Statement from Rep. Reykdal regarding the NCLB waiver loss

reykdalWashington State was informed today that the U.S. Department of Education has revoked our No Child Left Behind waiver. Under the terms of the revocation, Washington State will not lose resources; rather, we will lose some flexibility on how to use $40 million of the approximately $12 billion we spend in our K-12 schools per year (that’s 0.3% – three tenths of one percent).

Below is a statement from Rep. Chris Reykdal of Tumwater regarding the waiver loss:

As a legislator who voted for our state’s robust home-grown teacher-principal evaluation system and one of the authors of our state’s new rigorous 24-credit graduation framework, I am disappointed in the federal government’s decision to repeal our waiver.

This is a tremendous moment in our nation’s history where a state that strongly supported the President in 2008 and again in 2012 soundly rejected the federal government’s demands to structure our teacher-principal evaluation system to the specific criteria established by the U.S. Dept. of Education. 

My message to President Obama and Secretary Duncan is that Washington State is committed to education reform that is collaborative, bipartisan, and focused on student success and teacher growth. Our legislative decision to reject the federal government’s demands was done with substantial deliberation and a deep respect for state and local control.

The bipartisan rejection of this federal government demand during the 2014 legislative session is a strong and unifying message that our state fully embraces our constitutional 10th Amendment guarantee to develop, fund, and administer our state’s education system as the citizens of the state of Washington and their elected representatives determine, not as federal officials deem it appropriate.

Washington State has one of the leading K-12 systems in the United States. With 89% of our adult population having earned a high school diploma or greater, we are a national leader in student success, employment growth, and earnings.

I strongly encourage federal officials to use this moment in history to model Washington State’s success instead of using us as an example of federal government power and leverage. I challenge the federal government to turn a corner on education reform, fix the deeply-flawed and failed No Child Left Behind Act, and get back to empowering the states instead of coercing them.

No Child Left Behind is a failed policy of the Bush administration that focuses on student failure and school punishment. This is no way to run a public education system. Enacting bad policy at the state level as a result of bad policy at the federal level will not help schools – and certainly won’t help students – be successful.

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Washington may be facing a farm labor shortage, again

Back in November we reported that our state’s ag industry is booming. For instance, our Nieto Fernandez, Lilia P apple production was valued at $1.54 billion in 2010 and in 2012 it ballooned to $2.25 billion.

Granted, the 2012 applepalooza was the result of favorable weather conditions, and smaller than normal crops from the competition. But who’s to say this combination won’t happen again? And, if it does, will Washington farmers have enough hands picking the fruit?

Last month state economists reported a 5.2 percent agricultural labor shortage, which hadn’t happened since March 2008. Growers are getting a little nervous because we might be facing another record apple crop, possibly even larger than the 130 million boxes of 2012.

Struggling to find workers in recent years, which caused some of the fruit to rot on trees, justifies our growers’ concerns. But officials from the Employment Security Department are not hitting the panic button just yet.

Get more information in this April 22 Yakima Herald Republic story.

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Rep. Kagi is a shining star!

 Rep. Ruth Kagi has been a champion for foster children since she entered the legislature 15 years ago. From her work with the League of Women voters, she learned that foster youth often have tumultuous lives and encounter struggles daily. As a state representative, she knew that the legislature must do everything in its power to make sure foster youth have safe, supportive and stable homes.

One of Rep. Kagi’s first achievements in the legislature was passing a bill to help foster children stay in the same school, even if they were transferred from home to home. This is important because when a child changes schools he or she, on average, loses four months of progress.

Since that great start, Rep. Kagi has worked tirelessly on behalf of foster children. Just this past legislative session she sponsored and helped pass bills to:

Next month, Rep. Kagi will be honored for her efforts by the Foster Parents Association of Washington State. She will be presented with the Elected Official Award at their “Night of Shining Stars”. Congratulations on being a “shining star,” Rep. Kagi – keep up the good work!

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State patrol: move over for emergency vehicles

It’s a rule of the road: slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder.

State troopers will be looking for drivers who don’t follow that rule this weekend. Not  respecting  fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, police cars, etc. performing their duties can result in a fine — unless the emergency worker is endangered by that disrespect, in which case drivers can face jail time and a suspended license.

Protect yourself and our emergency workers! Slow down and scoot over.


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Washington startups pulling in cash

Startups seeking venture capital in Washington state had a strong start to 2014, pulling in more than $172 million to launch their nascent businesses in the first quarter of the year.

That figure is less than the record-setting $485 million brought in during the final quarter of last year, but it is still more than double the numbers reported in Q1 of 2013 and ahead of the national average for venture capital investments.

According to the report issued PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, the majority of deals struck in Washington were in the software industry, which accounted for half of the 26 investments worth almost $100 million made in 2014. Biotechnology  the runner up with four deals with just over $30 million.

The two largest investments were $30 million in late-state funding for software company Avalara and $25 million in early stage funding for Juno Therapeutics, a biotechnology company.

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