Whereas the Washington Supreme Court has somehow arrived at a figure of billions of dollars that need to be spent to make the state's K-12 public schools adequate to educate our children, and the public has determined through Initiative 1351 that still more billions are needed, it is in fact possible to improve our public K-12 system substantially at a relatively low cost.
The key to doing this is to bring a halt to "grade inflation" - giving students higher grades than they earn.
A 1991 Newsweek article argued that students should be given failing grades whenever they do not warrant passing grades (imagine!). But decades later, students are still being promoted and diplomas are being handed out to semi-literates.
Many students become lost when moved to higher grade levels and simply drop out of school. Others pick up unearned diplomas and require remedial coursework when arriving at college. Garfield High in Seattle now provides remedial reading instruction for about one-quarter of its incoming freshmen class.
School boards should be able to rectify this situation, but don't. Even without standardized tests, it should be possible to identify failing schools, simply by working backward from the unprepared students arriving at high schools and colleges, to the schools that awarded these same students diplomas.