Under the Washington state constitution, providing an ample education for all students is identified as state government’s “paramount duty.” Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the legislature had failed to meet that duty by persistently underfunding our schools. This year, the legislature is responding.
The governor and lawmakers of both parties agree that upwards of $1 billion in new funding needs to go to education. However, some lawmakers want to actually eliminate funding for one of our state’s most successful education programs: Navigation 101.
That program is scientifically proven to reduce drop-out rates. A total of 52 percent of all middle and high schools in Washington use Navigation 101 to help kids prepare for their future and graduate. Eliminating it now will make our state’s drop out problem worse.
We use Navigation 101’s curriculum and tools to help our students develop their core competencies in career and life planning, post-secondary option decision making, college admissions, the financial aid process and more. The program also provides tools for counselors, teachers and administrators to track and monitor student and school performance.
Some kids thrive in traditional classrooms and need very little help from specialized programs like Navigation 101. But for many others, targeted assistance is crucial. I have seen many kids stay in school, graduate and move on to successful futures because of Navigation 101.
It is hard to understand the rationale behind eliminating funding for this program. Years of data prove that Navigation 101 helps students succeed.
We know it isn’t expensive. The two-year budget to keep Navigation 101 available to all school districts is just over $5 million, not a large program in a budget of over $30 billion.
Nearly one in four of Washington’s students fail to graduate on time. Navigation 101 is designed specifically to address this crisis. Why would we take this resource away from school districts that are using it to change lives right now?
The state legislature is working on a new two year state budget now. Several Eastside legislators, particularly Rep. Ross Hunter, and Sens. Rodney Tom and Andy Hill, are crucial in this debate. They need to hear from you. Please call the toll free legislative hotline today at 1-800-562-6000, and ask Hunter, Tom and Hill to support continued funding for Navigation 101.
Brandon Ervin is a career and college director at Lincoln High School in Tacoma.