Dale Murphy

Dale Murphy on Educational Issues

Our Future.  
Dale Murphy shares his thoughts on education issues.

"Education is vital.
Our future rests
with today's youth."
- Dale Murphy
























A Core Value for Families and Business

Eastside families value education and support our schools.  As a business educator for 14 years, I know that investing in education helps our families and strengthens our economy.  Washington State has fallen to 42nd in the country in spending per student -- we spend $600 less per student than in 1992, despite rising costs.  Olympia must step up to support education.

Public school systems have come under attack by national ideologues.  I attended a large CPAC conference in Washington, DC, attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, and others who cheered wildly when a speaker urged attendees to "pull your children out of 'government' schools."  That is wrong.  Equal access to a good primary and secondary education is the building block of American democracy.  We all benefit from it, no matter where we send our own kids to school.

Higher Education

I've been a college professor, and I know that American families face increasing challenges in paying for education, even as access to higher education has become a prerequisite for economic success.  Our university system must meet in-state demands.  Seattle has been called the most literate city in America, yet the state of Washington ranks 45th in the nation in terms of students who graduate in-state with four-year degrees.  Clearly there are a lot of students who aren't getting the access they deserve.  We need to fix that.  One important step in guaranteeing higher education access for everyone is the Husky Promise program introduced by UW President Mark Emmert.  This will ensure that the lowest-income students at UW will always have their full tuition covered by grants and UW funds, and it sends an important message to families.  (Click here to read more about the Husky Promise initiative in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.)

I want to make sure that Olympia is doing all it can to provide educational opportunities to everyone who needs our help.  If a family is very poor and has very bright children, they can often find scholarships, and it's important that we keep supporting those programs.  If a family is very wealthy, they can afford tuition no matter how much it costs.  But for the majority of us in the middle, tuition costs have become overly burdensome.  When I went to M.I.T., I was fortunate enough to get a mix of scholarships, work-study, and federally-backed student loans .  But the Bush Administration has cut back on student loan programs, making it harder for many middle-class families to afford college and putting more of a burden on state legislatures.

We should explore the strategies outlined in the Washington Learns draft for, among other proposals, improving school capacity; expanding grants and scholarship programs, including grants for students enrolling in high-demand majors in independent institutions; and helping students in community and technical colleges find the right courses to prepare them to transfer to a four-year institution.  (Click here to visit the Washington Learns website and read the 2006 draft report.)  Investing in our educational future is one of the major challenges we face.  I believe Washington is ready to meet that challenge and that we can take the lead in the 21st century as a state that provides the best quality education to all our students. 

I-920: Bad for Our Schools, Bad for Washington

Fiscally responsible leadership demands that we invest in education funding, not cut it.  The I-920 Initiative would wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for public schools -- money that goes directly towards the Education Legacy Trust account.  This Trust account aims to make class sizes in our schools manageable and expands access to higher education through funding for new enrollments and financial aid.

This assault on educating funding comes at a time when we as a state can least afford it.  Washington ranks 46th in the nation in class size.  We rank 42nd in the nation in education spending.  We have $2 billion less for schools this year because of the decline in state funding that began two decades ago, which comes to $548 less per student than in 1992.  The current revenue system does not force small businesses and family farms to liquidate their assets or go into bankruptcy, despite what anti-balanced-budget zealots would like you to think. Family farms are completely exempt (if at least 50% of the value is actually being used for farming).  Under existing law the first $2 million of an estate will be automatically exempted.   99.5% of all the heirs in Washington are not subject to an estate tax; the revenue generated for the Education Legacy Trust account comes from only about 250 estates a year.

I-920 would hurt our children and our economic future, and I will vote "No" on it.
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