Washington Education Policy Brief - Jan. 8th

Current Events & News, Legislation, Policy Brief | 01/08/2021

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

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

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • January 11 - First day of session
  • January 12 @ 8am – House Education Committee Meeting
  • January 13 @ 10:30 AM – Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee Meeting
    • SB 5030 – Developing comprehensive school counseling programs – will be the first bill to be heard by the committee and is Stand’s top priority bill in 2021.
  • February 19 – Committee-of-Origin Policy Cutoff

Stand for Children’s 2021 Legislative Agenda

Since launching our legislative agenda in December, we are excited to share that we are already seeing early momentum on a key priority. SB 5030 – sponsored by State Senators Mullet and Wellman – is now pre-filed and scheduled for to be the first bill heard in the Senate education committee on Wednesday, January 13th at 10:30AM. This legislation builds on the momentum of our efforts during the 2020 Legislative Session to expand student access to high-quality mental health, academic and college and career counseling services. The legislation in 2020 earned a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate (43-3) and we are optimistic that that momentum is already carrying over into 2021 to serve a need that is only more acute due to the impacts of the pandemic on education access in our state.

We have also published a visual overview of our legislative agenda, which you may find attached or at this link.

Stand for Children’s goal in 2021 is to advocate for policies that directly support Black and Brown students who have been historically marginalized by our education system, building on our advocacy for equitable access through policies like Academic Acceleration. The policy solutions we stand for are already working in schools, where they are positively impacting the number of students graduating high school on time, ready for college and career. 

The priorities detailed in our legislative agenda are proven ways to make sure students recover from the disruptions of COVID-19 by supporting every student with a complete staff team at their school, eliminate financial and technological barriers that create gaps in access and opportunity and acknowledge the importance of criminal justice reform as part of an interconnected approach to improving equitable student access.

2021 Legislative Priorities on which Stand for Children will strive to lead:

  • Targeted Funding - Protecting investments in the state budget that are already working and have a direct and immediate impact on student success, including funding that increases racial equity within dual credit enrollment and covers the costs for students who need the financial support. Another key focus will be to continue funding for Ninth Grade Success strategies that support on-time graduation.
  • Access to Counseling Services - Expanding student access to high-quality mental health, academic, and college and career counseling services. Our top priority legislation in 2020 earned a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate (43-3) and we are hopeful that that momentum will carry over into 2021.

2021 Legislative Priorities on which Stand for Children looks forward to supporting:

  • Criminal Justice Reform - We will advocate for policies that support families by removing barriers to full participation in the workforce and society for people who have been in or exposed to the criminal justice system.
  • Digital Equity - Reliable internet access is fundamental to full participation in 21st century society. We are supporting efforts to ensure that every student has internet access, an internet-capable device for learning, and technical support.

Leadership in the Legislature

Finally, we welcome new leaders in the Legislature and in each caucus. In the legislative arena of education policymaking, we look forward to working with the following leaders on the education committees:

  • Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee (* indicates new member):
    • Senator Lisa Wellman (D) – Chair
    • Senator Claire Wilson(D) - Early Learning Vice Chair
    • *Senator T’wina Nobles (D) - K-12 Vice Chair
    • Senator Sam Hunt (D)
    • Senator Mark Mullet (D)
    • Senator Jamie Pedersen (D)
    • Senator Brad Hawkins (R) - Ranking Minority Member
    • *Senator Perry Dozier (R)
    • *Senator Jim McCune (R)
  • House Education Committee:
    • Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D) - Chair
    • Rep. Laurie Dolan (D) - Vice Chair
    • *Rep. April Berg (D)
    • Rep. Steve Bergquist (D)
    • Rep. Lisa Callan (D)
    • Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D)
    • Rep. Monica Stonier (D)
    • Rep. Alex Ybarra (R) – Ranking Minority Member
    • *Rep. Jim Walsh (R) – Assistant Ranking Minority Member
    • Rep. Bob McCaslin (R)
    • *Rep. Joel McEntire ( R)
    • Rep. Skyler Rude (R)
    • Rep. Mike Steele (R)

Key Numbers

  • 18.8% - Percentage of high-school students who have seriously considered suicide, according to the CDC.
  • 60% ­- The percentage drop in the number of people in Washington last year who took the GED
  • 3 million – Estimated number of kids who have dropped out of school since March 2019, according to Bellwether Education Partners

#WAedu Social Media Chatter

What We’re Reading 

How Spokane-area teachers discussed the D.C. riot with their students – Spokesman-Review

DeVos Resigns As Education Secretary, Says, 'Impressionable Children Are Watching' - NPR

How WA schools can support students struggling with mental health - Crosscut

Washington’s GED completions are down by half. The test changed amid COVID-19, but did it go far enough? – Seattle Times

A Quiet And 'Unsettling' Pandemic Toll: Students Who've Fallen Off The Grid - NPR

Education Funding: An explainer

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

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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