As week 3 draws to a close, I’d say we’re all starting to get the hang of committee hearings over Zoom. We also got to see some floor action this week, as both chambers began voting on bills that have made it past their policy and fiscal committees. The Senate passed SB 5044 off the floor this week, which would add diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism to educators’ cultural competency training. We supported this bill and were excited to see it move forward. Our eyes are glued to the order of consideration as we wait for SB 5030 to be brought to the Senate floor and ensure students have access to their school counselors.
Next week is National School Counselor Week, and it's also our 2021 Week of Action, so it's the perfect time to schedule a 15-minute virtual meeting with your legislator about which education policies matter most to you! (No stress needed - we'll support you every step of the way.)
Back in committee, we provided feedback to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee on SB 5249, which would extend the Mastery Based Learning workgroup. While Stand is excited to see the workgroup continue, we requested changes to a section that would allow potentially sweeping changes to be made to high school graduation requirements. Since due to the pandemic we have not yet had a chance to implement the multiple pathways the legislature passed in 2019, we have urged lawmakers to wait on significant portions of SB 5249 and HB 1162, another bill that would make changes to graduation requirements.
We were thrilled to see SB 5184 move easily out of committee this week. This bill, championed by our High School Success Coalition partner Treehouse, would establish points of contact in each school building who are specifically designated to serve children in foster care. A similar policy already exists for youth experiencing homelessness, and so we are hopeful to see it potentially replicated for fostered youth in our state.
In the House Education committee this week, the members successfully passed a substitute version of HB 1113, a bill that our Stand Fellow Devony testified in support of last week (video linked below). This bill would ensure students experiencing absenteeism and their families receive therapeutic support to avoid the court system to the greatest extent possible. This morning, the committee also heard a bill to extend the public charter school authorization window (HB 1195) and improve how learning assistance program (LAP) funds are directed to students who need them most (HB 1208). We were proud to support both of these bills and our team member Darcelina Soloria, a parent of two boys in a Spokane public charter school, who submitted written testimony in support about her family’s experiences.
Looking ahead to next week, we’re proud to echo the broad support for the urgency of passing HB 1297, which would implement a Recovery Rebate, an updated version of the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). The WFTC was passed into law in 2008 without any funding or implementation and the effort to remedy this is being led by All in for Washington, a statewide coalition effort to clean up the upside-down tax code in our state. The Recovery Rebate would implement a flat cash payment of $500 per individual, plus $150 for up to three kids, targeted to households with low incomes. The rebate works alongside other public assistance programs and unemployment insurance to weave a stronger system of public support for Washington families.
If you’re ready to jump in on advocacy for student access to their counselors, digital equity, and economic justice during next week’s Week of Action, please let us know by completing your Pledge to Stand for Children. We’ll be sharing an opportunity to take action every day next week, so make sure to let us know that you’re ready to advocate!
We’d especially love to see you at our next weekly “Take Action Tuesday”, online at 6pm - this week will be extra special for our Week of Action. As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, don't hesitate to respond. Talk soon!
Until next week,
P.S. If you prefer a video version of this Roll Call, you're invited to join my colleague Katie and I on our Roll Call Live via Facebook every Friday at lunchtime. It's casual, it's quick, and hopefully it's informative. You can watch today's video here, which includes a quick review of how to track bills through the legislative process.