Monday, March 2, 2015

Social and Emotional Learning and Breakfast after the Bell Legislation Moves to Floor Action.

This has been a wild week for the Washington PTA. The Senate versions of Breakfast after the Bell SB 5437 and Social and Emotional Learning SB 5688, have passed out to Senate Rules before the cut-off. Our legislative champi on in the Senate, Senator Steve Litzow, sponsored both bills and his efforts on behalf of Washington's kids have been successful thus far.  

Over in the House, Representative Zack Hudgins version of Breakfast after the Bell, HB 1295, has also been moved out of committee and into House Rules.  Sadly, Representative Senn's version of Social and Emotional Learning, HB 1760, was not moved forward in committee.

The next big challenge will occur this coming week when all bills must be voted off the Senate floor and over for hearings in the State House of Representatives.  This is a difficult session for new initiatives, even ones that are proven effective.  If you get the chance, e-mail,, and to thank them for their efforts!  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Major News: Transportation Bill now tied to McCleary outcome according to House Leadership.

Citing "Kids before Concrete" a News Tribune article released this week featured House Majority Leader Patrick Sullivan announcing that any vote on a Transportation Package will not take place until the McCleary issue has been addressed.  According to this News Tribune article, Sullivan cited the need to fund the basic McCleary issues as well as address the more complicated task of how local levies are currently funding basic education functions such as teacher salaries.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What you start with isn't always what you finish with - major changes improve House Bill 1154

Many education allies had concerns with House Bill 1154 which we reviewed our last edition.  This bill would have created a "Pay it forward" scholarship program, but the funding came at the expense of eliminating the State Need Grants and the College Bound Scholarship Program.  Representative Bergquist heard the concerns, gutted his own bill, and developed a pilot program which is geared towards helping students who fulfill the requirements of the College Bound Program but whose scholarship is eliminated due to their family's financial situation improving during the course of the program.  

Currently, if a child participates in the College Bound program, but their family's finances surpass the maximum allowed, the child does not receive a scholarship.  This new bill creates a pilot program that addresses this inconsistency.  The scope of the new bill which has passed out of committee is here.  Although this bill does not go very far in addressing the mounting concerns of the costs of higher education for middle class families, it does address a real problem in our current scholarship programs.  He should be commended for listening to the concerns of education stakeholders and taking the bold move in addressing this problem. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How WA's taxes got this bad - New revenue falls short

We've heard a lot lately about Washington State's outdated and unfair tax system. Even USA Today reports that WA's poorest residents pay nearly 17% of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest few pay just 2%. Our tax system hasn't always been this lopsided - have you ever wondered how it got this bad? Rep. Reuven Carlyle made this video to help explain the problem step by step.

Outdated and Unfair — talking taxes in Washington

Additional Revenue Falls Short The WA Economic and Revenue Forecast Council just updated their numbers and while revenue projections are slightly up, our tax system (ahem, see above) still falls "woefully short of what is needed to meet the state's funding obligations in the next two years" according to experts at the WA State Budget & Policy Center.

Source: Washington United for Fair Revenue
Copyright © 2015 Washington United for Fair Revenue, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

House of Representatives to Vote on ESEA Re-authorization This Week

The House of Representatives will vote this week on The Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB). The time is now for Congress to hear your voice, Take Action!
Congress needs to hear that PTA supports:
  • Safeguarding all family engagement provisions, modeled—in part—from the Family Engagement in Education Act.
  • Adequate authorization levels to support critically important programs.
  • The exclusion of any provision that would create or lead to a private school voucher, including Title I portability funding.  
  • Providing access to well-rounded education curricula for all students.
  • Safeguarding and improving equity protections and dedicated funding streams for disadvantaged populations.
  • Developing ambitious, yet appropriate, state-driven accountability systems with growth and performance goals to replace Adequate Yearly Progress.
  • Guaranteeing that all students receive quality instruction from well-prepared teachers and pupil support personnel.
  • Improving state longitudinal data systems and sharing of student data. 
Please take a moment to Take Action, contact your Representative today and voice your concerns!

Breakfast after the Bell survives policy cut-off - Social and Emotional Learning advances

Washington State PTA's "Top 5" priorities this session have cleared their respective legislative cut-off hurdles.  

Breakfast after the Bell has been scheduled for a hearing today in the House Appropriations Committee at 3:30PM and the Senate version has been referred to Ways and Means. Both bills have changed a bit since their introduction last month. You can review the changes to the House version here and Senate version here.  The Social and Emotional Learning bills have also advanced in their respective committees with some amendments included in both the House and Senate versions. You can review the changes to the House version here and Senate version here. The House and Senate Bills now move onto House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committees respectively.

Friday, February 20, 2015

House and Senate Higher Ed Committees focus on curbing costs and access.

Your Washington State PTA passed a platform which includes increased access to higher education for all Washington's children.  Led by veteran PTA member, Heidi Bennett, our legislative team has been following, supporting, and opposing several bills that have been heard in both committees.  One of these key bills is House Bill 1982 which is designed to help low performing / high-risk students achieve academic success through the use of partnerships with our higher education institutions and not-for-profit agencies.  Another is House Bill 1500 which studies cost drivers in Higher Education. Finally, our team opposed House Bill 1154 which would have developed a pay it forward program by using existing funds from our State Need Grants and College Bound Scholarship Program.  Although the WSPTA has gone on record supporting a Pay It Forward Program, we cannot support cannibalizing our existing grant and scholarship funds to do so.  If you would like to learn more about other bills your Higher Education Access team is working on, click here and sign up to be on the Top 5 list for "Increasing Access to Higher Education."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

TIP: How to Testify in Committee

Click Legislative Meeting Schedules and Calendars for individual committee agendas and daily and weekly meeting schedules.
"Open" Legislature
Washington State has one of the most open legislatures in the country. A bill has a public hearing before Senate and House committees before being considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Your opportunity to testify comes at the committee hearings. If you cannot appear before a committee, contact your legislator making your position on a bill known. You can do so by writing a letter, sending an e-mail, calling the legislator's Olympia office, or by calling the Legislative Hotline at 800.562.6000.
Senate Committees usually meet in hearing rooms in the John A. Cherberg Building and House Committees usually meet in the John L. O'Brien Building. Both buildings are adjacent to the Legislative Building in Olympia.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Join National PTA in supporting Family Engagement as an intergral part of updating No Child Left Behind.

Congressional members led by Senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander are pushing to reauthorize and update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act known in its current form as No Child Left Behind.  National and State PTA are urging our members to contact their representatives in congress and remind them of our commitment to include the funding for family engagement programs in the final bill.  Please click here to send this important message to our federal leaders.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hearing Monday afternoon on lowering school bond requirements to 50% - with a catch...

At 1:30 today, the House Education Committee will hear House Bill 1941 and House Joint Resolution 4210 which would reduce the approval requirements for school bonds from 60% to 50%, but only if voted on during November general elections.  The Washington State PTA supports lowering this requirement but we, and many other stakeholders, have major concerns about only allowing this option during the November general elections.  As most PTA members know, general election campaigns on the local level are usually drowned out by state and national media.  In addition, the competition for volunteer resources will be fierce during this time.  We are asking the House Education Committee to consider other options to obtain enough support to pass this very important measure.   ;If you would like to comment on either bill, click these links:  HB 1941 and HJR 4210

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Focus Day Success

Over 500 attendees braved the threat of bad weather to join arms and support fully funding education and supporting the WSPTA’s Top 5 legislative agenda.  We were met with clear skies that allowed for a great rally on the capitol steps.  After the rally, PTA legislative leaders met with Governor Inslee and his staff to discuss our legislative priorities and urge him to continue his support for fully funding basic education without endangering critical social services.

Did you attend Focus Day? Let us know your story and what you thought of the program.  E-mail us at!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Breakfast after the Bell Gains Momentum

Another of our "Top 5" legislative priorities is the "Breakfast After The Bell" program.  Vancouver Council President, Heather Lindberg, leads the WSPTA issue team and is pictured here with her daughter before a recent public hearing on the bill.  The bill would fund grants for high needs elementary schools allowing them to participate in the Federal Breakfast program.  

Sponsored in the House by Rep. Zack Hugdins (HB 1295) and by Sen. Steve Litzow in the Senate (SB 5437), the bill has a broad base of support and cleared a critical hurdle this week when it passed the House Education Committee.  For more information on the program, click here.

The Bill has a long way to go before becoming law, and we need your help. Join us by signing up to be on the Breakfast issue team here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

National PTA to Testify Before Congress - Student Data Privacy

Tomorrow, February 12, 2015, National PTA Vice President of Advocacy, Shannon Sevier will testify before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education on behalf of National PTA. This is a Subcommittee of the House Education and the Workforce Committee

The hearing, titled “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy,” will focus on student data privacy, exploring the use of new technology in the classroom and examine the need to modernize FERPA.

As you know, National PTA has been actively involved in the ongoing debate about the best way forward on student data privacy. This hearing gives National PTA the opportunity to highlight the importance of this issue before Congress and showcase the steps we are taking to ensure all children’s data is secure.

Shannon’s testimony, along with others, will be live streamed at 8:00 AM (Pacific). For additional information about the hearing and to view her live testimony, please see the Committee website:

Student Privacy and Financial Literacy Bills Advance in House and Senate

WSPTA members testified in support of legislation advancing the cause of student privacy and financial literacy.  House Bill 1495 and Senate Bill 5419 will protect you and your children by restricting third party use of student information. Senate Bill 5202 and House Bill 1121 expands access to financial literacy tools in K-12 while Senate Bill 5349 addresses financial literacy at the collegiate level.  

If you would like to help us advance this legislation or have a personal story to share, reply to this e-mail or sign up on Engage here.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Social and Emotional Learning Bill heard in Senate Education

Our members strongly support creating positive school climates through social and emotional learning and were on hand to testify in support of Senate Bill 5688 to achieve this goal. The bill would establish a work group to develop guidelines and benchmarks to improve social and emotional behaviors in the classroom. WSPTA member Sarah Butcher has been tirelessly working on this legislation and has established SEL for WA to garner support.  This is a key component of our Top 5 Platform. To help us pass this critical legislation, sign up here.  The House version, HB 1760, will be heard at 8AM on February 12th at 8AM. Join us to support your legislative team! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

McCleary Looms Large

The McCleary Decision is the big ticket item of the legislative session.  With Governor Inslee’s budget proposal starting the conversation, the legislature is now working on their versions on how the state plans to fully fund basic education.  All eyes are now on Representative Ross Hunter who will introduce the House version of the operating budget at the end of the month.  The State Senate will follow shortly thereafter. 

Our McCleary and Capital Funding Issue teams are working together under the guidance of Eden Mack pictured above before a budget committee hearing. If you wish to be part of the McCleary discussion, join the issue team by clicking this link!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Governor Press Release - Inslee proposes boldest new efforts in improving full continuum of education in 2 decades

Gov. Jay Inslee declared tonight that education must be the top priority for the 2015 Legislature, saying it’s past time for the state to meet its moral and constitutional obligations to Washington students. The governor said his plan would strengthen the school system from preschool to higher education so Washington students can attain diplomas, degrees and job training.

The governor previewed his plan in an online town hall meeting with parents, educators and students in Bellevue, Moses Lake, Spokane and Tacoma. Inslee said he intends to aggressively pursue improvements at all levels of education, from a significant expansion in early learning and all-day kindergarten to a freeze on public college tuition and additional financial aid to help keep college affordable.

Friday, December 12, 2014

National PTA Pledges Support to White House Invest in US Initiative

New initiative brings together corporations, foundations and nonprofits to increase investments in, and expand access to, high-quality early childhood education

Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced the launch of Invest in US, a national campaign and challenge to business leaders, philanthropists, advocates and public officials to increase investments in high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The initiative builds on President Obama’s call in his 2014 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early education for all children.

“The education of our nation’s children must begin long before they enter school as research shows that providing effective, targeted supports and interventions to children and parents starting at birth will better prepare them for academic and career success,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “For decades, National PTA has called for the prioritization of early childhood education, and the association is pleased to support the Invest in US initiative to ensure that every child has access to high-quality early learning programs.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

National PTA Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 11, 2014) Today, a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was introduced in the Senate as a means to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.

Since the passage of the JJDPA, thousands of children and youth have been provided with family and community-based alternatives to incarceration and kept separate from adults in detention. While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes left in the JJDPA as well as amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses such as skipping school. Additionally, research shows that minority youth are overrepresented in the system.