Here’s one education equity measure on which Washington does well

Washington comes out pretty well in The Education Trust’s new report, The Funding Gap: Too Many States Still Spend Least on Education Students Who Need the Most.

Two charts from the report are particularly informative. 

The first looks at the funding gap, the difference in funding between the wealthiest and the poorest schools.  Here’s how The Education Trust calculates the gap:

To calculate gaps between the highest and lowest poverty districts, we:

• Sorted all districts by the percentage of students below the poverty line;

• Divided districts into four groups (quartiles) so that each group had approximately the same number of students;

• Calculated the average state and local revenue per student across all the districts in each quartile; and

• Compared the state and local revenues per student in the highest and lowest poverty quartiles.

Washington ranks in the middle, among the states with a rough equity (small gap).

Funding Gap 1

 

The other chart worth noting addresses an issue central to the current legislative session: the degree to which Washington funds K-12 education from the state budget. The chart ranks Washington fifth highest in share of state funding, with the state providing 65 percent of the state-local funding). That’s behind only Arkansas, New Mexico, Idaho and Minnesota. (Hawaii, which would otherwise top the list, is not included in the Trust’s analysis.)

State funding

The report is here. The Washington page here. They compiled a lot of interesting data for those wanting to take a different look at demographics and school funding. 

There’s more good news about education, directly relating to providing funds to help low-income students. The Spokesman-Review added its editorial voice to calls to reclaim No Child Left Behind funds. And advocates of doing just that by incorporating student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations turned in 20,000 signatures in support of SB 5748

Seattle Times: Clear roadblocks for transportation package

Today’s Seattle Times editorial supporting swift legislative action on a transportation package concludes with the right, strong emphasis.

The transportation negotiations under way now in the state Senate must represent the urgency of the need. Legislative leaders should set a deadline of mid-March, when the Legislature’s attention will shift to the operating budget.

Delay further and the Senate risks sending a message to the business community — which has strongly backed a package — that it can’t address the basics of governing.

It’s well past time for Olympia to keep the state moving.

Read the whole thing … there are important details to sort out. But the critical point is that those details must be resolved. They cannot stand in the way of reaching agreement on transportation funding in the next few weeks.

The editorial in the Times nicely complements a similar position taken by the Spokane Spokesman-Review just days ago. The S-R noted,

To understand what’s at stake, the Washington Roundtable, a group of statewide business leaders, asked the Boston Consulting Group to study the impact of action and inaction. A $7 billion investment over 30 years would generate an estimated $42 billion economic boost, creating nearly 200,000 jobs and more efficient movement of goods and motorists. Conversely, inaction would cost the average driver $940 annually, and shipping volume at the Seattle and Tacoma ports would take a hit. Plus, by 2026, 60 percent of highway pavement would be rated “poor” or worse, and 40 percent of bridges would be dangerously deficient.

The stakes are high, as this Opportunity Washington video makes clear.

There’s no time to waste.

Health care leaders cite reforms and innovation, call for stability in state budget

Opportunity Washington identified health care as one of the state’s fastest-growing employment sectors.

The largest increase in jobs over the past 15 years came in health services …which grew by 43 percent to a total of approximately 452,000 jobs. (page 5)

And we noted that rising health care costs take a toll on the state budget.

Even with the ongoing economic recovery, the state budget will face stress for the foreseeable future as a result of court-mandated increases in basic education funding, increased health care expenses, negotiated public employee compensation increases, and increases in other required state spending.

Given these pressures, special emphasis must be placed on controlling key budget drivers, including health care, labor costs, and debt.

In the Seattle Times, Rick Cooper, CEO of Everett Clinic and chairman of the Washington Healthcare Forum, and Rick Rubin, CEO of OneHealthPort, have a good op-ed discussing how stable state funding can help control costs and improve health care delivery. It’s a timely reminder of trade-offs in a tight budget session. The decisions ahead will not be easy. The op-ed informs the debate. Among their points:

New structures and systems are being deployed throughout Washington’s health-care community and initial results are promising: The care patients receive is better and safer, cost trends are down and access has increased. This innovation is being driven by market forces and state and federal legislation. The state participates in reforms as a purchaser, regulator, educator and a leader.

The timing is right for the health industry to improve its efficiency as the patient population it serves is growing. Medicaid covers 1.6 million people, including 550,000 new enrollees. As the Washington Health Benefit Exchange and Medicaid expand to enroll more residents (nearly 700,000 are newly covered), our health-care system must do more. During this tumultuous period, the need for stable state funding is greater than ever.

Read the whole thing.