Washington Education Policy Brief - Dec. 18th

Current Events & News, Legislation, Policy Brief | 12/18/2020

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

A summary for those closely following the education policy debate in Olympia.

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • January 11 - First day of session*

*While the pandemic has taught us to all to be flexible with changing plans, our current understanding is that Legislative Committee Hearings will be conducted on Zoom.

Stand for Children’s 2021 Legislative Agenda

Stand for Children’s goal in 2021 is to advocate for policies that directly support Black and Brown students who have been historically marginalized by our education system, building on our advocacy for equitable access through policies like Academic Acceleration. The policy solutions we stand for are already working in schools, where they are positively impacting the number of students graduating high school on time, ready for college and career. 

The priorities detailed in our legislative agenda are proven ways to make sure students recover from the disruptions of COVID-19 by supporting every student with a complete staff team at their school, eliminate financial and technological barriers that create gaps in access and opportunity and acknowledge the importance of criminal justice reform as part of an interconnected approach to improving equitable student access.

2021 Legislative Priorities on which Stand for Children will strive to lead:

  • Targeted Funding - Protecting investments in the state budget that are already working and have a direct and immediate impact on student success, including funding that increases racial equity within dual credit enrollment and covers the costs for students who need the financial support. Another key focus will be to continue funding for Ninth Grade Success strategies that support on-time graduation.
  • Access to Counseling Services - Expanding student access to high-quality mental health, academic, and college and career counseling services. Our top priority legislation in 2020 earned a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate (43-3) and we are hopeful that that momentum will carry over into 2021.

2021 Legislative Priorities on which Stand for Children looks forward to supporting:

  • Criminal Justice Reform - We will advocate for policies that support families by removing barriers to full participation in the workforce and society for people who have been in or exposed to the criminal justice system.
  • Digital Equity - Reliable internet access is fundamental to full participation in 21st century society. We are supporting efforts to ensure that every student has internet access, an internet-capable device for learning, and technical support.

Leadership in the Legislature

Finally, we welcome new leaders in the Legislature and in each caucus. In the legislative arena of education policymaking, we look forward to working with the following leaders:

  • Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee: Senator Lisa Wellman (D) will continue as the Chair. And the committee will now have two Vice-Chairs – Senator Claire Wilson (Early Learning) and incoming Senator T’wina Nobles (K-12).
  • House Education Committee: Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (D) will continue as the Chair and Representative Laurie Dolan (D) will continue as Vice Chair. Newly elected Representative April Berg (D) will join the committee.

Key Numbers

  • 35 – The number of Ninth Grade Success teams made possible by the Center for High School success, an effort led in collaboration with 2019 funding from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and significantly leveraged by Stand for Children funding support
  • 100s of hours – The amount of time that the Center for High School Success has provided at no charge to Ninth Grade Success teams
  • 400% - The increase in likelihood that a student will graduate on-time if they are on track by the end of the Ninth Grade.
  • 13 – Number of days left in 2020
  • 24 – Number of days until the 2021 Legislative Session begins

#WAedu Social Media Chatter

What We’re Reading 

Revised guidance lowers bar for schools to reopen in Washington state, Inslee announces – The Olympian

Microsoft to spend $110 million on economic, education initiatives to boost Washington state’s COVID-19 recovery – Seattle Times

With so many schools online, child maltreatment reports in Washington plummet – Seattle Times

Ness Elementary fifth-grader releases her first fantasy fiction - Spokesman

Education Funding: An explainer

How do Washington schools get funded, anyway? An education funding primer video to get you started:

The Education Policymaking Brief is produced by Stand for Children Washington, a public education advocacy organization, and was established in 2017. If you’d like to review previous briefs, they are available here.

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