2020 Legislative Priorities
Racial Equity & Real Support for Students
Our 2020 legislative priorities reflect our commitment to meaningfully build racial equity and codify the responsibility of Washington’s public education system to put students first. When advocating for solutions, we strive to learn from the experiences of people most directly affected by policy change and prioritize opportunities for measurable, sustainable, and scalable gains in student success.
We believe that the funding set aside for kids should be used for the programs and staff that were promised. Our community supports funding for programs that improve education for every kid. Yet, not all the money promised to students makes it to the classroom.
In 2020, we are building upon the progress of 2019 and prioritizing legislation that will support the advancement of racial equity and our responsibility to provide real support for students, including:
- REDUCING FINANCIAL BARRIERS & INCREASING ACCESS TO DUAL CREDIT CLASSES
- IMPROVING COUNSELING SERVICES FOR STUDENTS
- ENSURING EQUITABLE SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
REDUCING FINANCIAL BARRIERS & INCREASING ACCESS TO DUAL CREDIT CLASSES
The amount of money you have or the community you live in should not limit your education.
- Create a permanent source of state funding to cover all dual-credit test and course fees for students whose limited resources already qualify them for free or reduced lunch.
The funding to cover dual credit test and course fees for students with limited family income helped almost 10,000 students last year. Unfortunately that funding was temporary, not required by state law, and only helped a fraction of the students who could have used it. In 2019 the legislature took a significant step to combat institutional barriers in dual credit enrollment by requiring an automatic academic acceleration policy in every district. The next step is to ensure that every student has the support they need to enroll in the dual credit classes they are ready for.
Dual credit classes provide rigorous coursework for students who want more of a challenge, the chance to earn college credits, and the preparation students need to graduate and enroll in education and/or certification after high school. For students from families with limited income, the opportunity is especially critical because it alleviates the disparate advantage that benefits students from more affluent families who navigate the system with ease.
IMPROVING COUNSELING SERVICES FOR STUDENTS
Students deserve access to a full team of adults in school who dedicate time to support their well-being and guide them in their next steps beyond graduation.
- Ensure the state funding intended for school counselors is designated as a categorical expense, meaning those funds must go where they were promised and cannot be diverted elsewhere.
- Lower the student to counselor ratio to a minimum of 250:1 for all schools.
- Create a statutory definition of a comprehensive counseling services program and require that counselors spend at least eighty percent (80%) of their work time providing direct services to students, including support for academic achievement, mental health needs, and college and career planning
- Continue to expand and advance strategies that implement ninth grade success teams of counselors and teachers focused on students during their critical first year of high school.
The legislature has committed $2B to public education over the last 4 years, but not all schools are seeing that funding translate into direct student services, especially when it comes to school counselors. Students and families of color, students who are the first in their family to attend college, and students learning English are more likely to rely on their school counselor for support and guidance for their next steps after high school and less likely to have access to one.
School counselors, however, are increasingly becoming a catch-all for school staffing needs, and the burdens placed on these specialized professionals detracts from where they provide the most value – one-on-one with individual students. Counselors are necessary to improve student success by helping understand and identify pathways forward after high school while also helping reduce barriers for Black and Latinx students.
ENSURING EQUITABLE SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Public education should serve every student, especially those with unique needs and abilities.
- Ensure equitable and adequate funding for students with disabilities by updating the formula that determines how much support those students get while also lifting the funding cap that currently restricts what they may need.
- Improve the availability of state-funded, evidence-based supports for students with disabilities and their families.
The existing funding formula in Washington state has improved, but it still does not provide adequate support for students with disabilities to receive basic education and meet their individual learning needs. The U.S Supreme Court ruled in favor of equity in 2017, affirming that students with disabilities are entitled to more than a minimally beneficial public school education.
In order for Washington to ensure that we are serving every student, we must ensure that students with disabilities have access to the support they need in the classroom and beyond high school, regardless of the specificity or complexity of their needs.