Education is the paramount duty of the state. Education is funded by the General Fund. (Gas taxes cannot be used to help with education and General Fund dollars do not help fund transportation). Because of the McCleary decision early this year, the state is required to more completely fund basic education. This is by far the most important issue in the Legislature. We made no cuts this session but more funding will be necessary to get to the goal. WE have a good roadmap for how to get there but the bill will be $1 billion+ to get there.
This year we kept our efforts on reforms so the dollars would be used wisely. Teacher Principal Evaluation Program (TPEP) asked for a revised evaluation of systems for teachers and principals and a 4 level rating system. IT will be piloted in eight school districts plus one consortium of small rural school districts to be implemented in 2011-2012.
Because our economy is so driven by aerospace and high-tech we are improving policies and investments in areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These include:
- Entry level aerospace assembly training for high school students<.li>
- Enhanced manufacturing skills programs for skill centers
- Specialized STEM courses for high schools as part of Project Lead-the-Way
These programs ensure that students will be well-prepared for the innovative jobs of today.
House Bill 2160 (Sponsored by my 41st District seatmate, Marcie Maxwell) ensures that the aerospace, technology, and innovative jobs for today will have well prepared students from our schools by giving teachers more knowledge and skills in STEM education. These bills were bi-partisan and acknowledged our support for education in the Legislation.