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).

The House also moved several education-funding related bills onto the calendar for possible floor action. (HB 2043, suspend cost of living increases for teachers; HB 2051, implementing basic education expenditures; HB 1431, alternative learning programs.)

On Tuesday the governor held a press conference to discuss what he termed, "not a positive step" on the part of the Senate to decrease revenue for the education legacy trust account by adjusting the estate tax. (Blog and video, here.)

Washington State PTA continues to advocate for the funding and implementation of 2009's basic education funding reform bill, and as such supports HB 2051.

Following is a letter sent to all representatives in support.

To: House of Representatives
Re: PRO (extremely) HB 2051, implementing basic education expenditures

Dear Representatives,

Washington State PTA strongly supports HB 2051 - implementing basic education expenditures. Please vote for it if and when it comes to the floor. It maps out the investment needed to fulfill McCleary and many of the promises made in the 2009 basic education funding reform bill, ESHB 2261. It’s what our kids, our communities and our state needs. The 2009 legislature saw that and passed ESHB 2261 with strong bipartisan support. This bill, HB 2051, essentially funds that vote.

Throughout this session, and others, the needs of students often get boiled down to “small class sizes.” Washington State PTA supports small class sizes in the K-3 years – they foster vital student-teacher connections, and the investment in early grades more than pays for itself. But the needs of our students extend far beyond that simple catch phrase. This became apparent after the years-long work of Washington Learns, and the follow up work of the Basic Education Finance Task Force.

We have kids in the system who need support … and state funds don’t cover instructional intervention. Not for most kids, anyway. Our funding system doesn’t even acknowledge (let alone accommodate) that it is normal for kids to need extra help from time to time. Or that kids from all income levels can struggle with reading. We have kids who would love to take an integrated STEM course, or “opt  up” to an International Baccalaureate program. But we don’t have middle and high schools funded at levels to support a variety of class offerings.

Technically there is some money for counselors, but it doesn’t pass the blush test when districts have to shuffle the money to cover principal salaries, buses and heat.

This is how far we’ve sunk as a state: We rely on PTSAs to raffle cars to support kids. Hats off to innovation and a can-do spirit, but explain how this is stable and equitable?

Here’s what the PTSA raffle and auction proceeds went to at that particular school (Garfield High in Seattle):
Read Right intervention program; College Access Now for disadvantaged students; Scholars at Garfield, which mentors African-American students; and the Writers in the Schools program. Science lab and math supplies; library and text books; drama and art resources; and musical instruments.

This has to stop. The state needs to start paying its K-12 bill, and it needs to be honest with the public about the costs involved. Because something happens when the state keeps coming up short: Inequity becomes the norm and kids and communities who most need a leg up get left behind.

Please pass HB 2051. Commit to a complete plan and show kids that you are serious about them.


Ramona Hattendorf
Government relations coordinator
Washington State PTA

“The legislature defines the program of basic education under this chapter as that which is necessary to provide the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the state-established high school graduation requirements that are intended to allow students to have the opportunity to graduate with a meaningful diploma that prepares them for postsecondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship.” (ESHB 2261, 2009, Session Law)
"The legislature intends that the redefined program of basic education and funding for the program be fully implemented by 2018." (ESHB 2261, 2009, Session Law)


  1. I have to say, Ramona, lately you've been on fire. I'd love some help getting these letters out to parents and citizens. Any ideas?

  2. Thanks. One of the reasons we moved to a blog format was so people could share posts more easily. You can post to social media; send out the link via email; post to a website. If you go to the main blog page,, there are all the social media boxes. Just click to share.

  3. I'd say it's time for voters to demand reform in the legislature. Do the math, representatives. I live in the 48th district, and I'm starting to understand what my forefathers meant by "taxation without representation."