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A plethora of associations speak for business on education and other state policy matters and their positions are available for public review. They often join in coalitions to promote the need for public policies favorable to business.
The following review is based on a search conducted last month through policy statements posted on websites and in op-eds which looked for specific mention of the McCleary decision and education funding. (Note: There may be other organizations and also education funding activity that is not posted and easily found. If so, please comment below.)
The Association of Washington Business: The venerable AWB is Washington’s is the state’s largest business association with more than 7,900 members representing 700,000 employees. Its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, as well as many medium-size and small firms. The AWB considers itself the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturing and technology association. Its stated mission is to “advance an economic climate that enables our members, employees, and all citizens to prosper.”
The AWB annually holds a policy summit. This year’s summit focused on national issues: the future of aerospace; health care reform; trade; debt; and new jobs. It has an education and training committee, but no positions on McCleary and education funding could be found. It also publishes a quarterly magazine. The most recent issue carried an article by Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters, opposing I-1185, the Eyman measure to re-impose the supermajority voting requirement, which the AWB had earlier endorsed. (Voters just passed the Eyman measure resoundingly.)
Washington Roundtable: Founded in 1983, the Roundtable is comprised of senior executives from major private sector employers throughout the state who work to “create positive change on critical policy issues that foster economic growth, generate jobs and improve quality of life for Washingtonians”. Its education committee “engages on issues relevant to improving K-12 and higher education in Washington and ensuring every student is prepared for work, college and life.” And it supports two education initiatives, the Partnership for Learning and Excellent Schools Now.
The Partnership “communicates about Washington’s school improvement efforts and the need to better prepare… high school graduates for the demands of today’s global society.” Excellent Schools is a coalition of education, business and community-based organizations “working to achieve meaningful education reform that increases student achievement, closes the achievement gap and prepares students to be college and career-ready”. It is promoting a K-12 education reform effort called A+ Washington.
The Roundtable’s education policy agenda includes a commitment to standards, accountability and innovation in K-12 education, increased baccalaureate degree production, and support for research at our universities. No references to the McCleary decision were found in the Roundtable’s website or those of its partnering organizations.
Washington Research Council: The Council supports the state’s businesses with public policy analysis. It focuses on issues of importance to state and local government, and provides the results of its analysis to government leaders, the media, and the public. Education is an issue area that the Council covers, and it has published policy briefs on both K-12 and higher education funding. One addresses the McCleary decision’s funding mandate, but it doesn’t indicate how full funding will be accomplished, except to say that money would be saved if I-728, which was passed to reduce class sizes, were repealed. But enhancements now on the table for funding will also reduce class size as would I-728.
The Washington Policy Center: The WPC bills itself as “an independent, non-profit, non-partisan think tank that promotes sound public policy based on free-market solutions”. Its board members include several business principals who are well-known players in the public policy and political arenas, such as Kemper Freeman, Jr. and George R. Nethercutt, Jr. The WPC has a center for education that has issued policy statements on the McCleary decision and an education reform plan.
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