Let’s work together to give every child a great education

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

One of the greatest things about our country is we believe in giving everybody, rich or poor, a fair shot in school and in life.

That includes our kids.

That’s why we have free public schools, open to everybody. Because we believe in opportunity not for some, but for all.

Other countries didn’t do this. Education was reserved for the sons and daughters of the wealthy, while average people were lucky if their children got a few years of schooling before they entered a lifetime of work.

Washington was one of the leaders of the modern public school movement. Giving every child a basic education is enshrined in our state constitution as the “paramount duty” of the state.

Yet people debating what “basic education” meant and the state’s way of funding schools was haphazard. Some school districts had the resources to give children a decent education. Other districts always struggled.

That changed in 1895, when lawmakers passed the Barefoot Schoolboy Act, aimed at making sure every child got an education — and the state funded it.

It happened because Rep. John Rogers had the vision to see things were changing. Instead of working on farms, children would be working in factories as America and the world rapidly turned to the Industrial Age.

The vision and courage of leaders like John Rogers has served our state well. But now we’re facing a similar, gigantic shift in the world economy.

Our children need the best possible education because they’ll need it to win the global fight for the best jobs in the world.

And the same problem we faced in the 1890s is with our communities today. Because the state has failed to fully fund basic education, homeowners in Sequim, Forks and Port Townsend are paying more in property taxes through local levies to fund their schools than homeowners in Seattle.

Just like inequities that existed in the 1890s, our local schools are struggling to get by.

We can do better.

Better for kids in Port Angeles and Hoquiam.

Better for our local businesses, who need a highly educated workforce.

And better for local taxpayers, now paying more than their fair share to get less.

This is the defining challenge of the 2017 legislative session — and it’s been a long time coming.

I’ll work with lawmakers from both parties, and every corner of the state, to find common ground and a solution that fully funds schools for the 1.1 million students in our state.

What I won’t do is accept more delays and excuses.

Our kids are counting on us. Let’s work together, in the spirit of John Rogers, to do what’s right for boys and girls in every corner of the great state of Washington.

Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) is a former Clallam County commissioner and law enforcement officer. He serves as Vice Chair of the House Agriculture &Natural Resources Committee. Contact Chapman at Mike.Chapman@leg.wa.gov, 360-786-7916 or House of Representatives, PO Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.

More in Opinion

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Bush’s 9/11 epilogue needs to be America’s prologue

This Sept. 11 remembrance fell at a time when America is bitterly… Continue reading

Being Frank: We have no time to slow down our recovery efforts

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission lost an irreplaceable leader last month when… Continue reading

Bertha Cooper
Think About It: I ♥ nurses

Of course, I love nurses; nursing is my profession. I am a… Continue reading

Tom Locke
Guest opinion: Current COVID surge is a self-inflicted wound

COVID-19 is raging in Clallam County at unprecedented levels. In the past… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Vaccinations improving health, employment

It is not surprising that COVID-19 which ravaged the world was disastrous… Continue reading

From the Back Nine: Charmed

When people recall their childhoods, they often use diaries if their own… Continue reading

Bertha Cooper
Think About It: A chance to speak

“A perpetual Republican/Trump hater, (Cooper) seems incapable of any kind of balanced… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Recycling batteries key to protecting our planet

Each year Americans throw away more than three billion batteries constituting 180,000… Continue reading

Crystal Linn
Aging Successfully: Senior citizens in the work place

An article in the Next Generation Personal Finances blog stated that as… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Japanese hydrogen pilot may work in Washington state

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were billed as the “Hydrogen Olympics!” Then along… Continue reading

Bertha Cooper
Think About It: What the world needs now

“My rights don’t end where your feelings begin.” I was sharing the… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Guest Opinion: Stop, rethink Washington state’s long term care law

Time is short, but action is necessary! Gov. Jay Inslee and Democrats… Continue reading