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WASA's Bill Keim Blogs About School Funding

WSU football kicks off tonight, UW opens this weekend, the Seahawks are playing their last preseason game, and before long all the state's school hallways will be filled with kids. Also looming large, the outcome of the McCleary vs State decision. WASA Executive Director Bill Keim has a great blog post on school funding. Here's an excerpt below, but be sure you read the whole article.

As educators across the state begin to welcome students back to the start of another school year, there is a cloud hanging over our schools caused by the federally required NCLB failure letters that went to most parents in the state. I’m hopeful that these parents know our schools aren’t failing, but I’m not sure they know just how good they are.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been analyzing state comparisons on the 2013 NAEP Scores alongside the similar comparisons of state education funding and funding effort. That information tells a remarkable story about the powerful work our schools are doing in spite of difficult challenges.

Washington’s combined ranking for NAEP 4th and 8th grade math and reading is seventh in the nation. That’s not a one-year fluke, because we’ve been in the top ten for a while. When was the last time you heard a compliment from legislators, business leaders, or the media for that remarkable achievement? Let me take the opportunity to say “Way to go Washington educators!”

What is even more impressive is that we’ve accomplished that feat while being in the bottom 10 states in per student funding for more than a decade. The chart in Figure 1 shows Washington’s per student funding since 1995 compared with the nation and the average of the other top 10 NAEP performing states. It’s interesting to see that all three lines began in about the same place back in 1995 and the lines have continued to diverge. Talk about an achievement gap!