Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday E-Wire for Post Session!

This morning, the E-Wire woke up rushed thinking that he needed to be down in Olympia for *enter important legislative hearing* then realized, session is over.  Downtime.

Yeah, right – now the real work begins as legislators take stock of what happened or did not happen this session and planning  begins in earnest for the big season of 2015.  The mounting McCleary deadline for the Supreme Court is heading down the pike and should make for some interesting repercussions.  It is unclear as of this writing what the court will do, if anything, in response to the legislative session.  Time will tell, and you will likely read about it here.  On to the E-Wire…

TVW has a good post on what bills made it and what did not this session.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver for Washington will be played out behind the scenes.  Look for more info here, here, and here.

The legislature struggled with Medical Marijuana throughout the session.  It’s still a difficult topic.  So was getting their hands around the e-cigarette issue.

Although the PTA was largely successful this legislative session, a lot of other groups were not… and the media noticed.  Remember this session being about TransportationNot!

Senator Sharon Nelson gets the award for playing up the homeless funding bill throughout the close of the session.  In the end, it all worked out.  However, some people looked better than others.

Veterans were winners in Education, too.

Common Core coming to you soon.

There has been a slow, resounding wave of support for later start times for High School Students.  This is one more example.  The challenge for schools will be the costs of bus service.

The search for an affordable Bachelor’s degree.

Next year, expect to see more talk about protecting student privacy.

Coming in a month and a half, the legislature must respond to McCleary.  Meanwhile, in Denver

And finally, a grassroots attempt to discuss tax exemptions in Walla Walla by a group of grandmothers.  Cool!

The E-Wire is written by PTA Staff and Edited by PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sine Die Edition of the E-Wire!

Last evening was Sine Die – the End of the Regularly Scheduled Legislative Session.

The agreed upon budget has been released, voted on and sent to the governor.  The following is the highlights from the legislative session.  It’s not comprehensive, but it incorporates the key issues that the PTA has been following all session long.  Usually, the E-wire’s friend Erik has his own comments over at Washington State Wire, but he’s still asleep.  We’ll share his additional thoughts and those of WA State School Directors Association's Government Relations Director Marie Sullivan on Monday.  Until then, this is what we have:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

59th Day of Legislative Session E-Wire - Sine Die Tomorrow!!!

Hi folks,

The E-Wire has had a rough week trying to keep priority PTA Bills in play down in Olympia. Veteran lobbyist, Nick Federici, described the situation concerning several of these bills as “Schroedinger’s Cat” Bills.  Dead, yet alive at the same time.  For the most part, we consider most of these priorities very much alive and their ability to remain so at the waning hours of the session depend on PTA members burning up the wires telling their legislators to keep moving ahead on these issues.

This is where we are at so far:

CTE - Alive, and not subject to Cut-off.  The House Bill is in the Senate, but is not likely to move anywhere.  The Senate Bill is part of SB 6552.
Breakfast – now likely dead, but it is still in the House Budget.  It is not subject to cut-off, but unless there is agreement in the Majority Caucus, it will not be passed this session.   
Rural Schools - Endangered, but still alive and not likely subject to today's cut-off being that it is in the House Budget.
Omnibus Education - Endangered, but still alive.  It is rumored that the legislature has embraced an amendment offered by Representative Sam Hunt.  Information from the striker is listed below.
Foster Care Expansion - in Senate - Alive, and currently in the Senate. It is a budget item, so not likely subject to cut-off.
Capital Budget - Funding School Construction – there are competing bills to address some of the needs this year.  Their likelihood of passage is unclear at this writing.  We report on them below.

If you are reading this – and have not contacted your legislator this year – you need to – we’re close to hitting the mark on most of the bills we prioritized this year and, hey, we’re greedy for kids – let’s get them all out!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

E-Wire Special Budget Edition...

The E-Wire is down in Olympia today hunting for clues and reading tea leaves on a variety of bills of interest to PTA members.  Among the concerns – 24 Credit Hours, Career and Technical Education Equivalency Courses, expanding financial resource opportunities for rural schools, and Capital Funding for K-3 Schools. 

Top story today, House passes Supplemental Operating and Transportation Budget which includes more funding for education and teacher salary cost of living increases.  Budget includes closing tax loopholes like this one and a few sticky issues like this one, this one, and this one

There have been some issues with the Majority Coalition Caucus.  The initial rift was over the passage of the Dream Act and dissident members included Senators Benton, Roach, and Holmquist-Newbry.  It got hotter when Senator Jan Angel killed a bill to fund homeless programs and boiled over into a legislative nightmare last evening. 

This pretty little thing hung on the Transportation Budget.  The Amendment was offered by Senator Jamie Pedersen and would require the residents of Medina to pay for any SR 520 Cost Overruns.  Incidentally, in case you didn’t know, Senator Rodney Tom, the Senate Majority Leader, represents Medina.  The E-Wire noted this amendment last night, but didn't give it any note as these things usually are tossed as bombs and don’t go anywhere.

Well, it did

Senator Baumgartner turned around and introduced an amendment to the Pedersen amendment which would have shifted the costs back over to Seattle.  In the end, an agreement was apparently made to withdraw both. But not before it almost led to this.  Senate was back to normal this morning and the Transportation Budget passed last night.

As an FYI, our friends over at The Washington Wire have more on the story which bears reading.  They also give a fun tutorial on the havoc wreaked with the move to 9th Order in the Senate (it’s 8th Order in the House).

Moving forward on Education Goals.

Washington Student Achievement Council is Hosting an Event in Yakima on improving academic success for under-represented groups.

Memos from a bipartisan town hall in Issaquah.

All Puyallup Elementary Schools will offer free All Day K starting this fall.  Sequim, too.

Peter Callaghan dives into the “he said, she said” debate over Title I usage (although Tacoma Schools is probably not the best example of the state as a whole due to their large menu of cutting education programs designed to close opportunity gaps.)

Eva Moskowitz vs. Bill DeBlasio Round II.

Kansas Senate pulls controversial bill targeted at Librarians and Teachers.

Federal Department of Education looking to crack down on For-Profit Colleges.

Seattle School District looks to later start times, but faces challenges in doing so.

Sunnyside kids off to Knowledge Bowl.

In other Sunnyside News, award winning teacher Maria Garcia is named ambassador for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Common Core Ramps up in Washington.

Parents face challenges in dealing with Seattle Schools Bureaucracy.

And on a final note, the SAT will drop the essay portion of the exam and return to the 1600 point test that you and I were used to taking so long ago...

The E-Wire is written by PTA Legislative Staff and edited by Director Sherry Krainick.  Got a question? Write us!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Good afternoon,
Two stories are hitting the top of the E-Wire this morning.  The first is the passage of PTA supported House Bill 2797 which cleared the House with a massive 90-7 majority less than an hour ago.  PTA members have been successfully burning up the wires for the past three days in what was one of the largest grass roots efforts we have initiated over the past three years.  Responses from legislators ranged from pleased to shocked.  To quote one, “Where did all those people come from?”
Good job people – your efforts paid off – now it moves to the Senate. 
The OTHER big news of the day is our SNOWPACK is ranging from 105-132% of normal which means we have cleared the threshold to avoid drought situations in Washington State for this year.  Going into January, we were concerned that this would be a bad year for our farmers, fish, and families.  (Farmers need water for crops, Fish need water to maintain habitat, and Families need water for keeping Hydro based electric rates low.)  No longer a threat!  Happy days!
Onto the E-Wire!
Senator Andy Hill tried this idea to get Lobbyists to speed up their testimony so that his committee could hear all bills and exec them before cut-off.
Education Lab Blog from the Seattle Times gets it, why doesn't anyone else?
So much for that idea.
This is a growing problem.
With all the challenges we face in Washington, moving ahead with judicial understanding for mental health patients is a good thing.
As we stated earlier, the waiver debate will resolve itself…
Taking STEM to Middle School
Today’s magic number is 3.5 which is the average amount of homework High School Students are assigned.
From Our Friends over at WAPO – a look at cool graphs that explain America.
Enjoy folks – look for a new message for you to share with your legislators soon about Education funding!
The E-Wire is written by PTA Legislative Staff and edited by Legislative Director Sherry Krainick.  Have a question?  Post below or write us at!

Monday, March 3, 2014

E-Wire for March 3rd - Counting down to the Close!

Guess what happened over the weekend?  Yes, the Senate pulled together a series of bills to move forward on the Transportation Budget.  Senator King has offered 13 votes and is asking for 12 votes from the Democratic Caucus to pass the bill.  It has no referendum clause and it has some issues that may be non-starters in the House.

Guess we will see, eh?

Last Friday also seemed to be the witching hour in the Senate.  The move in committee to kill a bipartisan supported bill raised eyebrows among members.  This led to a floor fight, which the Democrats lost.  Here is the transcript of hearing that led to 9th Order Move by Senate Democrats.

On a lighter note, the Senate is currently hearing a proposed solution to the Teacher Evaluations issue that has bedeviled the legislature all session.  The House has its own version.  Nothing doing,  but doesn't anyone remember that the vote against this bill concerning teacher evaluations was bipartisan?  Just wondering.  Here is the House Version and the Senate Version.

The Washington State School Directors Association will be hitting the hill tomorrow in an attempt to push the legislature towards addressing a long-standing unfairness in the way the state funds rural districts.  The goal would be to adopt language which lets school districts keep timber subsidies for counties that have Federal Forests and Parks in their jurisdiction.  Washington State is the only state that takes the money into the General Fund and doesn't allow school districts to keep the additional funds for school programs.  WSSDA will try to get the State to change this long-standing practice.  The PTA supports their efforts and supports the policy to allow these communities to be compensated for the tax revenue loss created by our ability to enjoy their bounty. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

E-Wire for 2.27!

Top Stories for 2.27.2014 include the passage of Omnibus Education Reform Bill 6552 from House Education Committee.  Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Kevin Ranker offers legislation that is designed to get us closer to McCleary.  Read about the proposal hereherehere, and here.
In other news, Governor Inslee signed the Dream Act.
Sometimes, well intended ideas have negative consequences.
What does the patriarch of “Duck Dynasty,” actor John Hamm, and Princess Diana all have in common?
A follow-up on the obesity rate decline among children.
Diversity across the nation to address the “summer learning loss” problem.
US Department of Education speaks out on Student Privacy Concerns.
State releases list of under-performing schools, but it’s not all bad everywhere… 
The governor and the legislature is working overtime to address the Teacher Evaluation Issue.
Great Op-Ed by veteran teacher Jim Strickland on special needs students and testing.
And, finally, the Spokesman Review evaluates the Senate Budget proposal.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

E-Wire Evening Edition

Greetings PTA Friends,

The E-Wire was hunkered down this morning in the Pritchard Building drafting a few messages to legislators to release the Breakfast After The Bell Bill which is currently stuck in committee in the Senate.  After which, we joined Director Krainick at the Ways and Means hearing on the Supplemental Budget.  The Senate Democrats have offered their answer to the McCleary question with the bill SB 6574.  It won’t get a hearing, but it jump-starts the debate for 2015.  

As we are in a budget mood, here is more on the Senate Budget here, here, here, and here.  And a little more here and here on those tax breaks baked into the budget. 

The House Education Committee will be holding executive session (voting) on a plethora of bills tomorrow, including SB 6552, the Omnibus Education Reform Bill.  Last we heard, there were a ton of amendments – so this has got us, and everyone else, very curious to see where the House members are going and if the Senate will accept the changes.  Time will be of the essence, as they are trying to exec (vote) out 13 bills. Check out the list below:

  1. 2SSB 5958 - Concerning accountability in providing opportunities for certain students to participate in transition services.
  2. SB 6013 - Making a technical correction to school law governing the use of epinephrine autoinjectors (EPI pens).
  3. SSB 6074 - Enacting provisions to improve educational outcomes for homeless students.
  4. SSB 6431 - Concerning assistance for schools in implementing youth suicide prevention activities.
  5. SSB 6105 - Concerning school library information and technology programs.
  6. SB 6128 - Concerning the delivery of medication and services by unlicensed school employees.
  7. SB 6424 - Establishing a state seal of biliteracy for high school students.
  8. ESSB 6242 - Concerning waivers from the one hundred eighty-day school year requirement.
  9. SB 6093 - Allowing valid portable background check clearance cards issued by the department of early learning to be used by certain educational employees and their contractors for purposes of their background check requirements.
  10. 2SSB 6062 - Requiring internet access to public school data and expenditure information.
  11. 2SSB 6163 - Concerning expanded learning opportunities.
  12. SSB 6129 - Concerning paraeducator development.
  13. E2SSB 6552 - Improving student success by modifying instructional hour and graduation requirements.

For a two hour time-frame, that's a lot.  Some may get left on the table...

More to come tomorrow.

Yeah, and you might want to read this – not likely to get your hopes up on McCleary after that read…

Peter Callaghan dives into teacher evaluations.

The Olympian explores the link between civil literacy and STEM while the Columbian looks to expand access.

Parents testifying in Olympia explore access to involuntary mental health care for their children.

Something that is lacking in many health plans – quality dental care.

Hazy budgeting… Dazed and Confused Numbers… “whoa, dude, where’s my tax revenue…”

So, tomorrow morning check your inbox as the E-wire tries to live blog the House Education Exec Session.

Should be fun.

The E-Wire is written by staff and edited by Legislative Director Sherry Krainick.

E-Wire Special Morning Budget and Omnibus SB 6552 Edition

Good morning folks!

The PTA was out in force today testifying on behalf of Senate Bills being heard in the House Education Committee.  Priority bills for us include the Omnibus School Hour and Credit Reform Bill and Pathways for Special Education Students.  Several PTA members were in attendance to testify including President Gillette, Director Krainick, and Bellevue Special Needs PTA VP Sarah Butcher.  There was an uncommon amount of give and take in the hearing between the very engaged legislators and the members of the public testifying.  As a result, this was one of the better hearings in House Education and worth your time to listen in to when you get the chance.  Links will be posted here (6552).

The second big ticket item of the day was the release of the Senate Budget.  Some of the Capital Budget directive language to OSPI for school construction looks pretty well thought out – this is likely due to the fact that buried in the budget bill is $78 million that was left unspent in the School Construction Assistance Program.  The reason for this is that there were fewer projects that qualified for grant funding than anticipated.

WSDDA’s Marie Sullivan has a great analysis which we are including here.  House Budget is expected to be delivered later this week with a hearing by the end of the week.

Read more about the Senate Budget here, here, and here.

Jump below to read testimony by our PTA leaders on the Omnibus Bill...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some of the Key Bills PTA was following that have been or may be scheduled for hearings this week...

Here is the list of bills we have been following that are still alive as of this writing.  There are other  bills that we have worked with over the session, but these are the ones that are looking most likely to survive the latest cut-off.  Some of these bills have already had a hearing and others are either calendered or hopefully to be scheduled soon.  All policy bills must pass by Friday to survive the cut-off.

Special Pre-Budget, Pre 6552 Hearing E-Wire!

Good Morning!

The town of Olympia is all a twitter about the Senate joint budget due to be released later today.  While the E-Wire holds his breath awaiting the release, feel free to catch up on the rest of the news this morning.  You may want to pay particular attention to the first and last article in the series.

In addition, the E-Wire will be joining several PTA Members in the House Education Committee today to review Senate Bill 6552 which is the Omnibus Education Reform Bill for this session.  There will likely be some amendments on this bill, so we will be watching closely.  More information after the hearing.

And there you go!

Friday, February 21, 2014

E-Wire for 2.21.2014 - The Calm Before The Storm


If you are reading this, we have successfully survived 2/3rds of the legislative session.  At this moment, members are wrapping up last minute details and heading out of Olympia and going home for the weekend.  There, many of them will host town hall discussions with their constituents.  The WA PTA is urging members to take the time to show up to these affairs and chime in on issues involving education – specifically – our mission to fully fund basic education per the McCleary Lawsuit.  Don’t know where to find your town hall?  We got that covered.  Want to send them the message about McCleary?  We got that covered, too!

Today is a light day by legislative standards.  The past two days have been pretty busy with Senate Bills being heard in the House and vice versa.  Director Krainick was joined by several PTA members yesterday making sure our voices were heard.  Check the E-wire below for photos and further information.  While the E-Wire is holed up in an undisclosed location, the rest of the staff at the PTA are wrapping up the final touches for the move to our new offices in the Historic Ford Building on the corner of 13th and Fawcett in downtown Tacoma.  The move will make it more convenient for members needing to come to the offices as it is more centrally located to I-5 and easier to find.  Just get off the freeway and head west a few blocks and boom – you’re there.  Pretty cool.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

E-Wire 2/20/14

Greetings from Rainy Olympia!!​

The E-Wire is down in Olympia coordinating with members on the Bullying Bill expansion which has a hearing in House Education at 11AM today.  Our Morning Crew handled the 8AM discussion about bond elections quite well, so we are looking forward to what this round of legislative testimony has to share.  Today’s team will be from the Lake Washington School District – Region 2 Director Jane Dulski and her son, Matt, will be testifying on behalf of the PTA.  Links for the hearing will be available when TVW puts them up.  While you wait, and while I await for Jane and Matt to step up to the plate, NBC Affliliate WFMJ has something for you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dear Members,  

Here is the list of town halls across the state which will be starting tonight.  The PTA is coordinating to get as many of our members as possible to attend these meetings in person or on the phone.  Our goal is to continue to push for Education Funding and the promise of McCleary.  Legislators will soon be talking about budgets before leaving for the year, this is the best opportunity to share our message with them directly from members residing in their home districts. 

Here is the expanded list - - Note that we have sorted them by Regions.  Some of the times are still TBA as we have not heard back from legislators. 

Thanks for all you do,
Tim Farrell for Sherry Krainick

E-Wire for 2.19.14

Legislator town halls are coming this weekend– please consider attending to share your support for fully funding basic education – check the Grassroots Blog for details!!

Greetings Sportsfans!

The E-Wire is again down in Olympia for the first round of hearings of bills from the opposite house.  The Graveyard of bills has grown to epic proportions – of the 275 bills we were following, only 98 remain alive at this moment plus one bill, The Dream Act, which is on the Governor’s Desk.  This morning, the House Education Committee heard 7 bills including the Senate Version of the Paraeducator Bill.  Director Krainick testified on two of these:  Paraeducators and Expanded Learning Opportunities.  This afternoon, the fun extends to the House Bills in the Senate with 10 bills in the Senate and we are expected to testify on Paraeducator (House Bill) and Improving Educational Outcomes for Homeless Students.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

E-Wire 2.18.14

Breaking News – Dream Act Passes House moments ago and is off to the Governor’s Desk!

The E-Wire has been down in Olympia with Director Krainick pushing the PTA Agenda for the past few days and the results have paid off.  With the help of members raining down messages and e-mails, our three priority bills which had not yet been moved off the Calendar were voted out of the House today (other significant bills concerning graduation and credit hours passed the Senate last week). 

All in all, having an active membership helps and several legislators noted the messages coming out of the PTA were respectful and well received.  So, hats off to everyone involved and time to take a 16 hour break before our hearings start all over again tomorrow morning.  You’ve earned it. For me, I think I will wrap up House of Cards Season 2 and be ready for the series finale of the Legislative Session which opens tomorrow at 8AM.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

E-Wire - Special School Bond Edition!

Afternoon folks!

Representative Kathy Haigh (Shelton – LD 35)
shares a light moment with the Morning Crew
The E-Wire was watching House Action late into the evenings most of the week and tonight will be no exception.  This morning, our intrepid crew of Lake Washington, Vancouver, and Tacoma PTA Leaders came out in force with their children and families to support a real friend of Education, Representative Kathy Haigh in her efforts to allow school construction bonds to pass with 50% of the vote.  Many thanks to her and House Education Chair Sharon Tomiko Santos for holding the hearing! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

E-Wire - Evening Edition 2/11/14

Howdy folks,

As the E-Wire was sitting in Ways & Means taking notes, we got an e-mail from the Chief Clerk's office sharing that several education bills will be taken up in the House.  The following bills were considered in this order:
  • HB 1011 Military/resident tuition - House version of the Senate Bill which gives military families in state resident exemption waiver
  • HB 2017 Certified school employees - Should the state budget not be passed during the regular legislative session, school districts would be allowed to extend the deadline to send nonrenewal notices to certificated by one month.

E-Wire for Today!

Greetings folks,

The Day has come.  The end is near for your bills that are stuck in House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means.  Yes, at 5PM today, the Grim Reaper of legislation cuts a wide swath through Olympia and reduces the chance of many bills from moving forward.  Please note, just like “The Walking Dead” *season started Sunday!* some of these bills may come back to life, especially if they are determined to be necessary to implement the budget… if there is one.