Archive for Schools

Inslee makes case for capital gains tax, carbon charges in 2015 State of State

By | January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee addresses the 2015 Washington State Legislature during the State of the State address.

Gov. Jay Inslee pledged to work on a transportation package, increased funding for pre-kindergarten and a minimum wage increase in his 2015 State of the State address, framing his policy decisions as an investment in Washington’s residents.

“One path leads to an economy that works for all Washingtonians, supports thriving communities and preserves a healthy environment. The other path leads to a slow erosion of our shared prosperity, a widening gap of inequality and a deterioration of our clean air and water,” he said.

“[T]here are no better people to invest in than Washingtonians, there is no better place to invest in than Washington and there is no better time to invest than 2015,” he said.

He also spoke on his plans for education, the environment and raising taxes through his proposed capital gains tax. His remarks on the latter two issues drew a more enthusiastic response from Legislative Democrats than from Republicans, many of whom withheld applause during those sections of the speech.

Republicans also issued a perspective on this year’s session  with a statement from Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) and a press availability from several Republicans from the House and Senate sides of the Legislature.

Members of the 2015 Washington State Legislature, and members of the State Supreme Court, listen to Gov. Jay Inslee deliver the annual State of the State address.

Transportation

On transportation, Inslee said that his plan would be multimodal and include reforms and funding for “a transportation system that truly works as a system,” he said.

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2014 Roundup: What bills passed, what didn’t pass during session

By | March 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature adjourned shortly before midnight on Thursday, the final day of the regular 2014 session. It’s the first time since 2009 that lawmakers finished their work without going into an overtime special session.

Here’s an overview of what lawmakers accomplished — and didn’t accomplish — during the session.

PASSED:

Supplemental budget: Both chambers agreed on a supplemental operating budget that spends about $155 million, including $58 for K-12 books and supplies. It also adds additional money to the mental health system, early learning and prisons. It does not include any new taxes or tax breaks, nor does it include teacher pay raises.

Dream Act/Real Hope Act: The Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day. The Senate renamed it the Real Hope Act and added $5 million to the state need grant. It was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in February.

Homeless fees: As part of a last-minute deal, lawmakers agreed to extend until 2019 a $40 document recording fee that people pay during real estate transaction, such as buying or refinancing a house. The fee supports homeless shelters, affordable housing and other services and was scheduled to sunset unless the Legislature took action.

24 credit diploma: Starting with the class of 2019, high school students will have to earn 24 credits for a diploma. The current minimum is 20 credits, although some school districts require more than the minimum. The bill will also provide more opportunities for students to take career and technical classes that meet graduation requirements.

Tanning beds ban: Teenagers under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in Washington. Senate Bill 6065 bans minors from using tanning beds, unless they have a written prescription for UV radiation treatment from a doctor. Tanning salons would be fined $250 for violations.

Domestic violence: Washington residents under domestic violence restraining orders will soon be barred from owning guns. The bill says that someone who is under a protection, no-contact, or restraining order related to domestic violence must surrender his or her guns to law enforcement.

Drones: The Legislature approved a bill that puts limits government agencies that use drones, or remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance. An agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions, such as a fire or other emergency.

Religious holidays: State employees will be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons, and public school children will be excused for two days under a bill approved by the Legislature.

Military in-state tuition: Veterans and active duty military members will soon qualify for in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities without having to first establish residency. Senate Bill 5318 waives the one-year waiting period for veterans, military members and their families.

Short-barreled rifles: Washington gun owners will soon be allowed to own a short-barreled rifle under a bill approved by the Legislature. It is currently a felony to own a gun with a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or to have a modified gun that is shorter than 26 inches overall. (more…)

UW Huskies lobby for Dream Act and tuition issues

By | February 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

About 120 students from the University of Washington took a day off from school to lobby at the Capitol Thursday. The Huskies pushed the Dream Act and a bill preventing differential tuition.

The students expressed their support of extending financial aid to undocumented immigrant students and thanked legislators for passing the Dream Act, known in the Senate as the Real Hope Act.

Also, the students pushed House Bill 1043, which prohibits state universities from allowing differential tuition, which is a tuition rate based on a student’s major. Amber Amim, a student majoring in informatics and applied math at UW, raised concerns that math and science students would have to pay more if it were allowed.

The bill to prohibit differential tuition passed in the House at the start of the session.

But the value of lobby day goes beyond these particular issues, said Jillian Celich, a senior at UW and ASUW employee.

“It’s important for students to tell their personal stories to lawmakers. There needs to be a stronger voice for higher education,” Celich said.

Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, spoke at the Capitol steps and encouraged the crowd of student lobbyists to stay involved with the legislative process after lobby day.

His final words: “Think bigger than just today.”

Categories: Education, Olympia, Rally, Schools, TVW

Legislation aims to help homeless students by housing their families closer to schools

By | February 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

As many families struggle to find affordable housing and stable employment, the number of homeless children in Washington state public schools is increasing.

In the 2011-2011 school year, more than 27,000 students were reported as homeless, a 5 percent increase from the previous year and a nearly 50 percent increase from 2008, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The statistics are stark, and not unusual. The Department of Education estimates more than 1.1 million students in the U.S. in grades K-12 were homeless in the 2011-12 school year.

Lawmakers discussed potential solutions to help families and schools address the needs of homeless students during a Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee hearing Tuesday.

Advocates and legislative leaders pushed two related bills, Senate Bill 6365 and Senate Bill 6338, which would get low-income families in houses closer to their schools. The first bill connects families with stable housing and the other gives priority to housing projects that involve certain partnerships that support children of low-income families.

Those partnerships are critical to “breaking the cycle of poverty” said Michael Power, the manager of educational programs with Tacoma Housing Authority (THA).  He used the McCarver Elementary Special Housing Project in Tacoma as the model example of a successful joint effort, which involves the THA, the elementary school, students and parents.

Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said that the law would not only help homeless students and families, but also minimize transportation costs for schools.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law that requires schools to provide free transportation to students. For schools particularly in rural areas, these expenses can be high. Supporters say the bill would reduce those costs because students would live closer to their schools.

Homeless advocates want to see the bill extended to other housing nonprofits, such as tribal housing. But they agreed it is a step forward in providing families in need with stable housing, which they say is critical to student success.

Research shows that the academic achievement of homeless students declines across all grades and subject material. Liz Allen, a previous teacher and advocate with the UW School of Law, reported that homeless children are nine times more likely to repeat a grade and four times more likely to drop out of school.”It’s hard to do homework with no home,” said Allen.

Democrats introduce bill to reduce classroom size to 17 students by 2017

By | January 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington is one of the worst states when it comes to crowded classrooms, ranking 47th in the nation, according to the organization Class Size Counts for Washington Kids.

During a press conference, Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, and Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, announced House Bill 2589 that would prioritize making K-12 class sizes smaller and lay out an implementation plan. The goal of the bill is to reduce classroom size to 17 students by the 2017 school year.

The democratic lawmakers pose with advocates for smaller classrooms.

The lawmakers said the changes would cost money, but didn’t specify a funding source.

Parents and advocates with the Class Size Counts group discussed the benefits of smaller student-to-teacher ratios. They say it reduces the achievement gap between low-income and high-income communities, lowers teacher burnout and improves student performance.

Parent Katherine Jones said that if Washington doesn’t make changes soon she would consider moving her kids to another state.

“It’s just not acceptable. When you’re one of 29 students, you cannot get the attention that you need,” Jones said.

Child care funds could boost early education

By | January 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Child care subsidized by state money could be required to do more to prepare children for kindergarten, as bipartisan bills in the House and Senate aim to push state-funded providers into becoming early learning programs.

Bills HB 2377 and SB 6127, which are sponsored by Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) and Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), are called the Early Start Act of 2014. It tentatively is scheduled to go before the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education Friday at 8 a.m.

Programs affected would be Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and the Working Connections Child Care program, which helps families with low incomes pay for child care while they work or participate in the WorkFirst program. Privately paid child care wouldn’t be affected by the bill.

Child care providers who receive state funds through ECEAP or Working Connections will need to meet standards established by the Department of Early Learning’s Early Achievers program. The act would assist child care centers to reach the standards by providing reimbursements, coaching and mentoring and making sure that children can stay enrolled in programs.

Current providers have five years to reach certain Early Achievers standards, which is determined by a point system that takes into account family engagement, professional development, the classroom or home environment and children’s success. New providers must reach those standards in 30 months.

According to Hunter and Litzow, the goal is to get 80 percent of children in subsidized child care into high quality early learning programs by 2020.

They talked about the programs at a press conference earlier this week.

 

Charter schools on this week’s edition of ‘The Impact’

By | October 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Washington voters last year approved an initiative creating a public charter school system. This week marks a key deadline for organizations that plan to apply to start the state’s first charter schools.

TVW would like to issue a clarification: On Wednesday’s edition of “The Impact,” we stated that 14 school districts have applied to become charter schools. However, those 14 districts have filed “notices of intent” to submit applications. Only one school district — Spokane — has submitted an application.

The Washington State Board of Education has more information about the charter school timeline available on its website.

On the show, host Anita Kissée interviews Ember Reichgott Junge, a former Minnesota state Senator who wrote and passed the country’s first charter school law.

Watch this week’s edition of “The Impact” below:

Categories: Schools

Schools superintendent Randy Dorn calls for higher taxes to pay for education

By | October 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is calling for higher taxes to fund education.

Dorn gave the state Legislature an “incomplete” grade for its first $1 billion down payment on the McCleary decision, a Washington Supreme Court ruling that said the state isn’t adequately funding education.

Lawmakers would have to come up with another $700 million during the upcoming 60-day session in order to “get a quality grade,” Dorn said.

“If I see no movement, I may go forward with my own plan,” Dorn told “Inside Olympia” host Austin Jenkins.

Dorn listed several options, including: Raising state property taxes, imposing an income tax on those who earn more than $250,00 a year, implementing levy reform, getting rid of tax loopholes or redirecting money from those loopholes into education.

“Somebody has got to make a move,” Dorn said. “Someone has got to put on the pressure, and my job is to be an advocate for the kids. I don’t see anyone stepping up to the plate.”

Dorn said he would like to see the state Supreme Court be “very stern” with legislators and force them to come up with a stable funding source for education. The court has jurisdiction until 2018 and has required the state Legislature to report annually on its progress.

The state Legislature adopted a budget in June that puts an additional $1 billion dollars into education for the current two-year budget cycle that ends in 2015. Dorn said that falls short of the money that’s needed to meet the court’s mandate to fully fund basic education.

“If you go back to 2008 and have today’s money, we’re about dead even. So we didn’t really make any progress,” Dorn said.

Watch the full interview below:

Categories: Education, Schools, TVW

Drunk drivers would pay child support to their victim’s children under proposal

By | February 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

On Thursday’s “Legislative Review,” we look at a proposal that would require drunk drivers who kill someone to pay child support to the victim’s children.

Also, several family members of people who have committed suicide testified at a House education committee — including the aunt of Kurt Cobain. They were testifying in support of a bill that would require school counselors and nurses to undergo suicide prevention training.

Plus, highlights from a hearing on the Yakima River Basin project — including opponents who say the plan would put their homes under 20 feet of water.

For a wrap-up of the week’s legislative activities, catch tonight’s edition of “Legislative Review” at 6:30 and 11. It’s a full half-hour recapping all of the week’s highlights.

Categories: Education, Schools

Hundreds of community college students rally at the Capitol

By | February 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

More than 250 students from Washington’s community and technical colleges rallied in Olympia on Friday with the message: “We are the future, don’t cut the future.” The 2013 Community Student Legislative Rally organized the event at the Capitol Rotunda to bring attention to rising costs of tuition, programs, class selections and textbook prices.

“We’re here today to ask our lawmakers to stop raising tuition and cutting our funding,” said Kailene Sparrs, president of the Washington State Community and Technical College Student Association. “We want our students to be able to get an education so they can go out and get jobs and be contributing members of the community.”

“When you look at compounding costs for students, tuition has actually increased by approximately 100 percent over the last four years,” said Highline Community College trustee Dan Altmayer. “We need more money for the system so we can do this without putting on the backs of our students.”

Administrators from several community and technical colleges spoke at the rally, along with students and state legislators.

“My goal is to make sure that every single person who wants a higher education in the state, gets an education, and gets a job in their field afterward,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Joshua Armstrong, a student from Edmonds Community College, said he may not be able to finish school because of the cost.

“My biggest fear is to not be able to continue my education due to rising tuition costs,” Armstrong said.

Categories: Education, Schools