Legislative Round-Up

I haven't been keeping up as much as it seems that things change daily but here is what I believe the latest is.

The Senate now has put out their proposal for trying to close the state budget gap (although still haven't closed it). In terms of education, they would protect more of what most of us would want protected. They would cut about $16M less than the House for K-4. They would transfer $25 from the State Need Grant (which would have to come from somewhat and I think higher ed has a big bullseye on it). Neither the House nor the Senate would make cuts to levy equalization or highly capable education.

Also, I got a heads up on a real Lallapalooza of a bill (HB 1025) that is being put forth by about 15 legislators led by Rep. Crouse. It is all loosely about education issues and includes highly capable, asthma/anaphylaxis, PE, drivers ed, school safety and civics classes. It also includes a passage about storm water drainage. (I'm guessing they all got in a room and just named their ed topic of concern.)

Here are the oddities of the bill:

Special Ed - allows districts to, alone or separately, create and operate programs for highly capable students. Okay but then it says "to the extent that funds are available" (red flag here) and then goes into the process of picking students.

Nominations shall be based upon data from teachers, other staff, parents, students, and members of the community. Assessment shall be based upon a review of each student's capability as shown by multiple criteria intended to reveal, from a wide variety of sources
and data, each student's unique needs and capabilities. Selection shall be made by a broadly based committee of professionals, after consideration of the results of the multiple criteria assessment.

Kind of proscriptive and not really what happens in SPS.

It also has a passage about allowing a child of a military family assessed or enrolled in one district's program to get into another district's program without review of placement.

PE - completely guts the PE program under the current RCWs. It would take away PE from K-8 students.

Safety - takes out large parts of safety programs for schools including a comprehensive school safety checklist/plans, communications during emergencies, training by the Washington emergency management division of the state military department, required training for principals on the incident command system, planning to use schools as a community asset during a community-wide emergency - it just goes on and on. It also takes out earthquake drills.

Also under safety, it eliminates rules about notification of student's prior conduct to school administrators.

Civics - students would have to take a civics course one time in elementary, middle and high school years.

There's also a bill by Senator Murray (SB5475) that would raise the number of class hours from 1,000 to 1080 for 7-12. It also talks about class size, CTE, and highly capable programs. I'd have to go back and cross-reference the RCWs being amended but it looks interesting.

Then there is, of course, the hotly debated legislation (SB 5399) brought forth by Senator Rodney Tom. SB 5399 would authorize school districts during layoffs to choose which teachers get eliminated by "who received the lowest average ratings during their two latest evaluations." Only in the case of a tie would seniority be used. The bill is being blocked for debate by Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, chair of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education.

There are numerous issues here. The passage of this bill would completely throw a lot of teacher contracts into conflict with it. Maybe one of you could help me out here; what would happen? I assume that the teachers union might challenge it in court or districts would have to renegotiate their contracts. From the Seattle Times article:

The bill would require all future teacher collective bargaining agreements to adhere to this policy, if it becomes a law.

There was a recent poll in Washington state that showed that 81% of voters think teacher performance should be used in layoffs. This is fine but I would remind Seattle parents that both the district and the Board signed off on the latest teachers contract that includes 3 more years of using seniority for layoffs. So if we are holding teachers accountable, I would think that if parents are unhappy about this issue that they would also hold Board members accountable for continuing this situation.

From a Seattle Times article on this issue:

About 17 school districts are researching, developing and testing model systems, some of which may be scaled up to be used across the state. This new approach likely will change the way school districts lay off teachers, but Lindquist said school administrators and teachers need time to develop the new system.

And, as we all know, the SEA contract also has a very extensive teacher evaluation system in it (as does the principals') It's not like there isn't already movement in this direction.


Eric B said…
On SB 5399, just because the districts are authorized to make cuts based on evaluations doesn't mean that they are required to. I haven't looked at the full language of the bill, but as described, I don't think it would affect current teacher contracts. When negotiating the next ones, districts would have to decide whether they risk a strike over the issue.

PS I'm not a lawyer, I only play one sometimes at work.
Sarah said…
Senate Bill 5475 provides dollars for books. In the past, I think this cost was passed -on to the district.

Also noticed increased hours to HS..will this stop MGJ from cutting hours from our kids school day?

Too bad full implementation won't be until 2018- We need these supports now.
SP said…
re: bill by Senator Murray (SB 5475)

The 1080 hours for secondary schools, class size, FTE etc. was passed in 2009 (in the huge Basic Ed bill HB 2261- see updated RCW 28A.150.220 effective 9/01/11), "according to a funding schedule set by the Legislature" (but still remains unfunded).

It looks like Murray’s bill just tweaks a couple of dates, mostly adding in specific 2013-14 dates for some highly capable student items, but all the rest was from the 2009 changes voted in.
dan dempsey said…
Here is a round up on the awful HB 1443

and the cure HB 1891

Also the full scoop on Gov. Gregoire's completely irresponsible actions in regard to education.

She thinks she should appoint an education czar. WOW with her current actions NO WAY.

The Investigation and Enforcement of Felony Forgery in the SPS is someone else's job and some else does not exist.

I guess she will need to get back to us on that.
dan dempsey said…
About the Governor's Office restructuring Education:

Apparently the Gov. is more interesting in obstructing legal actions than supporting legal actions.

WOW!! Who needs her with more power over education? NOT me.

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