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WEA, legislators work on equity issues

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Ben Ibale testifying 2
WEA Human and Civil Rights Coordinator Ben Ibale testifies before a Senate committee.

WEA members and staff are working with legislators in Olympia to promote equity at every level in our state’s public schools.

Olympia kindergarten teacher Austen Anderson recently testified on House Bill 2653, which would review the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) for cultural bias. The WaKIDS assessments are used to evaluate kindergarten students in a variety of ways. WEA supports this bill.

Anderson told legislators that the WaKIDS data teachers collect about their students is inconsistent and subject to systemic bias.

Austen Anderson 2
Kindergarten teacher Austen Anderson.

“My colleagues and I do not use the reports generated by the WaKIDS assessment to inform our practices in any way,” Anderson said.

Human and Civil Rights Coordinator Ben Ibale from WEA’s Center for Education Quality spoke to the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee in a work session about harassment, intimidation and bullying.

Ibale emphasized the importance of allowing educators to build caring, meaningful relationship with students.

Too often, educators say, “We don’t have time,” Ibale said.

Ibale has helped conduct more than 140 K-12 student focus groups as part of his work on culturally responsive classroom management. Students provided clear feedback on the need for strong relationships.

“What they’ve told us is two things: Please get to know us. Please help us get to know each other,” he said.

Related legislation, Senate Bill SB 5908, will be heard Feb. 5 in the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. WEA supports the bill, which provides educator training for equity and cultural competency

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