Education Policy Brief - Session Week 3

College & Career Readiness, Current Events & News, High School Success, Legislation | 02/01/2019

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Education Policymaking Brief #45

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

February 1, 2019

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • Feb. 4: Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Hearing (1:30 PM)
  • Feb. 4: House Education Hearing (1:30 PM)
  • Feb. 5: House Education Hearing (3:30 PM)
  • Feb. 6: Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Hearing (1:30 PM)
  • Feb. 6: Stand Up For High School Success Advocacy Day
  • Feb. 7: House Education Executive Session (8:00 AM)
  • Feb. 8: Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Hearing (8:30 AM)
  • Feb. 22: House Policy Committee Cutoff

Education Policy

Next we’ll be in Olympia with a group of advocates donning graduation caps to Stand Up for High School Success and talk to legislators about how SB 5343 would boost graduation rates for students in Washington. Activists from across the state will be mobilizing to contact their representatives that day to make sure the message is heard loud and clear: 1 out of 5 students isn’t graduating on time, and that’s unacceptable.

Elsewhere on the docket, the House Education Committee is hearing a series bills on school safety and mental health on Monday (as the Senate did this week) and the Senate Early Learning and K-12 committee is tackling the challenge of passing school bond proposals.

Bonds, unlike operational levies, require a 60% vote to pass. They pay for construction, technology and facilities upgrades. Lowering the percentage required for passage will require a change to the Washington State Constitution—a big lift; but one that has been done before.  School operational levies also use to require a higher vote percentage until Washington voters approved a change to the constitution requiring only a 50% vote in 2007. Speaking of education funding, check out our new video for a quick overview of how our schools are funded in Washington (and see how bonds and levies are part of the mix).

Here are other key bills we’re tracking this week:

  • SB 5532 improves inclusion for students with disabilities by providing professional development to general education teachers on special education practices. It would also establish local special education advisory committees and provide families more support in advocating during IEP meetings.
  • HB 1164 - led by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction - would lower the cost of College in the High School for students living in poverty as well as modifying some requirements related to the supporting Academic Acceleration grant program.
  • HB 1265 & SB 5315 would increase the number of counselors in elementary and middle schools. Both bills would require local districts to use the funding for its purpose—providing more counselors (need a refresher on the difference between special purpose funds and general purpose? Our education funding 101 video breaks it down.)

Key Numbers

  • 86 days left in the regular 2019 session
  • 44th is Washington’s new rank for high school graduation rates, slipping from 40. The real numbers haven’t changed a lot, but this is a further illustration that we need adopt legislation that has been proven to boost graduation rates this session to support our state’s kids.

#WAedu Social Media Chatter


Education Funding: An explainer

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

What We’re Reading

Special education funding should be Legislature’s top priority – Seattle Times Editorial Board

“Washington has clearly underfunded special education services, and the Legislature must fix this immediately.”

Teacher of the Year uses platform to draw attention to detention of migrant children – KNKX

“Mandy Manning is using her position as the 2018 National Teacher of the Year to draw attention to the detention of thousands of migrant children in the United States. Manning, a Spokane teacher who educates immigrant and refugee children, is planning a teach-in next month in Texas about the impact of detaining kids.”

Here’s why Washington must fully fund special education – Seattle Times Guest Column

“All schools and districts are struggling to fill this gap — especially small and rural districts and charter public schools, most of which see higher numbers of special-education students in their student bodies than the state average — putting deep pressure on their budgets. Schools have diverse students. They need the funds and support to ensure learning is accessible to all. Every student must get what they need, when they need it. We need to invest in their potential.”

Students jazz up Clark College – The Columbian

“Now, the college expected to see more than 1,200 student jazz players, with more than 3,000 guests. Volunteers put in about 800 hours of work to make it all happen.”

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. 

Sign up here to receive weekly legislative updates about education policy in Olympia in your inbox every Friday.

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