Legislative Tornado – Update from Lobbyist, Jim Kainber

February 8, 2010 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

This week the whirlwind of education reform legislation became a tornado!

Race to the Top Legislation (RTTT)

SB 6696 – the Governor’s proposal that would align the State of Washington with the expectations of the Federal Race to the Top Grant, as well as evolving expectations to seek Title One education funds, and No Child Left Behind funds.  Received a majority of the Senate K-12 committee votes.

Last week’s apparent inertia by committee leadership held firm, as two amendments sponsored by ranking Republican on the committee, Curtis King, requiring student academic growth to be a significant factor in evaluations and creating a statewide standard for measuring student academic growth were defeated on voice votes.  Senators Gordon and Oemig spoke out against these amendments. We believe only Senators Tom, Hobbs, King and Brandland voted for the amendments. It sounded like Senators Kaufman, Gordon, Oemig, McDermott, McAuliffe voted against them.

The lack of any attention to proposals by reform advocates leaves us in a position of having been largely sidelined on discussions surrounding legislation that addresses issues we have been raising for two-plus years, and we are ramping up our efforts to meet with legislators to make sure that our viewpoint is heard when compromises are made on this legislation.

In the House an amendment to one of the three RTTT bills, drafted by Skip Priest, was adopted that would provide for more rigorous state standards for teacher evaluation, including multiple measures of student growth.  It was a step in the right direction, and we will be working with Priest, and some of his colleagues in the majority to shore it up even more before final passage.

Emerging Strategy on Re-aggregating RTTT and QEC Legislation

Three members of the majority, Rep. Sullivan, Rep. Hunt, and Rep. Liias, opposed all three measures on the grounds that they believed the Senate should propose a robust proposal on Race to the Top, given the significant lift the House has done on QEC measures (below.)  This rough road surely needs to be smoothed out over the next several weeks between leaders in both chambers if we have real hope of passing both RTTT and the QEC recommendations.  A lot of work needs to be done, and we must make it clear to leadership and committee leadership that it is goal to pass bills on these important subjects – but only if they make real substantive programmatic improvements in education, and are not window dressing.   We are meeting with Senator King and our Senate Democratic allies to recruit a sponsor to bring for our priority amendment to the Senate floor for a vote by the February 16th cutoff date. If Senator King will bring forth our amendment and ensure most or all of the 18 Republicans in the Senate vote for it then we need to line up at least 7 of the 31 Senate Democrats to vote for it.

Washington Court Says that Education Funding is Inadequate

Referring to the QEC bill in the House as some progress, and now there is talk about not only adopting the model school framework this session, but including the values that were discussed by the QEC – that would be really exciting progress, and would clearly force the issue of finding funds to fill the holes….rather than reinventing the wheel on this issue, please have a look at this Seattle Times article, or Google the issue for more info, but needless to say, the timing and message from the judge could not possibly be better for us!!!!


HB 2261 and Quality Education Council Progress

HB 2776 moved out of the Education committee in the House easily, and is being considered in Ways and Means.  Unfortunately, the Senate vehicle for the QEC recommendations is weaker, though we have requested further clarification from committee staff on exactly what a side by side of the two measures would look like.  We are advocating that HB 2776 move forward and will likely lobby the Senate to adopt this version. Two priority changes to this bill for us are:

1)      Moving up the compensation workgroup timeline. Rep. Priest passed an amendment to not start the compensation workgroup until 2011 because OSPI doesn’t have the capacity to do this work and the local levy work group concurrently.

2)      Require 50% of new revenue to go to basic education.

Math and Science Graduation Requirements

SB 6554, which would push back implementation of the math and science graduation requirements passed out of the Senate K-12 committee.  Stand for Children testified against the measure.  Voting for it were: McAuliffe, Kauffman, Oemig, King, Brandland, Gordon, Hobbs, McDermott, Roach.

The companion bill 2915 passed out of House Education earlier in the week with the closest committee vote so far: 7-6. Two Democrats, Marko Liias and Marcie Maxwell joined with all of the Republicans on the committee voting “no”, but the measure still passed.

Next steps for both bills:  hearing by Ways and Means Committees to determine financial impact.


Entry filed under: News Updates.

The Inside Scoop – From Lobbyist Jim Kainber This week in Olympia ~ from lobbyis, Jim Kainber

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