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!

On another note, earlier this week in the Ways and Means Committee, Senate bill 5881 was heard which would require 2/3rds of all new revenue over the next decade be dedicated to Education.  What makes this different than a similar proposal (Prop 40) in California is that Early Learning and Higher Education is included in the mix.  At the hearing today, UW and WSU came out in force in support of the bill as did the Washington Roundtable, some corporate organizations, and Dave Powell from Stand for Children indicated that the goals were consistent with their values.  This is a top five goal for the PTA (Fund Education First) – so we are watching it closely.

The WA State Budget and Policy Center (BPC) sounded off in opposition citing revenue growth will not even cover what we do now.  Part of the challenges with this bill is that new revenue is also needed to meet our existing obligations.  There are questions as to if we can make any further cuts without violating constitutional requirements, meeting lawsuit requirements *there are others out there besides McCleary*, etc.  There info-graphic on the issue is here.  In addition to the BPC, the State Poverty Action Network, AARP, and SEIU 925 registered their opposition as well.  They cited concerns about preserving the social safety net that includes many of the children in school as well as a memorable line from AARP “Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul where Peter is my son and Paul is my husband.”  All asked to address the “dysfunctional tax system” we live under in Washington.

The other big hearing was on the brewing battle between the State Senate and House on how best to raise three quarters of a billion dollars for capital improvements to schools in the run up to fully funding basic education.  SB 6483 would fund a grant program for school districts to address all-day kindergarten, STEM, and start looking at K-3 by providing OSPI resources to complete the inventory of Education Facilities to get a grasp on the total size of the problem.  Unlike the House Version, they would not be issued against the Lottery but would be able to go out under a much lower rate and not affect the State’s bond rating.  The Senate proposal funds the changes within the State’s debt limit and would issue General Obligation Bonds to tune of $825 million dollars – this issuance would result in up to 1.5% lower interest rate – dollars that could be used elsewhere in the system for education.  The State Treasurer was involved in the design of the proposal and testified in favor during committee.  The one caveat in the House proposal that we do like, FYI, is that there is not a match required.  Many school districts are struggling to pass bond measures, but the kids will still come.  Hopefully, the final version will include this provision - that is provided the legislature chooses to act on this critical issue this session.  Word on the street is they may not.  

We have 36 hours to find out.

This cycle, the Washington State PTA has sent thousands of e-mails to their Senators and House members urging serious movement on McCleary.  We’re doing our part, and it is being noticed by legislators and lobbyists in and outside the education community. 

Oh, and the Hunt Striker on the Omnibus Education Reform Act?  Right here.  Scroll down for the executive summary.

On to the E-Wire!!

This is why the state needs to fund basic education – it cannot be done by varying property tax levies alone.  This is a helpful property tax levy FYI.  On the subject of funding, Inslee to Media on McCleary – maybe later?  One more thing.  This Editorial from the Spokesman Review indicates the challenges of moving forward on McCleary.  Not everyone agrees – go figure.


So, I guess the Kansas Legislature DOES have something better to do.

ELL Literacy sees a jump with California Instructional Model.

More on the SAT Changes – with an Olympian Opinion, too!

Neal Kirby hits the nail on the head for rural funding.  Did you see our action alert?!

Everett Herald Guest Op-Ed on keeping schools open longer.

A Note from the Everett Herald on the final version of the Juvenile Court Records Bill.

Colorado is addressing the Driving While High issue with PSA’s.  They are quite good.

What the next 36 hours will look like here, here, and hereSpeaking of Capital Improvements, the House on Senate in a jump ball game for Capital Education Funding.

A look at Finland’s Education System.

This is a good little bill the PTA was following and is now off to the Governor.

An Message to fund Early Learning

The E-Cigarette discussion we all thought would happen sometime down the line?  Happening now.  There is a full debate going on here where the fight over vaping is picking up steam (bad pun, sorry!).

Votes have consequences… like tons.  While we are on THAT subject, more 9th Order Madness – the good news is some movement has been made on Homeless funding for now.

T/PEP bill remains a subject of contention in the House and Senate – and could derail other Education Initiatives.  Inslee is working to try and move the bill.  Meanwhile, California eliminates state tests in favor of the Federal Common Core Aligned Test.  In case you are wondering, this has nothing to do at all with our waiver debate. All the disagreements between the House, Senate, and Governor on this issue is threatening a special session in Olympia.  Both the Seattle Times and the Spokesman Review have weighed in on the issue.  There remains some disagreement on what obtaining or losing the waiver means.  Oh, and while we are at it, Peter Callaghan weighs in on the future of education reform.  Just a reminder, in order to implement reforms, we need to fund them, too.  Oh and speaking of reform… a fascinating read for you in the Washington Post on where funding comes from for some education reform ideas.

People are chiming in on the budget.

Moving Above Common Core and what it may mean for teacher professional development and how we teach math.  There remains some resistance to the change, however.  There is also some debate on what it will do for civic education.

The fear of your permanent record.

Jeff Charbonneau speaks out – speaking of class acts -  the Seattle Times asks a veteran educator 6 questions.

The State Senate opts for punishing the Insurance Commissioner, not eliminating the position.

Tacoma Schools loses an Icon.

Another PTA supported bill on Foster Care passes and is off to the Governor.

One simple answer to lowering the college opportunity gap.  Problem is funding it.

Curtis King passes his tanning bill after 5 years of effort.

Sequim’s All-Day Kindergarten has a hefty price tag.

Vista veteran Ken Miller speaks out on whole child issues – worth a read.  This one from the other side of the mountains is worth a look as well

And on the Federal Front – Local Control and Charter Schools.

Ok folks, that is all for now.  We are hearing the House and Senate will act on Education Bills soon!

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

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