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Taking Action in Olympia - February 26, 2021

02/26/2021
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Session Week 7, February 26, 2021

Bill to replace the edTPA advances

This session, educators made it our priority to ask the legislature to replace the edTPA and with its passage from the House this week, the state is one step closer to finally make this critical change to our teacher licensure process.  Educators know the edTPA is an unnecessary, expensive hurdle that doesn’t measure our abilities as educators but does create a barrier for people of color to enter teaching.  We are looking forward to its hearing in the Senate.

Our action helped get a vote to close the homework gap

When educators stand up for what our students need, lawmakers listen.  On Monday, WEA members took action to email our Representatives and ask them to schedule a floor vote for ESHB 1336, a bill to close the homework gap by allowing more entities to provide broadband.  Just one day after we started our email campaign, lawmakers brought the bill to the House floor and passed it.

Caucus Lobby Day Reception

Representation matters and it’s critical that we lift up the voices and experiences of our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students and educators.  In March, WEA will host its inaugural Caucus-to-Caucus Lobby Day. Members of the WEA Black Caucus, Latinx Caucus, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern (APIM) Caucus, Native American and Alaskan Native Caucus, and LGBTQ Caucus will use this event to connect with members of their counterpart caucuses in the legislature to discuss specific issues facing students, educators and families in their communities. 

The WEA Caucus-to-Caucus Lobby Day will culminate in a virtual reception on Tuesday, March 16th at 7:00 pm over Zoom, during which WEA caucus members and legislative caucus members will gather, celebrate and share highlights of their discussions.  This event is open to all WEA caucus members.  We’ll be joined by members of legislative caucuses (the House Members of Color Caucus, the Senate Members of Color Caucus, the Black Members Caucus, and the LGBTQ caucus).  To RSVP for the virtual reception, please email Hillary Hunt in the WEA GR office at hhunt@washingtonea.org

What happened this week?

Fully fund schools

  • K-12 COVID Enrollment Safety Net– HB 1476 – The early version of this bill would have created an enrollment safety funding formula for school years 2020-21 and 2021-22.  As this bill passed out of the House Appropriations committee, the safety net portions were removed leaving only the changes needed to hold harmless local levy calculations for this period.  State funding is needed to restore the lost K-12 revenues as a result of the pandemic.  An intent section was added to this bill stating the legislature will provide funding relief as part of their budget this biennium.  WEA will continue advocating for a K-12 budget that focuses on equitable funding that increases funding for safe learning environments for students and educators. It takes more resources, not less to meet the needs of students during a pandemic, especially schools in communities that have been historically underfunded.  This bill passed Appropriations last Friday and is in the Rules committee awaiting scheduling for a floor vote.
  • Create of a public investment cooperative - SB 5188 - WEA’s continuing resolutions supports the creation of a public cooperative bank.  The bill passed in Ways and Means on Monday and is in Rules awaiting scheduling for a floor vote.
  • Bond vote reform – SB 5386/SJR 8204 – Calls for amending the state constitution to allow 55 percent of voters to authorize school district bonds.  WEA prefers a simple majority for bond votes instead.  This legislation requires a two-thirds majority to pass since it would change the constitution.  It did not pass the Ways and Means committee and is dead.
  • Pension security - SB 5021 - Would provide pension protections for those who have been furloughed during the pandemic.  WEA supports.  This bill passed on the Senate floor on Tuesday and is now headed to the House.

Improve equity, dismantle racism, meet the needs of all students

  • Eliminate the edTPA – HB 1028 – The edTPA is a barrier to creating a more diverse and inclusive educator workforce. It’s a WEA priority to pass this bill to eliminate the edTPA requirement and replace it with rigorous standards for student teachers to demonstrate their skills.  It passed the House floor unanimously on Wednesday night and is now headed to the Senate.
  • Expand working families tax exemption – HB 1297 – If funded, this bill makes more Washingtonians eligible for the working families tax exemption in order to balance out our state’s regressive tax structure.  WEA supports this bill that is awaiting scheduling for a floor vote. 
  • Close the homework gap by expanding broadband access – SHB 1336 – Would make broadband accessible to more students by allowing more entities to provide the service.  WEA members took action to call for a floor vote and were successful.  This bill passed the House floor on Tuesday and is now on to the Senate.
  • Create a bridge year pilot program – SB 5265 – Would create pilot programs in high schools allowing students to defer graduation from high school in order to pursue additional learning to make up for COVID challenges.   Passed out of Ways and Means on Monday and is now in Rules waiting for scheduling of a floor vote.
  • Education access post-incarceration – HB 1044 – Would ease the transition from incarceration to postsecondary education.  WEA supports. This bill passed out of the House unanimously and is now awaiting committee assignment in the Senate.
  • School based health centers -- HB 1225 – Would allow districts to establish in-school health centers.  WEA supports.  This bill has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.
  • Diversity and equity training for higher education – SSB 5227 – Would establish for higher education faculty and staff a professional development program on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.  WEA supports.  This bill is now on 2nd Reading in the Senate.
  • Learning assistance program funding – HB 1208 – Would create more flexibility for the learning assistance program funding to better address learning gaps and mental health needs. WEA supports.  It has passed out of the House with a strong pro vote and now heads to the Senate.
  • Institutional education programs- HB 1295 –  Would provide a plan to improve the educational programing and outcomes for students who are incarcerated.  This bill passed out of the House unanimously and heads to the Senate for a committee hearing.
  • Mastery-based learning – SB 5249 – Would continue a work group to develop a WA state profile of a graduate describing the cross-disciplinary skills a student should have developed by the time they graduate high school. It passed Ways and Means on Monday and is now in Rules awaiting scheduling for a floor vote.
  • Allow districts to build affordable educator housing – SB 5043 – Would update the current provisions allowing districts to construct housing to provide tax incentives to build affordable educator housing on school district land. WEA testified pro.  It passed Ways and Means on Monday and is now in Rules awaiting scheduling for a floor vote.
  • Increase equity and diversity at community and technical colleges – SB 5194 – Would require development of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plans and implements student success programs.  WEA supports.  It has been placed on 2nd Reading in the Senate.
  • College in the high school - HB 1302 – would allow students who take college-level classes in their high schools to receive college credits.  WEA testified pro.  The bill passed the House on Tuesday and is headed to the Senate.
  • Fair access to transcripts – HB 1176 – would eliminate the requirement that all expenses and fees be paid in full before a student’s official transcript can be released.  WEA supports and testified in favor.  It passed the House floor on Wednesday and is now on to the Senate.
  • Provide menstrual products in schools – HB 1273 – Would create a requirement for school districts to provide sanitary napkins and tampons in all female- and gender-neutral-designated restrooms. WEA supports this bill which passed the House with a strong yes vote.  It now heads to the Senate.
  • Educator secondary trauma - HB 1363 – Would require school districts to adopt policies and procedures to prevent and address secondary trauma in the K-12 workforce.  WEA supports this bill which passed the House and now awaits a committee hearing in the Senate.
  • Behavioral health resource information - HB 1373 – Would require public schools to publish on their websites contact information for depression, suicide prevention, and other mental health support organizations.   WEA supports this bill which has passed the House.
  • Graduation access - HB 1162 – Would add additional options for students to achieve graduation requirements.  WEA supports this bill which passed the House and is heading to the Senate. 
  • Higher ed scholarships – HB 1425 – Would expands eligibility for scholarships for community and technical college students who are not graduates of WA state high schools and for those who are pursuing an industry-recognized credential.  WEA supports this bill which passed the House with a unanimous vote. 

Address the challenges presented by COVID-19 recovery in schools

  • Alternative school-year calendars – SB 5147 – Would provide a pilot program giving districts  flexibility to change or extend their school year calendars in response to student needs from the COVID-19 pandemic.   WEA signed in “other.”  It passed Ways and Means on Monday and is now in Rules awaiting scheduling for a floor vote.

Ensure school safety

  • Safe drinking water – HB 1139 – Would direct testing  for lead in the drinking water of schools, disclose lead testing levels publicly, and make available technical guidance to help districts reduce lead levels.  WEA supports this bill.  The bill is awaiting  a floor vote.
  • Grants for teaching media literacy – SB 5242 – Would direct the OSPI to create a grant program to support school librarians in teaching media and digital literacy.  WEA supports this bill.  It is passed Ways and Means on Monday and now is in Rules awaiting scheduling for a floor vote.

What’s new next week?

For bills to stay alive in the process, they must be in the Rules committee or waiting for a floor vote.  The legislative process happens quickly at this stage with bills being pulled to the floor for a vote with little notice.  In addition to the bills mentioned above, we may see action on bills currently in Rules.

  • Mastery-based learning – SB 5249 – Would continue a work group to develop a WA state profile of a graduate describing the cross-disciplinary skills a student should have developed by the time they graduate high school. WEA supports.

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