State of the States
Single State Agency Sought for Early Years
• Gov. Christine Gregoire
In her speech Jan. 10 on the condition of Washington state, Gov. Christine Gregoire told legislators that demands on the budget would force the state to hold steady on the gains made last year in financing smaller classes and teacher raises.
“As we look ahead to the next year, we will need every dime just to cover the increased cost of our existing services, particularly in education and health care,” said Ms. Gregoire, a Democrat who took office last year after narrowly winning a contested election.
Early Learning: Gov. Gregoire also stressed the need for a focus on early learning.
“How would you grade a system where less than 50 percent of the kids are prepared to learn when they reach kindergarten?” she said. “Or a system where half a dozen early-learning programs in state government are spread across numerous agencies and have no clear vision?”
In December, she proposed that the legislature consolidate all the state agencies that aid young children into a single Cabinet-level agency. That agency, among other efforts, would recruit businesses into partnerships to assist parents.
“We need less bureaucracy. … We need to make sure our children are ready to learn when they hit kindergarten,” the governor said.
Testing: As for rising opposition to the state’s requirement that students demonstrate proficiency on the 10th grade assessment to graduate from high school, Ms. Gregoire warned that the “battle lines” forming may not be to students’ benefit.
“I traveled to Europe and Asia and witnessed firsthand our competition, and believe me, we don’t let our children down with high standards,” she said.
Vol. 25, Issue 19, Page 22