Thursday, February 2, 2012

Finally – A hearing for Fund Education First bill

Legislators propose 'Education First'  - Spokesman Review
Alternate budget spends $580M more on education - The Olympian

Read more here:
TAKE ACTION - Tell your legislators to phase in basic education plan
TVW tape - 1/31 hearing in House Education Appropriations
Many thanks to PTA members Chad Magendanz and Moneika Rupert who testified Tuesday in support of
HB 2533 - Prioritizing expenditures for K-12 education within the state appropriations process. President Novella Fraser also submitted a letter of support, and I provided the “official” WSPTA testimony. This bill aligns with our No. 5 priority – Fund Education First.

The bill requires all appropriations for K-12 basic education, together with appropriations for other K-12 education programs, to be enacted into law before the legislature takes executive action on other omnibus appropriations legislation.

In my testimony on behalf of the association I emphasized that WSPTA supports the whole child and advocates for the revenue necessary to meet all essential needs. For our association this was not an issue of only funding education, but of changing the budgeting strategy to better focus the legislature on meeting its paramount duty while clarifying the revenue needs of other services we support, such as early learning, juvenile justice, and health and safety services. Our body of positions

This bill is fiscal in nature and the House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee has until February 7 to act on it.
Good morning Chairwoman Haigh and committee members,

I am Ramona Hattendorf with the Washington State PTA here to testify in support of HB 2533.

PTA advocates for the well-being and education of all children, and in asking you to consider funding education first, we are not asking the legislature to only consider education. Health and safety are essential and we advocate for funding that supports children and their families. Washington State PTA supports tax policies that are fair and equitable and that provide stable, adequate revenues for public education and programs that benefit youth.

But as the state’s paramount duty, education comes first. It gives our children a future. And now that the supreme court has weighed in on the McCleary case, we know that the legislature must immediately and continuously move forward on fully funding basic education by 2018.

That is a huge charge. And reforming the way this body approaches budgeting is no less daunting than the reforms we are asking of educators. But coupled with the basic education bills of 2009 and 2010, this bill gives you a strategy to tackle the task.

We ask you to focus first on education so we can give all of our children the opportunity to reach their potential. By building early consensus around the financial commitment needed for basic education we will have a clear understanding of revenue needs for other services that support children.

Our goal is to effectively advocate for all essential services and build consensus around how the state will provide for the needs of children. We also feel strongly that just as hunger affects a child’s ability to learn, education is the ticket out of poverty and a well-educated state is a financially stable state.

Thank you so very much for all of your work on basic education these past few years. Please keep the focus and support this bill.
Good morning chairwoman Haigh and committee members,

I am Monieka Rupert; I am a longtime PTA mom and leader from Enumclaw. I am here this morning to speak in support of House Bill 2533.

In PTA, we work in the schools to help children.  We develop close relationships with educators and see firsthand not only where children need support, but where schools need support.

Year in and out, we see funding issues play out on a very personal level. We see the boy who’s not reading well at third grade – and the staff unable to give him the time he needs; we know the principal who scrimped on supplies so the librarian could buy books; the teachers who opted for bigger classes so the kids had a counselor.

Fundamentally, we see a disconnection between what the schools are trying to provide and what the state is able to fund. Figuring out how to fix that has been at the forefront of our state legislative agenda for 20-some years.

Sometimes we called it “fully funding” education, at other times “responsive education funding.” But it was always in the top 5, often at No. 1.

Starting in 1993, we asked for a new definition for basic education.  We thought if we defined it and priced it, the state would be better able to align funding. Years later, we were still asking.

In 2005, things started looking up with the launch of Washington Learns. Then came the Basic Education Finance Task Force and its blueprint for student success, then legislation in 2009 to implement it, then … more waiting.

The problem facing our state is not just a poor economy. It is a failure of the system -- year in and year out -- to identify and meet the funding needs of students. In HB 2261, our state has a solid plan. But we need this body to embrace it and set the funding in motion. We’re asking you to rethink the way you approach budgeting and your paramount duty to not only amply fund education, but to provide a general and uniform system of public schools.

We think by funding education first, legislators can work together on behalf of all children to finally align funding with children’s educational needs.

Thank you for your work on behalf of all Washington children. I ask you support to this bill.

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 Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee members are:

Rep. Kathy Haigh is chair; Rep. Tim Probst is vice chair; Rep. Glenn Anderson is ranking minority member; Rep. Bruce Dammeier and Rep. Susan Fagan are assistant ranking minority members.

-          Ramona Hattendorf, Washington State PTA
Government Relations Coordinator,,

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