Education Policy Brief - Session Week 5

Current Events & News, High School Success, Legislation | 02/18/2019

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Education Policymaking Brief #47

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

Created on February 15, 2019

The Horizon: Key Dates

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

Missed the hearing? We’ve got you covered:

Video archived by TVW (SB 5343 hearing starts at 33:15):

WHO: In addition to enthusiastic editorial support by the Seattle Times, the High School Success bill enjoys broad support. At the hearing today, 47 individuals and organizations testified and/or signed-in in support of the legislation:

Senator Mark Mullet is the legislation’s prime sponsor. Senators Rivers, Palumbo, Hobbs, Salomon and Wilson also are sponsors of this bipartisan bill of proven policies to improve high school graduation rates in Washington.

To read more about the bill and the policies it would implement statewide, please read more on the Stand for Children WA website.

Education Policy

In preparation for our hearing today, last 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.

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

Committee meeting schedules shuffled around a little bit this week due to snow in Olympia, which closed the Capitol and canceled all committee meetings on Monday. 

In the Senate, we’re tracking bills expanding extracurricular opportunities for low income students (SB 5729), increasing homeless and vulnerable children’s access to early learning (SB 5820), and directing the Professional Educator Standards Board to create standards and resources for teachers on mental health issues (SB 5777).

In the House, we’re tracking the companion bill to SB 5729 (HB 1660), bills that would direct the state to create an ethnic studies curriculum (HB 1314), make screening universal for highly capable programs (HB 1641). There are also two bills that would benefit our English language learners: HB 1322, which would establish dual language grant programs and biliteracy standards, and HB 1468 to support bilingual educators in Washington.

Next week is the final week of hearings before the House of Origin policy cutoff on February 22. We’ll be watching the bills that come up in executive sessions and the final bills receiving a public hearing, including SB 5593, which would communicate dual credit students’ low-income status to higher education partners, and SB 5859, which would create a grant program to fund mentors for educators. Next week you’ll get an update on which bills moved through this first hurdle of getting out of the education committees.

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.

Took look up more information about a particular bill, you can enter the bill number here:

Key Numbers

  • 72 - days left in the regular 2019 session
  • 31% - Washington students who currently go on to attain a post-secondary credential by age 26.
  • 1:250 – the recommended counselor-student ratio. Washington is only funded for a 1:355 ratio at the middle-school level

#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

People with disabilities can save for college, life expenses with new Washington state savings plan – Seattle Times Education Lab

“Word of the ABLE plan has spread slowly in this state; so far, only about 257 people have enrolled, said Peter Tassoni, manager of the disabilities work group at the state Department of Commerce. The commerce department believes more than 130,000 people in Washington are eligible, and about 30,000 to 50,000 have the financial assets to make use of the accounts.” 

Voters show support for schools in early Washington special election results – KING 5

“Some of the top races voters are deciding on include: School levies in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. Proposition 1 would approve $815 million for educational programs and operations for the Seattle School District. Bethel School District is attempting to pass a $443 million bond in a last-ditch effort to battle overcrowding.”

North Central High School students’ genetic work on worms could help scientists make breakthroughs – The Spokesman-Review

“Years from now, thousands of people may thank Shay and his students for their work, which could lead to a better understanding of how to cure the hundreds of connective tissue disorders that affect millions of people. The work began last year, when Shay and Whitworth University biology professor Aaron Putzke applied for a grant through the Partners in Science Program sponsored by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.”

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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