Legislative Update
February 2017
Week 5 - Legislative Session Updates
By NBCT Marianne Hunter

This week's theme is hearings, hearings, hearings! Both the education committees as well as Appropriations and Ways & Means held hearings on a plethora of education bills, including the biggies - SSB 5607 and HB 1834.

Before we get to that, you may be interested in Wednesday's Seattle Times Op-Ed pieces on approaches to education reform. One, by former Senator Slade Gorton and former Governor Dan Evans, argues that per-pupil funding is the most equitable choice. The other, by Whitney Meissner, principal of Chimacum HS, argues that the legislature should address policy first, then school funding.

OK, back to the bills. The good news is that the flood of education bill intros has slowed to a drip. That makes keeping track of existing bills' progress a little easier.
On Monday, HB 1509, which would eliminate the twenty-four credit graduation requirement and establish a twenty-one credit requirement, got a hearing (beginning at 57:45) in the House Education committee. Pro testimony was offered by representatives from Career and Technical Education. Testifying against the bill were representatives from the State Board of Education, the Association of Washington School Principals and Stand for Children.

Also on Monday, HB 1843, which would replace the state salary allocation model with minimum statewide average salaries, increase prototypical school allocations for parent involvement coordinators and guidance counselors and increase vocational education funding, among other measures, got a hearing (beginning at 30:50 and again at 44:53) in the House Appropriations committee. At the same time, SSB 5607, the Education Equality Act that narrowly passed in the Senate last week, was considered (beginning at 39:10). 

Since both bills are lengthy and complex, House Appropriations committee staff provided a helpful side-by-side comparison (see first document under "other"). Virtually every stakeholder group, from OSPI and WEA to the Fire Districts, and lots of parents in between, was represented during testimony on both bills.

On Tuesday, the House Education committee held a public hearing for several relevant bills:
  • HB 1341 would require the PESB to adopt new rules for professional certification for administrators and teachers and base the professional teacher certificate on 75 professional development credits rather than a certification assessment (beginning at 1:00:30). Testifying in favor of this bill were superintendents, a representative of WEA, and a representative of the School Directors' Association. Testifying against the bill were representatives from the Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the PESB.
  • HB 1601 would expand the Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST) program to beginning principals and add requirements to the program, including professional development for participants and mentors (beginning at 42:30). All testimony for this bill was favorable.
  • HB 1654 would provide the PESB with expected outcomes for Alternative Route programs and rulemaking authority for program design (beginning at 31:50). Testifying in favor of this bill were representatives from the PESB, OSPI and the Richland School District.  
  • HB 1827 would expand the workforce supply by improving recruitment and retention, especially in high-need areas, and establish a continuum of professional learning, among other measures (beginning at the beginning!). Testifying in favor of this bill were several superintendents and representatives from the PESB and the School Directors' Association. Also testifying were representatives from the CWU, EWU, WWU and TESC teacher preparation programs who were in favor of the bill but expressed concern about a section that would waive certain certification standards.
  • HB 1732, which would protect the confidentiality of PGPs, and HB 1734, which would require payments to districts for substitutes needed when employees are serving on PESB-initiated committees, were also presented at the hearing.
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate EL&K12 Education committee held public hearings on:
  • SB 5283, which would eliminate limits on non-school service in calculating years of service for ESAs (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists).
  • SB 5459, the companion bill to HB 1601, which would expand the Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST) program to beginning principals and add requirements to the program, including professional development for participants and mentors.
  • SB 5487, which would allow retired teachers to be employed as mentors to teachers or advisers to students in teacher preparation programs.
Odds and Ends
A couple of interesting pieces on various aspects of the legislature's school-funding challenges:
  • A KNKX interview with Seattle Times writer, Neal Morton, on the role of TRI pay in the funding debate.
  • A Crosscut article that provides a clear analysis of the "high stakes chess match" of education spending.
And, so we don't forget what's happening in the other Washington, this blog post from The 74, looks at possible future impacts on ESSA: House Blocks Obama-Era ESSA Accountability, Teacher Prep Rules
Have a great weekend!

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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.