It’s been a busy week! Education advocates heard Kati Haycock talk about strategies to close the achievement gap on Monday and attended the basic education reform bill signing in Olympia Tuesday.
Check out the photos from these events:
It’s been a busy week! Education advocates heard Kati Haycock talk about strategies to close the achievement gap on Monday and attended the basic education reform bill signing in Olympia Tuesday.
Check out the photos from these events:
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a landmark education reform bill, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261, today in Olympia.
A broad-based coalition of parents, business leaders, community members and education stakeholders, which includes the League of Education Voters, issued the following news release after the bill signing.
News Release: May 19, 2009
Governor signs landmark education reform bill
Parents, school advocates applaud beginning of movement to redefine and fully fund “basic education”
OLYMPIA – More than 100 parents and education advocates joined Gov. Chris Gregoire as she signed a landmark education reform bill, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261, today in Olympia.
“Today is a historic day for Washington’s children in the midst of challenging times,” said Laura Bay, president of the Washington State PTA. “Parents and school advocates are deeply concerned about the impact of state budget cuts to schools. We’re grateful, however, that lawmakers took bold action to protect education funding from devastating cuts in the future by expanding ‘basic education’ to include the tools our children need to succeed in life.”
“The signing of this education reform bill is important to our economy,” said Terry Byington, executive director of TechAmerica Washington. “The future of our state and nation depends on every child receiving a high-quality education that prepares them for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”
“The signing of the education reform bill is, in large part, a testament to the hard work of parent and citizen advocates who worked to achieve positive changes for children and public schools,” said Jen Boutell, parent and Tacoma Stand for Children leader.
At the last minute, the governor vetoed the section on early learning.
“We’re deeply disappointed that the governor chose to veto the section that would have provided early learning for at-risk children,” said Chris Korsmo, executive director of the League of Education Voters. “We take the governor at her word that she’ll prioritize early learning next session. This is a top priority of ours and the children of our state.”
A broad-based coalition of parents, business leaders, community members and education stakeholders worked closely with legislators for months to pass ESHB 2261. The reforms, which begin in 2011 and will be fully implemented by 2018, will:
“Our state is now committed to reforms that will prepare every child for college, work and life,” said Cheryl Jones of the Black Education Strategy Roundtable. “But, the work has just begun. It’s up to all of us—parents, educators and students—to work closely with our lawmakers to implement these reforms. Our education system depends on it, and all of our children deserve nothing less.”
Bonnie and I just got back from a student rally at Franklin High School, and it was awesome and inspiring and empowering.
More than 100 students gathered to protest teacher layoffs during their lunch period. Organized by passionate seniors Sunny Nguyen and Clayton Ruthruff, the students chanted “our teachers, our voice” in support of teachers who recently received layoff notices. Students are frustrated with the layoff policies weighing years in the classroom over demonstrated performance.
Clayton, who came running at the bell with megaphone in hand, opened the rally with, “We want quality teachers, not teachers who have been here longer.” He encouraged students the channel their anger into positive change. Sunny followed, encouraging attendance at the next Seattle School Board meeting. They then pulled Bonnie up, who offered additional words of encouragement.
The rally ended with students filling out petition cards against the “last hired, first fired” layoff policy and voting for the top school issue. Students overwhelmingly identified “termination of our teachers” as the most pressing issue facing Franklin.
We weren’t the only over-18s in the crowd. A small group of parents and educators joined the students in supporting quality teachers.
No matter how many events like this I attend, I am always inspired — especially when students are acting as their own advocates. So often we speak on behalf of students. It’s nice to hear things straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.
This is an historic day for one million public school kids in our state. The state Legislature passed the education reform bill, ESHB 2261. For the first time in 30 years, we’ve re-defined basic education to include the tools our educators need to prepare our kids for college, work and life.
The passage of ESHB 2261 commits the state to fully implementing and funding early learning for at-risk kids, all-day kindergarten, stronger graduation requirements, a longer school day, and other reforms to improve outcomes for children by 2018. It’s up to all of us-parents, educators, and students-to work together to hold our lawmakers accountable to fulfilling that commitment.
Congratulations! Applaud yourselves for achieving an historic milestone for children and schools. Thank you for your passion and persistence. It’s clear that your personal phone calls, messages and visits made a tremendous difference. Now we need to thank our lawmakers.
Please send a thank you note to the legislators who made this possible.
We know schools and educators are doing the best job possible in the midst of budget cuts. ESHB 2261 is an acknowledgement that our state is not living up to its paramount duty, and that our teachers deserve the support and resources they need to provide a high quality education for every child. The legislation provides a roadmap for the future to build a stronger and more amply funded education system that will be protected from devastating budget cuts. And, it positions our state to compete for $5 billion in federal funds dedicated to innovation in our public schools.
ESHB 2261 now goes to the governor’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law. Stay tuned for more information about the bill signing ceremony.
Again, thank you for making a difference!
We’ve posted Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe’s open letter to the education community in full below.
April 18, 2009
This has been one of the most difficult and bittersweet weeks in my time in our Legislature. We passed House Bill 2261, to redefine Basic Education. I envisioned the day we would all do this together, but to my deep disappointment that did not happen.
Still, it is time to move forward.
The bill the Senate passed last week shines a bright light on how the state funds our schools with an outdated definition of basic education and gives us the tools to know how we must change our funding to better reflect the growing expectations and challenges our schools face. What will be our class size? Does each school have enough teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors and speech therapists to help students excel? And how many administrators does each school need? These are the questions that this legislation will help us answer.
The bill isn’t perfect, but it is our road map to the world-class educational system envisioned by Washington Learns that every one of us deeply wants. We may not be able to solve all the problems facing our educational system today but we must begin. It is time to take this step.
I have heard that this is the wrong bill and the wrong message at the wrong time. I have heard that it is an insult to our hard-working teachers and educators that come to work every day and are committed to providing every child with the opportunity to learn. I want to be clear – teachers are the single most important part of our educational system. This bill is not a commentary in any way about a failure of our teachers. It is a recognition that our teachers deserve better and a recognition that our state’s definition of basic education has failed to keep pace with the evolving expectations of society and has failed our teachers.
So why do we need this bill now, of all times? Because our class size is 46th in the nation. Because our dropout rate is between 20 and 30 percent, and our teacher compensation is 21st in the nation. That is unacceptable. Our students and our educators deserve much more than an education system that was defined 30 years ago. I know that changing an educational system for almost 1 million students and over 2,000 schools takes time. It cannot happen in one legislative session. However, we must not let an inability to make immediate whole-scale change discourage us from making any progress.
We need to fund what we value and we must ensure that our commitment to education is clearly defined. Only by clearly establishing our Constitutional duties now can we hold the state accountable in the future. There are many demands on our limited state resources – health care, family leave, hospitals and nursing homes, to name only a few. As we come out of this recession, and as the economy grows, our educational system needs to be first in line for restoration of cuts and it must remain at the top of the priority list for future investments. In order to provide the system the capacity to accommodate those investments, planning and phase-in must start now. An expanded definition of basic education obligates our state to fully fund the educational system that our teachers, schools, students and communities need today. With this expanded definition in place the state can start the process of preparing the system for future growth.
We also have a unique opportunity right now to try and access additional federal stimulus dollars to help us with initial, one-time investments. This legislation makes us more competitive to receive part of the more than $4 billion that is available for states in the “Race to the Top” grant. These funds are available to states that are making exceptional progress towards educational reform goals such as rigorous college-and-career ready standards, creation of data systems that help foster continuous improvement and a process for providing intensive support for challenged schools. The legislation passed by the Senate includes provisions and a plan for addressing each of these goals in a meaningful way and will hopefully help the state of Washington access this additional federal money.
For all of these reasons I support the important and difficult step we took this week. This legislation is not the end goal, only the beginning. It reflects months of hard work and negotiation with all education stakeholders. The bill passed by the Senate incorporates language from both the Full Funding Coalition’s proposal and recommendations from the Basic Education Task Force. It strives to plot a way forward, with a realistic implementation strategy based on shared responsibility and expectations for the state, school districts and schools. We must continue to embrace a respectful and steady process forward and I pledge that I will be here every step of the way.
We will do this together. This is about the children.
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe
Chair, Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee
Education advocates celebrate the passage of the basic education finance reform legislation, ESHB 2261, by a vote of 26 to 23. Our broad-based coalition includes Washington State PTA, League of Education Voters, State Board of Education, Washington Stand for Children, Washington Roundtable, TechAmerica, Partnership for Learning, Black Education Strategy Roundtable, numerous school boards and superintendents from across the state, and countless others.
Outlined below are quotes from the various coalition members.
Mary Jean Ryan, Chair, State Board of Education
“The State Board of Education strongly commends the Senate for taking this historic action. This is exactly the demonstration of leadership that the children of Washington State deserve. We urge the House to concur with this revised bill. This action will propel us forward. We are now committed and accountable to ensuring all students leave high school, college, or work ready. After too long a wait, Washington’s educational system is once again moving in the right direction.”
Cheryl Jones, Black Education Strategy Roundtable
“This is a great start toward reforming our education system and moving our children into a learning environment that puts their futures as a priority in our state. As we work together to implement HB 2261, we are encouraged that all children will have access to a quality education and that we will continually work toward closing the achievement gap for minority and low income children.”
Jon Gould, Children’s Alliance and Early Learning Action Alliance
“We applaud the Senate for their historic vote today modernizing the definition of basic education. We thank Senators for including early learning in basic education and recognizing that smart investments in early learning yield positive returns for families and communities across Washington State. In these tough times, this farsighted policy puts early childhood education on a stronger footing for future growth. It’s a great day for children in Washington.”
Chris Korsmo, Executive Director, League of Education Voters
“We’re one step closer to making history for one million public school kids in our state. These reforms take advantage of the latest evidence-based research to improve academic achievement for children. Early learning, stronger graduation requirements and a longer school day will better prepare our kids for school and for life.
Including early learning in basic education will mean more children will start school ready to succeed and prevent the achievement gap from occurring. This is the best investment we can make to improve outcomes for children.”
Shannon Campion, Executive Director, Washington Stand for Children
“This is an historic vote for Washington’s children. Legislators today demonstrated that even during an economic crisis, we can stay focused on, and make marked progress toward, our vision of a world-class education system for all Washington’s children.”
Jennifer Boutell, Parent, Tacoma Public Schools
“Tacoma desperately needs these reforms. My hope is that by the time my girls reach high school, the public school system will be able to prepare them for the 21st century economy.”
Terry Byington, Executive Director, TechAmerica
“In future years we’ll look back on this watershed moment and be thankful the Legislature took this stand to support students.”
Laura Bay, President, Washington State PTA
“Today is a great day for the children of Washington. The Senate’s passage of HB 2261 is an important next step to set the State of Washington on the road toward fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide ample funding for the education of all children. We are on our way to fulfilling the goal of providing the education system we need to educate our children for success in today’s world. Many legislators along with a strong coalition of education advocates, including volunteer PTA members from across the state have worked tirelessly in support of this effort. We applaud the efforts and the courage of those who crafted this legislation and those who have voted for it.
Having said that, we must all recognize that the fight is not yet won, because the bill now goes back to the House of Representatives for concurrence, and then to the Governor for her approval. We encourage both the House and the Governor to take swift action because our kids can’t wait.”
This informational sheet was compiled by Ramona Hattendorf of the Seattle Council PTSA. It is intended as an overview only. Detailed information on HB 2261 and other education funding bills can be found on the Washington State Legislature’s web site at www.leg.wa.gov.
Why 2261? The financial reason
School districts are going bankrupt. They were racing toward collapse last year BEFORE the economy took a dive.
Why the crisis?
Partly because state funding for schools wasn’t keeping up with inflation and things like fuel and energy costs. Mainly, though, it didn’t align with what kids need and wasn’t covering enough instructional hours. About 80 percent of school funding pays for staff.
• Example 1: Districts are paying for 22 percent more teachers than the state funds
• Example 2: Textbooks are funded on an 18-year cycle
• Example 3: In 2006-07, districts spent $500 million more on overhead costs than the state allotted for. That figure doesn’t include transportation. For utilities alone, districts spent $259 million. The state only paid $118 million.
• Example 4: The state only pays for five periods. Kids need six to get the credits they need for college.
Districts have been using their local levy dollars to pay for what the community would regard as basic expenses. Those levy dollars are legally intended for enhancement only and are capped. In other words: Districts can’t ask local tax payers to just pick up the bill, and they are limited financially in how they can address things like remediation, tutoring, enrichment and training. Levies are also unstable; if they fail, essential school funding is lost.
Districts are also limited in how much they can pay teachers. The state sets the salaries, and there is no adjustment for regional cost of living. Districts have a little leeway to supplement pay, but that money comes from the “enhancement dollars.” Paying teachers a decent salary competes with programs to get and keep students on track.
By law, the state (as opposed to local government) has to fund “basic education” for K-12 and needs to ensure “equitable” schools. The constitution also says it is the state’s “paramount duty” to make “ample provision for the education of all children residing in its borders.”
Why 2261? The student success reason
Statewide, we have a 30 percent drop out rate. This is actually par for the course nationally. In Seattle, the drop out rate is 37 percent. In Yakima, it’s 36 percent. In Spokane, it’s 42 percent.
Of the 63 percent in Seattle that do graduate on time:
• Only 17 percent (1 out 6) can meet the requirements for a four-year college.
• The rest either don’t have enough credits or haven’t taken the right courses.
Statewide, only 19 percent of ninth-graders will go on to earn a post-secondary degree.
In our increasingly competitive economy, we are graduating a majority of kids without the math, science and language skills they need to get good-paying jobs or pursue higher education or advanced training.
What would 2261 do?
• Redefine “basic education” as “the opportunity for students to graduate with a meaningful high school diploma.”
• Create a “prototypical school” funding model. In other words, identify everything an average school needs – including librarians, books, nurses, counselors, overhead costs, etc. – and use that to determine how much money the state sends to districts.
o How the money is actually spent would be up to the districts so they can best address local need.
The House version of 2261 includes:
• Preschool for high-risk kids, so they start school ready to learn
• Continued roll out of all-day kindergarten
• Reduced class sizes K-3rd grade to make sure kids are prepared for more rigorous courses later
• Enhanced allocations for low income, bilingual kids
• Allocation for highly capable
• Core 24 – This aligns high school requirements with college and employer requirements. It’s a basic college-prep curriculum that gives students some flexibility to tailor to their needs
• Six periods in middle and high school
• Establishes a board to adopt standards for effective teaching and assessment for professional certification, and to define a “master” level educator
• Directs State Board of Education to continue work on school and district accountability
• Dedicates 50% of revenue growth over 5% to fund basic education. Implementation of the expanded definition of basic education would be phased in 2011 – 2016.
Who supports 2261?
2261 follows an earlier bill, 1410. HB 1410 would have fully implemented the Basic Education Finance Task Force proposal. It died, and 2261 was introduced as a scaled-back compromise that addressed concerns of educators.
• The Washington PTA and Seattle Council PTSA endorsed the task force proposal and have testified in support of 2261
• So has a group of 35 superintendents representing Puget Sound districts, including Seattle
• Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, and State Board of Education President Mary Jean Ryan
• The Seattle School Board endorsed 1410, as did school boards and PTAs from across Washington
• The League of Education Voters also supports
Who opposes 2261?
The Washington Education Association (teachers union).
In testimony, WEA said the bill is a distraction and could lead to more unfunded mandates. Individuals have testified about changes to the salary structure. There is debate about linking a “master” teaching level to National Board Certification; currently teachers are paid more for advanced degrees.
There was an earlier bill backed by the Full Funding Coalition, a group of educators that included superintendents, administrators and the WEA. That bill died. Educators have testified in favor of 2261 but have reiterated the need to specify and commit funding.
Status as of April 15:
2261 was passed by the House 71-26. The Senate changed the bill. The PTA supports the original House version.
Washington State PTA stance:
Washington schools need ESHB 2261 passed this session.
• Proposed budget cuts will drive many more districts to the brink of financial crisis. Schools will be forced
to lay off several thousand newly recruited teachers. Class sizes will rise. Every special program will be slashed or eliminated.
• As the state’s economy recovers, ESHB 2261 is the blue print we need to rebuild a stronger K-12 system.
An amendment proposed by Hatfield, Hobbs, and Holmquist and adopted on the floor of the Senate turned the collective bargaining for child care center bill into a study. The amendment reads:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. (1) The department of early learning must
study issues relating to increasing the child care subsidy and
reimbursement rates for child care centers licensed under chapter
43.125 RCW. The study must:
1329-S AMS HATF GORR 447 Official Print – 2
(a) Include a review of the results of the collective bargaining provided to family child care providers. This must include whether this has resulted in increased economic compensation, health and welfare benefits, professional development and training, and other economic matters to these providers;
(b) Be made in consultation with child care center directors and workers as well as other interested stakeholders. Directors and workers must be consulted in several areas of the state, including centers located in eastern Washington and western Washington;
(c) Review alternative methods of raising the child care subsidy rate;
(d) Review alternative methods to provide training to child care center directors and workers;
(e) Review methods to retain child care center workers and otherwise reduce employee turnover; and
(f) Include other items the department determines necessary to study in order to increase educational opportunities for children in child care centers.
(2) The study required under this subsection must be completed by August 1, 2010, and delivered to the joint legislative task force on child care center subsidy and reimbursement rates established in section 3 of this act.
(3) This section expires December 31, 2010.
Another amendment proposed by Rockefeller and passed by a vote of 37 yea to 11 nay would allow center directors and workers to opt in and out of the bargaining agreement. Those centers that opt out would NOT receive the subsidy increase.
SHB 1329 passed in the Senate by 46 yea to 2 nay.
|Yeas: 46 Nays: 2 Absent: 0 Excused: 1|
The House passed a vastly different bill – without the study and loss of parity. House and Senate leadership will now conference on the final bill that will be sent to the Governor.
Our statewide field director and resident of Sammamish, Kelly Munn, got an op-ed published in her local newspaper.
The op-ed, Defining basic education, is about the potential impacts to children and schools from the proposed budget cuts. And, the need to redefine basic education to include what every child needs to succeed in college, job training, work and life.
Kelly is also quoted in the paper’s top story about schools bracing for layoffs. Here’s an excerpt:
Teacher layoffs would lower the quality of education provided by local schools, according to League of Education Voters State Field Director, and Sammamish parent, Kelly Munn.
“If we had redefined what constitutes ‘basic education’ two years ago, we wouldn’t be in this position,” she said. “We would have protected core education services, and put it in the statute to guarantee certain levels of funding.”
Munn said that they were expecting between 60 and 80 teachers would lose their jobs in Issaquah, with that number dependent on the amount of federal stimulus money that will be made available to offset the cuts.
Yes, smaller class sizes, high-quality teachers and adequate funding are vital in our schools.
Yet I believe we often fail to acknowledge the power that student leaders have to improve and enhance the daily experiences of all kids in Washington’s public schools. Student leadership can make or break the climate of our schools. Youth attitudes and actions influence whether their peers choose to wake up to go to school the next morning and the level of safety students feel as they walk around campus.
Beyond the classroom walls and outside of Olympia, students can play a crucial role in the success of our schools. For more than 50 years, the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP) has been supporting and promoting student leadership through workshops, camps and conferences that serve more than 10,000 students, advisers and coaches each year.
It’s hard to articulate how powerful it is to be surrounded by 250+ high school student leaders from Forks to Central Valley, out in the wilderness of Randle, Washington, in a world free of cell phones and Facebook, tackling topics from parliamentary procedure to servant leadership. My camp experience (three years as a high school delegate and seven years as a counselor for middle level and high school camps) has been the greatest influence in my commitment to public education and service-learning.
When we look beyond today, we must remind ourselves that these students are the ones who will be the advocates, activists, parents, business leaders, teachers and legislators leading movements as a result of today’s unfinished business. In fact, we all know many students who are already initiating positive change in their schools and communities. Therefore, it is essential that we connect our youth with every opportunity possible to be surrounded by new people, new ideas and new thoughts; to ask tough questions and be uncomfortable; to take risks and to take on a leadership role whenever possible.
Please talk to your children, youth whom you know and students in your schools. Let them know of these opportunities, and encourage them to get involved. Please click on the links for more info, or get in touch with me via email or by posting a comment. This will be my eighth year with Mt. Rainier, one of the five AWSP high school leadership camps, and I look forward to working with new students from your communities and schools.
*Like most other exciting opportunities, this one is not cheap. Prices per delegate range from $275-285, depending on whether or not the school is an official member of the Washington Association of Student Councils. Some schools are able to afford to send their students to camp while others do not have the resources. Don’t miss out on the scholarship opportunities available to help students pay for camp. The scholarship deadline is March 17th.
High School Leadership Camp (Cispus and Chewelah Peak)
Middle Level Leadership Camp (Cispus and Chewelah Peak)
La Cima Bilingual Leadership Camp (Chewelah Peak)
Deaf Teen Leadership Camp (Cispus)
CheerLeadership Camp (Central Washington University)