Experienced Champion for Schools

A quality education is vital to our children’s future, job opportunities, and achievement–whether they choose to go to college, start a business, or learn a trade. – Vicki Kraft

During the past 10 years while working as a Sr. Account Executive with Dell, I worked on a daily basis, in-person, with Washington K-12 School Districts across the state—including Evergreen School District, Vancouver School District, and Battle Ground School District to Kennewick School District, Moses Lake School District, Bellevue School District, and over 50 more.

I’ve delivered resources and innovation needed to equip teachers and improve student achievement. I truly understand how important it is to do this for our kids. Prior, I worked in instructional technology, working with teachers to help them develop and deliver curriculum content for their students in the classroom. I have the WA K-12 insight and experience necessary to deliver practical solutions needed for our students and teachers to excel.

K-12 Education and student achievement are always a key priority. That’s especially true this year as considerations to have school on site as usual or as an online model are being discussed. Most kids learn best in an, in-person classroom setting. I’ve heard from teachers and parents over recent months who said they saw decreased student focus and participation from students when schools were forced to move to an online classroom format this year.

It’s important that parents have the right to choose what form of education will work best for their kids. In 2020, I introduced legislation (HB 2933) to give parents the choice to have their children attend a private school or receive a homeschooling education and allow public funds in the form of an Education Scholarship Program to be used for this purpose. We must provide students with a learning environment that will foster their achievement and success.

Fully Funding K-12 Basic Education

The legislature is mandated by the Washington State Constitution to fully fund basic education and the 2015 McCleary decision from the WA State Supreme Court highlights this fact. As such, education should be the top priority and the first funds allocated in the general budget by the legislature. In determining how to fully fund education, the focus needs to be placed on using these funds for resources directly related to increasing the quality of student learning in the classroom. Almost 40% of our education dollars do NOT get into the classroom. (*Ref. 1) That is where the learning occurs. If the learning needed in the classroom is not taking place then student achievement is affected. One out of three young people attending college need remedial classes before taking college level courses. (*Ref. 2) We can and must do better for our kids.

Local Levy Reform is one solution being considered by the legislature to fully fund K-12 education. I support this approach as it will provide the most equitable funding for our school districts across the state while lowering property taxes for the majority of homeowners in the state—unless you’re in the Seattle area. More details on the McCleary decision and the Local Levy Reform discussion are found at the bottom of this page.

*Reference 1 – Source: WA Policy Center – Policy Guide for Washington State – pg 157.

*Reference 2 – Source: WA Policy Center – Policy Guide for Washington State – pg 158.

Collaboration Needs to Continue to Address Common Core Concerns

Encouraging more collaboration at the local level between parents, students, teachers and school districts will help identify the key areas to be addressed to ensure maximum learning for each individual student to excel.

Common core continues to be contested curriculum and assessment methodology by students and parents alike. This is due to many factors, including the development of this curriculum by organizations with little to no accountability to parents, state/local educational authorities, or state legislators; the subjective nature of the curriculum instruction and questions, and the collection of hundreds of data points of information on every student from preschool until they enter the workforce which is sent to a national database.

We need to move away from national mandates to more state and local control—especially when it comes to the learning needs of our children.

Charter Schools Provide an Important Education Option

Charter schools provide an important option for parents when it comes to choosing an education path for their child. Children have different learning styles, challenges and opportunities. For some children, charter schools are a first step, or possibly the last hope, to providing a learning environment in which they will engage and succeed. Many times these alternative schools offer more focused attention to students with smaller teacher to student ratios in the classroom and/or longer instructional days or school year.

Education is a Top Priority for our Students and Families! More on the McCleary Decision…

The legislature is mandated by the Washington State Constitution to fully fund basic education and the recent McCleary decision from the WA State Supreme Court highlights this fact. As such, education should truly be treated as the highest priority and the first funds allocated in the general budget by the legislature.

Since 2013, the Legislature has increased the education budget by 35% which is $4B per biennium. These additional funds went toward funding part of the McCleary Decision’s original mandate which included smaller class sizes for K-3, all day Kindergarten, teacher wage increases, and Materials, Supplies and Operating Costs (MSOC). It’s estimated an additional $2.5-4B per biennium will be needed to meet the McCleary decision and fully fund K-12 education.

In 2016, Senate Bill 6195 was passed to have an Educational Taskforce conduct additional research on the specific amount of funds needed to fully fund K-12 education and how much is needed per school district so the exact amount of funding necessary can accurately be determined.

One of the options being considered to meet the McCleary Decision requirements and fully fund K-12 education is Local Levy Reform. I support this approach as it’s essentially revenue neutral and will be most advantageous for us locally and the majority of our state in lower property taxes to fund education. This will also address the funding inequities that exist in different school districts and areas across our state, which I have seen firsthand, especially as you move away from the Seattle area.

Homeowners in the Seattle area, however, would see an increase in their property taxes since currently they don’t pay as high of a rate due to their property base there vs. our area or in the east side of the state which is much lower. For Example—the Cost of Education at the Local Levy Level currently is $1.16 per thousand in Seattle vs. $4.61 per thousand in Battle Ground.

We can and must do better to help our students get a quality education to be prepared for a successful future!