Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Ortiz-Self’s e-Newsletter for Jan. 26, 2016: Education Update

Telephone Town Hall TOMORROW NIGHT

 Please join Representative Strom Peterson and me over the phone tomorrow night at 6 p.m.

Many of you in the 21st Legislative District will receive automatically generated telephone calls at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27 inviting you to join the conversation. You will be able to ask a question directly by pressing *3 on your phone at any time during the call, or you may just want to listen to the live conversation to hear the questions from your neighbors.

If you don’t get the call but want to participate, please dial 877-229-8493 and enter code 18646 when prompted.


Education wins in WA House of Representatives

high school classYesterday was a big day for education in Washington State. Your House of Representatives voted to achieve excellence in our schools and give our 1 million children in public schools greater opportunities to learn and thrive. You can watch all the Floor action here. The following are some of the bills I was proud to support and vote for:

  • Local LeviesA bipartisan proposal to address our state’s education funding problem. The Legislature must end reliance on local levies to pay teachers. That’s the final goal we must reach in order to keep our promise and paramount duty of fully funding education.
  • Teacher ShortageWashington State has a teacher shortage crisis. I voted for a bipartisan bill to adjust our retire/rehire policies to help get more qualified substitute teachers into our classrooms. It’s a commonsense approach, one of many being considered this session, to address this growing problem.
  • High Stakes TestingWashington state, like many other states, requires students to take and pass high-stakes tests before they can graduate. But we’ve reached the point of over testing. I voted for a bipartisan bill to fix the state’s broken student assessment system. Students should be spending more time in the classroom learning and less time taking tests.

We will continue working hard to fulfill our promise to fully fund a free and appropriate education for ALL of our students. Over the next couple of weeks, the House will likely consider the following education policies:

  • Family Engagement CoordinatorsAs a prime sponsor of SHB 1408, I am excited to see this bill move along with bipartisan support. It will develop the definition and framework for the position of a “family engagement coordinator.” We know that children with involved parents have higher academic achievement. This important legislation will help increase family involvement in their kids’ education.
  • Closing the Opportunity Gap It is a fact that many Washington students are falling through the cracks and we need creative and comprehensive policies to help them succeed. The requirements in this legislation include support for reengagement, reducing the length of time students are excluded from school due to suspensions and expulsions, collection of disaggregated student data, and development of cultural competence training for all school staff. The ultimate goal of SHB 1541 is to accelerate achievement and attainment but to do so while creating a level playing field so that all students have access to the equitable education they deserve.
  • Disaster recovery – This is a great bipartisan bill that will help communities develop a plan so they can continue delivering educational services to students after a natural disaster.

Today’s votes on the House floor are steps in the right direction toward reaching our goals and ensuring our education system is fully funded.

I was proud to take these votes today. Nevertheless, the fate of these bills is unknown in the Republican-controlled Senate.

It is time for courageous action. I deeply believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn and our responsibility as your state legislators is to ensure we fully fund education. I ask you to stand with me and our one million students in Washington State.

I remain deeply humbled and honored to serve you in the Washington State House of Representatives 21st Legislative District.