Washington State Legislature, Governor Gregoire
United States of America

Generations of children have moved through the Mercer Island public schools, seeking a modern education. That education today is mired in funding formulas patched together over the last 3 decades.

We urge legislators to consider that the last study - the very thoughtful and comprehensive Basic Education Funding Taskforce recommendations - should indeed be the last study. Now is the time to enact a new definition of basic education, the paramount duty of Washington's government according to its own Constitution.

We ask our legislators to include these priority components in the new definition of basic education which shall be fully funded by the state:

- CORE 24 - a framework of high school graduation requirements already approved by the State Board of Education. CORE 24 is more specific than a "meaningful high school diploma." CORE 24 specifically raises the credits required for graduation to 24, enabled by a day of at least 6 periods, better preparing our children to effectively enter the workforce, or attend trade schools, community colleges, and universities.

- Technology - the equipment, the software, and the training that bridge our students to the challenges of a modern digital world

- Reduce class sizes - A true commitment to lowering actual class sizes, particularly for grades K-2, rather than the slippery fiction of average teacher:student ratios

- Special education – Enable programs based on verifiable Individual Education Programs

- Model school – establish specific guidelines with specific funding for basic services like librarians, counselors, and support for struggling students to replace complicated staffing formulas currently in use

These are key elements to be incorporated into the new definition of basic education. In terms of implementation, we understand that new funding dollars should not be funneled to the same old (broken) system; an overhaul of both accountability systems and the teacher compensation structure are required. Until full implementation is funded by the state, it is critical to also rely on current local funding sources such as levies to bridge the gap to reform and stimulate education advances in the future.

Our children need action now. Preparing for the global economy has never been more critical. Don't wait for yet another generation to slip through the K-12 system.

We, the undersigned, call upon the Washington State Legislature and Governor to minimize cuts to education for the 2009-2011 biennium and redefine our program of basic education during the 2009 Legislative Session.

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The Redefine Basic Education in Washington petition to Washington State Legislature, Governor Gregoire was written by Mercer Island PTA Legislative Advocates and is in the category Education at GoPetition.