Washington State Legislature Education Bills

Update: I missed this bill - Senate Bill 5735 - so thanks to an alert reader for letting me know about it. This would open a big kettle of fish. Via KING 5 News:

SB 5735 would allow school districts to offer up to 20% of instruction online, without live interaction.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Manka Dhingra, said allowing the option is not the same as remote learning.

"I want to make that clear," said Dhingra (D-Redmond).

Dhingra said giving districts the option of using a different method of instruction could result in more “creative and collaborative” teaching, which could better prepare students for working online once they get out of school.

”My grandmother went to a school with that model, with a teacher in the front lecturing. I know we can do better,” Dhingra said.

She said the idea came from students in her legislative district who liked asynchronous lessons.

Three students from Lake Washington High School testified that the new approach worked better for them, especially with group projects.

So first, we ALL know this will not work for ALL kids. Remote didn't so asynchronous would be even a bigger leap.

Second, I'm sure many districts would love this because of the cost savings on teachers. 

Third, I'm not sure we need to prepare kids for working online. I'd need to see stats on how many adults do work solely online. 

Fourth, I myself have not seen a Seattle classroom where the teacher just stands and lectures. That kind of teaching isn't around much now because the goal is to involve students and get them excited, not just lecture at them.

Lastly, this might be a great opt-in pick for students but anything mandatory would be a no from me. 

end of update

 A plethora of public education bills flowing through this session of the Washington State Legislature. Before we get to those, there is big news about one legislator, Senator Reuven Carlyle. 

Senator Carlyle announced today that he would not be seeking reelection. Via The Seattle Times:

The announcement by Carlyle, a Democrat from Seattle’s 36th Legislative District — which includes Belltown, South Lake Union, Queen Anne, Ballard, Magnolia and Greenwood — creates a second impending senate vacancy in the city. Sen. David Frockt, also a Democrat, has also announced he won’t run again this year. 
 
In an interview Monday morning, Carlyle, said he felt a “sense of fulfillment” from his years at the Legislature and it was a good time to move on.

I will add that the senator has four children who, went he started out in 2008, were in Seattle Public Schools.

I am also hearing rumors that long-time SE Seattle House rep, Sharon Tomiko-Santos, may be considering retiring from public service. Tomiko-Santos has always been a huge supporter of public education and would be missed. I'll keep you posted.

Public Education Bills of Note This Session

The League of Education Voters has this whole list complete with links to each bill.

I am amused to see some of the bills coming from the GOP that start out having something of a kinder, gentler tone and then pull hard to the right.

Accountability

HB 1802- Recognizing that those with disabilities are not represented well in decision-making, this bill would require for each statutorily created or mandated Taskforce, work group, advisory committee or other entity that examples policies or issues affecting people with disabilities, that those with disabilities will have a seat at the table.

HB 1802 - This bill appears to change the qualifications for directors of school districts, saying that while a director must be 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen or lawful resident and a resident of WA state, they do not have to be a registered voter. (Anyone convicted of a felony and whose right to vote has not been restored is also ineligible.)

I'll just say that if someone runs for any office, including school board, I would think voters might want to know that person's voting record. So sure, a candidate does not have to be a registered voter but that doesn't mean voters might not hold it against them.

HB 1962 - This bill would extend the timeframe for establishing new charter schools. The original law said 40 charters max over 5 years starting in April 2016. That timeframe has ended but yes, this bill would push that goal line to April 2027. The Times has weighed in on two charter school bills and this is one of them:

But the state approved only 24 of the 40 charter schools allowed under Washington law before the authorization window closed last April, according to the Washington State Charter Schools Association. New schools are unable to proceed unless that deadline is extended, including at least two schools in development in the Puget Sound area — a STEM-focused education program for global learners in Bellevue and a high school honoring and embracing Indigenous knowledge systems in Seattle.

Is it the State's fault that there are so few applications for charter schools? Is it the State's fault that many of these applications are not well-presented and therefore do not bode well for opening an actual school? Is it the State's fault that parents are NOT beating down the doors for more charter schools? The answer in all cases is nope.

I am amazed this falls under "accountability" because you will never see a less accountable group than charter schools. Their chutzpah never ceases to amaze me as well as their ability to whine about every single thing while ducking issues that real public schools have to face down.

HB 1973 which would mean that: 

A request for a recording required to be maintained by a school district board of directors under RCW 42.30.035 (2) shall only be considered a valid request for an identifiable record when the date of the recording is specified in the request. When searching for and providing identifiable recordings, no search criteria except date must be considered by the school district.

Huh? This appears to try to make it harder to find information by the public.

As well, this bill says that if the school district doesn't have a recording of a board meeting "that shall not be a basis for finding that a requester has been denied an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record if the recording" if the recording is unavailable or unintelligible due to "technical issues."

HB 1974
- This bill would change the election of state board of education members by school boards and private school board members from the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Washington State School Directors' Association.

Not sure what to think but it moves from an oversight duty of an elected official to a private entity.

HB 1986 and HB 2000 -These bills first look a lot like bills around the country trying to blah, blah "return to local control" and "the legislature intends to clarify that the primary duty of the superintendent of public instruction is one of support, not supervision, and that school boards are vested with the final responsibility to set policies that serve their students."

But delving into the bill it looks as if they are saying the state super can make rules and regulations about districts receiving state basic education dollars "when said districts are unable to fulfill for one or more schools a s officially scheduled the requirement of a full school year of 180 days" due to "an unforeseen natural event" (such as an epidemic).

But then HB 2000 almost seems to rewrite the role of the superintendent of public instruction especially around distributing federal and state basic education funds.

HB 2054 - A bill to put video recording devices on all interiors of school buses that transport Special Education students.

COVID

There are several COVID specific bills around broadband and connectivity.

HB 1976 - A bill to prevent any public school from requiring students in K-8 to eat or drink outside school buildings.

Students may opt in to eating or drink outside when the outdoor temperature is 60 degrees or above and there is no precipitation.

Curriculum

HB 1807 - A bill like many around the country to "find a growing number of parents and families of Washington's K-12 students have become discouraged by the radical rhetoric of some state consultants who speak of their goals to 'destabilize" and "tear down" the state's basic education system and curricula.

This far-overreaching bill has way too much stuff stuffed into it.

To that end, the legislature intends to clarify the state's goals in teaching its kindergarten through high school students about Washington's, and the United States', history, institutions, economy, population, and social structures. In short, these goals aim to provide all of Washington's children with a high quality civic education.

Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, each public school shall annually provide to each kindergarten through eighth grade student a mandatory stand-alone, year-long course in civic education that meets the requirements of this section.

The fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government and Washington's role in that noble experiment;

The history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States and in Washington, consistent with the values and character traits described in RCW 28A.150.211;

The following founding and historical documents of the United States, at a minimum:

(i) The Declaration of Independence;

(ii) The United States Constitution;

(iii) The Federalist Papers;

(iv) Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations;

(v) The second of John Locke's Two Treatises of Government;

(vi) The transcript of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate;

(vii) Writings from Frederick Douglass's newspaper, the North
Star;

(viii) The Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850;

(ix) The Indian Removal Act; and

(x) Thomas Jefferson's "Letter to the Danbury Baptists";
 

(v) The second of John Locke's Two Treatises of Government;

(vi) The transcript of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate;

(vii) Writings from Frederick Douglass's newspaper, the North

Star;

(viii) The Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850;

(ix) The Indian Removal Act; and

(x) Thomas Jefferson's "Letter to the Danbury Baptists";

(f) The history of white supremacy, including the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the origins of the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which these systems of belief sowed division, caused harm, and were combatted through peaceful protest, civic engagement, and the American courts;

(g) The history and importance of the American civil rights movement, including the following documents at a minimum:

(i) Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave;

(ii) The Emancipation Proclamation;

(iii) The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution;

(iv) Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and "I Have a Dream" speech;

(v) The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000a et seq.);

(vi) The United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954); and

(vii) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

(h) Historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations, including documents related to:

(i) The United States women's suffrage movement, for example: The life of Susan B. Anthony and the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution;

(ii) The Chicano movement, for example the lives of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and the origins of the League of United Latin American Citizens; and

(iii) The United States organized labor movement; and

(i) The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10101 et seq.).

So this is all pretty good stuff (except for leaving out Asians and other immigrants, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, etc). But then we get to:

May not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or currently controversial topic in public policy or social affairs, including writings derived from or related to such resources as The 1619 Project, "Critical Race Theory" curricula, or "How to Be an AntiRacist";

(b) Who chooses to discuss a topic described in (a) of this subsection shall, to the best of their ability, explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective; and

(c) May not require, make part of a course, nor award a grade or course credit, including extra credit, for a student's political activism, lobbying, or efforts to persuade members of the legislative or executive branch at the federal, etc.

HB 1886 - A bill that directly prohibits teaching CRT and related curricula in public schools. The wording appears identical to HB 1807 so I'm not sure why there are two bills.

HB 1938 - A bill to create a private/public partnership group to study ways to aid students in financial literacy.

Beginning with the 2023-24 school year, school districts shall offer a financial education course as an elective that is accessible to all students in grades nine through 12.

Beginning with the 2025-26 school year, school districtsshall provide instruction in financial education to all students ingrades six through eight.

The financial education public-private partnership, in consultation with the office of the superintendent of public instruction, shall provide assistance to school districts regarding curriculum, professional development, instructional programs, and best practices information to implement the requirements of this section.

HB 2014 - A bill to establish a "outdoor school for all" program.

The legislature further finds that accessibility is a major obstacle to universal outdoor school. Most sites lack accommodation for physically challenged children and support staff for children with mental or emotional challenges are needed. In addition, someyouth may experience cultural barriers to outdoor school experiences.

The legislature intends to establish a statewide program to address all these needs and to ensure all students have a chance to benefit from outdoor school.

HB 2056 is a bill that would force school districts and other education entities to annually post syllabi and lists of instructional materials used by teachers during the school year. 

The legislature, therefore, in the interest of making instructional materials more accessible to parents and legal guardians, while simultaneously respecting the professional judgment of teachers and the importance of a free exchange of ideas in classrooms, intends to require school districts and other education entities to annually post syllabi and lists of instructional materials used by teachers during the school year. The legislature does not intend for this act to restrict the use or selection of academic materials, or to create undue burdens upon teachers, but rather intends for its provisions to promote academic transparency and the corresponding dividends of parental trust, community support, and student success.

Funding and Finance

There are a couple of "dual credit" bills - HB 1760 and HB 186 to help low-income students access these opportunities.

HB 1591 - Another bill for charter schools that would use levy equalization for them.

Several bills address funding challenges for smaller districts especially around capital funding issues.

HB 1803 - Would you look at that? A bill to actually pay school board directors more (up to $12,288). Don't everybody get in line at once to run to get that kingly sum. However:

A board of directors of a school district may authorize such compensation only from locally collected excess levy funds available for that purpose, and compensation for board members under this section shall not cause the state to incur any present or future funding obligation.

HB 1898 - A bill to attack McCleary funds.

In response to the state supreme court decision in McCleary v. State, the legislature chose to make a dramatic increase in state property tax levies to generate additional revenue to pay for schools. In making that decision, state budget writers were operating with forecasted increases in property values as estimated at the time. Since then, property values across the state have continually increased at a much faster pace than anticipated, resulting in an estimated property tax revenue collection in tax years 2018 through 2022 that is more than $2,000,000,000 more than was intended to be collected in the McCleary fix. This has resulted in an unnecessary property tax burden on Washington residents. It is the intent of the legislature now to reduce this burden and provide critical tax relief by reducing state property tax levies.

Student Supports

Too many here to all list but they include:

- Prohibiting active shooter scenarios for school safety-related drills.

- Increasing access to behavioral health services for minors.

- Establishing an electronic option for the submission of household income information required for participation in school meals and programs.

- Concerning student excused absences for mental health reasons.

- Improving school districts' responses to complaints of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

- Supporting children involved with child welfare services.

In the Senate there are bills that:

- Extend voting authority to student members on the state board of education.

- Provide data regarding early STEM metrics in the STEM education report card.

- Remove the superintendent of public instruction as a statewide elected official.

Comments

Anonymous said…
RE: 1807 versus 1886, it would appear to me by your description of the bills, they are different. The first bill allows freedom to discuss a controversial political ideology or lens (ex 1619) interpreting history in the classroom. But it also acknowledges the 1619 project is controversial politically among historians. It does not require a teacher teaches that ideology. The second bill based upon your summary would ban the teaching of the ideology. They seem to be different. For what it's worth, nationally there is a deep shared concern among academics and journalists along the ideological and political spectrum. Many are uniting in movements to bridge divisions and lead to more tolerance. Extremism and ideology on the far left is leading towards harmful effects. Intolerance to opinion deepens division. What is alarming to many is that extreme examples of people using this ideology, are being used as propaganda and recruiting more moderates into far right movements. The right might label it differently (ex CRT) than left progressives. But, we cannot ignore a growing contingency of people concerned about how interpretations of extreme ideology affect our multicultural society and democracy. In it's extreme form, it can be militant, intolerant, and authoritarian. It can create a climate akin to a intolerant fundamentalist movement and compare to McCarthyism. One must be in lock step ideological opinion or else. In some cases people's reputations are tarnished, or they lose jobs over extremely minor transgressions.

Concerned Citizen

Anonymous said…
Then there is this disturbing bill which lets districts offer only 4 days of in building instruction. WEA is quietly pushing for “flexibility “ from the state from having to “stay in person at all costs…” without actually admitting to supporting this toxic bill (WEA and SEA FB pages both push a web form to advocate for this). https://www.king5.com/article/news/education/olympia-proposal-would-allow-asynchronous-learning-to-continue/281-319d53f4-c0ad-4e0e-8aa4-88e032b9ee3d

I’m fascinated by the idea of eliminating OSPI. I always thought it was a pointless office with little accountability and risk of creating a platform for politician. I feel differently after the pandemic. OSPI has been very responsive and collaborative with other branches of state government. Perhaps we’ve been lucky having Rykdal in the seat, but in any case I find myself doing an about face on this previous line of thinking.

Thanks for the roundup

Bill Review
Anonymous said…
Well then, one teacher can tape a lecture for a class which can distributed statewide. We’ll need fewer teachers, fewer classes, fewer of everything. That should end the need for a new levy and McCleary.

Brilliant.

-deep sigh

BTW, very good lengthy article from NYT.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/us/selective-high-schools-brooklyn-tech.html

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