Have you Voted Yet? How the Candidates for Governor Come Down on Environmental and Sustainability Education
E3 Washington is a nonpartisan education association. In the spirit of an informed electorate, we sent a questionnaire to both Gubernatorial Candidates, Jay Inslee (Democrat) and Rob McKenna (Republican) several weeks ago.
Additionally, in order to provide you with a comparative analysis, we provide links to Gubernatorial Forum transcripts from two E3 Washington partner organizations the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and the Partnership for Learning.
- Transcript of Gubernatorial Forum presented by Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
- Side by Side Chart of Candidates Educational Plans presented by Partnership for Learning
Following are Candidate Inslee’s responses to our questionnaire. We hope to hear back from Candidate McKenna’s office soon and will similarly print his responses in the E3 Weekly Digest reaching over 9,000 Washington voters. We appreciate how busy the schedules of both candidates are and are grateful for their responses.
E3 Washington: What is a story you have experienced or heard that inspires you about environmental and sustainability education?
Jay Inslee: Every year, Washington State University hosts the Imagine Tomorrow exhibition, which challenges 9th through 12th graders to seek new ways to support the transition to alternative energy sources. Students research complex topics related to renewable energy, then innovate technologies, designs, or plans to mobilize behavior. Earlier this year, I was honored to meet the winning team from Bellingham High School, a group of students who developed methods to use mushrooms to purify water, clean up contaminated soil, and serve as a feedstock for the production of ethanol fuel.
We should be very concerned with the environmental threats facing our planet—but at the same time reassured by the work being done by inspired students.
E3 Washington: What is your vision for 21st century education (early childhood, K-12, higher education, community-based/family informal education) and where does environmental and sustainability education fit into that vision?
Jay Inslee: Education is the paramount duty of our state government, but today we are not meeting the high expectations we have or that our kids deserve. As governor, I will promote the creation of more “Innovative Schools” where children are exposed to a rich, broad, and flexible curriculum taught by highly qualified and valued teachers, and parents become more integrated into their children’s education. This is key to our future, and to a new economy that allows Washington to compete with the rest of the world.
If we are serious about building a 21st century education system that ensures all our children graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful in life, then we have to start early. In order for all children to start school as healthy and confident learners, we must build an early learning system that meets the complex and diverse needs of children and families with programs and services that are accessible, affordable and high quality..
A deliberate emphasis on STEM education is vital to prepare our students for the careers of tomorrow. As part of the development of a clean energy economy, we must focus this STEM knowledge base on environmental sustainability and clean technology research and development.
E3 Washington: What specific policies and programs would you like to see happen in Washington State to support environmental and sustainability education in early childhood programs, K-12 schools & higher education?
Jay Inslee: In my P-12 and higher education platforms, I call for increased partnerships between education and private industry. By connecting our classrooms (at every stage of learning) with leaders in our state’s sustainability workforce— leaders who are at the cutting edge of environmentally sustainable innovation—we can inspire students to pursue careers in environmental stewardship. Further, I will work with industry leaders and Washington State University to establish a Biofuels Center of Excellence. The Center will facilitate research, feedstock growth, sourcing, processing, and the deployment of commercial scale production.It is also imperative we find a way to keep our state parks open. Parks are not only hubs of recreation and tourism, but provide educational opportunities for students and families.
E3 Washington: How do you see the connection between the economy, the environment and environmental and sustainability education?
Jay Inslee: In 2007, I co-authored Apollo’s Fire: Reigniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. The Great Recession has provided Washington State the opportunity to rebuild our economy with environmental sustainability and clean energy as a focal point. Clean technology is one of the seven major industry clusters I focus on in my job creation platform, First Steps to Building a Working Washington. Harnessing the innovative spirit that defines Washingtonians, we can drive our state to the cutting edge of environmental science and renewable energy.
As governor, I will ensure that our students are well-prepared to enter a top-flight workforce pool—equipped with the knowledge and resources they’ll need to compete. This means providing quality STEM education, a pathway to accessible higher education, and the workforce training that will guarantee that Washington State’s clean energy industry does not have to import new hires.
E3 Washington: How do we ensure that people of all cultural, income and regional backgrounds receive a quality education infused with environmental and sustainability education?
Jay Inslee: The drop-out rates and opportunity gap for students of color in our state is unacceptable. Now, more than ever, we must focus on ensuring that every Washingtonian student receives a world-class education and my top priority as governor will be to restore funding to both K-12 and higher education.