Friday, October 28, 2016

Newly Added Resolutions

Greetings fellow advocates of Washington State PTA. As you know, WSPTA recently voted on our short-term (two-year) platform for the upcoming two legislative sessions. We're excited that we have such a strong, whole child focused short-term platform to guide our discussions and activities in Olympia. 

However, WSPTA's membership also added three new items to our long-term platform, and we want to make sure you know both about these new items, and the long-term platform in general. 

In WSPTA's nomenclature, our long-term platform is composed of Resolutions, which remain on the platform until/unless amended or removed by vote of the membership (at either Legislative Assembly or Convention). 

While our short-term platform gets a lot of attention, it's imperative to remember that we are always looking for ways we can advance our long-term platform as well. Typically, Resolutions cover topics that take longer than a single two-year period to significantly move forward.  

By having Resolutions that remain part of our guidance for direct advocacy, WSPTA strengthens both our ability to advocate for children, and the perception of our strength as an organization by those policy-makers with whom we work year after year. 

So what are the three new additions to our Resolutions? First up is a resolution regarding sensory disorders, including (but not limited to) Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia,and Dyspraxia. This resolution offers guidance to WSPTA's long-term efforts to embody the philosophy that, when we say we advocate for all children, all means all. Creating and supporting inclusive classrooms that are well-suited for learners of all ability-levels is good for all of our children, and this resolution is built on that principle. 

Next, WSPTA passed a Washington-specific version of National PTA's resolution on Child Sex Trafficking. Sadly, Washington is a hotbed of activity for child sex traffickers because of both our state's geography, and our proximity to international borders. Supporting efforts to end this scourge is wholly aligned with the mission and vision of WSPTA, and this resolution gives us guidance on how we can participate in helping the children caught in this horrific practice. 

Finally, WSPTA passed a resolution regarding Mitigating Environmental Hazards and Contaminants in Schools. This resolution provides guidance as WSPTA leads and participates in discussions about ensuring environmental safety is a high priority in our schools, while acknowledging that practices and policies at the district and school levels need to be aligned with current best-practices. 

Of course, these three new resolutions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to WSPTA's long-term platform. We ask that you familiarize yourself with our standing Resolutions and keep them in mind as you have conversations in your homes, schools, and communities.  

As always, WSPTA's leadership is here to serve you. Never hesitate to reach out if there's something we can do to help. Your service to the children of the state of Washington is supremely appreciated!  

Note: An updated version of the resolutions will be posted soon.

Duncan Taylor  

WSPTA Legislative Director  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016 Post Legislative Assembly Summary

Greetings Washington State PTA Advocates! Thank you to all those who attended and participated in this weekend's 38th Annual Legislative Assembly! It was an excellent time of leadership development, discussion and debate around the statewide advocacy goals Washington State PTA (WSPTA) would like to accomplish over the next two years, and ultimately a voting process that officially determined both our short-term platform, and updated our long-term platform.

Our short-term platform for the next two years will be:

Top Five

Issues Also Supported (listed alphabetically)

In addition to the outstanding work, the delegates performed setting the overall platform and determining our Top 5 issues for the next two years, we also heard from National PTA's President-Elect, Jim Accomando. He spoke about the challenges that face PTA as an organization, and touched on the things he had learned from us during the course of the event. We also heard from Brian Jeffries of the Washington Roundtable, who spoke about the cradle-to-career efforts educators and employers are making to ensure that Washington state's high-school graduates have the credentials they need to achieve high-quality employment.

WSPTA was proud to award the 2016 Outstanding Advocate Award to Kent Area Council PTSA member and long-time PTA advocate Agda Burchard. Agda spoke about her experience being a PTA advocate, and how it spurred her to expand her advocacy efforts both as a volunteer and a professional. She was inspiring and gracious, and will carry the mantle of Outstanding Advocate exceedingly well over the coming year.

So, what's next? Well, we're in the midst of planning our 2017 Focus Day, taking place January 16 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – at the Capitol in Olympia. We need you to come, and be prepared, to meet with your legislators! We will have more information coming soon, so please stay tuned!

Now is your opportunity to take the experience you had at Legislative Assembly and use it to grow more advocates in your communities! As always, WSPTA's leadership is here to serve you. Never hesitate to reach out if there's something we can do to help. Your service to the children of the state of Washington is supremely appreciated!

For a summary of the event, follow the conversation on Facebook or #WSPTALegAssembly

Duncan Taylor
WSPTA Legislative Director
Contact Duncan

Friday, October 7, 2016

Supreme Court Announces Decision on McCleary Lawsuit

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that the State had failed to submit a complete plan for achieving full compliance with its constitutional duty to Washington students, and therefore ordered that it would not lift the $100,000 a day contempt sanction. However, the Court did not order additional penalties at this time.

The order was signed by 7 of the 9 justices, and was written by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. Justice Wiggins issued a short concurring opinion about why he supported continuing the contempt sanction, while Justice McCloud disagreed with the majority and said the fine should be lifted. 
The Court said that “the State has until September 1, 2018, to fully implement its program of basic education, and that the remaining
details of that program, including funding sources and the necessary appropriations for the 2017-19 biennium, are to be in place by final adjournment of the 2017 legislative session.”

Here's the link to the 22-page order, concurrence, and dissent.