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WEA members speak out for equity

01/14/2021
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Glenn Jenkins

We are the voices for our students’ needs, and this Wednesday, January 13, WEA members used their voices to call for more student counseling time and anti-racist professional development for educators. 

michael pena 5044At the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, WEA educators Glenn Jenkins and Michael Peña testified in favor of SB 5044.   SB 5044 is a WEA priority bill that would forward racial equity in our schools by ensuring that every educator has an understanding of equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and cultural competency.

“We can no longer afford to disseminate one-sided information in our classroom that continues to fuel the social destruction of knowledge and the transfer of racism and further disenfranchises the cultural wealth that our BIPOC students bring with them every day,” testified Glenn Jenkins, fifth grade teacher and member of Auburn EA. 

During the hearing, a broad coalition spoke to the importance of ensuring educators are fully equipped to educate and welcome all students into their classrooms.

“[These trainings] are key to understanding the needs of our students and educators of color, rebuilding a school system that works for all,” noted Michael Peña, high school teacher and member of Mukilteo EA.  “They’re simply ways of recognizing our strengths and unique characteristics that arise from how we identify from our cultural and racialized identities.”

Nita Hill SB 5030SB 5030 was also heard with WEA member Nita Hill testifying in support.  This bill would require that school counselors spend 80% of their time with students, reducing the amount of time on meetings and administration.  WEA supports meeting the need for increased staffing whether in remote, hybrid, or in-person learning models.  Students need individual attention for their learning and social-emotional needs in this challenging environment and schools need more staff, not less.

“Exacerbating our current core ratio is the fact that the school counselors that we do have are often not able to spend the majority of their time serving students due to non-appropriate meetings frequently assigned to them,” remarked Nita Hill, on behalf of the School Counselor Association.  “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that students have access to these services when needed, as outlined by our national model.”

WEA will continue tracking both bills as they move through the legislative process.  Subscribe to the OurVoice blog for the latest updates.

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