Skip to content


Both of my parents were long-time educators, so I value and appreciate teachers’ dedication to a profession that changes the lives of students and families. Everyone in Washington state wants their kids to have a quality education that prepares them for whatever pathway they choose. 

In Washington state, there has long been a back-and-forth about education funding. In our state, local school districts bargain independently, meaning every school district has its own contract that may or may not look like the neighboring school district’s. In the McCleary education funding lawsuit, which was ultimately won, and the Legislature took action in 2012-13, the state portion of everyone’s property taxes was increased to fund basic education to ensure that local levy dollars would go to non-educational endeavors like sports, music programs, and the like, and to create funding equity among school districts.

Today, in the wake of the pandemic that saw thousands of families across the state move their children out of the public school system, there are school districts that, with the loss of per-student funding, are considering closing several schools. Seattle has proposed closing as many as 20 schools, citing an enrollment decrease of roughly 5,000 students and growing costs (labor and liability insurance costs, etc.). Moses Lake school district expects a shortfall of $20 million this year.

Every parent with school children, and those without children in school who also pay for their local schools through property taxes and levies, wants to know where their dollars are going and expect educational outcomes that benefit every child, regardless of their zip code.

  • Washington’s high school graduation rate has declined from a high of 85% in 2017 to 82.3 in 2022. In the 2018-19 cohort of 85,240 students, only 70,121 graduated within four years. Of note, we still see BIPOC students being disproportionately left behind in our education system. (Source: Results Washington, February 2023 report
  • Washington spends nearly $30 million more on teacher professional learning days than dropout engagement. (Source: Page 13 of OSPI’s May 2024 report)
  • Property-poor and low-income communities continue to struggle with educational funding. McCleary failed to solve the issues rural and traditionally underserved communities face with school funding. These districts often have lower property tax bases, or the school districts receive Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to compensate for the lack of tax base due to state or federal land in the district. These districts often cannot pass levies for educational enhancements, leaving low-income and minority students without access to arts, shop classes, and other extracurricular opportunities that add to their educational experience.

We need to dive deeper into how we fund K-12 education and student outcomes.

  • If student achievement is low in a school district, immediate action must be taken to ensure that parents, teachers and students have the tools and resources to be successful.
  • We need to allocate dollars to where we know we can improve educational attainment, including dropout engagement.
  • If we want to prepare our students for success in post-secondary education or a successful career pathway, we need to take a hard look at where we are doing well and where we can improve and then take action.
  • It is critical that we spend more on kids than administrators. Over the years, we’ve seen administrative ranks grow without any corresponding increase in student achievement.

School choice and Career and Technical Education should be an option for every parent and student.

  • Not every student will succeed in a traditional classroom. That’s why charter schools were a draw for parents in failing schools and served as a fit for non-traditional learners.
  • Supporting children with different abilities is critical. Ensuring we fund special education in a way that gives every student the ability to thrive is what parents expect.
  • We got away from funding Career and Technical Education, but it is critical in ensuring every student is exposed to diverse career pathways that help them prepare for their post-graduation success.

We need accountability in our school system.

  • It’s not just about dollars and cents, it’s about tackling low-performing schools. To do that, we need one central agency that is responsible for school performance. Right now, there are several agencies that have a role in this, but not a single person or agency that has full oversight and the power to move the needle to ensure accountability for student achievement.
  • The State Auditor should look at the more than 250 school districts across the state and their spending so we can make a true comparison between spending and student achievement.

I support robust educational funding, but as a business owner and leader, I also believe in results. I would never advocate for cutting education funding, but I believe we need to examine where we are spending those billions in taxpayer dollars and the outcomes we’re achieving. We don’t need to rebuild our education system, but rather set goals and adjust not only spending but also action on how to move more students across the finish line in their educational careers and prepare them for a career or postsecondary education.

Leaving nearly 20% of students behind is not an option. We can do better, and parents expect us to.