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This Week in Olympia

01/20/2017

Week of January 16

6,500 Rally for Education

The week started off with a highly successful Rally for Student Civil Rights and Ample Funded Education on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Over 6,500 educators, students, parents and community leaders rallied at the capitol steps and hundreds then delivered poster-sized copies of the Student Bill of Rights to the offices of all 147 legislators. We had members in attendance from all 49 legislative districts.

Our lobby staff reports that this rally has created more buzz with legislators than we’ve seen in many, many years. Let’s hope that results in a budget that meets constitutional muster and provides our students the quality public education they deserve.

We hope to stay visible throughout the session. Check with your local or council leader to learn more about activities coming in February and March. Or watch this space. We’ll update it with local actions as we hear about them.

Legislative Action Last Week

On Thursday, the House Education Committee heard HB 1046, (MacEwen), a full delink of state tests from graduation. WEA lobbyist Wendy Rader Konofalski spoke in favor of the bill.  The committee is expected to vote on it this Thursday, January 26th.

Coming Up  

Levy Cliff

SHB 1059, (Lytton)- The House version of the levy cliff bill will be the first bill voted on the House floor this year.  House democratic leaders want to send a clear message that they take school funding seriously, and don’t want to school districts and educators to face this uncertainty. 

We were hoping that a comprehensive McCleary funding plan would emerge early, reducing the need for this bill. WEA supports allowing local school districts to collect levy funding that is approved by local voters.  We understand the vote will occur as soon as they have enough legislators on the floor to pass the bill (Flu season has hit the legislature early and hard.)

Work Session – Educator Shortage

The House Education Committee is devoting two work sessions to the educator shortage, on Monday and Tuesday. At least two teachers will participate on Tuesday's panel. 

WEA believes that the Governor’s budget would make steady process on reducing the shortage, by increasing pay, adding school nurses, counselors and family coordinators to support students and reduce the burden on teachers, and improving funding in several areas to ensure our students receive the quality public education they deserve.

Work sessions don’t include public testimony, so we are encouraging you to contact you legislators to advocate for the Governor's budget as a way to address the educator shortage. Watch your email for an action alert on Monday.   

CTE MSOC Alphabet Soup

HB 1282/SB 5183 (Tarleton in the House; Rolfes in the Senate) – This bill would increase MSOC funding (materials, supplies and operating costs) for career and technical education (CTE) and skill centers. This bill directs vocational MSOC funding to only be expended on the "allowable uses"  identified. These do not include critical uses like operating costs or technology. It is expected to have a hearing in the Senate on Monday, January 23rd.   

WEA supports efforts to increase CTE MSOC funding, but continues to work with the sponsors to ensure that local districts and educators have the flexibility and control over the use of the funds.

Higher Education

Tuesday is higher ed day, with four hearings scheduled. WEA favors all of these bills, with members from our two and four year colleges and universities coming to Olympia to testify.

HB 1168  - Directs the state board for community and technical colleges to create a plan to increase the number of full-time, tenured faculty to 70% t by 2023.  

HB 1179 -  Would increase pay for adjunct faculty to the pro-rated equivalent of full time faculty pay by to 2020-2021 school year.  

HB 1238 – Encourages four year colleges and universities to increase the number of full time faculty.  

HB 1237  - Provides for full-scope bargaining rights for our community and technical college faculty.

Paraeducators

HB 1115/SB 5070 Paraeducators – (Bergquist in the House; Rivers in the Senate) - These companion bills would add licensure requirements for all classroom paraprofessionals without providing funding to meet the requirements. They also don’t provide a waiver process for people with significant experience. The senate bill will be heard on Thursday, January 26th, where we will testify against the current version of this bill; the House version had a hearing on January 19th.

WEA supports the professional development for all paraeducators but opposes mandatory licensure.  

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