Guest OpEd: Mark Mullet: Education Reforms

Washington State 5th District senate candidate, Mark Mullet, shares his education priorities/reforms.  Ballots have been mailed and the November 6th general election is quickly approaching.  This article does NOT express the views of Living Snoqualmie, which has NOT endorsed any candidates in this election.  Thank you to Mark and Brad Toft for both sharing their education priorities with Living Snoqualmie readers.

Let me first state the obvious, that education is the most important issue in our entire state. It is the future of our economy. All real and sustained job creation in Washington State will come from us making smart investments in education in 2013.

I grew up in Tukwila, graduating from Foster High School in 1990. Everything I was able to achieve in life was because of the public education I received in high school and college. I did not attend one of the best public schools in our State, but was fortunate to have parents who were committed to me working hard in school, and to a few amazing teachers who convinced me that I could achieve anything as long as I put my mind to it.

Making sure that more of our students graduate from high school, and more of our students are able to attend community colleges and four-year universities, is the top priority in Washington. My wife and I have four daughters working their way through our public schools. For us this issue is personal. How we achieve this goal of improving our public schools is where you will find the big differences between me and my opponent.

My opponent is on record bashing the Teacher’s Union for being the problem. I’m on record saying that the solution is the teachers in our classroom, and I respect the people they have chosen to represent them in all discussions about our students and how we can help them succeed. I have been on the Issaquah City Council for the past three years. During that time, I’ve learned that when you need to work with a group to solve a problem, the last thing you do is bash them in the media or a public forum. My opponent refused to fill out the questionnaire supplied by the teachers, or to meet with them at any point in this campaign.

I supported the school reforms that were passed in 2012. We finally removed the tenure system, and all teachers will be held accountable regardless of how many years they have been on the job. This was a deal that teachers supported, and makes a huge positive difference in the lives of our students. How my opponent can claim that the teachers in the classroom are standing in the way of progress for our public schools does not make any sense given the giant reforms they committed to during the 2012 legislative session.

The reforms I would like to see in 2013 are programs that identify middle school kids on a path towards dropping out, and requires them to attend a 7th period to make sure they get their worked turned in on time. Making this investment in middle school is necessary to turn a student around before they start down a path of dropping out of high school because they have fallen too far behind, ultimately saving our state much more money down the road.

I would also like to increase the number of high school students taking Advanced Placement courses. I like the example set by the Federal Way school district, where they assume all students will take an AP class before they finish high school, unless they exercise the choice to opt-out of the program. The traditional model says that students need to opt-in to an AP class, this model makes students opt-out if they decide an AP course is not for them. The results in Federal Way demonstrate this model does a better job of challenging a wider range of high school students to be successful.

I am the only candidate in this race who has been endorsed by the education community. The League of Education Voters, Public School Employees, and the Washington Education Association have all endorsed our campaign. This is because we have committed to working with the reform community, and the teachers in our classrooms, to solve the problems facing our kids.

Best Regards,

Mark Mullet

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