With legislators focusing on education this session, members of the House Higher Education Committee expressed hope Tuesday that improvements to the K-12 system will eventually benefit the higher education system.
Members of the Student Achievement Council, an advisory council created during the 2012 legislative session to try to improve higher education in the state, recommended that the Higher Education Committee focus its attention on the transitions between early childhood education, the K-12 system and higher education in an effort to increase graduation rates.
Rep. Susan Fagen, R-Puyallup, said the state’s education system is too divided, and that the education system can’t be improved if problems with early childhood education, K-12 and higher education are addressed individually. She said the system needs to be addressed as a whole.
Former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, a member of the council, said the committee needs to look at ways of improving the higher education system that aren’t dependent on increased funding. Committee Chairman Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, agreed and encouraged fellow committee members to be mindful of the costs of education reform.
“We’re not a fiscal committee, but everything we touch does have a price tag,” Seaquist said.
Seaquist said he plans on working closely with the House Education Committee, of which he is also a member, to integrate the state’s education systems and with the Labor and Workforce Development Committee to make sure students will be able to find jobs once they graduate.