Greetings from Olympia! It is such a privilege to represent you, and I’d like to update you on some of the work I’ve been doing. I serve on the Early Learning and Human Services Committee, the Environment Committee, and the Transportation Committee, and I’m working hard to provide great educational opportunities for our kids, protect our environment, and ensure we have a strong economy. I’m the prime sponsor on bills that will protect children’s privacy, help make more land available for affordable housing near transit stations, and improve the level of childcare in the state.
The highlight of my day is when a group of constituents stops by to teach me about the issues they care about. It’s truly inspiring to meet with people who have made the trek down from the 46th District to make sure their voices are heard. If you ever plan on coming down to Olympia here is some helpful information about visiting the legislature. I’d love to see you!
In addition to the updates on specific issues I’m working on, I’ll be featuring some of the major bills the legislature will be considering this year. Education is an issue many of us care about, so here’s an update on that front.
A Great Education for All Kids
It is extremely important to me that we improve education for all kids in Washington State – that means improving learning opportunities for our very youngest learners, making major improvements to our K-12 system, and keeping higher education affordable. This week I’ll focus on K-12 efforts.
Washington State’s spending per pupil is below the national average, and in the past few years we’ve watched our enrollment go up while State funding has slipped. The House Democrats have championed legislation to reform our public schools. Two of the biggest reforms were passed a few years ago – HB 2776 and HB 2261. These measures redefined “basic education” and provided a road map for fully funding basic education by the year 2018. Full compliance with these two measures will get us back on the right track with keeping our promise to fully fund our public schools – an opinion reaffirmed by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary decision.
We’ve also enacted additional reforms to other parts of public education in response to issues that needed fixing. A new Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program, passed last year, will ensure a great teacher is in front of every student in every school. We’ve also adopted Common Core Standards to ensure our students are learning what they need to know so they can be successful in life after high school.
But despite adopting these sweeping reforms, some are calling for new measures that take our schools in another direction. A recent article in the Washington Post, while not referencing our state specifically, shines some light on a national school reform effort with an agenda that appears to be mirrored in legislation being introduced here.
More reforms aren’t needed – we’ve passed plenty of reforms, but now it’s time for us to fund them. Funding education right, and ensuring that we comply with the McCleary mandate, is a task legislators are tackling head-on this session. I’ll continue to provide updates on our progress.