Thursday, February 4, 2016

Advocacy in Action

Kudos and applause to Endeavor Elementary School PTSA leaders Care Maree Harper, President, and Taya Montgomery, Advocacy Chair, who attended Focus Day in Olympia. The two advocates volunteered to testify against SSB 6195, which has been commonly called "a plan for a plan," in front of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. 

"The time to fully fund basic education in our state is right now, not next year, not two years from now," said Montgomery, speaking on the bill's intent to delay action on funding McCleary until 2018.  Harper shared that her PTSA has provided more than $70,000 in grants to the elementary school the past two years for items such as reading programs and technology - things that should be covered by state funding. 

Also addressing committee members was JC Mitchell of the Highline PTA Council. Mitchell reminded legislators about their paramount duty to fund education, and encouraged them to step up now and take action. 

To watch these first-time testifiers, here's the clip on TVW about 37 minutes into the video: http://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2016021077

In addition, Heidi Bennett, a veteran at testifying, supported HB2820 - the Washington Promise Grant - on behalf of the Washington State PTA. While supporting more affordable access to higher educational opportunities through policies like the Washington Promise, Bennett also reminded legislators to support full funding for K-12 basic education. "Neither should be funded at the expense of the other," said Bennett. 

Her testimony before the House Higher Education Committee is here, about 28.5 minutes into the segment. http://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2016021068

Thank you to all of our WSPTA advocates who attended Focus Day on February 3 and shared messages with their legislators at hearings and through individual meetings. 

Mark your calendars now for the 2017 Focus on Education Day, which will be held Monday, January 16, 2017 (Martin Luther King Jr., Day). 

Marie Sullivan
Legislative Consultant

Washington State PTA

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Change to SB 6195

Senate Republicans in the education committee voted out SB 6195 with significant changes. This is the bill that creates a framework for a final funding solution to McCleary. All four Senate Democrats voted against.

The changes include increasing the number of task force legislators who must agree with any recommendations that are to be forwarded to the 2017 legislature from 5 to 6.


Perhaps of more concern is the change which requires legislative action on local levies and levy assistance sometime in 2018. The original bill had action in 2017. The change includes  addressing the scheduled reductions in school district levy authority scheduled to roll back January 1, 2018. School districts have testified that the levy cliff must be addressed this session to avoid widespread school employee layoffs for the 2017-18 school year. 

Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Breakfast After the Bell Passed the House 69-28!

The state House of Representatives today passed HB 1295 by a 69-28 margin. The bill would create "breakfast after the bell" programs in high-needs schools across the state, and is one of the WSPTA's top 5 priorities this session.

Republican Camas Rep. Liz Pike offered an amendment to encourage school districts to give preference to breakfast foods that are healthy, fresh and Washington-grown. Her amendment was accepted, and is now incorporated into the bill.

HB 1295 would focus on schools where 70 percent of students are eligible for the federal free and reduced price meal programs. To help districts get started, the bill includes one-time start-up grants of $6,000. The estimated cost of the program is about $2.3 million.

The bill now moves to the state Senate and the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee for consideration. 

The Senate includes a similar program in part 2 of SB 6244. This bill  doesn't specifically call out "breakfast after the bell" but refers to "nutritional enhancements." It has yet to be voted out of the Senate committee, and doesn't go as far as the House version.


Marie Sullivan
Legislative Consultant

Washington State PTA

Friday, October 16, 2015

National PTA Assessments and Score Report Webinar + Free Raffle

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From National PTA:

Join National PTA Tues., Oct. 20 for a webinar for parents on assessments and score reports. During the session, we'll discuss tips, resources and hear from special guests:
  • Lucille Davy, senior advisor for the Hunt Institute, will review the key changes in standards, assessments and score reports.
  • Bill Jackson, CEO and founder of Great Schools, will review the new parent assessment guide offered on GreatKids.org that help parents understand what the assessment scores mean.
  • David Park, EVP of strategy & communications for Be A Learning Hero, will review the new parent resources offered on BeALearningHero.org that help parents understand their child's strengths and weaknesses.

We'll also raffle five $100 Amazon gift cards to the child's school of randomly selected attendees. Winners will be notified by Fri., Oct. 23 via email. Space is limited, so register today to reserve your spot!

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Friday, October 9, 2015

SBE Community Forum at ESD 112 in Vancouver

The State Board of Education will hold a board meeting November 4-5 in Vancouver. Public comment is scheduled during the board meeting, but the Board recognizes that those times may not be convenient for working community leaders, so we're holding an additional open forum to gather feedback from members of the community. 

Please join board members for an open discussion about important topics such as strategies for closing the achievement gap, standards, and assessment. The community forum will be November 3 at ESD 112

If you are unable to attend the public comment or community meeting, we are happy to respond to any written questions you may have about the board and its work. Currently, the Board is working on important issues impacting the achievement index, school accountability, graduation requirements, and student discipline.

Board members appreciate the opportunity the community forum provides for close conversations with members of the community and educators. We hope you'll be able to attend. Register here.
Contact 
Stefanie Randolph
Communications Manager
Washington State Board of Education
stephanie.randolph@k12.wa.us
(360) 725-6501


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nominate a Deserving Individual for the WSPTA Outstanding Advocate Award

Applications now are available to recognize the WSPTA's Outstanding Advocate to be awarded at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly October 24, 2015 in Olympia, Washington. The WSPTA Outstanding Advocate award recognizes and honors an individual for continued and dedicated service to ALL children, and a demonstrated commitment to helping create strong policies relating to the health, welfare, safety, and education of children and youth.
To apply: complete the award application and submit to the WSPTA office by October 5, 2015. http://ow.ly/SDvLb

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2015 Legislative Assembly Registration is Now Open

The 2015 Legislative Assembly is right around the corner. Registration for accommodations  and the one day event is now open.

2015 Legislative Assembly
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Red Lion Inn | Olympia | Registration

Hotel Reservations: Please book your hotel room by October 9, 2015 to take advantage of the Washington State PTA room block discount. 

Questions about Legislative Assembly? Please contact Brook Valentine, Washington State PTA Legislative Chair.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Washington State PTA Position Statement: Uninterrupted Operation of Public Schools

Does PTA have a position on work stoppages and strikes? Are there guidelines for local PTAs?  Yes and Yes!
WSPTA position:  Washington State PTA will not support work stoppages and/or strikes which interrupt or disrupt the educational day. National PTA also has a position statement on “Teacher Negotiations, Sanctions and Strikes” which provides guidance for local PTAs.

Please read below for additional information and texts of both position statements.

Our regions, councils and local PTAs in many areas of the state are being  impacted this week and possibly in the coming weeks by work stoppages, and/or strikes in many of our school districts. This can be a difficult and stressful time for all. Remain PTA mission focused to support what is best for all kids by providing resources from your community on activities and social services for children and families. Strive to create the safest path with the lowest impact on children. 

In order to ensure that guidance is provided to local PTAs and councils, the following applies: WSPTA has a resolution regarding Uninterrupted Operation of Public Schools and the National PTA position statement on Teacher Negotiations, Sanctions and Strikes. Both are listed below and may assist our regions, councils and local PTAs with information on how to respond to strikes.

The Washington State PTA Resolution as passed by its membership:
UNINTERRUPTED OPERATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS 18.6, Resolution passed 1986; revised 2006

Whereas, the Washington State PTA has a purpose “To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, spiritual education”, and

Whereas, Quality Education is a high priority issue for the Washington State PTA, and

Whereas, Washington State citizens have historically valued the reliable delivery of vital services and the orderly management of public institutions including fire and police services and public schools, and Whereas, the Washington State PTA also holds that a disruption to the educational system in the form of work stoppages and strikes is detrimental to the best interests of the children and families affected by those actions, and

Whereas, the Washington State PTA believes that a disruption to the educational system in the form of work stoppages and/or strikes is often detrimental to the best interest of the children and families affected by those actions. While acknowledging that more state resources must be committed to the educational process in the State of Washington, including higher salaries for educational employees. Therefore, be it

Resolved, that the Washington State PTA shall work to produce conditions with regard to the collective bargaining process which will consistently produce, in a timely manner, labor agreements negotiated and fully embraced by the direct parties thereto and which will not cause disruption to the school calendar; and be it further

Resolved, that the Washington State PTA will not support work stoppages and/or strikes which interrupt or disrupt the educational day.

That said, here are some guidelines from National PTA and WSPTA:
These are suggested measures for action organized appropriately during the strike, and after the strike. These guidelines, plus counsel from the state PTA and the basic good judgment of the people, should enable the council and the local PTAs to minimize the dilemmas and to contribute constructively to community understanding, teacher satisfactions, renewal of cordial parent-teacher dialogue, and improved educational climate for children.

From National PTA’s position statement on “Teacher Negotiations, Sanctions and Strikes”:

During the Strike
  • Urge immediate and continuous negotiations and if necessary mediation to get schools open as soon as possible. If negotiation is delayed, the PTA should seek to bring the school board representatives and teachers' organization representatives together.
  • PTA should not man the classrooms, except possibly for a day in the absence of advance notice of a strike. Not only is manning of classrooms inconsistent with PTA efforts to obtain a qualified teacher in every classroom, but personal liability may be incurred. If the school administration intends to keep the schools open during a teacher walkout, it should develop a corps of volunteers outside the PTA structure.
  • Suggest and urge appropriate action by parents, community agencies, and volunteer groups that will protect children during the period the school is closed.
  • Encourage the full and continuous participation of teacher members in PTA activities.
After the Strike
  • Plan activities that will restore harmony, promote teacher morale, and renew parent-teacher dialogue.
  • Through informed public opinion see that the negotiated agreements, which settled the strike, are faithfully implemented.
  • Work for community understanding and support of school needs.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

WSPTA BOARD PRESIDENT STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT DECISION

Tacoma, WA (August 13, 2015): Washington state’s highest court issued an order sanctioning the state for failing to develop a plan to fully fund K-12 education per the court’s 2012 McCleary decision. The governor and lawmakers will meet Monday to begin addressing the court’s recent decision.

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association (WSPTA) President Barbara Martin, issued this statement today concerning the Supreme Court’s ruling on McCleary:

“Fully Funding McCleary is the WSPTA’s number one legislative priority and we are extremely pleased with the Supreme Court decision to ensure that fully funding education and holding the legislature responsible to comply with the constitution, is in the best interest of Washington’s children and will provide them with the best education possible.”

About Washington State PTA: The Washington State PTA was founded in 1905 by Abby Williams Hill of Tacoma, an artist who saw the need for an organization to support Washington's children. Thanks to her leadership and vision—and over 132,000 current members who have carried her vision forward—Washington State PTA has been a leading voice for children in Washington for more than 110 years. To learn more about the Washington State PTA, please visit www.wastatepta.org.

1304 S. Fawcett Avenue, Suite 300, Tacoma, WA 98402 (253) 214-7410

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Friday, July 24, 2015

National PTA Lauds Senate Judiciary Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (July 24, 2015) Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The bill’s passage by the committee is an important first step to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974 and last reauthorized in 2002, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.

“While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, reauthorization of the law is long overdue and improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes in the JJDPA and 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,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee and the leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for passing the bipartisan Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015. We commend their commitment to improving the juvenile justice system for our nation’s youth.”

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015 would improve current law by:

  • Ensuring the continuity of children’s education while detained and a smooth transition back into the classroom after;
  • Providing guidance to states to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth in the juvenile justice system;
  • Making sure detained youth are kept separate from adults; and
  • Phasing out exemptions that allow youth detainment for minor offenses.
“National PTA has advocated for a fair, safe and rehabilitative justice system for children for more than one hundred years. The association continues to encourage and support policies and programs that work to prevent juvenile delinquency and provide youth in the system with services to help them become productive members of society,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “We remain committed to working with Congress to ensure a JJDPA reauthorization bill is signed into law that enhances protections for youth and helps every child reach his or her full potential.”


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Learn More and Get Your Questions Answered on Washington's K-12 Learning Standards and Assessments

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Ready Washington (ReadyWA) invite you to join a telephone town hall meeting about Washington’s K-12 learning standards and assessments. This is your opportunity to learn more and ask any questions you may have about learning standards and assessments in our state.

OSPI and ReadyWA will host a telephone town hall for the communities below on the following dates:

Wednesday, July 22 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Southwest Washington, Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap Peninsula and Tacoma

Thursday, July 23 | 7:00 pm - 8:00 p.m.
Central and Eastern Washington

Tuesday, July 28 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Northwest Washington

Thursday, July 30 | 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Puget Sound area

Tuesday, August 4 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
South Puget Sound

To participate and live-stream a telephone town hall on your computer or mobile device on the dates above, please visit the Tele-Town Hall on K-12 Education website.

To help ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards were established. Washington’s K-12 learning standards are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and provide clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English Language Arts from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Smarter Balanced assessment system, which is aligned to the new standards, provides a way for teachers to measure student progress on those standards throughout the year and make adjustments and interventions as necessary to ensure students are on the pathway to success. The assessments are administered in grades 3-8 and 11.

To learn more, visit the OSPI website and the Ready Washington website.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 Senate Passage

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) was passed by the Senate on a vote of 81-17. National PTA applauds the leadership of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for crafting the historic and bipartisan legislation. We believe that this bill is a solid foundation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB). The Senate bill will soon go to a Conference Committee with the House to work out the differences between its reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).
Throughout the consideration of the reauthorization of ESEA-NCLB, National PTA and PTA members across the nation strongly advocated for the inclusion of several provisions to improve family engagement in the bill. Thousands of PTA members and advocates called, emailed and tweeted at Senators voicing their support for amendments to improve family engagement in the bill. Because of this impressive grassroots advocacy by PTA members, the Senate adopted an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that will provide school districts and schools with the capacity to effectively engage families in their children’s education. The inclusion of this program in the Senate bill is a huge victory for children and families. The House bill (H.R. 5) also includes this program.
Furthermore, in large part to the efforts of local PTA members, the bill contains several other laudable family engagement provisions such as the inclusion of parents in the development of school district plans to support student achievement and promote family engagement strategies in early childhood learning programs. Additionally, through the leadership of Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jack Reed (D-RI), language was also included to encourage Title I school districts to invest additional resources in family engagement. In total, 178 amendments were introduced, with 65 accepted and 13 rejected. Several accepted amendments included the creation of a student data privacy commission to inform policymakers on updates to current laws governing this issue, addressing student access to digital learning resources at home, and the establishment of a full-service community schools grant program. Other amendments that were adopted include a proposal from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) allowing certain funds to be spent on mental health awareness programs and one by Sen. Bennet that would require states to limit the total time students spend on tests.
National PTA has long advocated against any proposal that would permit federal dollars to follow a student to another public school or for private school vouchers. The association was pleased that several amendments that attempted to do so were defeated.
Now that both houses of Congress have passed bills to reauthorize the ESEA-NCLB, they must come together to work out the differences between the two bills in conference committees. Once there is agreement, the bill will go back to each chamber of Congress for another vote. The final step is to send the bill to President Obama for his approval. We are excited that this long overdue reauthorization is closer to a reality. National PTA will continue to work to improve educational opportunities and experiences of all children across the United States.

Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator at National PTA.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Washington State PTA Supports HB 2214

PTA Members Take Action - Urge Senators to Support House Bill 2214

Wednesday afternoon, the House passed House Bill 2214, which will make needed reforms to academic testing in Washington State. Washington State PTA supports policies that increase academic rigor which results in career and college readiness. We are asking members to take action and send a message to the state senate, urging the passage of HB 2214 today!

This bill comes at a time where transitions are underway and each graduating class has different graduation requirements. This bill supports many tenants of the Washington State PTA public policy platform including providing a meaningful high school diploma that includes academic rigor leading to a career and college ready diploma. It makes available pathways to graduation that provide alternatives to meeting the assessment standards while continuing to increase students’ ability to acquire the knowledge to be successful in life after high school.  In HB 2214, the legislature states that: “The purpose of a high school diploma is to declare that a student is ready for success in post secondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship, and is equipped with the skills to be a lifelong learner. The Washington State PTA supports the streamlining of high school assessment requirements and the opportunities for increased local determination of alternate coursework to meet the requirement in the 12th grade year in support of future success after high school.  We believe that requirements established in HB 2214 will assist in building and maintaining the integrity of a high quality assessment system that supports career and college ready learning standards and the requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Click here to send a message to your state senator.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Updated Post on Social and Emotional Learning / Breakfast after the Bell

For the second year in a row, legislation mandating schools in high poverty areas to offer a healthy breakfast to hungry children has stalled in the legislature.  Last year, the bill came very close, but was unable to make the final hurdle.  The same thing happened again this year, only this time, the House and Governor's budget actually funded the issue in a line item only to have the Senate version fall short. 

Not to be Outdone - Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats Offer Their Compensation/Levy Proposals, too...

Just when you thought the legislative session was going to close on the equitable funding discussion for McCleary, the House and Senate came out with Teacher Compensation proposals late last week.  The competing proposals would shift the funding for teacher compensation away from local taxpayers and over to the state.  The resulting shift would have the state to fully fund basic education and leave levies, as originally intended, to pay for additional enhancements. 

State Treasurer McIntire Makes Bold Play - Offers Comprehensive Tax Reform to Fully Fund McCleary and Higher Education.


Concerned about the effects of McCleary on our long term budget outlook and reacting to concerns from the bond market, the State Treasurer’s office offered a revenue reform package earlier this week.  State Treasurer Jim McIntire upped the stakes in the dueling budget wars by offering a bold, comprehensive state revenue reform program that would increase the state’s competitiveness, reduce the tax burden on low and middle income residents, and fully fund basic and higher education.  

School Superintendent Randy Dorn Offers Fully Funded "Go-Home" McCleary Proposal

Citing the need to take the discussion on resolving the McCleary Lawsuit to a new level, State School Superintendent Randy Dorn introduced his plan to fully fund McCleary last week at a press conference in Olympia.  The proposal would extend the phase-in of McCleary to 6 years in order to leave time to recruit and train enough teachers and support staff to meet class size reduction requirements.  Unlike current plans on the table, the Dorn Plan funds class size reductions for K-12 and require fully funding teacher compensation at the state level.  His revenue proposal was rolled out in an additional press conference on Monday morning and is described below in a separate article.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” bipartisan Senate legislation to reauthorize the ESEA/NCLB

The U.S. Senate is at work on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  The new legislation is titled  Every Child Achieves Act.  The bill is being marked up in committee this week.  If you are signed up for National PTA Action Alerts, you received one on Monday.  You can access that link here:  http://cqrcengage.com/npta2/app/write-a-letter?2&engagem.  For more information from National PTA continue reading below

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Tale of the House and Senate Budgets

With both the Senate and House budgets now seeing the light of day, there is time to compare and contrast them both. The non-partisan budget website run by the Legislative Evaluative and Accountability Program and the Office of Financial Management website compares the House and Senate budget's here.  That graphic goes deep into the weeds and develops a side by side fiscal comparison between the two proposals.  The key differences in the budgets are as follows:  

1) How revenue is generated for each proposal
2) Funding Higher Education
3) The approach to teacher and state employee cost of living increases
4) Level and extent given to funding capital dollars for school construction.

Senate Capital Budget with SB 6080 Shows Promise Towards McCleary, but Still Far Off Goal

The Senate Capital Budget Committee heard Substitute Senate Bill 6080 in committee last week. This was the second time the bill was heard and the PTA was able to participate in both hearings. The substitute senate bill made changes based on some recommendations offered by PTA issue team lead, Eden Mack. The bill creates a separate program allowing school districts to apply for grants to help fund additional K-3 classrooms due to the class size reduction requirements of McCleary.  The basic difference between the existing School Capital Assistance Program (SCAP) and the K-3 Grants is here.  The bill in its entirety is found here.