Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Governor Press Release - Inslee proposes boldest new efforts in improving full continuum of education in 2 decades

Gov. Jay Inslee declared tonight that education must be the top priority for the 2015 Legislature, saying it’s past time for the state to meet its moral and constitutional obligations to Washington students. The governor said his plan would strengthen the school system from preschool to higher education so Washington students can attain diplomas, degrees and job training.

The governor previewed his plan in an online town hall meeting with parents, educators and students in Bellevue, Moses Lake, Spokane and Tacoma. Inslee said he intends to aggressively pursue improvements at all levels of education, from a significant expansion in early learning and all-day kindergarten to a freeze on public college tuition and additional financial aid to help keep college affordable.

Friday, December 12, 2014

National PTA Pledges Support to White House Invest in US Initiative

New initiative brings together corporations, foundations and nonprofits to increase investments in, and expand access to, high-quality early childhood education

Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced the launch of Invest in US, a national campaign and challenge to business leaders, philanthropists, advocates and public officials to increase investments in high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The initiative builds on President Obama’s call in his 2014 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early education for all children.

“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, president of National PTA. “For decades, National PTA has called for the prioritization of early childhood education, and the association is pleased to support the Invest in US initiative to ensure that every child has access to high-quality early learning programs.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

National PTA Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 11, 2014) Today, a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was introduced in the Senate as a means to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.

Since the passage of the JJDPA, thousands of children and youth have been provided with family and community-based alternatives to incarceration and kept separate from adults in detention. While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes left in the JJDPA as well as amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses such as skipping school. Additionally, research shows that minority youth are overrepresented in the system.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

National PTA President Otha Thornton Shares Efforts and Resources to Support Parents and Students with the Common Core

National PTA was featured in a story on the Common Core that aired on NBC4 in Washington, DC. In the story, President Otha Thornton shares National PTA’s efforts and resources to help parents understand the standards and new assessments as well as empower them to support their children with their learning. The story can be viewed by visiting: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video/#!/news/local/Common-Core-Presents-Parents-With-New-Challenges/283280431.

Additionally, President Thornton was invited to record a podcast as part of Learning First Alliance’s Get It Right campaign on the Common Core. In the podcast, President Thornton shares efforts undertaken at the local, state and national levels to ensure parents have an understanding of the standards, including what they are, how they came about and how they will help children graduate ready for college and today’s workforce. Visit http://www.learningfirst.org/get-it-right-podcasts-otha-thornton to listen to the podcast.

Source: National PTA

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stand Up, Speak Up and Show Up

2015 Legislative Focus Day 
PTA advocates from across the state gathered in Olympia for WSPTA’s annual Legislative Focus Day on Monday, January 19, 2015.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Professional Training: Social & Emotional Learning (Top 5 Issue)

Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in the Classroom
taught by Molly Lawlor, MA, PhD Candidate

Saturday December 6, 2014
9:00am - 12:00pm
UW Center for Child & Family Well-being

Monday, November 17, 2014

Free Public Lectures on Social & Emotional Learning (Top 5 Issue)

Cultivating Kindness and Compassion in Children
presented by Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Ph.D., University of British Columbia

Friday, December 5, 2014
University of Washington, Kane Hall 220

Friday, November 14, 2014

Get Involved – Get Engaged!

Sign up for our legislative updates for the 2015 Legislative Session in Olympia and in Washington, D.C. Follow the link here to be part of the movement to fully fund basic education and update, improve,  and reauthorize the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Currently called No Child Left Behind).

Be part of the advocacy team today!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Early Care and Education Providers and Families Should Know About Enterovirus D68

The Administration for Children and Families has received questions from Head Start and child care programs about recent news reports of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) spreading across the country. Infecting about 10 to 15 million Americans each year, enteroviruses are very common, especially during the summer and fall months. Infants and children are more susceptible to infection due to developing immune systems and the lack of prior exposure to viruses. Pregnant women also have a greater chance of being infected but will only develop mild or no symptoms. In fact, most people who acquire enteroviruses do not get sick. However, EV-D68 can cause mild-to-severe respiratory illness. Children with asthma could have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Washington State Parent Teacher Association Sets Legislative Agenda

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association held its’ 36th Annual Legislative Assembly this weekend, in Vancouver, Washington.  There, delegates met to set a new platform of legislative priorities for the 2015 -2016 legislative session in support of the organizational vision of “Making every child’s potential a reality.”    The legislative platform supports the delivery of our mission:
  • PTA is a powerful voice for all children.
  • PTA is a relevant resource for families, schools and communities.
  • PTA is a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.

In all, 13 issues made the short-term platform.  As a whole child advocacy association, our priority issues represent health, well-being and educational needs of the children of Washington State.
WSPTA’s priorities for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions:
  1. Funding McCleary
  2. Create Positive School Climates Through Social Emotional Learning
  3. Increasing Capital Funding
  4. Increased Access to Higher Education
  5. Breakfast After the Bell

Also supported (listed alphabetically):

If you have any questions or request a media availability with our Legislative Director, Sherry Krainick, or our President, Heather Gillette, please contact us at legconsultant@wastatepta.org or by phone at (253) 292-3318. 

About Washington State PTA: Founded in 1905, the association is a powerful voice for the well-being and education of all children and a resource for parents. It provides leadership training and support to more than 900 local PTAs across the state. With over 132,000 members, the WSPTA is the largest advocacy and volunteer organization in the state. Learn more at www.wastatepta.org.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Washington Students Take SAT, PSAT and AP

Participation rates increase across all racial subgroups

More Washington students than ever are enrolling in college-level courses and taking college entrance exams, according to results released today by the College Board. Every racial subgroup saw increased SAT, PSAT and AP test-taking rates in 2014.

The state’s student performance remained relatively strong. SAT and PSAT saw a slight downturn in overall scores, but the number of AP scores of at least “3” — the score needed to earn college credit — increased 5.7 percent.

“I am proud of our student performance,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “And the fact that so many students are taking steps to prepare themselves for college is encouraging. I hope this trend continues.” 

Full story, including state-level participation rates and links to school- and district-level results: http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2014/CollegeEntranceExams.aspx

Monday, October 13, 2014

Community and technical colleges and public four-year universities join forces on Smarter Balanced Assessment

OLYMPIA – Washington 11th graders who score at a college-ready level on new assessments this spring will automatically place into college-level math and English language classes when they enroll in college, thanks to a statewide agreement announced today by Washington’s community and technical colleges and public four-year universities.

The agreement applies to students who score at the top two levels – levels four and three – on the new “Smarter Balanced Assessments” that will be given to all Washington 11th-graders this spring. Those students will be able to skip the standard placement tests – such as Accuplacer – that are typically given when students enroll in college.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 Legislative Assembly - Outside Speakers

The Legislative Assembly and Advocacy Training event provides opportunities for PTA leadership training, advocacy training and is the venue for voting delegates to examine issues submitted by members. Voting delegates will debate and vote on the issues that will make up our 2015-2016 legislative priorities. 
  • Click here for more information on the WSPTA Legislative Assembly.
  • Click here to download the 2014 Issue Guide

  • Keynote Presentations

    • Friday Luncheon Lecture:  Department of Education Region X Director Linda Pauley and Dr. Kareen Borders  “Shoot for the Stars:  Family Involvement in STEM Education”     
    • Saturday Morning Continental Breakfast:  Mario Villanueva, Regional Director USDA - Discussion on Federal Agriculture issues that affect children                               

    Program Discussions on Closing the Opportunity Gap

    • Defining the Opportunity Gap and Mining the Data:  Rep. Chad Magendanz; Melissa Beard, OFM -A discussion on state and federal data policy.  This class will review data trends, discuss ethics issues, and the ever changing role of testing in education.  This class will also address current State and National Legislation devoted to this issue. 
    • A View Outside the Classroom - Learning Readiness:  Nick Federici; David Scott Beard, Schools Out WA - Exploring the challenges facing children who are in the gap and how these challenges affect their ability to go to school "learning ready."  Discussion will range from poverty,  developmental, health, and social challenges.

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    FY2015 Appropriations

    FY2015 officially begins October 1, 2014, with the FY2014 budget set to expire on September 30. Last week, to prevent another government shutdown, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that extends funding levels through December 11.  The Senate roll call vote can be found here and the House vote here.

    The CR extends the current funding levels from the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act, under all terms and conditions, through December 11, 2014. However, due to the annualized rate of spending in FY2015, the CR included an across-the-board cut of 0.0554% in order to conform with the FY2014 spending cap. For Department of Education programs, that would be a cut of $37.3 million. However, since almost all ED programs are forward funded, that cut will only affect a small number of programs during the period of the CR. Because the CR was an extension, very few changes were made to the bill itself and National PTA did not take an official position (an earlier letter sent by our coalition partners expressing our support for the FY2014 Omnibus Approps Act is available athttp://www.wastatepta.org/files/Consolidated_Appropriations_House.pdf). 

    Congress is now adjourned until after the November elections and right now both the Senate and House are scheduled to return on Tuesday, November 12 for a lame duck session.  When they return, these cuts in the current CR could be replaced by FY2015 spending bill. We will keep you posted on FY2015 developments, as there are several different paths Congress could take including another CR through the end of the year/spring or passing a full or partial FY2015 spending bill. 

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    SBE Adopts Resolution on the McCleary School Funding Decision and School Funding Proposals Entertained During the 2015 Legislative Session

    On September 10, 2014, the Washington State Board of Education, in view of its statutory responsibility to provide strategic oversight of the public education system, voted to adopt a resolution suggesting guiding principles to the Legislature in the performance of its duties to ensure that ample provision is made for all students residing within its borders, in a general and uniform system of public schools.

    1. Any consideration of delaying the timeline for compliance with McCleary orders should be weighed against the consequences those delays will have on entering cohorts of kindergarten students and their opportunity to ultimately realize the goals of the program of basic education.
    1. The Board affirms that there can be no credible plan to make ample provision for public schools that does not include new revenue to the state budget.
    1. Proposals to increase funding for public schools by decreasing funding in other state programs should be viewed not merely through the lens of Court compliance, but also in view of the ultimate impact on students and their families.  Scaling back social service programs, or early and higher education programs, may help narrowly satisfy Court compliance requirements but may also compromise progress towards the goals of the program of basic education.
    1. A comprehensive school funding solution should include a substantial increase in the state funding share accompanied by some additional clarity on the intended limits of local levy authority or spending.  However, proposals that seek to merely exchange taxing authority between the state and local governments in a revenue neutral way, such that overall funding to public schools remains roughly constant while only the source of revenues changes, are highly unlikely to materially improve outcomes for students and families.  What is needed is not different dollars; what is needed is more dollars.
    1. The Board further affirms that a comprehensive statewide accountability program continues to be an essential element to any significant McCleary investment in public schools.  In addition to school-level accountability, such a system should include explicit goals for student outcomes at a system-wide level, as well as self-imposed, reciprocal elements of accountability for the Legislature in the event that it cannot fulfill its duties under law, even as schools and students are expected to fulfill theirs.
    1. The Board affirms that Washington’s system of public schools has the potential to be the best in the world, and could serve as a case study of best practice public education for other states and nations.  The Board urges the Legislature to embrace this challenge, and to process all school funding decisions with the success of each student in mind. 
    Source: Washington State Board of Education

    Friday, September 12, 2014


    Applications now are available to recognize the WSPTA’s Outstanding Advocate to be awarded at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly on October 24-25 in Vancouver, Washington. Applications are due September 15, 2014. The WSPTA Outstanding Advocate award recognizes and honors an individual for continued and dedicated service to ALL children, and a demonstrated commitment to helping create strong policies relating to the health, welfare, safety, and education of children and youth. For the application form, click here.

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Information From the Governor's Office of the Education Ombudsman

    Over the past week, you have probably read in the newspaper or received a letter from your school district explaining Washington state’s loss of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver.  This waiver is also referred to as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver.  As a result of the waiver loss, the majority of school districts were required to issue letters to parents explaining the options they may have if their child attends a school that has not made “adequate yearly progress” or AYP.  Parents whose children are assigned to a school that has not met AYP will be offered the option of:  1)  staying at their assigned school and receiving Supplemental Education Services, or  2) the option to transfer to a public school of their choice that has met AYP within their district.

    The application process for SES or a public school transfer request is very short and requires completion of a written application with a deadline associated with it.  In some school districts, this deadline occurs on or before the first day of school.  It is very important that parents understand they will not get SES services or be able to request a transfer after the deadline set by their district.  For limited-English speaking parents, it is important that they understand they can ask for the instructions and application in a language understood by the parents or guardians.  In addition, limited-English speaking parents can and should ask for an interpreter at their child’s school meeting to determine the SES Student Learning Plan if they need language access and assistance.

    In an effort to assist parents, students and advocates to understand what some of the changes are, the Office of the Education Ombudsman has developed a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).   For more information, please call (206) 748-5613 or 866-297-2597.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    WSPTA gives Board Endorsement of Initiative 594

    WSPTA is saddened by the number of recent shootings that have taken place at schools across our country. Our mission states that PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families, schools and communities, and a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.

    During the October 2013 WSPTA Legislative Assembly in Seatac, the following policy was adopted by members:  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.

    On April 24, 2014, the WSPTA board of directors discussed the upcoming initiatives 594 and 591 that will be on the November ballot. Our legislative director, Sherry Krainick brought forth information from her state legislative committee members. After discussion and debate the board voted to endorse and support initiative 594 on extending background checks on gun purchases from non-licensed dealers.  Support at this time will not include financial resources but may include very limited use of our grassroots network, action alerts and other communications that may be timely.

    At that time the board also voted to oppose initiative 591 (an Act relating to protecting gun and other firearm rights; adding new sections to chapter 9.41 RCW; and creating new sections.)

    WSPTA keeps kids at the focus of everything we do. While we understand this is not a solution for children’s safety, we do recognize that this is one small step in that direction. 

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    SBE adopted rules to implement 24 credit career and college ready diploma

    Because of you, Washington State PTA was successful in working to promote key aspects of Senate Bill 6552 during the 2014 legislative session to make it better legislation for ALL kids.  On July 9 - 10, 2014, at the State Board of Education meeting in Spokane, public testimony was heard and rules were considered on the credit waiver and family engagement and the high school and beyond plan.  Below is the letter announcing the State Board of Education’s determination on these issues.

    Dear stakeholders: 
    Yesterday, at its meeting in Spokane, the State Board of Education adopted a set of rules to implement the 24 credit career and college ready diploma, as well as the other provisions of Senate Bill 6552 passed during the 2014 legislative session.
    The Board would like to thank stakeholder groups for the unprecedented levels of stakeholder input, both in terms of the number of individuals testifying at our public hearing and community forums – many of whom traveled long distances to do so -- but also those that submitted written input. 
    There are a few key issues presented in these rules.   I discuss three major issues discussed below, but the full text of the rules and the accompanying materials can be accessed on our website at: www.sbe.wa.gov/materials.php#july

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Educators, Administrators Break Down Common Core Standards For Parents

    National PTA recently released a Common Core video series to educate parents on the standards and empower them to support the transition at school and home.
    The series features 14 videos—developed in partnership with the Hunt Institute—to dispel the myths and provide accurate information about Common Core. The videos also provide various perspectives from educators, administrators, PTA leaders and others on the positive changes they've seen with the standards.
    The series begins with "The Need for Improved Student Outcomes," a brief overview of the Common Core State Standards. Watch Now
    The Need for Improved Student Outcomes

    PTAs can use this video series to learn the steps they should take to effectively advocate for the Common Core standards in their communities and states.
    Watch the videos and share them with PTAs and families. It's critical that we raise the bar in all schools and remain committed to ensuring all students graduate prepared to succeed.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014


    The 2014 Legislature passed the College and Career Ready Diploma as part of E2SSB 6552. The State Board of Education is accepting public comment on the rules for this new diploma and your input will help make sure the College and Career Ready Diploma achieves what you’d hoped it would. You can review the rules and submit comment online at this link (see section labeled Feedback) or in person by submitting testimony at the July 9, 2014 meeting of the State Board of Education from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at ESD 101, Conference Center, 4202 South Regal Street, Spokane, WA 99223.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Smarter Balanced Online Achievement Level Setting Recruitment

    Registration is now open for the Smarter Balanced Online Panel, giving parents of school-age children an opportunity to weigh in on the new Common Core assessments.
    The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has developed new tests in English language arts/literacy and mathematics aligned to the Common Core that may replace existing assessments in Washington. The Consortium is inviting parents and teachers to help establish performance expectations for students on these new assessments.
    To help ensure the process is inclusive and reflects input from a large group of teachers and parents, Smarter Balanced has organized an Online Panel to recommend proficiency scores on the assessments.
    Through the Online Panel this October, parents, teachers and interested community members can help ensure that these assessments are fair and provide accurate information about student progress.  Parents can help recommend an achievement level score for proficiency in one grade and subject as part of the Online Panel. The Online Panel will take up to three hours during a two-day window that each participant can select between October 6 and October 17, 2014. Parents can participate from a home or office computer or tablet.
    “The Common Core sets clear and consistent guidelines for teachers and helps ensure that all children are on track for success at each grade level and graduate ready for college or a career. Assessments are essential for achieving those high expectations, and the Online Panel provides a critical opportunity to hear from teachers and parents as an integral part of launching these assessments in the 2014-2015 school year,” Heather Gillette said.

    Interested parents, teachers, and community members can register and learn more at SmarterBalanced.org/OnlinePanel.

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    State Board of Education seeks public comment: rules for E2SSB 6552

    PTA members interested in the rules to be written to implement E2SSB 6552 may wish to attend the meeting this Friday (by webinar or in person in Olympia).  For more information on the bill click here.  This bill implements the career and technical equivalencies, instructional hours and 24 credit diploma.

    Notice from State Board of Education:  Forum on Rules to Implement E2SSB 6552

    Please join us for an opportunity for public comment and Q&A with staff on proposed rules to implement E2SSB 6552, Relating to improving student success by modifying instructional hour and graduation requirements. Comments will be documented and provided to State Board of Education members, as part of public comments in fulfillment of public participation requirements under RCW 34.05.325.

    The Forum will be held on June 6, 3:00-4:30 p.m., in the Billings Conference Room, 3rd Floor, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Building, 600 Washington Street SE, Olympia, WA 98504-7206.

    If you are interested in attending, please let us know by emailing SBE@k12.wa.us.

    If you are not able to join in person there is an opportunity to join via webinar. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/985883425

    The public hearing for proposed rules to implement E2SSB 6552 will be held on July 9, 2014, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. at ESD 101, Conference Center, 4202 South Regal Street, Spokane, WA 99223.

    Public comment may also be submitted through July 3, 2014, by emailing, calling or writing. Contact sbe@k12.wa.us, 360-725-6035, or State Board of Education, P.O. Box 47206, Olympia, WA 98504.

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Monday E-Wire for Post Session!

    This morning, the E-Wire woke up rushed thinking that he needed to be down in Olympia for *enter important legislative hearing* then realized, session is over.  Downtime.

    Yeah, right – now the real work begins as legislators take stock of what happened or did not happen this session and planning  begins in earnest for the big season of 2015.  The mounting McCleary deadline for the Supreme Court is heading down the pike and should make for some interesting repercussions.  It is unclear as of this writing what the court will do, if anything, in response to the legislative session.  Time will tell, and you will likely read about it here.  On to the E-Wire…

    TVW has a good post on what bills made it and what did not this session.

    The No Child Left Behind Waiver for Washington will be played out behind the scenes.  Look for more info here, here, and here.

    The legislature struggled with Medical Marijuana throughout the session.  It’s still a difficult topic.  So was getting their hands around the e-cigarette issue.

    Although the PTA was largely successful this legislative session, a lot of other groups were not… and the media noticed.  Remember this session being about TransportationNot!

    Senator Sharon Nelson gets the award for playing up the homeless funding bill throughout the close of the session.  In the end, it all worked out.  However, some people looked better than others.

    Veterans were winners in Education, too.

    Common Core coming to you soon.

    There has been a slow, resounding wave of support for later start times for High School Students.  This is one more example.  The challenge for schools will be the costs of bus service.

    The search for an affordable Bachelor’s degree.

    Next year, expect to see more talk about protecting student privacy.

    Coming in a month and a half, the legislature must respond to McCleary.  Meanwhile, in Denver

    And finally, a grassroots attempt to discuss tax exemptions in Walla Walla by a group of grandmothers.  Cool!

    The E-Wire is written by PTA Staff and Edited by PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Sine Die Edition of the E-Wire!

    Last evening was Sine Die – the End of the Regularly Scheduled Legislative Session.

    The agreed upon budget has been released, voted on and sent to the governor.  The following is the highlights from the legislative session.  It’s not comprehensive, but it incorporates the key issues that the PTA has been following all session long.  Usually, the E-wire’s friend Erik has his own comments over at Washington State Wire, but he’s still asleep.  We’ll share his additional thoughts and those of WA State School Directors Association's Government Relations Director Marie Sullivan on Monday.  Until then, this is what we have:

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    59th Day of Legislative Session E-Wire - Sine Die Tomorrow!!!

    Hi folks,

    The E-Wire has had a rough week trying to keep priority PTA Bills in play down in Olympia. Veteran lobbyist, Nick Federici, described the situation concerning several of these bills as “Schroedinger’s Cat” Bills.  Dead, yet alive at the same time.  For the most part, we consider most of these priorities very much alive and their ability to remain so at the waning hours of the session depend on PTA members burning up the wires telling their legislators to keep moving ahead on these issues.

    This is where we are at so far:

    CTE - Alive, and not subject to Cut-off.  The House Bill is in the Senate, but is not likely to move anywhere.  The Senate Bill is part of SB 6552.
    Breakfast – now likely dead, but it is still in the House Budget.  It is not subject to cut-off, but unless there is agreement in the Majority Caucus, it will not be passed this session.   
    Rural Schools - Endangered, but still alive and not likely subject to today's cut-off being that it is in the House Budget.
    Omnibus Education - Endangered, but still alive.  It is rumored that the legislature has embraced an amendment offered by Representative Sam Hunt.  Information from the striker is listed below.
    Foster Care Expansion - in Senate - Alive, and currently in the Senate. It is a budget item, so not likely subject to cut-off.
    Capital Budget - Funding School Construction – there are competing bills to address some of the needs this year.  Their likelihood of passage is unclear at this writing.  We report on them below.

    If you are reading this – and have not contacted your legislator this year – you need to – we’re close to hitting the mark on most of the bills we prioritized this year and, hey, we’re greedy for kids – let’s get them all out!

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    E-Wire Special Budget Edition...

    The E-Wire is down in Olympia today hunting for clues and reading tea leaves on a variety of bills of interest to PTA members.  Among the concerns – 24 Credit Hours, Career and Technical Education Equivalency Courses, expanding financial resource opportunities for rural schools, and Capital Funding for K-3 Schools. 

    Top story today, House passes Supplemental Operating and Transportation Budget which includes more funding for education and teacher salary cost of living increases.  Budget includes closing tax loopholes like this one and a few sticky issues like this one, this one, and this one

    There have been some issues with the Majority Coalition Caucus.  The initial rift was over the passage of the Dream Act and dissident members included Senators Benton, Roach, and Holmquist-Newbry.  It got hotter when Senator Jan Angel killed a bill to fund homeless programs and boiled over into a legislative nightmare last evening. 

    This pretty little thing hung on the Transportation Budget.  The Amendment was offered by Senator Jamie Pedersen and would require the residents of Medina to pay for any SR 520 Cost Overruns.  Incidentally, in case you didn’t know, Senator Rodney Tom, the Senate Majority Leader, represents Medina.  The E-Wire noted this amendment last night, but didn't give it any note as these things usually are tossed as bombs and don’t go anywhere.

    Well, it did

    Senator Baumgartner turned around and introduced an amendment to the Pedersen amendment which would have shifted the costs back over to Seattle.  In the end, an agreement was apparently made to withdraw both. But not before it almost led to this.  Senate was back to normal this morning and the Transportation Budget passed last night.

    As an FYI, our friends over at The Washington Wire have more on the story which bears reading.  They also give a fun tutorial on the havoc wreaked with the move to 9th Order in the Senate (it’s 8th Order in the House).

    Moving forward on Education Goals.

    Washington Student Achievement Council is Hosting an Event in Yakima on improving academic success for under-represented groups.

    Memos from a bipartisan town hall in Issaquah.

    All Puyallup Elementary Schools will offer free All Day K starting this fall.  Sequim, too.

    Peter Callaghan dives into the “he said, she said” debate over Title I usage (although Tacoma Schools is probably not the best example of the state as a whole due to their large menu of cutting education programs designed to close opportunity gaps.)

    Eva Moskowitz vs. Bill DeBlasio Round II.

    Kansas Senate pulls controversial bill targeted at Librarians and Teachers.

    Federal Department of Education looking to crack down on For-Profit Colleges.

    Seattle School District looks to later start times, but faces challenges in doing so.

    Sunnyside kids off to Knowledge Bowl.

    In other Sunnyside News, award winning teacher Maria Garcia is named ambassador for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

    Common Core Ramps up in Washington.

    Parents face challenges in dealing with Seattle Schools Bureaucracy.

    And on a final note, the SAT will drop the essay portion of the exam and return to the 1600 point test that you and I were used to taking so long ago...

    The E-Wire is written by PTA Legislative Staff and edited by Director Sherry Krainick.  Got a question? Write us!  legconsultant@wastatepta.org

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014


    Good afternoon,
    Two stories are hitting the top of the E-Wire this morning.  The first is the passage of PTA supported House Bill 2797 which cleared the House with a massive 90-7 majority less than an hour ago.  PTA members have been successfully burning up the wires for the past three days in what was one of the largest grass roots efforts we have initiated over the past three years.  Responses from legislators ranged from pleased to shocked.  To quote one, “Where did all those people come from?”
    Good job people – your efforts paid off – now it moves to the Senate. 
    The OTHER big news of the day is our SNOWPACK is ranging from 105-132% of normal which means we have cleared the threshold to avoid drought situations in Washington State for this year.  Going into January, we were concerned that this would be a bad year for our farmers, fish, and families.  (Farmers need water for crops, Fish need water to maintain habitat, and Families need water for keeping Hydro based electric rates low.)  No longer a threat!  Happy days!
    Onto the E-Wire!
    Senator Andy Hill tried this idea to get Lobbyists to speed up their testimony so that his committee could hear all bills and exec them before cut-off.
    Education Lab Blog from the Seattle Times gets it, why doesn't anyone else?
    So much for that idea.
    This is a growing problem.
    With all the challenges we face in Washington, moving ahead with judicial understanding for mental health patients is a good thing.
    As we stated earlier, the waiver debate will resolve itself…
    Taking STEM to Middle School
    Today’s magic number is 3.5 which is the average amount of homework High School Students are assigned.
    From Our Friends over at WAPO – a look at cool graphs that explain America.
    Enjoy folks – look for a new message for you to share with your legislators soon about Education funding!
    The E-Wire is written by PTA Legislative Staff and edited by Legislative Director Sherry Krainick.  Have a question?  Post below or write us at PTALEGDIR@wastatepta.org!

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    E-Wire for March 3rd - Counting down to the Close!

    Guess what happened over the weekend?  Yes, the Senate pulled together a series of bills to move forward on the Transportation Budget.  Senator King has offered 13 votes and is asking for 12 votes from the Democratic Caucus to pass the bill.  It has no referendum clause and it has some issues that may be non-starters in the House.

    Guess we will see, eh?

    Last Friday also seemed to be the witching hour in the Senate.  The move in committee to kill a bipartisan supported bill raised eyebrows among members.  This led to a floor fight, which the Democrats lost.  Here is the transcript of hearing that led to 9th Order Move by Senate Democrats.

    On a lighter note, the Senate is currently hearing a proposed solution to the Teacher Evaluations issue that has bedeviled the legislature all session.  The House has its own version.  Nothing doing,  but doesn't anyone remember that the vote against this bill concerning teacher evaluations was bipartisan?  Just wondering.  Here is the House Version and the Senate Version.

    The Washington State School Directors Association will be hitting the hill tomorrow in an attempt to push the legislature towards addressing a long-standing unfairness in the way the state funds rural districts.  The goal would be to adopt language which lets school districts keep timber subsidies for counties that have Federal Forests and Parks in their jurisdiction.  Washington State is the only state that takes the money into the General Fund and doesn't allow school districts to keep the additional funds for school programs.  WSSDA will try to get the State to change this long-standing practice.  The PTA supports their efforts and supports the policy to allow these communities to be compensated for the tax revenue loss created by our ability to enjoy their bounty.