief, lawmakers and advocacy organizations, such as Stand For Children, League of Education Voters, Washington Roundtable and Washington State PTA. The state teachers union adopted a neutral stance.

Still, some school officials, parents and the group Stop Common Core WA argue that Common Core takes away local districts’ control, leads to over-testing, limits teachers in what and how they teach, and that the standards are too rigorous or, alternatively, not rigorous enough.

Such concerns are misplace, the Times notes.

Students need more skills and knowledge now more than ever to succeed in college and the workforce, he said. More than half — 58 percent — of the state’s high school graduates need remedial courses upon enrolling in community and technical colleges.

…Standards serve as a blueprint, but the real work toward student achievement happens in the classroom.

Instead of fighting the new standards, parents and educators should focus on helping students meet and exceed those standards.

Meanwhile, nationally, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush defend the Common Core against critics.