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Don’t forget to send your legislators a Valentine’s message

Evergreen teachers in Olympia.

Evergreen teachers in Olympia.

Educators across the state are sending special Valentine’s Day emails to their legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee, reminding them that small class sizes are a crucial part of a good education. Send your message now. You might even write a special poem for your special lawmaker. Click here!

‘We told them we need smaller class sizes’

Teachers from the Evergreen Education Association near Vancouver were in Olympia Wednesday meeting with legislators from the 17th and 18th Legislative Districts.

“It is exciting to get more involved in our union and getting firsthand experience talking to the people who make the decisions,” said Erick Suksdorf, a teacher at Heritage High School. “It’s amazing what kind of voice we can have. We told them we need smaller class sizes.”

Higher ed bargaining

Good news. The House Labor and Workforce Development Committee has approved House Bill 1348, the bill that allows community and technical college faculty members to bargain salary increments. The bill is a WEA priority. It may go to the House Appropriations Committee next, or the House Rules Committee, which would decide if and when the bill goes to a vote of the entire House. Higher education faculty can support the bill by clicking here and sending an email to their legislators.

School safety

Everett Education Association member Mike Wilson testified Wednesday morning in support of House Bill 1588, which calls for universal background checks for all gun purchases. Wilson, a lifelong gun owner, said the bill will help protect students from gun violence. He thanked his legislator, Rep. Mike Hope, for co-sponsoring the bill. Watch Wilson’s edited testimony on TVW.

The Right to Know

The Parent Right-to-Know Testing Transparency Bill, HB 1293, is awaiting a vote in the House Education Committee. The bill requires school districts to publicize the time and money spent administering standardized tests. Rep. Mike Hope (mentioned above) is the lead sponsor.

An update on Senate education bills

The 180-school-day bill that would have banned waiver days and half-days has been amended and is now a study of the school year. Senate Bill 5588 passed out of the Senate education committee Wednesday. Here are other Senate education bills WEA is watching:

  • SB 5246, which makes more changes to teacher evaluation system, has not moved out of the committee.
  • SB 5328 would require giving each public school a letter grade based on student test scores and other factors. It has been amended: it retains the grading structure but makes it a pilot for five schools for one year, then makes it permanent. The performance stipends for teachers have been removed. It passed out of the Senate education committee and is in the Senate Rules committee awaiting further action.
  • SB 5237 would require schools to hold back fourth-graders (a change from the original bill) based on test scores and to provide them remedial services, but it doesn’t guarantee funding and it ignores earlier reform legislation. It passed out of the Senate education committee and is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, although it includes no new school funding.
  • SB 5329 has been amended. It no longer calls for a state takeover of low-performing schools. Instead, it calls on OSPI to work with 10 struggling schools to improve student achievement. It remains problematic. It passed out of the Senate education committee Wednesday and has been referred to Senate Ways and Means.

School funding numbers

The State Board of Education blog has some new school funding charts that give a more accurate picture of school funding than some legislators have provided recently.

“It’s easy to be fooled by charts going up,” the blog says. “The question is: going up against what?”

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