Inland Northwest business leaders are keeping a closer eye on school board elections this year, as those boards become the focus of people frustrated with mask and vaccination mandates handed down by Gov. Jay Inslee.
In this environment, the Journal encourages all voters to learn about the candidates in their respective districts and make an effort to vote. Ideally, this year’s school board elections would get a turnout similar to that of a general election that has more high-profile positions at stake.
We ask this, because there is a lot at stake. Quality K-12 education systems play an important role in developing a strong pipeline for Spokane’s workforce. That pipeline, as most know, already has been compromised during the COVID-19 era, with many employers still struggling to find the workers they need to operate at full capacity.
Manufacturers, distributors, and skilled construction trades rely on school districts to provide a qualified, competent workforce upon high school graduation. The region’s universities require college-ready graduates before helping to springboard them into professional careers.
Regardless of the path chosen, producing competent professionals and laborers starts in the quality public schools the region boasts today.
On a broader scale, proven education systems are a cornerstone of the quality of life that Spokane boasts as a selling point when recruiting companies to the Inland Northwest. Ask anybody involved in bringing more companies and jobs to the region, and they’ll tell you those companies frequently investigate schools as part of their due diligence before committing to move or expand here. In many cases, they’re looking for both a strong pipeline of employees and assurance that their own kids will be given the tools to grow and prosper.
We argue for the importance of quality education in an era in which school administrators are being blamed for COVID-era rules over which they’ve had little power. It’s been well-documented that school board members and administrators have faced hostility—and in some cases, threats—due to school shutdowns, mask mandates, and other rules made at the state level, with the intention of minimizing the number of people who get sick from COVID.
While one could argue that Inslee’s efforts have been examples of government overreach in some cases, blaming leaders at the local level for broad, bold measures taken at the state level is misplaced frustration, at best.
The Journal historically hasn’t endorsed candidates, and we’re maintaining that stance now.
But we do advocate for strong leadership in our schools that focuses on the long-term goals of educating a workforce and helping our children become full-formed adults. We believe it would be a mistake to make voting decisions based on short-term situations or emotions.
As voters, please learn about the current slate of candidates and select the people who are best suited to continue the region’s tradition of quality education.
Our region needs it. Our employers require it. Our kids deserve it.
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