We know everyone is enjoying their time off, so we’re keeping this edition short and sweet. We will check back in with you in August as we ramp up for all things back to school!

july highlights

Staff Spotlight: Carolina

“What continues to motivate me about the work we do here at Stand is my personal experiences and hearing the stories of those around me, because it is a reminder that the work is not done. It’s work that I continue to learn from daily and reminds me that change can be made, whether big or small. I think it is important to take our experiences, to really listen to others, and take the time to find ways how we can make things better and make space for our communities and youth to succeed and feel safe. It’s knowing that we are at least trying.” Learn more about Carolina.

August 1st School Board Primary Race

If you’ve received a ballot  in the mail this month, then there is a primary race for your school board! School board directors are non-partisan positions and their role is to provide oversight to the district superintendent, set the strategic direction for the district, set the budget, and adopt district policies. We need school board directors that put students first and who support safe, equitable, and affirming schools.

Check out candidate forums from the League of Women Voters to learn more about where candidates stand by finding your local chapter and checking their website for recordings. Return your primary ballot by August 1 (post-marked or placed in a ballot dropbox).

Teamwork Time

Our team spent time together this month to engage deeply in annual planning. We know that what we do today, and the next fiscal year, is a part of a longer-term effort to transform systems. We draw inspiration from the stories and expertise of young people and families who engage in this work. We’ll continue to double down on impactful policies rooted in racial equity, so all young Washingtonians receive meaningful access to a high quality, relevant education, and support to transition into young adulthood.

What We’re Watching

The Education Lab at the Seattle Times hosted a live Q&A with education finance experts to answer questions about school budgets, finance trends, and challenges.

Wishing you a restful summer,

Ciarra Crowe
Marketing and Communications Manager
Stand for Children Washington

I’m honored to deliver the next installment of Stargazing with Stand! June is the month where we see many transitions: spring turns into summer, students graduate high school. June also brings celebrations: celebrating Pride and unapologetically uplifting the Queer community, celebrating Juneteenth and rejoicing in what freedom means to the Black community. I hope we can continue to celebrate joyous occasions inside and outside our community.

june highlights

Union High School Freshman Success Event – Vancouver, WA

Union High School hosted a celebration for their Ninth Grade Success Teams work in June. Senator Lynda Wilson, Representative Monica Stonier, and Evergreen Superintendent Boyd joined to celebrate and learn more about the strides Union High School has made over the last four years of implementing dedicated strategies to support ninth graders.

Did you know there’s new data showing a significant increase in the number of students passing their ninth grade classes as a result of the Ninth Grade Success Initiative?

2023 School Board Elections

School board elections are this fall, with primaries on August 1st. A school board oversees a variety of  academic, legal, and financial issues for the school district. They play a huge role in creating safe and equitable learning environments for students. However, they’ve recently been the site of attempts to ban books and disrupt the teaching of accurate history.

Who’s running in your school district this year? You can find out if there is a race in your district here and find out how candidates propose to support all students to thrive and access a high quality education. Let us know if there’s an important race in your area! 

Collaboration Across WA
Last month, the Washington Center for High School Success (CHSS) gathered Ninth Grade Success  teams  from Vancouver to Bellingham to Moses Lake for in-person collaboratives to network, learn, and plan. They shared what’s currently working to support 9th graders, as well as raising challenges to draw on the collective expertise of the network. Participating schools have been working hard all year, and some are celebrating double digit increases in the rate of students passing all their 9th grade classes. Learn more about CHSS. 

Reflections on a Session Full of Lessons
Our experience of the 2023 Legislative Session could be quantified in many ways, but you can’t quantify the dedication and passion put forth by our entire community these past few months. We set out with ambitious legislative goals because students deserve transformative change. And even though session ended with some losses, we also had wins and came out smarter, more determined, and more equipped to be a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice next session. Read our full reflection.

We always want to hear from you and encourage you to stay in touch over the summer. We’re excited to connect more deeply with you, whether you are a student, parent, educator, school board member, or all of the above. Together, we’re confident we can make more robust change in 2024 for those who are furthest from education justice.

Standing With You,

Ciarra Crowe
Marketing and Communications Manager
Stand for Children Washington

Gov. Inslee signs Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 1169, May 15, 2023. Relating to legal financial obligations. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Simmons

Our experience of the 2023 Legislative Session could be quantified in many ways: 32 Zoom Meetings, 12 emails, 5 trips to Olympia to testify, and 50 hours collaborating to push for policy innovations that will benefit young people across Washington. But you can’t quantify the dedication and passion put forth by our entire community these past few months. 

We set out with ambitious legislative goals because students deserve transformative change. Change like building a debt-free youth justice system that reduces harm and promotes community healing, or ensuring that every student graduates equipped for their post-secondary dreams. And even though session ended with some losses, we also had wins and came out smarter, more determined, and more equipped to be a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice next session. 

We all joined Stand for Children WA within the past two and half years, so 2023 was our first year traveling to Olympia to testify in person. Any member of the public could join us, walk the halls of the Washington State Capitol Building, and speak with a legislator or their staff. This made the advocacy experience palpably different from  the past two years of virtual session. One improvement over previous in-person sessions is that remote testimony options continued, leveling the playing field so all could have their voices heard. 

We took advantage of the hybrid session– attending in-person days of action like Mockingbird Society’s Youth Advocacy Day and Civil Survival’s Transform Justice, as well as virtual advocacy days like the APRI Annual Charles Rolland African American Legislative Day. Being in community allowed us to share power, build trust, strengthen relationships, and forge unexpected relationships. This is how change-making begins.

And our collaboration extended well beyond Olympia. 

The Debt Free Youth Justice WA Coalition fiercely advocated to eliminate punitive and ineffective juvenile court costs (SB 5474/HB 1432). We extend our gratitude to impacted youth for testifying and sharing their life experiences both to shape the bill and  during hearings. And we are grateful to Civil Survival and Representative Tarra Simmons for including components of our youth justice bill into HB 1169, eliminating non-restitution juvenile fines and fees. We will continue to fight for Washington to become the first state in the country to replace juvenile restitution with community-based alternatives that  allow young people to rehabilitate, victims to gain restoration, and communities to heal. 

Another bright spot in the budget was full funding for two provisos that will help advance our debt free youth justice work: 

  • $150,000 to the Administrative Office of the Courts to conduct an analysis of legal financial obligations including restitution. The analysis must be disaggregated by race and ethnicity and calculate a collection rate for different types of LFOs. 
  • $600,000 for the Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice to convene stakeholders, including those directly impacted by juvenile restitution, to develop recommendations for a community compensation fund to replace juvenile restitution, as well as recommendations to improve juvenile record sealing and recommendations on the upper age limit for juvenile court jurisdiction. 

Our High School Success Coalition collaborated on bills to support every student on their path to achieving a rigorous high school diploma and pursuing their dreams. 

  1. College in the High School fees were eliminated, paving the way for more students to earn college credits that will help them transition to college (SB 5048). 
  2. SB 5243l directs the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to identify a common online platform for the High School and Beyond Plan and to engage students, families, and communities in the process. This is a step towards more consistent and robust planning for postsecondary opportunities throughout high school. 
  3. Summer Running Start is now an option throughout the state, ensuring that students who graduated high school can participate the summer after their senior year to help them complete their AA degree (HB 1316). 

Working in partnership and coalition is vital and helps us have stronger wins and to weather the disappointments. And unfortunately, there were some disappointments this session. 

We were especially struck by the unwillingness of the legislature to meaningfully engage with the question of what to do when federal pandemic relief money for education expires in September 2024. This will surely be a hot topic next session, and will be coupled with district-level funding challenges associated with declining enrollment. In juvenile justice reform, we also saw less appetite for transformative change than we’d hoped. Despite a few bright spots, a number of policy bills reflecting strong community input and aiming to promote community healing, youth accountability, and a more restorative approach, did not advance. 

Nonetheless, through partnership and community, we got through the tough moments of session and these relationships will sustain us as we rededicate our tenacity to policies that prioritize students and families who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. This time post-session has already given us the time and space to reflect and identify opportunities to meaningfully move forward toward transformative change. 

We always want to hear from you and encourage you to stay in touch over the summer. We’re excited to connect more deeply with you, whether you are a student, parent, educator, school board member, or all of the above. As well as continue working with our legislative champions who are not afraid to take a bold stand for what is right for young people. Together, we’re confident we can make more robust change in 2024 for those who are furthest from education justice.

Standing With You,

Kia, Liz, Carolina, and Ciarra
Stand for Children Washington Team

“We look at the same stars and see such different things.” – George R.R. Martin

Welcome to the new Stargazing with Stand newsletter! Stargazing can ease minds and rejuvenate, so periodically we’ll take a moment to pause, visiting the highlights and stories that give us hope. It also lets us view things from a different perspective. At Stand for Children, we value and appreciate the ways youth across Washington are unique. We work so all young Washingtonians receive meaningful access to a high quality, relevant education.

This newsletter will also be led by our newest colleague Ciarra Crowe, our new Marketing and Communications Manager. She joins us from Northern Virginia, where she was born and raised, and is a proud HBCU alumnus of North Carolina A&T State University, where she received her degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. Ciarra is a communications strategist who uses her skillset to tell stories, shift narratives, and uplift communities. Read her full bio.

My colleagues at Stand have been so supportive and encouraging. Their commitment and creativity has only encouraged me to bring all of my new ideas to the table as we collectively fight for Washington’s youth. Two months down and looking forward to many more to come!”

– Ciarra Crowe

Without further ado, let’s share updates from this month:

Teacher Appreciation!

May is the time we celebrate teachers for all that they do for our students, schools, and communities. We know that the past few years have been incredibly challenging for all of us, and teachers continue to provide adaptive leadership, stability, and warm & welcome classrooms across Washington State. We see you, we appreciate you, and we celebrate you! If there are any teachers you would love to appreciate and share how they made a positive impact on you, you can do so here

Bill Signing

On Monday, HB 1169 was signed into law to eliminate all youth fines and fees! Thank you so much to Civil Survival, the Center for Children & Youth Justice, the Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic, the DFYJWA Coalition, and Gov. Inslee!

Gov. Inslee signs Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 1169, May 15, 2023. Relating to legal financial obligations. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Simmons

Building Bridges to Dual Credit Equity

At the end of the month we will wrap up our 2nd annual series of dual credit equity virtual convenings with schools and school districts. Launched on April 21st, these have been critical conversations with educators about how to ensure students can equitably access the courses they need in order to transition to life beyond high school. 

Videos from the April 21st event are available on YouTube and more resources on dual credit equity are on our website. We’re excited to be building a powerful movement of educators committed to equity and access!

Mental Health Action Day

Did you know that today is Mental Health Action Day? The goal of this day is to shift the culture of mental health from awareness to action. We know one key way to take action is by passing legislation that supports the mental health of students or stopping legislation that will harm students. See below how we’ve done this in recent years: 

In 2021, our community helped pass SB 5030, a bill that ensures that at least 80% of counselors’ time is spent providing services to students. It also created a definition for comprehensive school counseling that included mental health and social/emotional support in addition to academic guidance. We also supported a bill to allow students to take mental health days as excused absences from school. 

In 2022, we supported critical legislation to increase funding and staff allocations for school support roles such as school counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses. This additional funding will level the playing field for districts that otherwise wouldn’t have these much-needed resources. 

However, there’s still much to be done to ensure all students are safe and supported at school. As Kia Franklin, Stand’s WA Executive Director, puts it: 

“Students are whole, complex people. They do not leave their home lives and community lives behind when they walk on campus; nor do the complexities of navigating school cease to impact them at the final bell each day. Stand aims to be a unique catalyst for education equity in Washington State, and to do that we must continue to center, identify and address the unique mental health needs of students statewide.” 

The cherry blossoms are out in Olympia. Legislators and lobbyists alike are sneaking into the sun for a few enjoyable minutes after weeks on the floor and in meeting rooms, debating and hashing out important policy decisions. But we’re just two days away from “sine die” – the official term for the last day of legislative session – on April 23.

We know a lot about how things are shaping up for our policy priorities, but one area that’s coming down to the wire is the Ninth Grade Success program funding. As you know, dedicated funding wasn’t included in either budget proposal earlier this year. The proposals actually repurposed the federal funding schools were relying on – effectively eliminating the program. 

We expect a final, negotiated budget to be released Saturday at noon, and we’ll know more then about the fate of the Ninth Grade Success funding. One thing is certain – this community did everything possible to elevate this to lawmakers. We are so grateful to all of you who signed our petition, called your legislators, and shared information about this proven and transformative program to raise high school graduation rates and support students to thrive in a pivotal year. Regardless of the outcome of this session, we are very appreciative of  your advocacy. 

On the policy front, we’re excited to share that a number of our priority bills are heading to the Governor’s office for signature with bipartisan support!

  • HB 1169 eliminates mandatory legal financial obligations for youth and adults, and also eliminates the remaining discretionary court fees for juveniles as well as making prior non-restitution debt for young people uncollectible. This is a big victory, salvaged from the defeat of SB 5474 earlier this session. 
  • Two dual credit bills are also headed to the Governor: SB 5048 eliminates fees for participating in College in the High School, paving the way for more students to earn college credits that will help them transition to college. HB 1316 makes summer Running Start an option throughout the state, and ensures that students who have graduated high school can participate the summer after their senior year to help them complete their AA degree. 
  • SB 5243 directs OSPI to identify a common online platform for the High School and Beyond plan, and to engage students, families, and communities in the process. This is a step towards more consistent and robust planning for postsecondary opportunities throughout a high school experience. 

We’ll share another update next week with a breakdown of the final budget, and in a few weeks we’ll offer a more comprehensive reflection on this legislative session. 

We’re so grateful to each of you for sticking with us through this long session until the bitter end!

Kaaren with a CHSS graduate

We are in the final weeks of session. Lawmakers are tired, and there are significant differences between the House and the Senate budget proposals to work out. This year, there are also new budget dynamics as federal pandemic relief funds will expire next year and must be allocated and spent before they do. 

Amidst this, our big headline is: Ninth Grade Success Funding is not included in either budget proposal. Worse, the budget proposals are set to use funds that the state Office of Public Instruction had already allocated for Ninth Grade Success and other programs, to fund other priorities. This would result in devastating cuts to programs that are working, and that are already in place to help students and families around the state. 

We need your help to preserve funding for Ninth Grade Success – please take action and sign our petition! 

What’s next? The House & Senate will need to reconcile their two budget proposals through a conference committee, where lead budget writers for both chambers will negotiate the contents of the final budget. We are keeping the pressure on to include Ninth Grade Success funding – without this action, 12,000 students will lose access to this proven program. 

In a bright spot, our juvenile legal financial obligations work got a second life through a combination of bills and budget provisos! HB 1169 was amended to include elimination of all non-restitution court fees and costs. Additionally, two budget provisos were included in the budget proposals to fund additional data and community engagement work on this important topic. HB 1169 will need to be voted off the Senate floor by April 12, and the provisos, one in each budget, will need to both be included in the final budget proposal. 

The lesson of this session is, your continued advocacy makes a difference! Thanks to you, our fines & fees work lives to see another day, and I know that with your help we can get across the finish line for Ninth Grade Success. Take action today!

Kia Franklin testifying at hearing.

It’s day 75 of the legislative session and the pace just continues to accelerate, with 30 days remaining for lawmakers to pass crucial policies and make difficult budget decisions. Maybe the cherry blossoms and the sun coming out have provided added momentum, because as we spring toward the end of session, some of our key efforts that were once at risk of slowing down or stalling now seem to be getting a second wind. But we’ve got to keep pushing, so updates and action items are below!      

Although our two priority policies did not advance as bills, we are excited to share that the elimination of remaining juvenile legal fines and fees, originally part of SB 5474, has been included as an amendment to HB 1169, the Legal Financial Obligations bill that we’ve been watching and supporting. HB 1169 passed out of the Senate Law & Justice committee on Wednesday night and will now need to be heard and passed out of the Senate Ways and Means committee by April 4th.                      

Upon passage of the bill, this would in effect fully eliminate all juvenile fines and fees for young people adjudicated in juvenile court in Washington State! We’re grateful for and standing in solidarity with lawmakers and community members who saw the opportunity to get juvenile fines and fees off the books this session.             

Hope remains for Ninth Grade Success Teams as well, originally SB 5408. Right now we’re ramping up our advocacy, urging lawmakers to fund the Ninth Grade Success Teams approach in the upcoming biennium budget. Kia from Stand and Henterson from CHSS testified today at the Senate Budget Hearing, and we ask that you please consider joining in this effort as well by calling your Senator today!                                                           

For added context, the Senate budget proposal came out yesterday on the heels of an updated revenue forecast indicating lower-than-anticipated state revenues in the coming years. The forecast included a reduction in state general fund dollars by about $407 million in the next two years. This painted a rather dim picture for funding requests. Which is why your voice is going to be essential in amplifying and ensuring that the Ninth Grade Success Teams approach be included in the budget. 

We need you! Be a part of this important advocacy!

To end on good news: Other education priorities we are tracking – including eliminating fees for college in the high school (SB 5048) and establishing a digital platform for high school and beyond plans (SB 5243) – continue to move through the process and received funding in the budget proposal!         

Next up: We’ll see the House budget proposal on Monday, and lawmakers in both chambers will then spend the rest of session working through the budget differences and developing a final budget proposal. We’ll be sure to keep you posted along the way.                                                                                         

Thank you for your advocacy and for staying in community with us this session! Happy Spring!

We’ve just passed the third major cutoff of legislative session – Wednesday (March 8th) was the deadline for most bills to pass out of their “house of origin,” meaning a full vote of either the House or the Senate. Those bills will now need to be heard and voted out of a policy committee by March 29. At the same time, work on the budget is really heating up. We expect the House and Senate to each release their proposed budgets by the end of March, and then spend most of April working behind closed doors to reconcile their proposals into a final budget. 

This is an exciting time to watch the bills we’ve been tracking as they advance through the legislative process, but it is also an incredibly important time for executing new strategies and tactics for our legislative priorities that did not make it through. For that, we need you! See below for opportunities to join us in continuing to be powerful advocates for ninth grade success and debt free justice.

We need your help to tell lawmakers to include $5.65m in the state budget to continue and expand the successful Ninth Grade Success Teams approach. 

We are also working to advance parts of our Debt Free Youth Justice bill through the budget and through supporting other bills. Unfortunately, SB 5474 will not be moving forward, but we can still make important progress. In particular, we are excited to support HB 1169, which will eliminate the remaining mandatory court fees in juvenile court and create a path for those with juvenile court debt to petition the court for relief. It’s a small piece of our larger goal, but a very important step in the right direction. 

Checking in on some of our other bills we are tracking, many of them have cleared the latest cutoffs and have moved to the opposite chamber. 

  • Dual Credit Equity – HB 1146 which improves notification about dual credit programs and available financial assistance, and HB 1316 which expands summer Running Start programs have both advanced to the Senate. HB 1316 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday. And SB 5048, which would make College in the High School free for all students, passed the Senate unanimously and heads over to the House. 
  • High School and Beyond planning – SB 5243, which directs OSPI to identify common digital platforms for students’ high school and beyond plans, also passed the Senate unanimously and heads to the House, where it will be heard in policy committee on Tuesday.  
  • HB 1479 to eliminate isolation and restraint in schools is also moving forward, and will be considered in the Senate. 

As always, thank you for your advocacy! Please take a moment to contact your lawmakers today to support funding for Ninth Grade Success in the state budget.

Today marks the second big deadline of legislative session. “Fiscal cutoff” is the deadline for bills with budget impact to be voted out of a fiscal committee. This week has truly been a marathon of bill hearings and committee votes (called “executive session” in legislative lingo) going well into the night. These will continue all day today until the deadline of 5pm. 

As you read this, Stand’s Debt Free Youth Justice priority bill – SB 5474 – still needs to be voted out of executive session. It is scheduled for a vote today, just squeaking up to the deadline. The bill was heard in Ways and Means on Saturday, February 18 (yes, the legislature even works on the weekends around cutoff time!), and the highlight of the hearing was definitely Jacob, who broke down the long-term impact of owing tens of thousands of dollars before you turn 18. Please take a moment to listen to Jacob’s 90-second testimony

In less rosy news, Stand’s other priority bill SB 5408 to sustain and expand Ninth Grade Success Teams was not scheduled for a hearing or vote in Ways & Means, despite powerful advocacy from school leaders around the state. We are not giving up though! There is a path forward through the two-year state budget and we will share opportunities for advocacy in the coming days! 

Thank you to everyone who rallied and took action on one of our support bills – SB 5434 to “raise the age” of juvenile court jurisdiction from 8 – one of the country’s lowest – to 13. You sent dozens of emails to legislators (and many of you indicated your support even though your legislator didn’t sit on Ways & Means!). Your voices joined a loud call for evidence-based public policy, rooted in best practice, brain science, and positive youth development. Unfortunately, the bill was not brought up for a hearing in Ways and Means before today’s Fiscal cutoff and will not move forward this session. However, thanks to your advocacy, lawmakers know how important it is to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction and are looking into keeping the conversation going via a potential budget strategy. We will keep you in the loop as things develop – stay tuned!

Here’s an update on the status of other bills we’ve mentioned in the last few weeks: 

  • HB 1316 and SB 5048 were both moved out of their fiscal committees; together they set the state on a path towards expanding access to the Running Start and College in the High School dual credit programs. In addition, HB 1146, which would strengthen communication with students and parents about available dual credit options, has already passed the House and is awaiting a first hearing in the Senate. 
  • SB 5243 to strengthen High School and Beyond planning has passed out of Ways & Means, and is in the Rules committee. It will need to be “pulled” from Rules for a vote on the Senate floor by March 8.
  • HB 1479 to eliminate isolation and restraint in schools is scheduled for a vote today in House Appropriations. 

As you can tell, things are moving quickly and the outcome of some important pieces of legislation is still uncertain. We’ll be updating you soon with a full report and how you can take action to keep top priorities moving forward!

Thank you for being in this work with us!

Dear friends –

We are at the top of week 6 and nearing the first major deadline of the legislative session: all bills need to be voted out of their policy committee by this Friday, February 17. And that deadline is quickly followed by another – all bills (with few exceptions) that cost money must be heard and voted out of a fiscal committee by Feb 24. The next two weeks are going to be a nail-biter, but we’ll keep you updated on the bills that matter most to you!

Speaking of which, I’m pleased to report that Stand’s legislative priorities are in great shape with both of our top priorities on track to meet the above deadlines! Debt Free Youth Justice (SB 5474 & HB 1432) and Ninth Grade Success Teams (SB 5408) all had fantastic bill hearings last week, featuring powerhouse panels of testimony from community members, educators, those with lived expertise, and system stakeholders. And our community also showed up: More than 100 people signed in pro on each bill! Thank you! Your efforts made a difference in demonstrating widespread community support for our priorities. 

The results of your advocacy are clear: SB 5408 passed out of committee unanimously, and SB 5474 was amended and passed out of committee. Both bills will now need to be scheduled for a hearing and vote in the Senate fiscal committee, Ways & Means, by February 24. 

What’s next? We’re continuing to watch other important bills related to educational equity and racial justice, including:  

  • Dual credit bills – both HB 1003 and HB 1316, which would subsidize cost of participation in dual credit programs for students eligible for free & reduced priced lunch – moved forward unanimously and have been referred to the House fiscal committee, Appropriations. In the Senate, SB 5048, which would eliminate fees for all students in the College in the High School program, is awaiting a hearing and vote in Ways & Means. 
  • Bills to improve the high school and beyond planning process (HB 1273 and SB 5243) also advanced out of their policy committees, with amendments supported by Stand for Children and our partners. 
  • Several youth justice policies that Stand is supporting are poised to move forward: ending isolation & restraint in schools (HB1479/SB 5559), increasing the minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction (HB 1440/SB5434), and a bill to eliminate mandatory legal financial obligations in juvenile and adult court (HB 1169). 

As ever, coordinated and sustained advocacy, the power of lived experience, and the commitment of our community is what ensures that legislators continue to prioritize our issues. Here are just a two 90-second clips from the hearings, but we encourage to watch even more:

  • Alexis Hale’s testimony on the Debt Free Youth Justice Bill
  • Jose Rivera’s testimony on the power of the Ninth Grade Success Team approach to educational equity in Grandview School District. 

Thank you for being in this work with us!

In advocacy, 

Liz