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Taking Action in Olympia - January 22, 2021

01/22/2021
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Session Week 2

Meet the WEA political organizing team 

WEA’s political organizing team works directly with Uniserv staff to make sure members' voices are heard during the legislative session.  They arranged lobby day this week, and they also manage WEA-PAC and assist the WEA-PAC board.  If you’re not a WEA-PAC member, sign up now

Samantha Casne is a political coordinator who helps coordinate WEA’s involvement on variety of local, state, and federal campaigns. She is also an advisor to the WEA-PAC Management Board.  

Emily Hansen is a political coordinator who focuses on WEA’s campaign and elections work from bonds and levies to school board to statewide and legislative races. She also helps with member engagement, session organizing, and staffing WEA-PAC. 

Hillary Hunt is a political coordinator who helps with WEA-PAC and works with our federal delegation in Washington, D.C. 

Djibril Diop, director of Government Relations, leads the political organizing team.  

What happened this week? 

Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Day, was WEA’s annual lobby day.  Read more about lobby day

Fully fund schools 

·         Student transportation funding – SB 5128 – fixing the funding formula for people transportation to make districts whole during COVID passed out of the Senate Early Learning committee and now heads to the Ways and Means committee.  WEA will testify in strong support in the Senate Ways and Means hearing on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. 

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

·         Teach tribal history, culture, and government – SB 5161 – requires school district to work with local tribes on curricula to include content tribes’ culture, history, and government. WEA supports, and it had a hearing on Monday. 

·         Provide menstrual products in schools – SB 5070 – creates a requirement for school districts to provide sanitary napkins and tampons in all female- and gender-neutral-designated restrooms. WEA supported this bill in its Wednesday hearing. 

·         Revise school attendance rules and procedures – HB 1113 -   updates school attendance law to reflect a focus on multi-tiered supports and interventions to better support rather than punish students.  WEA testified in favor during its Thursday hearing.  Now scheduled for a possible vote on this coming Thursday at 1:30 p.m. 

·         Allow districts to build affordable educator housing – SB 5043 – updates the current provisions allowing districts to construct housing to provide tax incentives to build affordable educator housing on school district land. WEA testified pro at the Wednesday hearing. 

·         Foster care point of contact – SB 5184 – creates a separate point of contact for foster youth in schools.  WEA testified pro during the Friday hearing.   Scheduled for a possible vote Thursday in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee. 

·         Make Juneteenth a holiday – HB 1016 --  recognizes the importance of June 19, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved Americans. Read more about Juneteenth.  It was reported out of committee this week. 

·         Education access post-incarceration – HB 1044 – eases the transition from incarceration to postsecondary education.  WEA supports.  This bill was heard on Wednesday and is now scheduled for possible vote on Monday at 1:30 p.m. 

·         Education for incarcerated students - HB 1295 –  WEA testified in support of this bill in House Education which provides a plan to improve the educational programing and outcomes for students who are incarcerated.  Scheduled for possible vote on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. 

Address the challenges presented by COVID-19 recovery in schools 

·         Forcing schools to re-open based on set metrics – SB 5037 – requires districts to reopen in-person learning once certain community COVID-19 thresholds are met.  WEA opposed this bill during its Monday hearing because of its rigidity in requirements and how it usurps local control. 

·         Waiver of graduation requirements – HB 1121 – gives districts the ability to flex graduation requirements to reflect the difficulties students face during the pandemic.  WEA is for.  The bill is now on second Reading on the floor of the House. 

·         Alternative school-year calendars – SB 5147 – provides districts with flexibility to change or extend their school year calendars in response to student needs from the COVID-19 pandemic.   WEA signed in “other” supporting the concept and pointing out concerns with the technical aspects.   

·         Protect pensions – SB 5021 – protects retirement wages from the impact of COVID-19 related furloughs.  WEA supports.  Scheduled for possible vote this coming Thursday at 4:00 p.m. 

What’s happening next week? 

Fully fund schools 

·         Salary rebase -- HB 1266 – creates a process for public educator salary rebases.  WEA will testify pro at its hearing on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in the House Appropriations committee.  

·         Furloughs and wage freezes in higher ed -  SB 5323 – suspends I-732 cost of living increases and creates furlough days in higher ed.  WEA will testify against in the Senate Ways and Means committee Thursday at 4:00 p.m. 

·         Charter schools – HB 1195 – extends the time frame for establishing charter schools.  WEA opposes.  Will be heard Friday at 10:00 a.m. in the House Education committee.  

·         Vouchers –SB 5200 – This bill, under the disguise of scholarships would allow public tax dollars to be used for private school tuition. WEA strongly opposes.  Will be heard Friday at 8:00 a.m. in Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education. 

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

·         Professional development on equity, cultural competency, and dismantling racism – SB 5044 – This is a WEA priority bill that would forward racial equity in our schools by ensuring that every educator has an understanding of equity issues.  It was heard on 1/13 and WEA members testified in favor.  It is now awaiting scheduling for the Senate floor. 

·         Eliminate the EdTPA – HB 1028 – The EdTPA is a barrier to creating a more diverse and inclusive educator workforce and it’s a WEA priority to pass this bill eliminate the EdTPA requirement and replace it with rigorous standards for student teachers to demonstrate skills in the classroom.  The House Education committee will hold a possible vote on the bill on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. 

·         Increase language access in schools – HB 1153 –  requires districts to implement a language access program for culturally responsive, systemic family engagement and directs OSPI to establish a language access technical assistance program.  WEA will testify in support.  It will be heard Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the House Education committee. 

·         Diversity and equity training for higher education – SB 5227 – establishes for higher education faculty and staff a professional development program on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.  WEA supports.  It will be heard on Tuesday in the Senate Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development at 1:30 p.m. 

·         Education access post-incarceration – HB 1044 – eases the transition from incarceration to postsecondary education.  WEA supports.  This could be voted on in the College and Workforce Development committee of the House on Monday at 1:30 p.m. 

·         Mastery-based learning – SB 5249 – creates a work group to make recommendations to the legislature on ways to use mastery-based learning assessments for progress measurement and graduations.  WEA will testify in support.  This bill will be heard on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee. 

·         Fair access to transcripts – HB 1176 – eliminates the requirement that all expenses and fees be paid in full before a student’s official transcript can be released.  WEA supports.  It will be heard Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the House Education committee. 

·         Equity and economic inclusion -  SB 5241 – creates community grants to promote equity, economic inclusion, and stable financial foundation for people experiencing poverty, with a specific focus on people of color and rural communities.  WEA supports.  This will be heard in the Senate Human Services committee on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. 

·         School based health centers -- HB 1225 – allows districts to establish in-school health centers.  WEA supports.  This bill will be heard on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. 

Address the challenges presented by COVID-19 recovery in schools 

·         Create a bridge year pilot program – SB 5265 – creates 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.  WEA will testify pro.  This will be heard Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee. 

·         Learning assistance program funding – HB 1208 – creates more flexibility for the learning assistance program funding to better address learning gaps from COVID-19. WEA supports. This will be heard Friday at 10:00 a.m. in the House Education committee. 

Ensure school safety 

·         Grants for teaching media literacy – SB 5242 – directs the OSPI to create a grant program to support school librarians in teaching media and digital literacy.  This bill will be heard on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee. 

·         Safe drinking water – HB 1139 – directs the Department of Health to test each school for lead in the drinking water, disclose lead testing levels publicly, and make available technical guidance to help districts reduce lead levels.  WEA supports.  It will be heard Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the House Education committee. 

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