Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The children learning in Washington’s public schools are the future of our state; we need to make sure each and every one receives a top-quality education. Education is the foundation of a successful economy, a healthy society, and a thriving democracy. Every session, we need to be thinking about how we can best serve our school system. It takes years of work and focus for students to reach their potential; the same is true of creating policies that will help them succeed.

Over the past two years, we’ve increased K–12 funding by over $2 billion. Thanks in large part to the capital gains tax, we’re able to invest more in our schools, school buildings, and education programs. There’s still a lot of work to do, even with increased funding rising inflation and cost of living increases are hurting our school districts. We need to do more, and we will.

Luckily, we know that the path we’re on is the right one, and the initial results of our new investments into K-12 education have been incredibly promising. More Washington students with disabilities than ever before are in general education classes with their peers rather than a specialized education program. In fact, the number of special education students able to learn alongside their peers has increased every year since 2018. The message is clear: when we give our special education students the resources they need to thrive, they do.

This session, the budget passed in the Senate would dedicate another $242 million towards K–12 education, especially special education and paraeducator staffing. I am incredibly proud of our work to improve Washington’s special education programs, and we must continue to improve and invest in our special education students and teachers.

We know that the quality of a student’s early education and childcare has an enormous effect on their future academic success. Students who are enrolled in an early learning program are four times more likely to secure their bachelor’s degree later in life, and we’re already starting to see the results of our investment in early learning. Washington’s youngest learners are showing record-high kindergarten readiness, and our Transition to Kindergarten program has been incredibly successful, particularly among those with learning disabilities, multilingual students, and low-income students.

Ultimately, our focus should be ensuring the long-term success of Washington’s students and making up for the learning loss some communities saw during the pandemic. We’ve seen some inspiring initial signs that we are moving forward. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington’s students are passing their classes at a rate higher than what we saw in 2021.

Maintaining this strong recovery means supporting our public schools every step of the way. There is still a lot of work to do, and negotiations on what the final budget will look like are ongoing. I can tell you this: as a senator, a parent, and a Washingtonian, I am completely committed to continuing our work to support and improve public education.