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Report: Washington Doesn’t Prioritize Education Spending

OLYMPIA — January 31, 2017 — Although it’s one of the wealthiest states in the country, Washington gets an “F” in terms of education spending, according to a recently released study.

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” published by the Education Law Center, compares state education funding systems using a variety of data. Among its findings, the report examined what the authors call “effort.” Effort refers to the total amount of state and local spending on education in relation to the gross state product, which is the total value of goods and services produced by the state.

In 2013, the most recent year for which complete data exist, Washington ranked 46th of the 50 states.

“Relative to our economic growth, we don’t put enough back into education,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We rank ninth in the country in terms of our per capita gross state product. Yet less than three percent of that wealth is spent on public education. We need to do better.

“As one comparison, Mississippi – which ranks 50th in per capita gross state product – puts more than four percent into public education.”

Reykdal also noted that the study ranked Washington 49th out of 51 (50 states and Washington, D.C.) in terms of wage competitiveness, which “compares teachers’ salaries to the salaries of other professionals in the same labor market and of similar age, degree level, and hours worked.”

“Our rank is a function of how much we value the talent we have,” he said. “We must improve! We need sincere conversations in this state about what it means to recruit and retain quality teachers.”

Reykdal said that to improve Washington’s rankings nationwide, meaningful and long-term action will be necessary. “Any plan that moves the needle on student achievement must increase our overall investment in K-12 significantly, support our educators with market-rate compensation and drive more dollars into high-need communities,” he said.


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and improve student achievement on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015 |

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 2/1/2017

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