Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 National PTA Legislative Conference

The 2014 National PTA Legislative Conference will be held March 11-13, 2014 in the Washington, DC area. Registration opens January 2014

Join fellow PTA advocates for this exciting three-day event that provides in-depth discussion about PTA’s public policy priorities through interactive workshops, keynote speakers, advocacy trainings and more. Attendees also will visit Capitol Hill—where they put their skills and expertise to use through meetings with their Members of Congress.  

View Workshops for Legislative Conference - Workshop titles and descriptions for the annual Legislative Conference are now available online

Friday, December 20, 2013

PTA and student privacy

A recent on-line article by KUOW interviewed me on the topic of student privacy in light of the Seattle Times being granted access to student records in partnership with the State.  I wanted to elaborate on the Washington State PTA’s views, and our National PTA’s views, on student privacy.

Parents assume that confidential information about their children is going to be kept confidential.  One of the challenges that parents have in our state, however, is that Washington defines public disclosure very broadly.  This can be a good thing and it can also be a bad thing depending on what information is released and how it is used.  In this specific instance, the State Department of Education willingly shared information with the Seattle Times as part of their research studies program called “Education Lab.” 

It has been determined that the information was released without a public disclosure request and the request was granted for the purpose of research.  This recent action highlights the challenges that our legislators face in upholding the ability of public or private entities access to information and the need to protect our children from unwanted exposure.  Our National organization has printed a white sheet on student privacy and I have included the link below.  Our legislative team will be discussing this issue and pursuing a course of action over the next few weeks leading up to the legislative session. 

Heather Gillette
President, Washington State PTA

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What Every Parent Should Be Asking about Data Privacy

Asking the questions on the previous page, families are more ready than ever to use education data to help their kids. However, along with the great benefits of education data come school, district, and state responsibilities to keep your child’s data private. Empowered parents can ensure that their child’s data are being protected by demanding answers to the following questions:

1. How is my child’s privacy being protected?

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Every Parent Should Be Asking about Education Data

Schools and districts collect a lot of information about students. Empowered parents should demand to get value out of these data. Here are questions you can ask of your school officials to ensure that your child is on track to graduate college and career ready:

1. I already have my child’s grades and test scores, so what more do I need?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Federal Budget Update

Federal Budget Progress: Last night (Thursday, December 12, 2013), the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act by a vote of 332-94. This was legislation based on the budget deal announced earlier this week. The next step is for the Senate to vote on the bill. The bill provides sequester relief and continues to forward fund education.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sequester Update

The National PTA Government Affairs team has prepared an action alert asking Congress to replace the harmful sequester cuts with a balanced, fair approach. Take action today to make your voice heard! NDD United has released a report on the effects of the sequester. Visit for more information on the sequester!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Save the Date for PTA's Take Your Family to School Week

The National PTA Take Your Family to School Week Grant recipients have been selected! Congratulations to Mt. Pilchuck PTA in Lake Steven for receiving a grant.
National PTA's Take Your Family to School Week is a program encouraging strong family engagement and the importance of partnerships among parents, teachers, and school administrators. For the 2013-2014 academic school year, Take Your Family to School Week will incorporate the theme, Supporting Student Success, which will address the risks associated with a huge problem for our nation's youth: dropping out of high school.
National PTA’s digital toolkit—promotional and template resources to help plan your Take Your Family to School Week, Feb.17-21, 2014—will be available in early December. Register today for one of the toolkit demonstrations:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nominate an Outstanding PTA Advocate - 2014 Advocacy Award from National PTA

Know of an outstanding youth or other PTA advocate—or a local/state PTA—that has done great advocacy work? Nominate them to receive a 2014 Advocacy Award from National PTA. Winners will be announced in January and will be honored at the 2014 Legislative Conference in Washington DC. This year, advocates may nominate themselves in the youth and individual groups, and the winners in these categories will serve as advocacy ambassadors for PTA. Nominations are due on Dec. 19. For more info visit

Monday, November 25, 2013

National PTA & Common Core State Standards

National PTA is uniquely positioned to be an influential and credible voice in advancing the Common Core State Standards (CCSSI). The CCSSI is a joint effort led by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop a common core of K-12 standards in English language arts and Mathematics. The goal initiative is to develop internationally-benchmarked standards that ensure all students are held to consistent expectations that will prepare them for college and career.

To date, over 45 states have adopted the standards, in addition to the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoan Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Anchorage, AK School District.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

WSPTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick Testifies at Quality Educaton Council Meeting

The Quality Education Council (QEC) met in Olympia on November 18, 2013.  This was the third of four meetings to be held this fall by the QEC as they prepare their report to the 2014 legislature.  Washington State PTA Legislative Director, Sherry Krainick has attended each of the meetings and provided testimony on behalf of Washington State PTA at the November 18, 2013 meeting.  The meeting can be viewed on TVW here.

Topics covered at this meeting included an update on SB 5491, 24 Credit diploma, Innovative Schools, ESEA Waiver and revisions to TPEP, and Standards implementation (Common Core State Standards – CCSS and Next Generation Science Standards - NGSS).  In addition, the committee discussed Professional Learning as it relates to TPEP, CCSS, and NGSS, Compensation, Technology Readiness, Capital Needs and the Funding Plan.    Discussion included the possibility of adding Learning Improvement Days (LID) as professional development for teachers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

National PTA Applauds Bi-Partisan Legislation to Expand Access to High-Quality Early Learning Programs

This week, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 was introduced in the House and Senate as a means to ensure that every child has access to high-quality early education.
“The education of our nation’s children must begin long before they enter school as research shows that providing effective, targeted supports and interventions to children and parents starting at birth will better prepare them for academic and career success,” said Otha Thornton, National PTA President. “National PTA applauds this bi-partisan legislation and encourages the House and Senate to take swift action to move forward the issue of early childhood education to expand access to high-quality programs for all children.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Endorsing Initiatives

A fellow PTA member is gathering signatures for Initiative 594 which would increase background checks on gun sales.  She has requested that I set out the signature sheet at our next general PTA meeting.  She said the PTA was in support of this initiative.  Although I might be personally in favor of this initiative, I'm reluctant to bring anything political into our meeting.  However, if it is done unobtrusively it might be ok to have it at the meeting? 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Legislative Assembly 2013 - UPDATE

PTA advocates from around the state came together at the SeaTac Marriott this past weekend for WSPTA’s Annual Legislative Assembly for advocacy training and to consider issues proposed by PTA members to be added to the list of issues supported on the WSPTA’s legislative platform.  In addition, it was also well attended by legislators and representatives from other agencies as we work to further our collaborative efforts for children.

As the second year of a two-year platform, the top priority issues will remain the same as last year. (Click here to view the top priority issues for 2012-14.) However, delegates voted to adopt the proposed amendment to the current supported issue of Access, Opportunity and Equity for Special Education (as presented in the Issue Guide) and add to the list of supported issues: English Language Learner Students (as presented in Issue Guide); Sufficient and Equitable Funding for Highly Capable Programming (as presented in Issue Guide); and Background Checks on Gun Purchases (as amended to:  "The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that extend criminal background checks to the purchase of guns from non-licensed sellers.") Click here to view the Issue Guide.

New and amended resolutions were debated and approved. These were: Access to General Education for Students with Disabilities (as presented in the Issue Guide); Allergies and Asthma (as amended to replace all mentions of "epipens" to "epinephrine delivery" in resolved clauses); and the proposed amendment Funding Basic Education (as presented in the Issue Guide).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Senate K-12 budget gives flexibility, pushes reform

Slight edge on dollar amount, but less into basic education; related bills controversial

In the closing days of the first special session for 2013, the Senate considered but rejected the House operating budget and instead passed a version similar to what senators passed in the general session, at least as far as K-12 spending is concerned:  Increased allocation for materials, supplies and operating costs and for student transportation, and then targeted investments to promote student achievement. The Senate also invests in full-day kindergarten in high poverty schools, but at a lower rate than the House proposes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Testimony: Student Educational Outcomes, SB 5946

Note: This is WSPTA testimony given to the Senate Ways and Means committee on June 10, 2013. This bill is up for consideration by the full Senate. It touches on reading, evidence-based learning supports, teacher mentoring, and professional development. WSPTA spoke primarily to the reading section of the bill.
To: Ways and Means Committee
Re: SB 5946, Student educational outcomes. WSPTA is PRO, with suggestions

Dear Senator Hill and committee members,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Movement for basic education?

If not now, when: Tell Olympia, yes HB 2051

Special session update:

The budget committees of the Senate and House are hearing (or have recently heard) bills on revenue -- the Senate to cut revenue (SB 5939) and the House to increase revenue (HB 2034).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

WSPTA to Senate: Fund education before reducing revenue

To: Senate Ways and Means Committee
Re: May 31 public hearing on SB 5939, Concerning the estate tax; WSPTA opposes

Dear Chairman Hill and committee members,

A year and a half ago the Washington State Supreme Court clarified “paramount duty” as the state’s “first and highest priority.” That duty is to amply fund education for all children living in Washington.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Washington State PTA supports revenue

Note: The following letter was sent to all legislators.

TAKE ACTION: Stop Delaying on Basic Education (Armchair advocacy! Just click, send and share)
Charting the decline: Washington ranks 28th in per pupil spending, but 46th when measured as spending per personal income, meaning working- and middle-class families contribute more as a percentage of their income. In 1991, the range was more equitable. Washington ranked 17th in per pupil spending nationwide and 24th when measured by personal income.
Skills reality check: In the field of STEM: There are 2.1 jobs for every unemployed person. In non-STEM, there are 3.7 unemployed people for every job.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Still asking: Make the hard choices

NOTE: The following letter was sent to all state legislators as the 2013 special session got underway. Once again, the regular session ended with no operating budget and no shared vision for phasing in basic education spending, despite a court order. Fully funding 2009's HB 2261 (part of WSPTA's top priority) would satisfy the court. The Senate Majority and Gov. Inslee both held press conferences Monday, May 13. Links are at the end of this letter.

TAKE ACTION: Stop Delaying on Basic Education (Armchair advocacy! Just click, send and share)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just in time learning: Basic Ed 101

All education funding is not equal; “basic ed” is protected

Session update:
No deal for kids. Talk shifts to adult needs. Next session starts May 13
In a legislative session that was “all about McCleary” and living up to promises made four years ago to expand and fund basic education, the state legislature ended its 2013 general session Sunday night without a budget and without agreeing on key K-12 issues – such as how much money to put into the program of basic education.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

House plan has edge

Offers kids clarity and commitment; requires significant funds

Yes HB 2051, Implementing basic education expenditures
Yes HB 2038, Investing in the education legacy trust account (end certain taxing preferences)
Within the Washington State PTA, we are talking revenue.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Invest and prepare students for life

  • Yes to policy bills that support reading and career and college readiness for all students. E2SSB 5237 and SHB 1692
  • Yes to reviewing tax preferences and making adjustments to support K-12 and higher education. HB 2028
  • Yes, to a budget that uses a balanced approach, identifies stable revenue, and charts out a linear path to fully funding K-12 education while maintaining programs that keep children healthy, safe and fed and that get our youngest ready for kindergarten.

Message to Olympia:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Governor sets aside time for PTA Q&A

Gov. Inslee to speak May 3 at our 100th annual convention

The event runs May 3-5 at the Bellevue Hyatt. Click here to register
Click here for convention guide and agenda
Send your suggested questions for Gov. Inslee to Kathyrn Hobbs, WSPTA Executive Director, at by April 29.

Other great speakers:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Testimony - Senate operating budget, 2013-15

Bill information: SB 5034
Click here to comment on the budget bill
Click here to comment about tax breaks
What does the budget mean? Possibly, delay in restoring K-12 or cuts to other essential services

Monday, April 1, 2013

Testimony - Academic acceleration and career learning

Tell your legislators what you think:
Comment on 5243, academic acceleration
Comment on 5754, career learning
To: House Appropriations Committee
Re: PRO, 5243- academic acceleration;  5754 - career learning

Dear Chairman Hunter and committee members,

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cheat sheet on K-12 finance and budgeting

Beyond  class size: Other essential funding

When it comes to basic education, many in the media talk about salaries and class sizes. That's because salaries and benefits make up about 80 percent of school costs, and the number and size of classes drive staffing levels.

But for years, Washington State PTA has been calling attention to other necessary costs. That's because if the state doesn't fund it, local communities need to pass an excess levy, and PTAs tend to run the levy campaigns. And if the local levy doesn't cover it, then neighborhoods need to fund-raise, and PTAs tend to do the fund-raising. And finally (this is a big one that "think groups" and academics usually overlook), when the money doesn't come through, PTAs find volunteers to work for free.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Inslee budget proposal a good opener

It covers recent K-12 cuts, but leaves heavy lifting around McCleary school funding ruling for another day

Governor Inslee's 2013 Operating Budget Proposal is now available on
Press packet from the governor’s office

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Testimony - SB 5330, Student Achievement

Staff handout for E2SSB 5330, Comparison to Current Law & House Bills

To: House Education Committee
Re: E2SSB 5330, Improved Student Achievement and Outcomes
(To comment on this bill, click here)

WSPTA position: Pro. This bill advances a number of our association’s priority issues, including WaKIDS, K-3 class size, parent involvement coordinators, mentors for teachers, and behavior interventions

Dear Chairwoman Santos and committee members,

Washington State PTA is supportive of Engrossed Secondary Substitute Senate Bill 5330; it is an integrated, directive approach that attempts to make best use of limited resources. We appreciate its emphasis on closing the gaps in achievement and we agree with the underlying premise that money alone is not the answer; rather, it is how we direct additional resources to support programs and practices that best help our students, in particular our struggling atypical students. 

Following is feedback on the bill’s separate provisions, in the order your staff presented them in its handout for E2SSB 5330.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Testimony - Reading bill doesn't address dyslexia

To: House Education Committee
Re: E2SSB 5237 - Establishing accountability for student performance in reading.
(To comment on this bill, click here)

WSPTA position: Mixed support, with mixed feelings

Dear Chairwoman Santos and committee members,

Washington State PTA absolutely supports investments in preschool, full-day K, and professional development, particularly if that professional development educates staff on instructional strategies for children with reading disabilities.

Monday, March 18, 2013

State funding ends today (symbolically)

From here on out, funding for K-12 public schools falls to local levies, private fund-raising and federal Title 1 and special education dollars – symbolically, at least

Take Action: Tell the Legislature to pay its bills, so you don't have to pay twice (or three times)
Legally the state is supposed to cover basic education. In reality, it covers about 2/3s of the cost. The Washington State PTA, League of Education Voters, Washington Education Association, Washington Association of School Administrators, Washington State School Director Association and the Superintendent of Public Instruction unite to tell the Legislature: Pay up. Following is our press release. A link to a coalition ad is above.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In their words: Kids focus on funding

“We, the future of America, need you to care about paying for our schools and teachers.”

 Students shoot video clips to focus attention on school funding

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Time to fund schools

Court strikes down the two-thirds requirement for revenue

Washington State PTA looks forward to stable and equitable funding for schools

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association opposes placing “super majority” barriers to funding that kids rely on, and the association welcomes the state Supreme Court ruling this week that strikes down the two-thirds majority requirement for state revenue increases. This ruling gives policymakers the flexibility they need to make practical and balanced choices for children.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bills we are tracking - Feb. 27 update

Sick and family leave, foster care, troubled youth, CPR, after-school use of facilities, dropout prevention, compulsory attendance, sex education, math and science, online learning ... and graduation tests

Read on for bill information and links to comment on them. Click here for Action Alert on testing feedback

NEWS, the group that sued – and won – over school funding, has updated its website (above). Links of interest:
Washington State PTA is a member of NEWS. You should feel free to share these resources with your PTAs and members.

The Legislature is always busy when in session, but activity has picked up significantly. Last week, bills needed to move out of policy committees. This week bills need to move out of the money committees. This means bills are starting to come up for floor votes and your legislators need to hear feedback on the bills with traction.

Friday, February 22, 2013

“It’s Basic” four years later …

Passing “HB 2261” was about a vision for kids. Will it survive?

Bills this session could either advance or undermine PTA’s goal of redefining basic education to give every child a strong foundation. Early bills looked at walking away from full-day kindergarten and extra science and arts; and pulling 24 credits out of the definition of basic education. Other bills took on discipline issues; opportunity gaps around communication and cultural competence; and dropout prevention, intervention and re-engagement. And rumor is a mystery "big bill" is in play in the Senate. But there has been no hearing. We’ll know this weekend what’s still in play.

So what was the grand push for, back in 2009, when education advocates swept into Olympia and rallied to pass the funding reform bill, ESHB 2261?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Testimony - Fiscal impact of reading bill

To: Senate Ways and Means Committee
Re:  SSB 5237 - Establishing accountability for student performance in reading 
Position: CONCERNS; recommendations; supportive of intent
Attached: Letters of testimony

Dear Chairman Hill and Senators,

Screening and Support for Struggling Readers is one of Washington State PTA’s legislative priorities, and I wanted to thank you for hearing this bill and considering the tremendous financial implications surrounding our failure to reach and teach all of our potential readers.

We do have concerns with the bill as written, especially any sort of forced grade retention. Our understanding of the intent, however, is to assert accountability around intervention. That is, schools need to be held accountable for understanding the learning needs of their students and providing appropriate instruction and interventions.  We strongly support this concept and we assert the state has a fiscal interest in ensuring schools use research- and evidence-based literacy curriculum and interventions.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Every high-schooler deserves enrichment

Please - no to HB 1656; how is “less science and no electives” a win for kids?

Graduation requirements that Washington State PTA supports:
  • Career- and college-ready plan developed by the State Board of Education and embedded in the program of basic education; currently on hold pending funding
  • 17 core academic credits
  • 7 flexible credits
  • Students must attempt 24 credits; complete 22 to graduate
  • This brief video explains the plan we support

Friday, February 8, 2013

Changing state assessments

To: House Education Committee
Re: State assessments and graduation requirements;
(HB 1450 heard 2/8/2013. Others bills are expected)

Dear Chairwoman Santos and committee members,

At this point, Washington State PTA does not have a position on the various proposals about assessments. But I wanted to share our perspective as you sort through bills this session.

Testimony - suicide

To: Senate Early Learning and K-12
Re: SB 5365 Increasing the capacity of school districts to recognize and respond to troubled youth.

(Written testimony)

Dear Chairman Litzow and committee members,

Washington State PTA supports state efforts in this area and sincerely thanks the sponsors. We would also encourage the state  to offer school staff tools to address students’ social and emotional health, such as support to implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and adoption of comprehensive K-12 Social Emotional Learning standards and the state support needed to implement them for all children.


Ramona Hattendorf
Government relations coordinator
Washington State PTA


Testimony - Lowering graduation requirements

To: Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education
CON, SB 5477 - Delineating standard diplomas and applied diplomas.

Dear Chairman Litzow and committee members,

Washington State PTA believes a high school diploma should signify the minimum skills all children need to prepare for work, ongoing study and citizenship. The goal isn’t just to graduate, it is to graduate prepared. We are concerned about tracking. We are concerned about doors closing on kids before they even hit puberty. We are very concerned that the state will continue to view a solid, 24-credit diploma as an “enhancement” – something kids don’t really need and that the state doesn’t really need to fund. At least, not for all students.

We question the assertion “kids can’t do it.” Is it that they can’t do it, or that they haven’t been given the supports needed along the way? Why have we gone down the reform path if not to bring all of our children along?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bills are moving: What we’re watching ...

... And how you can weigh in

Topics: Discipline; "grading" schools; accountability for reading; epi-pens; safe school buildings; school takeovers; assistance and intervention; starting age for school children; changes to basic education; definition of a school day; family involvement coordinators; responding to troubled youth
IN THE NEWS: House divided on K-12 school funding priority; rejects GOP initiative to budget education first

Testimony - suicide, WaKIDS, assessments

To: House Education Committee
Re: 2/7/2013 public hearings

PRO - HB 1336, Increasing the capacity of school districts to recognize and respond to troubled youth.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Testimony - Family Involvement

To: Senate Early Learning and K-12
PRO, SB 5117 - Regarding family involvement coordinators in public schools.
Good afternoon Chairman Litzow and senators,

Thank you for considering this bill. Guess what? This is my favorite bill, and I’ve just been waiting and waiting for you to hear it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Testimony - Quality Education Council recommendations

PRO -  HB 1560, Implementing selected recommendations from the 2011 and 2013 reports of the Quality Education Council.

(Addresses professional learning; use of Learning Assistance Program funds for science; identification of highly capable students; publishing data from the Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program; teacher recruitment scholarships.)

Testimony to House Education Committee

Testimony - grading schools (to House)

OTHER; HB 1476 - Establishing a performance-based grading system for schools and school districts.

Testimony to House Education Committee

Good afternoon Chairwoman Santos and committee members,

Washington State PTA does not have a position on the labels for the new accountability index. But I wanted to affirm that yes, clarity is important. And yes, education lingo can be a hurdle to family engagement.

I encourage you to visit the website of the Office of the Education Ombudsman and read their Family Dictionary of Education Terms. You might think it’s an Onion spoof, but it’s not all too real. The terms we use in education can create barriers.

That said, please don’t get sidetracked by labels. Please, make sure the index is a useful tool, and make sure it is actually used by the schools and state to improve the quality of education programs.

Thank you.

- Ramona Hattendorf, WSPTA government relations coordinator

Testimony - changes to required action for schools

PRO - HB 1177 - Modifying the education accountability system to allow state criteria, resources, and strategies to be used for assistance and intervention.

Testimony to House Education Committee

Good afternoon Chairwoman Santos and committee members,

Washington State PTA’s top priority is to continue to improve basic education by implementing and building on the reforms started in 2009 and 2010. This bill does just that.

Testimony - 3rd grade retention, reading (to House)

To: House Education Committee
CONCERNS, HB 1452 - Establishing Accountability for Student Performance in Third Grade;
(Written testimony submitted due to time constraints of the public hearing)

Dear Chairwoman Santos and committee members,
For many children, reading does not come easily. About five percent of children learn to read effortlessly. Another 20 to 30 percent learn to read with relative ease when exposed to any kind of instruction.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Testimony - epi pens and school safety

Testimony to Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education

PRO - SB 5104, Placing epinephrine autoinjectors in schools.
Sent written testimony. Aligns with National PTA 2009 Resolution: Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management in Schools 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Testimony - teacher development, school-age start

Testimony to House Education Committee

PRO - HB 1178, Authorizing alternative assessments of basic skills for teacher certification.
Signed in support. Aligns with WSPTA’s No.  3 position, Closing the Opportunity Gaps

PRO - HB 1252, Establishing the Washington K-12 online professional development project.
Signed in support. Aligns with WSPTA’s No. 5 position, Universal Access to Highly Effective Teachers

PRO - HB 1283, Changing compulsory school attendance requirements for children six and seven years of age.

Signed in support. Spoke briefly about problems with delaying school until age 8, especially given the importance of early learning. Re-iterated that earliest years were a transition period between home and school learning, structured and unstructured learning; but by first grade community expectations were that children were receiving formal instruction of some sort and that state law just hadn’t caught up to our K-12 system.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Testimony - School takeover

CON - SB 5329 - Creating the state superintendent school district

Testimony to Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee

(Note: The concern around voter disenfranchisment also underscored Washington State PTA's decision not to endorse the A+ Washington plan crafted by other education advocates, and not to support proposed legislation last year that would have set up "Innovation Zones" where the state hired management companies to run struggling schools. Concern about community oversight of and participation in schools also factored into the association's decision not to endorse the charter initiative. The association did back 2010's SB 6696, which laid out steps for state intervention in the perennially poorest performing schools. Implementation of the concepts introduced in that bill -- evaluations, family engagement and school/district accountability -- remain a top priority for WSPTA.)

Testimony - Grading schools (to Senate)

OTHER - 5328 - Creating a school-grading program that relies on the accountability index. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.)

Testimony to Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee

Good afternoon Chairman Litzow and Senators,

Washington State PTA has not taken a position on terminology in the new achievement index.

Testimony - 3rd grade retention, reading (to Senate)

OTHER - SB 5237 - Establishing accountability for student performance in third grade.

Testimony to Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee

Good afternoon Chairman Litzow and Senators,

Washington State PTA does not have a position on retention, and we did not sign in pro or con.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's a successful school?

  • Should the state intervene in poorest-performing schools?
  • Should the state “grade” schools A-F (or rank them 1-7)?
  • What’s more important: Students passing test benchmarks, or students showing great academic growth?

Dear members,

The State Board of Education and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction want your opinion on how to identify successful K-12 public schools.

For example, would you view these two schools as equally successful?
  • A school with a lot of students passing tests.
  • A school where a lot of students are progressing faster than average (regardless of how they do on tests).
The survey contains several questions about what you value in your public schools. The final selection of values will lead to a better tool for evaluating school performance.

Please take a minute to share your thoughts on this important issue. The survey will be open until February 15. The results of the survey will be available on the State Board of Education website by March 12.

Testimony - Discipline bills

Re: Support for Senate Bills 5155, 5244, 5245 and 5301 (all dealing with suspensions and expulsions); request for more foundational work to address behavior and school climate issues

To: Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee

Dear Chairman Litzow and Senators,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ready, set, focus

Advocates heading to Olympia

Take Action: Will they defer schools, again?
Agenda, speaker lineup below

Washington State PTA members will hit the state Capitol on January 24. Our goal: Reach every legislator who has a PTA or PTSA in their district. The Parent Teacher Association advocates for children's well-being and education, and our members have important insight to share about what children need to thrive.

Our main message: Implement and pay for basic education, as promised in 2009 and the basic education funding bill, HB 2261.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No schedule for basic education funding

Focus Day is Thursday, Jan. 24. Free and empowering!

This is Washington State PTA's citizen lobbying day when advocates show up, speak up and otherwise let their legislators know that kids matter. We provide common talking points but all members are always encouraged to speak to the issues that matter most to them.

Focus Day blog
The 2013 Legislative Session has kicked into gear, and our top priority -- improving and paying for basic education -- is at the forefront. The conversation kicked off Tuesday in a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, where many of those testifying agreed: The outgoing governor's budget proposal had good elements, but did not go far enough to satisfy the McCleary school funding ruling. There is still no payment plan for K-12 education.

Following is Washington State PTA testimony to the committee.

Testimony - Pay for the 24-credit diploma

Early learning is important, but legal committments extend to graduation requirements

To: House Appropriations Committee
Re: Education section, HB 1057, Gov. Gregoire’s proposed 2013-14 budget.
WSPTA Position: Concerns
Dear Chairman Hunter and Appropriation Committee Members,

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rally to ban assault weapons

Seattle event on eve of new state legislative session

Gun control advocates will be hosting a rally and march Sunday, Jan. 13, in downtown Seattle. StandUp Washington will commemorate Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims and demand a state ban of semi-automatic weapons. Washington State PTA is not a sponsor of this event, but nationally the association works to prevent gun violence and we wanted to let members know about this opportunity.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's time to focus

Join us Jan. 24 as we lobby Olympia


Guest blog, from your 2013 Focus Day co-chairs:

The Washington State PTA legislative platform for the next two years is set. Now we have to do something with it! Focus Day is fast upon us. On January 24th in Olympia, we have our next, and perhaps best, opportunity as a large voting block to advocate for our kids with a loud, cohesive voice by sharing our new legislative platform with our legislators and our state.