If you’re a baseball fan, the new rules intended to speed up the game are likely a welcome relief. Unfortunately, those same rules don’t apply to the legislative session. This session, once on track for an on-time ending, is now cruising at a speed close to stop—as if stuck in a perpetual pitching change. I won’t use the “righty” or “lefty” metaphor to describe the whole thing, because we’d be looking at a third arm to save this game. And, well, that’s a tortured metaphor even I can’t do.
The current debate—if you can call it that, with both sides pretty much just ignoring the other—centers on an age old polemic: taxes. Whether to raise, what to raise, etc., etc.—Voters, much like the legislators representing them, seem split according to a new Elway poll. Though the divide could be that folks didn’t buy into the forced choice: raise taxes and fully fund education, or don’t raise taxes and cut social services. A choice that hasn’t been forced in the Legislature, and likely won’t be.
One huge education budget item that policymakers will have to deal with is how and whether to fund the class-size initiative. Both the House and Senate fund further reductions to class size from kindergarten through third grade, as they are part of the State’s definition of basic education. From there, the Senate would send the initiative back to the voters, to ask whether they really want to spend $3.8 billion in this way. The House objects to this, but doesn’t provide a solution to the initiative beyond the K–3 funding. Meanwhile, Superintendent Randy Dorn released his own plan. Team LEV applauds his call for reducing the reliance on local levies and reforming the teacher compensation system.
Get your own take on the budgets next week and hear directly from Sen. Andy Hill and Rep. Ross Hunter in our upcoming LEVinar series.
A piece of good news, early learning seems somewhat immune to political—or even jurisdictional—controversy. The state budget will likely fund the Early Start Act. And Seattle begins implementing its pre-K initiative.
On other fronts, the conversation over the new state learning standards and their assessments continues to get lots of ink and air. While there is widespread support for the standards, the response to the assessments is varied. Driven in large part by misinformation and touch of hysteria, an opt-out “movement” threatens to wreak havoc on our ability to know whether kids are actually learning the standards. Thankfully, here in Washington, the problem seems somewhat isolated to that special snowflake we call Seattle.
Meanwhile, in the other Washington, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have hammered out a compromise on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The “Every Child Achieves Act” maintains federal requirements for statewide assessments, but changes much of the accountability framework of the “No Child Left Behind Act.” The bill has a long way to go, as it begins the journey through the rest of the Senate before going over to the House.
A couple of good reads for this week:
- Remember apprenticeships? Hopefully on the comeback trail.
- Discipline policies can actually decrease suspensions AND increase graduation rates.
That’s it for right now. You can find updates on state policy here. As always, thanks for all you do on behalf of Washington’s kids.
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.