Washington State Legislature Gets Busy on Education Bills

Major news on two important education bills in the Legislature.

First, the State Senate REJECTED a teacher-evaluation bill that would have changed using student test scores in teacher evaluations from "can" to "must" because the feds wanted that change.  The feds were using - as a carrot or stick, take your pick - federal funds.  Superintendent Randy Dorn has been moaning about the possible loss of these funds, about $38M (Seattle stands to lose about $2.4M). What got left out is that Washington State has applied for a NCLB waiver and may still get the federal dollars.  So far, Arne Duncan has given 37 states waivers.

What is amazing is that conservative GOP members joined with minority Dems to defeat this measure and it is the first time the new Senate "coalition" majority has lost.  According to the Times, it is probably dead as 5pm today was the cutoff for non-budget legislation to get out of at least one chamber. 

(This coalition is showing other signs of weakening as last week three very conservative members demonstrated unhappiness with the group with one of them taking her name off the caucus webpage.  Interestingly, two of the major leaders of the coalition - the roadkill members, Rodney Tom and Steve Litzow - were two of the sponsors of the bill.  Tom is up for re-election.)

The other major piece of legislation that DID pass, and that the governor is expected to sign, is the (former Dream Act) now called the Real Hope Act.  It passed the House 75-22 and had been approved by the Senate in January.


Catherine said…
Does anyone have any idea how much the testing required for the proposed (failed) evaluation, costs at either the Seattle or State level?
Eric M said…
That's a shame, because it would be best if a new new new teacher evaluation system were to replace the new new teacher evaluation system. The old new evaluation system was certainly better than the old old evaluation system, at least if the criteria for evaluating the evaluation system was the amount of paperwork produced and time absorbed by teachers. I personally can't wait for the new new new new new evaluation system, which will be the answer to all the problems with the previous dozen evaluation systems, and undoubtedly the answer to why children growing up in poverty struggle.
Anonymous said…
Catherine, I don't have the state testing cost figures in front of me. However, the testing that would have been required to be included in teacher evaluation will continue regardless of whether or not it is used in teacher evaluation.

Basically, the bill that was defeated in the Senate would have required MSP, HSPE and/or EOC results in teacher evaluation. Under current state law, these results are allowable but not required.

So, MSP, HSPE, and EOC will continue (at least through this year) regardless of whether or not they are used at the school and district level for teacher evaluation.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Washington already has an NCLB waiver; however, that waiver has been placed on 'high risk' status due to the teacher evaluation issue. If Sec. Duncan wants to hold the line on the waivers, he can revoke the state's NCLB waiver. All that really means is that Washington would be required to fully comply with NCLB.

As part of that compliance, districts would have to spend $38 million dollars on supplemental services for schools in "improvement" status. It's not really a loss of $38 million to the state --- but districts would lose the ability to use those dollars in district --- they would have to go to outside vendors for tutoring, etc.

--- swk
mirmac1 said…
On other proposed legislation, a message from Mary Griffin, President of the Seattle SpEd PTSA:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb 19 at 1:30pm the Washington State Senate Education Committee will hear testimony on SHB 2605. This bill would weaken notice requirements for school districts regarding their use of restraint and seclusion/isolation that I worked on last year in SHB 1688. Specifically, the bill this year (2605) would allow districts to opt out of providing a written copy to each parent with a student on a 504 or IEP plan, and instead allow the policy to be posted on the districts website. The policy would only be discussed or provided to parents after a triggering event, or if the parent asked for it.

The members of the committee are: Litzow, Chair (R); Dammeier, Vice Chair (R); *McAuliffe; **Rolfes; Billig; Brown;Cleveland; Fain; Hill; Mullet; Rivers

The link to the committee itself is here

And here is a link to the bill w/ all the background info

This bill is a step backwards in Washington state’s efforts to make our education system more transparent and accessible for parents. That’s because this bill will make it harder, not easier, for parents to know and understand school district policies regarding restraint and isolation of students with disabilities.

Right now, for students with IEPs and 504 plans, districts must provide parents with a written copy of their seclusion and restraint guidelines. This is a smart policy because it helps parents understand up front the limited circumstances under which seclusion or restraint may be used with their children. Yet under SHB 2605, school districts would only be required to share that information on their website; if parents wanted a copy or an explanation, they would have to ask for it. Common sense tells us it’s impossible to ask about a policy you don’t know exists, and yet that is precisely what SHB 2605 requires of parents.

In sum, tucking seclusion and restraint policies away on a school district website is not a policy designed to help parents gain more information – it is a policy that will mostly keep parents in the dark.

The inappropriate use of seclusion and restraints in schools is an issue that has warranted national attention. Just last week the U.S. Senate released a report detailing how families have limited recourse when seclusion and restraint are misused at school. The report also addressed how districts often failed to inform families that seclusion and restraints could be used at their child’s school.

Please help the effort to inform families by emailing the 11 state senators above tonight and asking them to reject this bill.
Anonymous said…
Regarding SHB 2605, you will notice if you look at the Substitute House Bill Report (at the link mirmac provided) that no one testified in support or opposition to this bill (except for the prime sponsor, Rep. Stonier).

--- swk
Anonymous said…
@ Eric M:
ROFL. And ROFL again.


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