Thursday, January 19, 2012

Early learning bill gets hearing Jan. 20

HB 2448 - Creating the high-quality early learning act
House Early Learning & Human Services
1/20/2012, 1:30 p.m.
House Hearing Rm D, John L. O'Brien Building, Olympia, WA
Related WSPTA 2012 priority: Early learning
Also supported as a National PTA priority (see page 7 of the policy brief)


Dear advocates,
Several years ago Washington State PTA supported a version of the basic education funding reform bill (2009’s HB 2261) that included an early learning program for at-risk 3 and 4-year olds. The governor vetoed that section and asked the superintendent of public instruction and the director of the department of early learning to come up with a proposal that ensures all Washington children have access to quality early learning.

Well on Friday, Jan. 20, the House early learning committee will take public testimony on just such a bill. HB 2448 follows up on WaKids legislation from last year, which helps with kindergarten transitions and gives educators at high-poverty schools a tool to assess children in four key development areas. Washington was recently awarded a Race to the Top/Early Learning grant that will pay to roll out WaKids to every school by 2014-15. The grant will also support professional development, a quality rating and improvement system, community and family engagement and a strengthened data system.

For a detailed summary of this year’s bill, HB 2448, read the House bill analysis. Quick highlights are here:
HB 2448 – Creating the high quality early learning act

·    Requires the Washington preschool program to be implemented, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, to provide voluntary preschool opportunities for children 3 and 4 years of age. Upon full implementation in the 2024-25 school year, the Washington Preschool Program will be an entitlement for all 3 and 4-year-old children in Washington.

·    Requires funding for the Washington preschool program to be appropriated to the department of early learning.

·    Requires the early learning advisory council to: (1) Establish a subcommittee to guide the development and implementation of the Washington preschool program; and (2) Establish a preschool readiness subcommittee, which shall be co-chaired by the department of early learning and the nongovernmental private-public partnership.
Why does PTA support early learning?

It helps the K-12 system do a better job, but mainly it gives kids a better life 
  • Better educational and life outcomes for those who attend preschool
  • Decreased need for interventions during a child’s academic years
  • Teachers trained in early childhood development are better equipped to facilitate young children’s language, cognitive and social skills development
  • Research shows that targeted interventions during early childhood can narrow the school readiness gap and help identify student needs and effective interventions to improve student learning before children even enter the classroom
Members are encouraged to advocate for any or all the issues on our legislative platform; staff will devote the most time and resources to the higher ranked issues.  2012 legislative platform.

The House Early Learning and Human Services committee members are:
Ruth Kagi is chairwoman; Mary Helen Roberts is vice chair; Maureen Walsh is the ranking minority member. Roger Goodman is the prime bill sponsor.
-          Ramona Hattendorf, Washington State PTA

Government Relations Coordinator,

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