Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're at the end of the sixth week of the legislative session. Today marks the cutoff date for policy bills to pass committees. We've seen some good bills get through the process so far, but there have also been disappointments.
Computer science education
HB 1813 creates the Computer Science and Education Grant program, which funds grants to help educators who want to pursue professional development in computer science, reach out to students to inspire their interest in computer science, and help school districts pay for technology to teach computer science courses.
Hadi Partovi, the founder of Code.org, came to Olympia to testify in favor of the bill. He said, “Teachers who study to learn and teach computer science call it the best professional development they've received and the most impactful use of dollars to increase student access to the field.”
When the State Supreme Court, in its 2012 McCleary ruling, ordered the state to fully fund K-12 education by 2018, it noted the importance not only of funding but of reforms as well.
With that in mind, I introduced and co-sponsored several bills I believe would put highly effective teachers in every classroom and give school districts the tools they need to maintain quality in the classroom . They include:
- A new teacher salary model, with pay differentiation based on National Board and ProTeach certification instead of seniority and advanced degrees, and with pay increases moved up earlier in teachers' careers to prevent attrition in the first five years (HB 1854).
- Keep the highest quality teachers first when staff reductions happen due to budget cuts. The current system keeps the most senior teachers first, regardless of merit (HB 1386).
- Streamline the process for dismissing teachers who don't work out. The current process can drag on and be very expensive. My bill would help end the so-called “Dance of the Lemons” as described in the acclaimed education documentary Waiting for Superman (HB 1936).
- A meaningful school day of five hours minimum that gives students adequate teacher contact time (HB 1805).
Unfortunately, none of these bills made it out of the House Education Committee. I'm hopeful that before the end of this session we can agree on reforms to improve the quality of public education so we're not, in the Supreme Court's words, “pouring money into an outmoded system.”
What do you think? What education reforms would you like to see? Please send me your ideas, comments and questions on this or any other state issue.
Bellevue high school student serves as House page
Each year, students from around the state apply to participate in the legislative page program. Students spend a week attending page school, learning the inner workings of state government and assisting legislators on the House floor. Pages earn $35 per day while serving in the program.
To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor, be between the ages of 14 and 16, and obtain written permission from their parents and school. For more information about the legislative page program, visit: http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
427 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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