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.