It was wonderful to see so many of you last Thursday at our breakfast! Thank you to those who made it—I hope you found the event as inspiring as I did. A huge thank you to our speakers, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, President of WSU; Dr. Jill Wakefield, Chancellor of Seattle Colleges; Frank Blethen, Publisher of The Seattle Times; and Kaysiana Hazelwood and Midheta Djuderija, two students with big dreams. Their stories were just amazing. And important reminders why we do this work.
Speaking of the work, now’s the time when it gets interesting. With just four weeks left in the (scheduled) session, conversation is turning to the state budget. The House Democrats’ budget was released Friday. The Senate Republican version should come out in the next few days. Neither budget will pass whole-cloth, but they’re both important in signaling the priorities of either chamber. The House budget, for example, proposes closing tax loopholes and creating new taxes, while remaining silent on the property tax issues that vexed the Supreme Court in their school funding decision.
The House funds the education continuum, from early learning through higher education, something we expect from the Senate budget proposal as well. The House doesn’t fund the class-size initiative (1351), but rather funds class size in K–3 and leaves it to local bargaining to decide where the money goes. A paradox, to be sure. It’s a step backward from how we fund class size in K–3 now, where the money is targeted specifically for that purpose and not left to local bargaining. However, it doesn’t throw billions at reducing class size in 4–12, a definite positive. By the way, a lawsuit will be filed challenging the constitutionality of 1351 later this week.
While we’re on the topic of money, a House hearing today (Monday) on the state’s lost waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act was expected to bring fireworks. These days, calling for accountability will draw fire. Despite widespread support for legislation to restore the waiver, including a Senate vote, the issue seems mired in a stew of politics, confusion, and misinformation. Today’s political theatre likely won’t solve that. (By the way, if you’re wondering who LEV stands with, it’s with the governor and the thousands of low-income kids whose education are put at risk by the loss of control over $40 million in Title 1 funds.)
In happier news, two Washington schools have received recognition for their significant improvements in student outcomes this past year. Lakeridge Elementary School in Renton used longer school days as part of their recipe for a turnaround. Rainier Beach High School in Seattle is being heralded for big improvements in graduation rates—the result of “hard work.” Congratulations to both of these schools.
While there’s always more to tell you, that’s going to be a wrap for this time. We’ll come back at you later this week with a look at the Senate budget proposal and the rest of the edu-news. As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of Washington’s students.
Chris (and Team LEV)
Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup is emailed to subscribers weekly and posted on our blog on Fridays during the 2015 legislative session. Sign up to receive Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup via email.