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