Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Highlights of the 2012 legislative session

Washington State PTA advocates for the well-being and education of all children. We went into the December 2011 special session with a simple message: Don’t cut Apple Health for Kids and don’t cut basic education. Our focus stayed on the basics through that session, the regular 2012 session and the follow-up special sessions.

Legislators faced tough budgeting decisions; they needed to figure out efficiencies and forge consensus around spending priorities. We asked them to prioritize kids, and in the end they did. Both parties, both chambers. The problem is that designated revenue doesn’t cover what the kids need. It’s short about $2 billion when it comes to funding basic education. Legislators did not address that, though some tried.

For a breakdown of the budget, see an earlier blog post, Cuts stopped; long road ahead for K-12.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Resources: Gangs and school safety

Keeping kids safe is a fundamental principle of PTA and the link between poverty and poor educational outcomes to violence and gang-related activity is well-documented. So what to do?

Well for one, we can recognize the relationship between behaviors and gang involvement and work to provide a safe and secure learning environment. That’s what they are doing in Pasco. Others are focusing on data to craft better policy and identify professional training needs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cuts stopped; long road ahead for K-12

It took two special sessions, but at the end of the day – or in this case the all-nighter – state legislators crafted a budget that helps protect children. Cuts from past years were not restored, and K-12 education in particular faces a long road to adequate let alone ample funding. But the cuts stopped.

Education and programs that keep children healthy, fed and safe were maintained, and the legislature committed to figuring out how to add billions of dollars to basic education to meet its legal obligations. The “payment plan” is due by the end of the year. It needs to propose budget strategies and/or revenues to pay for 2009’s expanded definition of basic education, and 2010’s phase-in plan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tele townhall for early learning

Tele townhall on early learning
Wednesday, April 11 from 12-1 p.m.
Increasing access to high quality early learning programs and improving transitions into kindergarten are priorities of Washington State PTA.

2012 legislative priority
Public education and funding, Long-term legislative principles

Excellent Schools Now and A+ Washington are hosting a telephone town hall on the importance of early education and efforts to expand it. Featured speakers include:

Still no budget - kids need payment plan

Special session ends at midnight tonight.

Still no budget deal as day ends, but lawmakers continue to negotiate (from TVW - Monday night wrap)
Gregoire pitching new proposal as deadline nears (from AP - Monday afternoon wrap)
Senate passes K-12 health insurance bill, balanced budget bill (from TVW - Saturday wrap)

The areas of negotiation continue to be a balanced budget bill, K-12 health insurance bill and pension/early retirement bill - not the budget. Yesterday the House Ways and Means postponed twice and then cancelled a meeting to take action on its version of a balanced budget bill and K-12 insurance benefits.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

House is expected to vote on its revised budget

Please contact your legislators and let them know if you support-
Highlights (viewed through the PTA filter):
  • Continues to make no reductions to K-12, early learning or higher education
  • Continues to fund programs that keep kids in school and on track
  • Funds WaKIDS implementation
  • Funds transition into new teacher and principal evaluation system

Fourth budget proposal out; sides still at odds

And the state still hasn't figured out HOW it is going to pay for K-12 increases mandated by the McCleary decision.

About the latest proposal:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Budget vote near (at least in the House)

The House will be voting on its version of the supplemental operating budget. ESHB 2127 has been moved to the short list of bills to take up. No word yet about possible amendments to the budget proposal.
  • The House convenes Wednesday at 9 a.m. for  session/caucus. Sessions/caucuses are also set for Thursday and Friday.
  • The Senate convenes for a session/caucus Wednesday at noon.
  • You can watch the hearings live or at your convenience at