Welcome to the 2020 legislative session! Below is our first weekly Roll Call newsletter, which we will publish every Friday throughout session to give you the latest updates on what’s happening in education policy in Olympia.
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And we’re off! The 2020 legislative session kicked off Monday, January 13, and even snow in Olympia and across Western Washington couldn’t stop lawmakers from charging through public hearings and work sessions during this productive first week. Here’s a recap from the Capitol and a look ahead to all things education next week.
First, we were excited to see Senator Mark Mullet and Representative Monica Stonier introduce SB 6480 / HB 2699, a bill that would improve counseling services for students, one of our 2020 legislative priorities. SB 6480 and HB 2699 help ensure students receive the support they need by (1) protecting funding so that money designated for counselors is actually being used to put counselors in schools, and (2) requiring districts to adopt the nationally recommended comprehensive school counseling program that ensures counselors can spend at least 80% of their time directly supporting students on their path to academic and personal success.
Our second priority, removing financial barriers to dual credit enrollment, received some airtime in committee this week. On Tuesday, the House Education committee tackled the challenge of funding dual credit programs with a work session that included presentations from K-12 and higher education. Superintendent Reykdal noted that Washington state families are currently paying roughly $58 million per year in dual credit costs – that includes fees for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests, College in the High School tuition, and Running Start costs such as books and other fees. OSPI put out a detailed report outlining these costs in November. The superintendent argued that dual credit students are still basic education students, and therefore should not be financially penalized for taking advanced courses. For those interested in the full debate, TVW has the video recording.
After the work session, Stand testified in favor of HB 1164, a bill requested by OSPI that we also supported during the 2019 legislative session. HB 1164 would add additional funding for low-income students enrolled in College in the High School courses and loosen requirements for Academic Acceleration Incentive Program grants so that districts could receive funding for more than one year. We also signed in to support HB 1459 to establish a summer Running Start pilot program on three campuses.
On the Senate side, several equity-focused bills were heard in public hearing this week. We supported a bill to put restrictions on collecting students’ immigration status (SB 5834), along with SB 6066, Senator Hasegawa’s bill encouraging districts to incorporate ethnic studies materials into their K-6 curriculum, and SB 6191, which would add questions on adverse child experiences, which research shows affects educational attainment, to the Healthy Youth Survey.
Looking ahead to next week, we’re excited to see that the committee schedule includes public hearings on bills covering a number of critical topics, including early learning, special education funding, school counseling services, local effort assistance for districts, and college in the high school.
Stay tuned for more, and if you haven’t yet, don’t forget to make your Pledge to Act in support of students for our statewide Day of Action on January 29th!
Until next week,