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:
Kati Haycock Town Hall – May 18, 2009
One comment on “Photos!”
There are three questions we should be asking about this legislation.
First, why did the Democratic leadership of the legislature prevent the House Education Committee from being part of the legislative process on this bill? The Democrats have a majority in both chambers and, therefore, get to pick committee chairpersons and establish the agendas for committee meetings and hearings. That means the Democrats decide what bills will be heard, when they will be heard and in what committees they will be heard. In the process of passing this basic education funding reform bill, those Democrats who hold leadership positions systematically prevented this bill from being assigned to the House Education Committee. They preferred to assign it to the Education Appropriations Committee, which listens to the funding aspects, but not the policy aspects, of legislation concerning education. (More about that later.) But, since this was a very complex and controversial bill, why was the House committee charged with developing and reviewing education policy frozen out of the process? It’s a fair question and it deserves an answer.
Second, why did the Democratic leadership of the legislature choose an omnibus bill format to address so many complex and controversial topics in one bill? This choice forced legislators to support or oppose the legislation without being able to address in detail the issues in the bill that impressed or distressed them. Why not generate a set of bills, each with its own segment of the recommendations, and allow the process to focus on individual components and their strengths or weaknesses? This “take it or leave it” attitude forced many legislators to support a bill which contained components they didn’t like.
Third, why did the legislature rush to pass legislation it couldn’t fund? This is why the choice of the House Education Appropriations Committee, in lieu of the House Education Committee, is such a strange choice. There isn’t a penny of appropriations anywhere in the bill. It creates huge obligations for the state, without offering a cent of support for their administration and completion. If we can’t fund it, and it’s pretty clear we can’t, why did it have to be passed now?
It seems to me that, whether you support or oppose this bill or any of its components, these are legitimate questions, for which you should be getting answers.