Education Policy Brief - Session Week 4

High School Success, Legislation | 02/18/2019

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Education Policymaking Brief #46

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

Created on February 8, 2019

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • Feb. 15: High School Success bill (SB 5343) is scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education @ 8AM.
  • Feb. 22: House Policy Committee Cutoff

SB 5343 – High School Success

Stand for Children WA strongly supports the adoption of this legislation. The bipartisan effort to implement proven policies to boost high school graduation rates is sponsored by Senators Mullet, Rivers, Palumbo, Hobbs, Salomon and Wilson. In addition to the grassroots advocacy of volunteers from across the state who met with our elected leaders in Olympia this week in support of the bill, the Seattle Times Editorial Board has enthusiastically supported the legislation. To read more about the bill and the policies it would implement statewide, please read more on our website.

Education Policy

This week we met with our state leaders in Olympia supporting a group of advocates donning graduation caps to Stand Up for High School Success (SB 5343) to boost graduation rates in Washington – earlier this year our state slipped from 40th to 44th in the nation. That’s the wrong direction and we were proud to stand with volunteers from across the state in our capitol to work toward a better future for our kids:

Activists from across the state mobilized to contact their representatives to make sure the message is heard loud and clear: 1 out of 5 students isn’t graduating on time, and that’s unacceptable. 

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

  • SB 5437, expanding access to early childhood education
  • SB 5354, concerning highly capable programs
  • SB 5070, supporting bilingual education
  • SB 5087, funding language competency grants for low-income students  
  • SB 5532, which would greatly expand the support provided to students with disabilities, including additional training on special education for general education teachers, the establishment of local special education advisory committees, and more robust transition planning for older students preparing to graduate from high school.
  • HB 1263, to increase support for homeless students
  • HB 1264, which would direct OSPI to create training models for teachers experiencing secondary traumatic stress,
  • HB 1454, an innovative plan to create demonstration sites in districts that have successfully created inclusive classrooms for students with disabilities
  • HB 1479, which would increase opportunities for teachers to receive training in social emotional learning.

Let us know if you have any questions about a specific bill or what we’re watching closely on the education policy docket. You can reach me at or 940-390-3039.

Key Numbers

  • 79 - days left in the regular 2019 session
  • 140,000 - students with disabilities who attend public schools in Washington
  • 53 – the percentage of South Seattle schools that exceeded the district’s limit for lead, according to the Seattle Times.
  • 36 – the percentage of North Seattle schools that exceeded the district’s limit for lead, according to the Seattle Times.

#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

Testing the waters: Lead exceeds acceptable levels in water at many Seattle schools – Seattle Times

“The Seattle school district tests the water in drinking fountains and classroom sinks at each campus at least once every three years. Through early 2018, the results of those tests showed 53 percent of schools in South Seattle registered lead readings above what the district considers an acceptable level of exposure. And the environmental risk isn’t limited to children in less-privileged neighborhoods: Elevated levels of lead appeared in tests at 36 percent of schools in whiter and more affluent North Seattle schools.”

Award-winning teachers plan ‘Teach-In For Freedom’ to remind Americans that thousands of immigrant kids are being held in border camps — and to call for their release – Washington Post

“Teachers are ‘mandatory reporters,’ meaning they are required by law to report suspected child abuse to responsible authorities. With that responsibility in mind, Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, has brought teachers and others together in a new group called Teachers Against Child Detention. It is planning a 10-hour ‘Teach-In for Freedom’ on Feb. 17 in El Paso to focus public attention on the plight of thousands of immigrant children held by the U.S. government on the border with Mexico and to call for their release.”

Education chief: state is failing to meet the needs of special education students – Tri-City Herald

“The problems plaguing the public education of children with disabilities are stark in Washington state. About 140,000 students with disabilities attend public schools in Washington. Of those, 54 percent are in general education classrooms for 80 percent or more of the school day. That makes Washington state among the most restrictive in the nation, trailing 42 other states. The national average is 63 percent. For students of color in Washington state, the figure drops to 47 percent.”

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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