February 25, 2019
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Better workforce skills, economic development on state superintendent's agenda

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal told business leaders at Thursday’s Lobby Lunch meeting that he’s led changes at his office, aimed at thinking of K-12 public education as more of a workforce development and long-term economic development system.

The effort aims to help students prepare for multiple pathways in a complicated economy, Reykdal said.

There used to be an assumption that if we pointed every kid to a baccalaureate degree, those that didn’t make it would fit in the economy somewhere, he said.

“It is not true that you simply point every kid to an advanced degree, that they will grade out of that system and naturally fit in to the economy of baccalaureates and associate degrees and technical skills and certificates,” he said. “It doesn’t actually work that way. Instead you rack up $1.5 trillion in national student loan debt,” and billions in student loan defaults, he added.

“It’s a smarter system to be efficient on the front end of that,” he said. Now, the Legislature is supporting more career and technical education efforts, and other hands-on field work, which Reykdal said is a good thing.

“They want to spend more money getting my students into your workplaces as high school students, and I am down with that,” he said, highlighting the value of real-world workplace skills.

Reykdal also addressed the historic McCleary school funding issue, which played out in the courts and the Legislature over the last several years.

The bottom line, he said, is that the state’s share of gross domestic product invested in education has moved up to about 3.3 percent, now approaching the national average of 3.6 percent.

“It is tangible. It is billions of dollars per year, moving to the public education side,” he said.

AWB’s Lobby Lunch will continue throughout the 2019 legislative session at the AWB offices, located at 1414 Cherry Street SE in Olympia.

Auditor Pat McCarthy will speak Thursday at this week’s Lobby Lunch. Future speakers include Washington State Treasurer Duane Davidson and Steve Lerch of the state Economic & Revenue Forecast Council.

Lobby Lunch is open to current AWB members. The cost is $25. To register for an upcoming Lobby Lunch, contact Liv Johnson via email or at 360.943.1600. Registrations are due by 9 a.m. of the Tuesday before each Thursday event.

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Workforce Summit
Attack on the Dams

Inslee's proposed Snake River dam task force will be a waste of money

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

State legislators looking to trim the budget this session can save $750,000 straight off if they don't fund a proposed Snake River dams task force.

A new state committee is not going to be able to compete with the federal team that has been studying this same issue since September 2016, so trying to duplicate the effort is absurd.

The Snake River dams are critical to the economy of Eastern Washington and the Northwest. They play an important role in providing irrigation, hydropower and navigation.

Community leaders note that barging on the inland Columbia Snake River system moves, on average, about 9 million tons of cargo valued at more than $3 billion each year. The dams are part of the lifeblood of the region.

But anti-dam activists want to see them gone, and the plight of the Puget Sound orcas are fueling their efforts...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
Practical Education

Career Link seeks to pair students, employers

By The Herald Editorial Board

A new partnership between the Everett School District and the City of Everett -- Everett Career Link -- is looking to pair local employers with Everett high school juniors and seniors in internships that provide career-connected experience to the students as they explore their interests and prepare plans for the future.

The school district is providing employers with training and guidance in setting up the internships and matching students to internships, paperwork regarding state Labor and Industries compliance and liability and ongoing support during the internships.

While it's at the employer's discretion to offer interns a stipend, the program is intended as an outgrowth of the classroom; students -- for their 90 hours of participation -- will earn half of the Career and Technical Education credit they need toward their high school graduation requirement.

More than the students benefit. The time spent with local students can help employers develop deeper ties in the community, get a better understanding of the work underway in schools and appreciation for the pool of talent that exists in their own community.

We've repeated the forecast often, first made by Washington Roundtable, that employers in Washington state expect some 740,000 new jobs to be available by 2021. And nearly 80 percent of those jobs will be either career jobs that require a college degree or career-pathway jobs that require at least some level of post-high school training and certification...

Read the full editorial in The Herald
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