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:
- Expand the school day so high school students can take more math, science and world language courses to graduate with 24 credits;
- Redefine basic education to include all-day kindergarten, highly capable education, transportation and other academic programs and support services students need to succeed in school;
- Make school funding more transparent for school leaders, lawmakers and parents through the use of a “prototypical schools” model; and
- Direct the State Board of Education to create an accountability system and intervention measures targeted at challenged schools and districts.
“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.”