WPC Western Washington Annual Dinner breaks records; Gingrich, Strassel praise WPC efforts
Oct 16, 2018

Gingrich described WPC as "an example of what we need more of in this country -- not money, but solutions that work." He also praised the WPC Young Professionals program and predicted that if it continued, it would "raise a new generation of leaders" in Washington that would "change our state." 

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State leaders block families of special needs children from accessing alternative education services
Oct 15, 2018

The KING5 TV news investigative team has produced five sobering TV testimonials of schools and administrators failing to educate children with special needs, like autism, dyslexia, blindness, and Down Syndrome.

Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), Vice Chair of the Higher Education Committee, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, admit these reports are true. Yet, neither Rep. Pollet nor Superintendent Reykdal are willing to offer these special needs students the assistance they need to access services at a private school, though they admit the public system is failing these children.

KING5 TV tells the story of Jake and Ryan Vandell, twin boys who attended kindergarten and first grade at Margaret Mead Elementary School in the Lake Washington School District. Stacey, their mother, reports the school blamed the boys, saying they were born premature, were boys, were not interested in learning, and had ADHD. Naturally, Jake and Ryan said they hated their school.

The boys were diagnosed with dyslexia, and Stacey and her husband were able to find a private school that is willing to help them.

Rep. Pollet said Washington state gets an “F” in serving special needs children. He blames funding formulas and other administrative rules, but the result is the system he defends is saying to this family, “Sorry, we won’t help you.”

Dodging responsibility is not acceptable. Schools in Washington state have more money than ever. And adding even more money won’t help children stymied by bureaucracies, restrictive union rules, and outdated teaching methods.

By contrast, other states provide direct aid to families with special needs children. For example, Arizona and four other states offer families with special needs students an Education Savings Account (ESA) providing 90 to 100 percent of state funding, to use to access services as the families think best.  In Washington state, average funding for each special needs student in 2018-19 is $16,335, rising to $18,218 in 2019-20. (See page 13 of Senator Braun’s Economic Sense, Eleventh Edition, here.)

When children aren’t served by traditional schools, families should be allowed to use this money to seek alternative educational services.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia offer families vouchers to attend private school; twelve states provide vouchers to families with special needs children, thirteen states and the District of Columbia provide vouchers/scholarships to low-income families. Twenty-two states offer families tax credit scholarships to attend private schools; most are for low-income families. South Carolina provides a tax credit scholarship and a direct tax credit to help families with special needs students pay private school tuition. See “The ABCs of School Choice, 2018 Edition,” by EdChoice, here.

If officials in Washington state allowed ESAs, vouchers, or tax credit scholarships as a choice, the Vandell’s, and other families like them, would receive help immediately. That is what real caring about the education of special needs children in Washington would look like.  

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The price of 1631's carbon tax at the pump
Oct 11, 2018

Yesterday, I examined the cost of I-1631, the carbon tax, for the first full year in 2021. It is useful, however, to look at how that cost increases every year. Here is a quick guide to how the carbon tax increases gas prices through 2040.

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