Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cutting school days creates a legal, logistical mess

Dear advocates,

The governor’s proposal to cut and later ask voters to “buy back” four days of school gambles with our children’s future, and Washington State PTA strongly opposes it. The move would land the state in a legal mess and cause tremendous disruption. TAKE ACTION
  • It would require redefining basic education and set a troubling precedent that students don’t need that time in school. 
  • It would force districts to reopen and renegotiate hundreds of contracts, or possibly make the state step in and order school doors closed. 
  • Worst of all, it tells students not to count on that promised college- and career-ready diploma. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cuts go too far, take wrong approach

Governor’s budget and revenue options
Dear advocates,

Gov. Gregoire released her budget on November 21 and K-12 takes another hit, this time to both levy equalization and school days. Over the past three years, the state has reduced spending by $10.5 billion, and the biggest piece of that – 26 percent, or $2.7 billion – has been to K-12.

Blow to basic education: We were told to expect more cuts, but the manner of one in particular is troubling. Not only would the governor’s proposal take another $329 million from students, it would require redefining basic education to cut the number of school days. For $99 million in savings the state would set a precedent that basic education is what the state opts to fund – not what students need to graduate ready for college and career, and not what the state previously committed to.  It undoes the “magic” of basic education funding reform and pushes us further from our goal to add instructional time in middle and high school.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Support for charter schools

Dear advocates,

Allowing the operation of charter schools in Washington is on our legislative platform for 2011-12. It is one of eight supported issues, which means the association will testify in support of a proposal that meets our criteria. To the extent possible the government relations coordinator (that’s me) will participate in conversations about what a good charter school law would entail. Staff focus goes first to the Top 6 issues, then to supported issues.

As with all platform issues, the government relations coordinator will let members know when there are opportunities to testify or otherwise engage in charter legislation or conversations.

Following is the filter that will be used this legislative session to evaluate any charter school proposal. This same filter is used for all school proposals.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Priorities for fall special session

Dear advocates,

Gov. Gregoire is calling legislators into special session on November 28 to deal with an expected budget shortfall. Revenue is not falling, but it isn’t recovering at the rate officials had hoped for. The governor is planning on $2 billion in spending reductions -- $1.4 billion to cover lower revenue and $600 million to maintain a reserve. Education and programs that support children’s health, safety and welfare could take a big hit.

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association asks the state to put children first.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reading flagged in Nation’s Report Card

Dear advocates,

For the data wonks, long-awaited national figures have been released by National Assessment of Educational Progress. And contrary to what we often hear, READING is a concern. Early literacy, specifically screening for phonological awareness and direct, explicit, research-based classroom reading instruction in the K-3 years is our association’s No. 3 priority. (Math and science are No. 2)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Governor’s preliminary cuts

Nearly $600 million less for children’s well-being and education 
$2 billion in cuts needed to balance the 2011-13 operating budget and maintain a reserve


Dear advocates,

We knew more cuts were coming, and today Gov. Gregoire gave us a glimpse of what might be ahead. She released preliminary spending reductions and asked all who care to review them. She will finalize her recommendations in November ahead of the special session.

Costs to kids? Cuts affecting the well-being and education of children come in at $592 million. And those are just to children and family programs, early learning and K-12 public schools. Other cuts will hit the adults in children’s lives, leaving kids more vulnerable.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How will school salary cuts play out?

Dear advocates,

Short answer to the salary question: It will vary among districts. Any loss in take-home pay will depend on local contracts, local resources and how much of the staff is hired using local funds. The cut is to an allocation. Actual reductions in take-home pay may range between 3 percent (for principals) and none.

The answer will also vary among individuals. Details (and there are many!) are below.

Monday, May 2, 2011

K-12 budget points you need to know

Dear advocates,

Public education is a core function of the state and its paramount duty (per the constitution). The state is charged with ensuring equitable and stable funding.

Here are some quick points about the proposed budgets:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basic Education 101

The legislators' proposed cuts are severe and we are concerned about the state's ability to meet its constitutional duty. Here is a primer on Basic Education.

The State Constitution provides that:
  • "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders…" (Article IX, Section 1), and, 
  • "The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. …" (Article IX, Section 2);
The courts have held:
In School Funding I and II the court interpreted these articles of the State Constitution and established important funding principles for the state, including that:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Contracts and school policy; using data in family engagement

1. Advancing student achievement through labor-management collaboration
2. Using data to transform family engagement

Interesting reading for those of you interested in how contracts affect student outcome.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Update on Budget Cuts – and Outlook for out Top Priorities

Dear advocates,

The first two weeks of legislative session were hectic. In addition to the hearings, there were key meetings of the Quality Education Council and the State Board of Education, as well as ongoing meetings of the steering committee for the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot. Budget hearings and money (or lack of) is coloring everything. PTA/PTSA members need to understand there are 2 budget issues.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Hi advocates,

More food for thought (and not revenue, this time) … Wash State PTA is part of the state’s Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot oversight committee. At the committee’s last meeting, the Measure of Effective Teaching project was cited. I found the project’s website site interesting and thought you might as well. I particularly like that it looks at the substantive nature of teaching – not just test scores.

Saturday, January 8, 2011



Hi advocates,

The revenue coalition we worked alongside with on I-1098 is working on tax exemptions this session. I will be putting together a policy paper on this for our association’s board members (they meet later this month).

We don’t have a position on tax reform, but given our newest resolution on revenue (we should consider revenue increases that support our funding priorities) I wanted to share some information with you. The revenue coalition is basically saying given the extreme cuts we’re seeing, we should look at closing some tax loopholes. (There has been a petition circulating.) The other side equates ending exemptions to increasing business taxes at a bad time.

Again, food for thought as we go into a tough session that will have long-term consequences for our state.

Ramona Hattendor