On Thursday, February 1st the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee held a hearing for SB 6209, Stand for Children’s priority High School Success bill sponsored by Senator Mark Mullet. Several panels of supportive testimony and ten submitted written testimonies laid a strong case for the policies proposed in 6209 for the Senators.
Although SB 6209 did not receive a vote in the committee, the policies proposed in it garnered enough support that they were included in SB 6135 and passed by the Senate unanimously on February 13th.
As these policy proposals continue to move through the legislative process, we wanted to revisit some of the original testimony given in support of the High School Success bill on February 1st and highlight some of the stories that lead to the progress we’re seeing now.
Tammy Mitchell, Parent – Spokane, WA
Hello, my name is Tammy Ann Mitchell and I am here from Spokane. I am a mother of two sons who go to Ferris High in District 81. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to come and speak to you about SB 6209. This bill supports the children who are excelling, those who struggle and need the extra help. I can speak about my sons having their IEP's (Individualized Education Program). If the early warning system did not work in figuring this out while my oldest was in middle school, or my special needs child wasn’t able to have been diagnosed with his needs, I think it would’ve been a disaster. There are several types of help that they receive. My oldest gets extra test time, is able extra time on homework and has after school programs to catch up on any homework. My younger son got his help way earlier. He was able to have speech therapy, have special specifics to help him learn at his level. My youngest son is in a special needs class. He is very far behind than other students and has the opportunity to remain in school till he’s 21 years of age
It is my responsibility as a parent to fight for my children to have every opportunity to succeed in their lives. I choose not to run away from a chance like this to help my children and other children. They have the right to know that society will give our future generations all they deserve. All of you can make this possible.
Hiram Moran, Teacher – Tacoma, WA
I’m an educator in the Tacoma Public School District. I wanted to offer you guys a little vignette of my life. Growing up as an immigrant kid, when I came to this country I had to adapt to the education system and all the things that you need social capitol to navigate around. In my experience as an educator, students are very highly adaptable. If you put them in a situation where they are challenged, then they are going to succeed if you give them the right resources.
One of the things I’ve experienced while I was in the IB program at Henry Foss High School was that the college-going culture there was apparent. It was a culture that wasn’t apparent in any other normal classes. It was something that got me to Whitman College and motivated me to study biology and become an educator. I highly recommend you all consider this as an opportunity that students can have to show their potential, regardless of where they’re coming from.
Steve Smith, Executive Director of The Black Education Strategy Roundtable – Federal Way, WA
The mission of The Black Education Strategy Roundtable is that we are working to make systemic changes in education that will allow for black students to be successful. And also with that work that every student in our education system will be successful.
We think this bill, 6209, moves in this direction. It’s making systemic change to our education system. We have a system where black students have been discouraged from advanced courses. That they are not seen as being able to do this work. We now have evidence that this is being successful at a variety of school districts across our state. We have evidence that schools are implementing this policy without additional funding. We encourage the urgency of this. That waiting for time will hamper more students that are currently in our system. Students that could benefit from this work.
I would also add that with this bill and with this work that putting students in advanced courses as they are capable and having supports to go with that work, that being in that kind of academic setting beyond the normal classroom will inspire students. There are too many students who are bright and intelligent who don’t really succeed. These kind of classes can push them to say, “Hey, you’ve got the ability to do this.” And it can help engage them. We encourage you to move this bill forward. It’s a very important bill and it has already made a big difference and will continue to make a difference.
Gregory Christopher, Senior Pastor of Shallow Church/President of NAACP Tacoma /President of Tacoma Ministry Alliance – Tacoma, WA
I feel that it is imperative that we give every student the opportunity to have access to academic acceleration for those that qualify and that we delete any financial barriers that would prevent them from participating.
I have a nephew that we are raising in my home that we got out of a bad situation in Texas. He’s a very bright young man and he’s looking forward to taking AP courses and I want to make sure that he is able to take accelerated learning classes that will prepare him and give him a leg up as he prepares to enter college. I believe we have some bright minds that we are not allowing to move up because of some politics, so please support this bill.
Isaiah Thompson, 9th Grade Student at Rogers HS – Spokane WA
Thank you for taking time for us to speak on this issue. I’m here because I’m a freshman and in an AP Biology class. The only reason I’m there is because a former teacher told the school that I was smart enough to be there. This bill would help more students that deserve to be in these classes to be in them.
Click here to learn more about the progress of Stand for Children's legislative priorities during the 2018 session.