Legislative Update
January 2017
Week 3 - Legislative Session Updates
By NBCT Marianne Hunter

With the cutoff for bills to pass out of committee just three weeks away, the education and fiscal committees are moving bills through in a big hurry. Public hearings and executive action sessions are jam packed, and those giving testimony are strongly encouraged to mind the timer. No pressure there!

On Monday, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University education professor and president of the Learning Policy Institute, gave a remote presentation to a House Education committee work session on the topic of the national teacher shortage. Although she couldn't appear in person, she painted a fascinating (and grim) picture of the " coming crisis" in teaching. She detailed where Washington stands and described how Connecticut and North Carolina have successfully addressed their shortages by focusing on teacher preparation programs, compensation, and new-teacher support, among other measures.
Given our state's struggles to fill available teaching positions, it's no surprise that many bills being introduced this session aim to address the problem.
Bills introduced this week:
  • HB 1572, a companion to SB 5202, would authorize the use of SAT or ACT tests for high school assessment purposes.
  • HB 1601, and its companion SB 5459, would expand the Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST) program and add a component for first-year principals.
  • HB 1643, would create a program to pay off outstanding federal loans of teachers who have taught full time for five consecutive years in specific subject matter shortage areas in high-needs schools.
  • HB 1644, would provide training to develop the capabilities of staff who are responsible for recruiting, hiring, and "onboarding" new teachers.
  • HB 1645, would address the educator shortage and diversify the workforce by supporting future educators from local communities.
  • HB 1706, would require students to pass a civics test as a prerequisite to graduation.
  • SB 5487, and its companion HB 1685, would allow retired teachers to be hired as mentors.
Bills making progress this week:
  • HB 1046 which would "de-couple" certificates of academic and individual achievement from graduation requirements, passed out of the House education committee on a vote of 17 yeas to 2 nays.
  • On Monday, HB 1059, which would delay the levy lid for one year, became the first bill of the session to get a floor vote. It passed on a vote of 62 yeas to 35 nays. On Wednesday, it was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Ways & Means committee.
  • HB 1115, which would establish employment standards and provide professional development and certification opportunities for paraeducators, got a public hearing in the House education committee on Thursday. Among those testifying in favor were representatives from the Public School Employees of Washington and WEA, as well as paraeducators and parents of special needs students.
  • HB 1174, a companion to SB 5216, which would require OSPI to develop a program of instruction for firearms safety, hunter education and Bill of Rights study to be offered to HS students, got a public hearing in the House Education committee on Thursday. Among those testifying in favor of the bill were representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Rifle Association. Offering testimony against the bill were representatives from OSPI and the Alliance for Gun Safety.
  • HB 1319, which would require certain classroom teachers to receive an annual comprehensive evaluation every six years or every eight years, gets a public hearing in the House education committee on Monday.
  • SB 5238, which would require that cursive writing be taught in schools, gets a public hearing in the Senate EL&K12 committee on Monday.
Remember Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction measure passed in 2014? And remember how lawmakers set most of that initiative aside so they could focus on the bigger picture of school funding? According to a recent article in the News Tribune, some legislators are ready to re-visit the initiative this year. Others want to toss the whole thing out. Of course, it's all tangled up in the McCleary conundrum, so it will be interesting to see if anything comes of that talk.

Odds and Ends:
Here's another great Seattle Times' Ed Lab article on how much money we spend on testing students.  

Finally, in case you missed it, there's been quite a dust up over what's become known as #NotYoBidnessGate. It all started last week with a reporter asking Senate Majority Leader, Mark Schoesler, when the Republicans would be releasing their school funding recommendations. His reply? "That's none of your business." You can probably imagine how that went over with the press corps. This Seattle Times editorial is just one of many responses.

Have a great weekend!

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Note about 
l egislative updates: 

CSTP relays these legislative updates to provide information on bills, budgets and legislative processes. CSTP doesn't have a legislative agenda, but does track legislative issues most relevant to teaching.