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,

There are two bills before you today that focus on kids often overlooked in our K-12 system: Students of color or low income who are under-represented in both advanced classes and college completion, and students in danger of dropping out without a defined skill set to help them land a decent-paying job. Both bills address the high school experience.

Washington State PTA supports taking a proactive approach to enrolling more children in advanced classes, and particularly in helping them take advantage of earning college credit while in high school. We also support building bridges between high school and the world of work and getting more kids – particularly those at risk of dropping out – engaged in apprenticeship programs or internships.

In both cases, the investment is in the future of these kids, and the payoff is in their contribution back to society.  (Read: Future revenue.)

As you are weighing fiscal impact, we ask you to please keep in mind that the state underfunds middle and high school, and this affects the type and variety of courses that schools are able to offer. Schools shouldn’t have to decide between helping kids retake biology and offering AP Computer Science. Both are necessary. The success of these bills hinges on basic education funding, and we ask you to fund the 1080 hours of instructional time in grades 7-12.

The time will cover a full six-period day plus a little buffer room for kids who need to retake a class or enroll in study-skills course. If we are serious about creating a meaningful high school experience that prepares kids for career and college, then we need to commit to the necessary basic education funding. Additional comments:

E2SSB 5243 - Establishing policies to support academic acceleration for high school students.
Teens who earn college credit in high school can save substantially in college. Help kids who most need the boost realize the savings.

SSB 5754 - Concerning integrated career learning opportunities and employment training for at-risk youth.
Bridging the career and K-2 worlds helps transition kids into jobs that will give them marketable skills.

Thanks so much for your support for all students – including those in grades 7-12. By grade 7, the state has already invested about $56,000 into a student’s K-12 experience. By grade 11, that’s $88,000. Make the money matter and give them a secondary education that prepares them for life. We’ll get repaid in tax revenue (and maybe even job creation!)

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