Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Blake’s Legislative e-Newsletter for Feb. 25: Education Update

McCleary Update

What has been done: $3.2 Billion in new K-12 investments for:

  • Student transportation
  • Materials & supplies
  • All-day kindergarten
  • K-3 class size reduction
  • Other enhancements

What we are working on:

  • Fulfilling our paramount duty
    • HB 2366: Forces the Legislature to adopt a fix to teacher compensation by 2017 – the final piece of McCleary.
  • Teacher shortage
    • HB 2573: Implements several changes to get more teachers into our classrooms. This bill would ramp up teacher recruitment efforts, encourage retired teachers to return to the classroom as mentors and advisors, and offer additional financial aid for new educators.
    • HB 1983: Helps new educators with the costs associated with their certifications.
  • K-3 class size
    • HB 2968: Invests $1 billion over the next 10 years for K-3 class size reduction.

We continue working to ensure equity and excellence for every child and to ensure all students have an opportunity to learn. That means investing in our kids from birth to graduation:

Historic investments in early learning – The Legislature made historic investments in early learning in the 2015 legislative session. Too many kids in our state show up to kindergarten on the first day of school behind – and they rarely catch up. The passage of the Early Start Act last year is improving access to high-quality early learning and increasing school readiness for kids all across the state. This year we are focuseLittlekidsd on overseeing the implementation of the Early Start Act, including the Early Achievers Program, which provides training and support to childcare programs and finally gives parents reliable information about the quality of early learning programs they are considering for their children.

Fully funding basic education / HB 2366 – The Legislature MUST put a plan in place toward a solution on teacher compensation. The current practice is unconstitutional and it must be fixed in our next two-year budget. We have a plan allowing the state to collect the data we need to take action, and requires the Legislature to adopt a solution by 2017. It is the only path forward that allows us to meet our goal of a funding fix by the 2018 school year.

Closing the Opportunity Gap / HB 1541 – We must ensure ALL students have opportunities to learn. The current public education system puts the nearly half a million students of color at a huge learning disadvantage. The system is failing them. It does not, and should not, have to be this way. We must hold the public education system accountable for providing education opportunities for every student. Closing the opportunity gap is the most important action we can take to provide opportunity for every child.

Breakfast after the Bell / HB 1295 – Nearly half of Washington students, whose families’ incomes are close enough to the federal poverty level, are eligible for free and reduced meals at school. Students have one job when they enter the classroom: learn. Hungry children can’t learn. HB 1295 creates a “Breakfast after the Bell” program to increase the number of students receiving adequate nutrition in the morning. Ensuring students are fed and ready to learn will lead to greater academic achievement.

homelessnessReducing youth homelessness / HB 1682 – Washington’s youth homeless problem is getting worse. We now have over 35,000 students that don’t have a secure place to sleep at night. Most adults would find it difficult, if not impossible, to do their jobs well if they were homeless. How can we expect kids to learn when they’re cold and hungry? We can build brighter futures for these students. This bill creates grant programs designed to connect homeless youth with stable housing and help school districts collect better information on the homeless student population.

Addressing the Teacher Shortage / HB 2573Washington state has a teacher shortage crisis. It’s not a problem. It’s not a dilemma. It’s a crisis. Over half of recently surveyed principals said they are in “crisis mode” and unable to find adequate subs most days. Washington state – this Legislature – made a promise to kids: We WILL fully fund your education. That will be a broken promise if there aren’t enough teachers in our schools.

Common-sense assessment reform / HB 2214 – Our high school students are required to pass several state tests to graduate from high school. Three bills making their way through the legislative process would streamline and improve the assessment system for high school students. This streamlining would save money and allow more flexibility for students working hard to meet the new 24-credit graduation requirement.


20160222_WilliamFratt_RepBlake_121810abWilliam Fratt serves as Page

William is our legislative page this week. He is an 11th grade student at Mark Morris High School in Longview. Pages perform a wide variety of responsibilities, from presenting the flags to distributing amendments on the House floor. In addition to contributing to the efficient operation of the Legislature, pages receive daily civics instruction, draft their own bills and participate in mock committee hearings.


Watch my Videos

As you know, I do two types of short videos during session. One is my Legislative Video Update, and the other one is my Ask Brian video where I respond to constituent emails. Here’s the link to my YouTube playlist, if you’re interested in checking them out.

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. Stay in touch through emails or phone, hearing from you helps me represent you better.

Best regards,