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!

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!

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.