This Week in the Legislature: Report from Jim Kainber

February 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

This week saw a new twist in the long fight to enact education funding reform. Partly due to the public pressure on elected officials and leadership in the House, Senate and of the Governor, the Chair of the Senate K-12 committee, Rosemary McAuliffe, called a meeting of the state’s education stakeholders, and for the first time in memory, it included reform groups including the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children. Other groups who attended were Washington Education Association, Partnership for Learning, PTA, School Principals Assoc., School Administrators Assoc and School Directors Assoc.

Representatives for Superintendent Randy Dorn gave very compelling arguments for reforms also. Senators that were in attendance were: Oemig, McAuliffe, Kauffman, Jarrett, McDermott, and Representative Maxwell was there as well.

In short, the group decided to try a new bill, which will be SB 6048 and companion HB 2261. The legislation will begin with titles only, and there will be aggressive negotiations with all parties involved to craft a compromise bill that will move us in the direction of reforms, with a broader base of support from stakeholders.

There will be no hearings on these bills in the short term where we will need support from our members as we did in previous hearings…but that time will come.

Over the next week or two the bill will be “heard” in committee, and will likely move out the same day, with little or no public input. Then the bills will go to the floor, be passed from one chamber to the other (this must happen because of rules requiring bills to move out of their house of origin before we have time to work through the bill’s issues) and a real process of discussion, input, testimony, amendments and committee/legislative action will begin when the bills are referred to the committees in the opposite chamber. In short, the SB 6048 will be worked in the House, and vice versa.

While we are enthusiastic about the prospect of a bill moving this session, as Senator McAuliffe has said there will be, we are relying upon you to continue to press legislators to keep the issue moving forward, and to keep legislative leadership and the Governor focused on how to get it passed.

Stand for Children is also tracking HB 2000, sponsored by Representative Skip Priest of Federal way, would requires the Washington professional educator standards board to serve as the lead agency in a coordinated approach with school districts, institutions of higher education, the office of the superintendent of public instruction, local and national nonprofit organizations, and the business community to create an adequate supply of well-qualified mathematics and science teachers for Washington’s public schools.

Other Representatives sponsoring were: Wallace, Anderson and Sullivan. This would be a great first step in closing the math/science teacher gap.

This week the bill moved out of the House Education Appropriations committee. House leadership will now decide if it will be heard by the Ways and Means (money) committee or if it will go to the full house for a vote.

Stand is also backing Senate Substitute Senate Bill 5941, sponsored by Senator Oemig would establish comprehensive education data improvement systems for financial, student, and educator data to monitor student progress, assure educator quality, monitor and analyze the costs of programs, provide for financial integrity and accountability, and have the capability to link across these various data components by student, by class, by teacher, by school, by district, and statewide.

It is our hope that the major components of this legislation will be included in SB 6048, which Senator Oemig is also drafting, but we continue to support passage of 5941 until we are assured that 6048 will pass. The bill has been referred to Ways and Means committee after passing the Senate education committee.

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Entry filed under: News Updates.

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