Monday, February 03, 2014

Washington State Legislature Education Bill Update

The Legislature has had its usual flurry of ed bills, some quite random, some with focus and a couple that have/will pass.  Here's a comprehensive list from Parnership for Learning.  There are many returning bills like one for teacher/principal evaluations (SB 6055); old ideas but repackaged to look new.

I believe that tomorrow, the 4th, is the Washington State PTA Legislative Focus Day in Olympia.

 DREAM Act - Well, finally the Legislature passed a House and Senate bill to allow children of undocumented workers to be eligible for college financial aid.

I grew up on the Arizona/Mexico border so yes, I get both sides of the multi-pronged discussion about the issue.  I stand in support of the Dream act.  Look, these kids didn't ask for their parents to bring them here and certainly didn't know they were here illegally (or didn't understand what that truly means).  But if you have students who are bright, graduate high school with grades good enough to get into college and those students WANT to go to college, then let's help.  Let's help them become even more invested in this country to want to be part of an educated workforce.  The benefits to society are great versus the investment.

What is truly sad is that this could have happened sooner.  Indeed our own mayor, Ed Murray, sponsored the Dream Act as a state senator.  But the Republicans in the Senate would hear nothing of it and bad-mouthed this bill.   Some even said the Dems sponsored it just to make the Republicans look racist.

But now, it's another year and an election one at that.  Now the House passed their version the FIRST day of this session.

But who's behind in the polls?  Republicans.  Who needs to try to shore up Latino support?  Republicans.  So who finally voted yes on the Dream Act?  Republicans.  Who lead the charge?  Rodney Tom.   (And yet they passed it on a Friday afternoon, two days before the Super Bowl that the Seahawks were in.  Good timing if you want it to really not hit the news in a big way.)

Lower Class Size. 
HB 2589 would make class size reduction a priority for the added dollars from McCleary. There is a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Senator Marko Liias.

From SF Gate:

The proposal seeks a general goal of 17 students in the early grades and 25 in grades four through 12. Lower teacher-student ratios would be sought in high-poverty schools.

The House is to hear the bill tomorrow, the 4th at 6 p.m. before the House Education Committee.  Want to help?  Here's info from the group, Class Size Counts.

Student Data Privacy
Senator Elizabeth Scott introduced HB2133 to protect student data privacy.  Unfortunately, it was quite an underwhelming bill that merely asked for a study of student data privacy measures in Washington State.  There was a lot of back and forth but it appears to be dead.

However, a better, tighter and stronger bill is being prepared and that one will be the one that will truly do something for students and families.  More to come on this topic.

Lowering the number of Supreme Court Justices
Because, of course, when you don't like a ruling, try to narrow the field.  That's what Senator Michael Baumgartner, who apparently doesn't like the McCleary ruling, is attempting to do with SB 5867.  It would shrink the Court from nine to five members (if the bill passes, he (seriously) wants the current Court to draw lots to see who goes).   He says any saving would go to ...public education.

No comments: