Friday, October 16, 2015

National PTA Assessments and Score Report Webinar + Free Raffle

From National PTA:

Join National PTA Tues., Oct. 20 for a webinar for parents on assessments and score reports. During the session, we'll discuss tips, resources and hear from special guests:
  • Lucille Davy, senior advisor for the Hunt Institute, will review the key changes in standards, assessments and score reports.
  • Bill Jackson, CEO and founder of Great Schools, will review the new parent assessment guide offered on that help parents understand what the assessment scores mean.
  • David Park, EVP of strategy & communications for Be A Learning Hero, will review the new parent resources offered on that help parents understand their child's strengths and weaknesses.

We'll also raffle five $100 Amazon gift cards to the child's school of randomly selected attendees. Winners will be notified by Fri., Oct. 23 via email. Space is limited, so register today to reserve your spot!


Friday, October 9, 2015

SBE Community Forum at ESD 112 in Vancouver

The State Board of Education will hold a board meeting November 4-5 in Vancouver. Public comment is scheduled during the board meeting, but the Board recognizes that those times may not be convenient for working community leaders, so we're holding an additional open forum to gather feedback from members of the community. 

Please join board members for an open discussion about important topics such as strategies for closing the achievement gap, standards, and assessment. The community forum will be November 3 at ESD 112

If you are unable to attend the public comment or community meeting, we are happy to respond to any written questions you may have about the board and its work. Currently, the Board is working on important issues impacting the achievement index, school accountability, graduation requirements, and student discipline.

Board members appreciate the opportunity the community forum provides for close conversations with members of the community and educators. We hope you'll be able to attend. Register here.
Stefanie Randolph
Communications Manager
Washington State Board of Education
(360) 725-6501

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nominate a Deserving Individual for the WSPTA Outstanding Advocate Award

Applications now are available to recognize the WSPTA's Outstanding Advocate to be awarded at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly October 24, 2015 in Olympia, Washington. The WSPTA Outstanding Advocate award recognizes and honors an individual for continued and dedicated service to ALL children, and a demonstrated commitment to helping create strong policies relating to the health, welfare, safety, and education of children and youth.
To apply: complete the award application and submit to the WSPTA office by October 5, 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2015 Legislative Assembly Registration is Now Open

The 2015 Legislative Assembly is right around the corner. Registration for accommodations  and the one day event is now open.

2015 Legislative Assembly
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Red Lion Inn | Olympia | Registration

Hotel Reservations: Please book your hotel room by October 9, 2015 to take advantage of the Washington State PTA room block discount. 

Questions about Legislative Assembly? Please contact Brook Valentine, Washington State PTA Legislative Chair.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Washington State PTA Position Statement: Uninterrupted Operation of Public Schools

Does PTA have a position on work stoppages and strikes? Are there guidelines for local PTAs?  Yes and Yes!
WSPTA position:  Washington State PTA will not support work stoppages and/or strikes which interrupt or disrupt the educational day. National PTA also has a position statement on “Teacher Negotiations, Sanctions and Strikes” which provides guidance for local PTAs.

Please read below for additional information and texts of both position statements.

Our regions, councils and local PTAs in many areas of the state are being  impacted this week and possibly in the coming weeks by work stoppages, and/or strikes in many of our school districts. This can be a difficult and stressful time for all. Remain PTA mission focused to support what is best for all kids by providing resources from your community on activities and social services for children and families. Strive to create the safest path with the lowest impact on children. 

In order to ensure that guidance is provided to local PTAs and councils, the following applies: WSPTA has a resolution regarding Uninterrupted Operation of Public Schools and the National PTA position statement on Teacher Negotiations, Sanctions and Strikes. Both are listed below and may assist our regions, councils and local PTAs with information on how to respond to strikes.

The Washington State PTA Resolution as passed by its membership:
UNINTERRUPTED OPERATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS 18.6, Resolution passed 1986; revised 2006

Whereas, the Washington State PTA has a purpose “To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, spiritual education”, and

Whereas, Quality Education is a high priority issue for the Washington State PTA, and

Whereas, Washington State citizens have historically valued the reliable delivery of vital services and the orderly management of public institutions including fire and police services and public schools, and Whereas, the Washington State PTA also holds that a disruption to the educational system in the form of work stoppages and strikes is detrimental to the best interests of the children and families affected by those actions, and

Whereas, the Washington State PTA believes that a disruption to the educational system in the form of work stoppages and/or strikes is often detrimental to the best interest of the children and families affected by those actions. While acknowledging that more state resources must be committed to the educational process in the State of Washington, including higher salaries for educational employees. Therefore, be it

Resolved, that the Washington State PTA shall work to produce conditions with regard to the collective bargaining process which will consistently produce, in a timely manner, labor agreements negotiated and fully embraced by the direct parties thereto and which will not cause disruption to the school calendar; and be it further

Resolved, that the Washington State PTA will not support work stoppages and/or strikes which interrupt or disrupt the educational day.

That said, here are some guidelines from National PTA and WSPTA:
These are suggested measures for action organized appropriately during the strike, and after the strike. These guidelines, plus counsel from the state PTA and the basic good judgment of the people, should enable the council and the local PTAs to minimize the dilemmas and to contribute constructively to community understanding, teacher satisfactions, renewal of cordial parent-teacher dialogue, and improved educational climate for children.

From National PTA’s position statement on “Teacher Negotiations, Sanctions and Strikes”:

During the Strike
  • Urge immediate and continuous negotiations and if necessary mediation to get schools open as soon as possible. If negotiation is delayed, the PTA should seek to bring the school board representatives and teachers' organization representatives together.
  • PTA should not man the classrooms, except possibly for a day in the absence of advance notice of a strike. Not only is manning of classrooms inconsistent with PTA efforts to obtain a qualified teacher in every classroom, but personal liability may be incurred. If the school administration intends to keep the schools open during a teacher walkout, it should develop a corps of volunteers outside the PTA structure.
  • Suggest and urge appropriate action by parents, community agencies, and volunteer groups that will protect children during the period the school is closed.
  • Encourage the full and continuous participation of teacher members in PTA activities.
After the Strike
  • Plan activities that will restore harmony, promote teacher morale, and renew parent-teacher dialogue.
  • Through informed public opinion see that the negotiated agreements, which settled the strike, are faithfully implemented.
  • Work for community understanding and support of school needs.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Tacoma, WA (August 13, 2015): Washington state’s highest court issued an order sanctioning the state for failing to develop a plan to fully fund K-12 education per the court’s 2012 McCleary decision. The governor and lawmakers will meet Monday to begin addressing the court’s recent decision.

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association (WSPTA) President Barbara Martin, issued this statement today concerning the Supreme Court’s ruling on McCleary:

“Fully Funding McCleary is the WSPTA’s number one legislative priority and we are extremely pleased with the Supreme Court decision to ensure that fully funding education and holding the legislature responsible to comply with the constitution, is in the best interest of Washington’s children and will provide them with the best education possible.”

About Washington State PTA: The Washington State PTA was founded in 1905 by Abby Williams Hill of Tacoma, an artist who saw the need for an organization to support Washington's children. Thanks to her leadership and vision—and over 132,000 current members who have carried her vision forward—Washington State PTA has been a leading voice for children in Washington for more than 110 years. To learn more about the Washington State PTA, please visit

1304 S. Fawcett Avenue, Suite 300, Tacoma, WA 98402 (253) 214-7410


Friday, July 24, 2015

National PTA Lauds Senate Judiciary Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (July 24, 2015) Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The bill’s passage by the committee is an important first step to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974 and last reauthorized in 2002, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.

“While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, reauthorization of the law is long overdue and improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes in the JJDPA and amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee and the leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for passing the bipartisan Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015. We commend their commitment to improving the juvenile justice system for our nation’s youth.”

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015 would improve current law by:

  • Ensuring the continuity of children’s education while detained and a smooth transition back into the classroom after;
  • Providing guidance to states to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth in the juvenile justice system;
  • Making sure detained youth are kept separate from adults; and
  • Phasing out exemptions that allow youth detainment for minor offenses.
“National PTA has advocated for a fair, safe and rehabilitative justice system for children for more than one hundred years. The association continues to encourage and support policies and programs that work to prevent juvenile delinquency and provide youth in the system with services to help them become productive members of society,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “We remain committed to working with Congress to ensure a JJDPA reauthorization bill is signed into law that enhances protections for youth and helps every child reach his or her full potential.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Learn More and Get Your Questions Answered on Washington's K-12 Learning Standards and Assessments

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Ready Washington (ReadyWA) invite you to join a telephone town hall meeting about Washington’s K-12 learning standards and assessments. This is your opportunity to learn more and ask any questions you may have about learning standards and assessments in our state.

OSPI and ReadyWA will host a telephone town hall for the communities below on the following dates:

Wednesday, July 22 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Southwest Washington, Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap Peninsula and Tacoma

Thursday, July 23 | 7:00 pm - 8:00 p.m.
Central and Eastern Washington

Tuesday, July 28 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Northwest Washington

Thursday, July 30 | 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Puget Sound area

Tuesday, August 4 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
South Puget Sound

To participate and live-stream a telephone town hall on your computer or mobile device on the dates above, please visit the Tele-Town Hall on K-12 Education website.

To help ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards were established. Washington’s K-12 learning standards are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and provide clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English Language Arts from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Smarter Balanced assessment system, which is aligned to the new standards, provides a way for teachers to measure student progress on those standards throughout the year and make adjustments and interventions as necessary to ensure students are on the pathway to success. The assessments are administered in grades 3-8 and 11.

To learn more, visit the OSPI website and the Ready Washington website.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 Senate Passage

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) was passed by the Senate on a vote of 81-17. National PTA applauds the leadership of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for crafting the historic and bipartisan legislation. We believe that this bill is a solid foundation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB). The Senate bill will soon go to a Conference Committee with the House to work out the differences between its reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).
Throughout the consideration of the reauthorization of ESEA-NCLB, National PTA and PTA members across the nation strongly advocated for the inclusion of several provisions to improve family engagement in the bill. Thousands of PTA members and advocates called, emailed and tweeted at Senators voicing their support for amendments to improve family engagement in the bill. Because of this impressive grassroots advocacy by PTA members, the Senate adopted an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that will provide school districts and schools with the capacity to effectively engage families in their children’s education. The inclusion of this program in the Senate bill is a huge victory for children and families. The House bill (H.R. 5) also includes this program.
Furthermore, in large part to the efforts of local PTA members, the bill contains several other laudable family engagement provisions such as the inclusion of parents in the development of school district plans to support student achievement and promote family engagement strategies in early childhood learning programs. Additionally, through the leadership of Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jack Reed (D-RI), language was also included to encourage Title I school districts to invest additional resources in family engagement. In total, 178 amendments were introduced, with 65 accepted and 13 rejected. Several accepted amendments included the creation of a student data privacy commission to inform policymakers on updates to current laws governing this issue, addressing student access to digital learning resources at home, and the establishment of a full-service community schools grant program. Other amendments that were adopted include a proposal from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) allowing certain funds to be spent on mental health awareness programs and one by Sen. Bennet that would require states to limit the total time students spend on tests.
National PTA has long advocated against any proposal that would permit federal dollars to follow a student to another public school or for private school vouchers. The association was pleased that several amendments that attempted to do so were defeated.
Now that both houses of Congress have passed bills to reauthorize the ESEA-NCLB, they must come together to work out the differences between the two bills in conference committees. Once there is agreement, the bill will go back to each chamber of Congress for another vote. The final step is to send the bill to President Obama for his approval. We are excited that this long overdue reauthorization is closer to a reality. National PTA will continue to work to improve educational opportunities and experiences of all children across the United States.

Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator at National PTA.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Washington State PTA Supports HB 2214

PTA Members Take Action - Urge Senators to Support House Bill 2214

Wednesday afternoon, the House passed House Bill 2214, which will make needed reforms to academic testing in Washington State. Washington State PTA supports policies that increase academic rigor which results in career and college readiness. We are asking members to take action and send a message to the state senate, urging the passage of HB 2214 today!

This bill comes at a time where transitions are underway and each graduating class has different graduation requirements. This bill supports many tenants of the Washington State PTA public policy platform including providing a meaningful high school diploma that includes academic rigor leading to a career and college ready diploma. It makes available pathways to graduation that provide alternatives to meeting the assessment standards while continuing to increase students’ ability to acquire the knowledge to be successful in life after high school.  In HB 2214, the legislature states that: “The purpose of a high school diploma is to declare that a student is ready for success in post secondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship, and is equipped with the skills to be a lifelong learner. The Washington State PTA supports the streamlining of high school assessment requirements and the opportunities for increased local determination of alternate coursework to meet the requirement in the 12th grade year in support of future success after high school.  We believe that requirements established in HB 2214 will assist in building and maintaining the integrity of a high quality assessment system that supports career and college ready learning standards and the requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Click here to send a message to your state senator.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Updated Post on Social and Emotional Learning / Breakfast after the Bell

For the second year in a row, legislation mandating schools in high poverty areas to offer a healthy breakfast to hungry children has stalled in the legislature.  Last year, the bill came very close, but was unable to make the final hurdle.  The same thing happened again this year, only this time, the House and Governor's budget actually funded the issue in a line item only to have the Senate version fall short. 

Not to be Outdone - Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats Offer Their Compensation/Levy Proposals, too...

Just when you thought the legislative session was going to close on the equitable funding discussion for McCleary, the House and Senate came out with Teacher Compensation proposals late last week.  The competing proposals would shift the funding for teacher compensation away from local taxpayers and over to the state.  The resulting shift would have the state to fully fund basic education and leave levies, as originally intended, to pay for additional enhancements. 

State Treasurer McIntire Makes Bold Play - Offers Comprehensive Tax Reform to Fully Fund McCleary and Higher Education.

Concerned about the effects of McCleary on our long term budget outlook and reacting to concerns from the bond market, the State Treasurer’s office offered a revenue reform package earlier this week.  State Treasurer Jim McIntire upped the stakes in the dueling budget wars by offering a bold, comprehensive state revenue reform program that would increase the state’s competitiveness, reduce the tax burden on low and middle income residents, and fully fund basic and higher education.  

School Superintendent Randy Dorn Offers Fully Funded "Go-Home" McCleary Proposal

Citing the need to take the discussion on resolving the McCleary Lawsuit to a new level, State School Superintendent Randy Dorn introduced his plan to fully fund McCleary last week at a press conference in Olympia.  The proposal would extend the phase-in of McCleary to 6 years in order to leave time to recruit and train enough teachers and support staff to meet class size reduction requirements.  Unlike current plans on the table, the Dorn Plan funds class size reductions for K-12 and require fully funding teacher compensation at the state level.  His revenue proposal was rolled out in an additional press conference on Monday morning and is described below in a separate article.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” bipartisan Senate legislation to reauthorize the ESEA/NCLB

The U.S. Senate is at work on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  The new legislation is titled  Every Child Achieves Act.  The bill is being marked up in committee this week.  If you are signed up for National PTA Action Alerts, you received one on Monday.  You can access that link here:  For more information from National PTA continue reading below

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Tale of the House and Senate Budgets

With both the Senate and House budgets now seeing the light of day, there is time to compare and contrast them both. The non-partisan budget website run by the Legislative Evaluative and Accountability Program and the Office of Financial Management website compares the House and Senate budget's here.  That graphic goes deep into the weeds and develops a side by side fiscal comparison between the two proposals.  The key differences in the budgets are as follows:  

1) How revenue is generated for each proposal
2) Funding Higher Education
3) The approach to teacher and state employee cost of living increases
4) Level and extent given to funding capital dollars for school construction.

Senate Capital Budget with SB 6080 Shows Promise Towards McCleary, but Still Far Off Goal

The Senate Capital Budget Committee heard Substitute Senate Bill 6080 in committee last week. This was the second time the bill was heard and the PTA was able to participate in both hearings. The substitute senate bill made changes based on some recommendations offered by PTA issue team lead, Eden Mack. The bill creates a separate program allowing school districts to apply for grants to help fund additional K-3 classrooms due to the class size reduction requirements of McCleary.  The basic difference between the existing School Capital Assistance Program (SCAP) and the K-3 Grants is here.  The bill in its entirety is found here.

Social and Emotional Learning Marches Forward, Breakfast after the Bell Hits Snag

For the second year in a row, legislation mandating schools in high poverty areas to offer a healthy breakfast to hungry children has stalled in the legislature.  Last year, the bill came very close, but was unable to make the final hurdle.  The same thing happened again this year, only this time, the House and Governor's budget actually funded the issue in a line item only to have the Senate version fall short. 

April 9th, 1865 Appomattox Courthouse

One hundred and fifty years ago on April 9th, General Lee surrendered to General Grant in Appomattox Courthouse signaling the end of the four year long civil war in the United States and ensuring the preservation of the union.  Although hostilities continued until May, April 9th is recognized as the end of the Civil War.  The victorious Union Army met again for one of the largest military reviews in Washington, D.C. a few months later.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Vaping Bill Heard in House

While our Senators (hopefully) were able to sleep in after their all-nighter, the House was up and about at 8AM for Friday hearings in the Finance Committee. After a few brief hearings on Senate bills, the Finance Committee paused for caucus then dived into the main event.  The photo to the right was taken shortly before the start of the hearing which was standing room only.  House Bill 2211 provides for a licensing structure for vaping products, 60% surtax on sales of vaping items, and a timeline to develop rules for licensure by October 1st, 2015.  

The hearing had 22 individuals signed up to speak, and testimony was led off by the two sponsors of the bill, Rep. Gerry Pollet and Rep. Paul Harris.  Pollet stated, "This bill is about youth prevention for the addiction to nicotine and it is about how we accomplish that which the research… shows that you cannot do the youth prevention without increasing the price of e-cigarettes.  At the 60% tax, which is paid by the distributor, even the most expensive product here would be 50% less than smoking cigarettes.”

Rep. Harris replied “I believe in economics that there is a direct correlation between the consumption of a product and the cost of a product.”  He went on to share that he “had the opportunity to talk to 60 individuals of the 350 calls we fielded in my office.  Many of these individuals had vaped for longer than one year, but all had the intentions of quitting.  Of those, 25% of those individuals were actually vaping more nicotine than when they started.” 

In addition to Representatives Pollet and Harris, WA State Health Secretary John Weisman shared his support for the bill.  “Vaping rates are skyrocketing in our high schools with 1 in 5 10th Graders and 1 in 4 12th graders vaping in the previous 30 days.  This is troubling because when kids vape they inhale nicotine.  Nicotine is addictive… and is especially so with (children’s) developing brains.  It took decades of work to change the social norms regarding smoking.  We are now seeing rapid normalization of vaping among school children.  This is not acceptable and the tobacco companies know it.”  Secretary Weisman went on to say that although the science isn’t complete on the issue, he agreed that for adult smokers, vaping is a safer alternative to continuing to use smoking tobacco products.  

Some of the Republican members of the Finance Committee were concerned that increasing the costs may lead to the creation of a black market or increases in non-taxed online sales or purchases from other states.  Other committee members and members of the public followed up on the concerns with the increased cost and how that may affect adults who are trying to quit smoking.  
The challenge for the lawmakers is to develop a series of rules to keep children away from vaping products while allowing smokers an avenue to exit the use of cigarettes.  The bill is not yet scheduled to be voted out of committee. The last day for this bill to be voted out will be Tuesday, April 7th.  There are similar bills that have also been heard in other committees, increasing the likelihood that some changes in how vaping products are regulated will occur this session.

Monday, April 6, 2015

House Passes Operating and Capital Budgets - Let the Negotiations Begin!

The House passed their operating budget on a party line vote, but passed a Capital Budget on a 96-2 bipartisan vote on Thursday.  The PTA has concerns with the capital budget as it does not go far enough to address the crushing need for classroom space.  The operating budget, although a major step forward, still falls short of one of the marquee goals of McCleary - reducing the reliance on local taxpayers to foot the bill for basic education.

The House and the Senate will now begin negotiations on how to resolve the yawning gap between both budgets. The good news is that there is agreement in expanding funding maintenance, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC), moving to all day kindergarten, and reducing class size to 17 for all K-3 classrooms. The bad news is that there is a wide gap between the House and Senate on costs for Higher Education, revenue addition / reform, and compensation for teachers and state employees.  
House Speaker Pro Tem, Jim Moeller, when asked by the Columbian, seemed resolved to the legislature going into special session to resolve the disagreements.   The PTA has talked with many legislators and our perspective is that the sea change that is required by McCleary may take more time than the 105 day regular session allows.  PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick shared this thought with members.  "We also understand that the legislature may go into extra innings, and we accept that as necessary to resolve the challenges that they have before them. I caution our PTA members to be supportive and let your legislators know that it is o'k to stay in Olympia longer so long as we make meaningful progress on McCleary. This is going to take time."

The legislature will resume floor action on April 6th

Senate Pulls an All Nighter - Still Working on Budget

The Senate ran a marathon hearing on the budget and related bills all day Thursday, ending their session at 4:17AM.  The day started with a debate on the rules of engagement.  The Senate majority passed a requirement that any amendment would require 60% of the body to pass.  The Senate broke for caucus several times, and engaged later in the day to run through a whopping 74 proposed amendments. Some of the amendments were withdrawn by the sponsor before introduction or tabled after a ruling, leaving over 50 that were heard and voted on in a roll call vote of the entire body. Due to the rules change, very few amendments passed. The speeches were impassioned and the tempers flared, but, in the end, the Senate made it through all but two of the proposals.  

On a positive note, one of the few proposals that did pass was an education amendment by Senator Warnick.  Her proposal funds a 1 million dollar grant to OSPI to contract with a non-profit to develop a program to integrate state learning standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science with outdoor field studies and project/work based learning opportunities that align with environmental, natural resources ,and agricultural professions.

The Senate will resume debate on the budget on April 6th

Sunday, April 5, 2015

PTA on House Budget - Still Needs Improvement

The Washington State PTA was on hand in Olympia all day Monday to testify on the Capital and Operating Budgets as proposed in the State House of Representatives.  Unlike the Capital Budget, the PTA testified with concerns on the operating budget offered by Representative Ross Hunter.  McCleary team lead Eden Mack shared her concerns with the committee, "We understand that this is one of the largest investments in K-12 Education in a very long time - but it is still not enough to meet the McCleary mandate."  

Mack was flanked by PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick and PTA members Steve Nesich and Kelly Bowers.  The challenge before the legislature was how to maintain critical funding for kids outside the classroom while still advocating for significant budget increases for K-12.  The House budget sought to strike this balance, but did not go far enough to address one of the key components of McCleary - the continued reliance on local taxpayers to fund portions of basic education that is supposed to be the dominion of the legislature.  

One of the key pieces of the local funding issue is teacher compensation.  Director Krainick testified in committee on this issue, bringing up the lack of focus on the legislature's own committee, the Compensation Technical Working Group, which offered recommendation on teacher compensation and professional learning.  "Our local levies will continue to pay for basics, including teacher compensation, when they should be used to provide high school students with access to a 7th period day so they can meet our new graduation requirements."  This issue is part of the PTA platform which was passed last October at legislative assembly.

The House voted the budget out of committee late last night and it is likely to be passed out of the House later in the week.  The underlying tax proposals to fund the increases in education and freezing tuition rates was held in the Finance Committee Tuesday morning.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

PTA to Capital Budget Committee - Need to Do Better

The Washington State PTA led by Legislative Director Sherry Krainick and Capital Budget leads Susan Baird-Joshi and Eden Mack came out strongly for increasing the commitment to funding K-12 capital needs.  “If we are serious about addressing the needs brought up in McCleary, we need to show a demonstrated commitment in the State Capital Budget.  There is currently a lack of quality facilities to support the reduction of class size and expansion to all day kindergarten that is part of the McCleary solution," said Director Krainick.
Sending in her comments on the concerns in Lake Washington, Capital Budget lead Susan Baird-Joshi shared her concerns with just being able to keep up with needs in her district.  "Since 2012, our district has been the fastest-growing school district in King County. Current enrollment stands at more than 26,000 and it’s projected to grow close to 30,000 by 2021-22. Existing classroom space will not accommodate those growing numbers."

The challenges for capital funding were also shared by Kelly Bowers from Seattle.  She testified to the need for ADA compliant facilities at her daughter’s middle school.  She was joined on the panel by Eden Mack who shared her frustration with the lack of commitment to funding K-12 capital programs. Also joining the legislative team in person and through delivered testimony was Steve Nesich and Bertha Bonds.

The House voted the Capital Budget out of Committee Tuesday morning and it is expected to pass out of the House by the end of the week.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Some Good, Some Bad - Senate Budget Yields a Different View Than House

The Senate introduced its version of the budget on Wednesday.  Senator Andy Hill headed up the press conference and was flanked by most members of the Republican Caucus.  Both budgets fully funded MSOC , reduced K-3 class size, and funded all-day kindergarten, but the amount each budget determined to be necessary to meet that goal differed.  In addition, both budgets were balanced assuming a partial repeal of I-1351.  Senator Hill’s budget has actually offered legislation to that effect with Senate Bill 6088.  Neither budget, however significantly addressed the issue of local levies funding items that have been deemed to be part of basic education.  However, Senator Hill hinted that discussions on that issue are occurring.

The key differences between both budgets include:
  1. House budget funds a portion of the improvements with new revenue, the Senate, although allowing some tax preferences to sunset, does not raise new revenue.
  2. The House proposal to repeal parts of I-1351 does not have a referendum clause whereas the Senate version does.
  3. The House includes teacher compensation and includes funding for health care benefits whereas the Senate comes in at a lower rate for compensation
  4. The House funds state employee pay raises based on a percentage that has been negotiated with the Governor’s office and labor unions.  The Senate version offers an adjustment based on a $2,000 increase for the biennium – thereby raising low income workers by a higher percentage.
  5. The House funds the tuition freeze that was voted out of the Senate.  The Senate doubles down by offering to pay for reductions of tuition for four year institutions by up to 25% by the end of the biennium.
  6. Both budgets fund Social and Emotional Learning Study, but only the House addresses Breakfast after the Bell.  Senator Litzow has indicated that there is willingness to work on this issue all the way to the end of the session. 
  7. Both budgets provide for enhanced early learning and child care, but the House funds it at a higher rate.

According to McCleary Lead Eden Mack who was on hand to testify today, “I am grateful for the increase in K-12 spending… (but) it clearly does not go far enough to meet the state’s obligation to amply fund K-12 education. “   Due to the legislature not making significant strides in addressing the use of local levies for funding teacher salaries, there are concerns that the Supreme Court may deliver sanctions to the Legislature shortly after the close of session.  Time will tell.

The Senate is currently hearing the budget in committee and will pass it from Ways and Means tonight.  It is planned to be voted off the Senate floor on Thursday.  For a side by side comparison of the House and Senate Education Budget, click here.

Friday, March 27, 2015

McCleary Funding - Better - But Still Falls Short

The Washington State House of Representatives offered up their version of the 2015-17 biennial budget today.  Representatives Patrick Sullivan, Ross Hunter and Reuven Carlyle held a press conference at 11:30AM.  As was widely expected, the House Democrats raised the bar on funding McCleary, but many people believe that even this effort falls short of what will be necessary to completely fund basic education.  Washington State PTA McCleary Issue Team lead Eden Mack reviewed the budget after the press conference.  She shared with us her thoughts on the long road that we will need to take in order to see the dream of an amply funded education system become a reality.  

"I think that our Legislators need to remember that the Paramount duty of the state is to amply fund basic education (K-12, not early learning or higher ed) for ALL children, not just some.  The House budget gets a bit closer to the mark, but it is still not nearly enough. As Superintendent Dorn has said, we need at least 4.5 billion more to meet McCleary this biennium just for operations, and 1.4 billion is far short of that.  With all of the proposed budgets currently on the table not meeting the mark, the question becomes: what sanctions will the Supreme Court bring down at the end of session?"

The House Budget proposal includes the following:
  • K-3 Class Size Reduction - $412 million
  • Textbooks, Supplies, and Operating Costs (MSOC) $741 million
  • All Day Kindergarten - $180 million
  • College and Career Readiness - $70 million

Funding for these changes are proposed to come from the following resources:
  • 5% Capital Gains Tax on investors who receive $25,000 individually or $50,000 as a couple
  • Raising the B&O Tax on services gross receipts from 1.5% to 1.8% and increasing the exemption for small business from $56,000 to $100,000
  • Changing the rules on sales tax in border counties from exemption to reimbursement
  • Repeal the exemption for bottled water
  • Repeal exemption for extracted fuel
  • Limit the real estate excise tax on foreclosure sales
  • Eliminate the preferred B&O tax rate on royalty income, travel agents, and prescription drug re-sellers

After reviewing the proposal, Washington State PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick said "I feel this proposal may be the high water mark for McCleary funding."  She, along with others, expect a much smaller revenue package from the Senate.  “I think that unless there are some future attempts to expand revenue to address some of the shortfalls Eden mentioned, we still fall short.  The PTA will be eagerly anticipating the efforts by Senators on fulfilling the promise of McCleary.”

The budget will be heard Monday in committee, then voted on by the House Appropriations Committee the following day.  It is expected to be passed off the House Floor next week.  You can read the budget in its entirety here.

House Budget Unveiled: SEL and Breakfast Funded

This was an eventful day for the Washington State PTA.  Although funding for McCleary was not as high as we would have hoped, we were able to take solace in the fact that two of our top five issues were funded in the House Budget. Representative Ross Hunter's proposal called for funding Social and Emotional Learning and offering grant funding for Breakfast after the Bell.  Breakfast team leader Heather Lindberg shared her thoughts on the news that Breakfast programs received funding. 

"The inclusion of Breakfast After the Bell in the House Budget shows that our Representatives understand that improving educational outcomes starts with providing for students' basic needs. I am thankful that the House understands the importance of this research-backed legislation and hope the Senate Leadership allows for a floor vote in the near future."  Both Heather and her daughter Ginny testified on behalf of the legislation earlier this year.  Their picture is below.

Guest Column by King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert on House Bill 1865 to Expand Vision Screenings

Last week, we shared information on House Bill 1865 which expands student vision exams. The bill passed the House and was heard in the Senate this week. King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert came down to testify in support of the bill in Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education.  Several years ago, Councilmember Lambert teamed up with Overlake Hospital's Dr. Mary Baker to urge passage of a similar bill. Although the Op Ed from the Redmond Reporter was drafted in 2008, it's still a good piece by a supporter of vision screenings and the work of the WSPTA.  Please click here to read it in full. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Senate Bill 6080 - Good Start - But Not Enough to Meet Student Needs

This week, PTA activist and McCleary team lead Eden Mack from the Seattle Council PTA joined us in Olympia for the hearing on Senate Bill 6080 which starts the conversation on how to fund additional classrooms in the wake of all day Kindergarten and class size reductions required by McCleary.  In her testimony, she thanked the committee for starting the process, but, as a parent and leader in the Seattle School District, highlighted that the proposal did not go far enough to satisfy the growing need for classroom space in Washington.

Her testimony and the follow up question and answer session between her, Senator Keiser, and Senator Honeyford is well worth the five minutes.  This is our PTA in action and it's great when members are able to take the time to let our legislators understand the real world implications derived from their bills. Testimony on SB 6080 starts at the 1:10 mark and Eden's testimony starts at the 1:39:40 mark. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Sound of Drums - House Budget Due to be Released by the End of the Month

The first big movement on McCleary in the legislature was the release of Governor Inslee's budget last December.  His version fully funded MSOC, and jump started the K-3 class size reductions and all day Kindergarten for the 2016 school year.  Now it is the House's turn to pitch their version of the budget, which is expected to be unveiled the week of March 30th, but could come as early as next week.

The PTA is hoping that the plan may address fully funding teacher compensation and that levies should pay for extras, not funding portions of basic education.  This will, however, be an expensive ask and we may need to come out fighting for the changes that our kids need. Expect more information on how you can help at a later date. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PTA Advocates for Increased Foster Care Services

Our PTA Legislative Director, Sherry Krainick, was in Olympia on Wednesday, and took time out of her meeting schedule to swing by the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee to share our support for Senate Bill 5740 by Senator Joe Fain would expand services for foster children who age out of foster care at age 18.  

The WSPTA went on record last year, working with the Mockingbird Society to help pass the first round of legislation concerning this issue.  The other major foster care bill, HB 1999, is also supported by the Association. That bill, offered by Rep. Carlyle, would move coordination of educational programs from DSHS to OSPI and the Student Achievement Council.  It also sets up a demonstration program to improve foster youth outcomes.  

Both bills are moving forward in the legislative process and have bipartisan support.  If you want to help advocate for these programs - click on the bill links to "comment" on the bills with your legislators!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Social and Emotional Learning Hearing Successful in House Education

One of our Key Top Five Issues passed yet another hurdle this week when Senate Bill 5688, the Social and Emotional Learning Bill, was heard in the House Education Committee. Sarah Butcher, the Legislative Team Lead on SEL, was present along with Issaquah PTA leader Essie Hicks, pictured above, with her son who joined her in testifying.  Also on hand were the Student Ambassadors who gave an emotionally charged testimony concerning their own experiences.  It's worth a look, but, bring a hankie.  The public testimony starts here with the Student Ambassadors at the 1:33.00 mark. They are followed by Sarah then Essie.  Have a look.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

National PTA Applauds Administration’s Commitment to Ensuring Students Have Access to Healthy Foods

Last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, joined by National PTA President Otha Thornton and Rayburn Elementary PTA President Norma Cavazos, announced that more than $30 million in grants will be awarded to help schools prepare healthy meals for students. Of the grants, $25 million will be provided to help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient, and $5 million will provide additional training for school food service professionals. 

“With more than 31 million students participating daily in the National School Lunch Program, ensuring children have access to nutritious foods is critical to help them learn and develop a healthy lifestyle into adulthood,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “It has long been a top priority of National PTA to improve school meal programs as it makes a difference for the lives and futures of our nation’s children. National PTA applauds the Administration’s commitment to supporting schools as they work hard to provide a healthier environment for students.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vision problems can be major roadblock to childrens' school success

By Kathy Lambert and Dr. Mary Baker

As thousands of children head back to school this month, it is a good time to make sure they are well prepared for academic success. In addition to equipping them with backpacks, notebooks and pencils, it is important to ensure that students are ready to learn. Good vision is fundamental to learning success.

Although most schools do screen students with the basic Snelling test for 20/20 vision at a distance, they rarely test for a host of other vision skills such as close vision and tracking. School screenings typically detect only 5 percent of all vision problems. However, in the average classroom, 20 to 30 percent of students may have a vision problem. This issue raises two fundamental questions: What do we know? What can we do?

Follow the Latest With Our New Legislative Bill Tracker.

With over 2000 bills being offered in Olympia, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which bills are which. This session, however, you can follow our legislative exploits in two ways.  First, with our new Bill Tracker. Second, you can still follow us on Twitter @WSPTALEG.  Drop us a line sometime at and let us know what your priorities are as we hit our stride in the 2015 Legislative Session.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WSPTA in the Other Washington for National Legislative Convention.

While Washington State holds its annual legislative assembly in October, National PTA holds its Legislative Conference in Mid-March. This year, a delegation of WSPTA members attended the three day event and spoke with congressional leadership about issues concerning the proposed update of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Currently known as No Child Left Behind) and expanding family engagement.

In addition to lobbying activies, the delegation took time out to present our own Senator Patty Murray with National PTA's Congressional Voice for Children Award.  Pictured below is incoming National PTA President and former WSPTA President, Laura Bay; Vice President Barbara Martin; Legislative Director Sherry Krainick; Senator Patty Murray; President Heather Gillette; National PTA board member and former WSPTA President Scott Allen, and Region 6 legislative chair Heidi Bennett.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Second Half of Session Leads Off With Financial Literacy Hearing

The legislative session is now officially half over.  Bills which did not pass out of their house of origin are now likely dead for the remainder of the season.  As you know, once a bill passes from the house that it originates in, it needs to pass the other legislative body and be signed by the governor in order to become law.  

For supporters of financial literacy, the first hurdle has been cleared with the Thursday afternoon hearing on Senate Bill 5202.  The WSPTA was represented by Acting Region 4 Director Kristi Shafer who focused on her own experiences to help drive our message home.  If you would like to help us on the legislative team to advocate for upcoming bills in Olympia, e-mail us at

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Key McCleary / Capital Funding Bill to be Heard in Senate.

One of the less often talked about concerns with fully funding basic education in Washington State is the lack of adequate facilities in many districts to accommodate the reduced class sizes that the McCleary Decision and the recently passed I-1351 require.  The Washington State Senate is offering bipartisan legislation to help address the growing need for facilities and the bill, SB 6080, will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee on March 19th at 3:30PM.  McCleary Issue lead Eden Mack is working to get a good representation of WSPTA members to attend the hearing.  If you can join us, e-mail us at

Friday, March 13, 2015

Support Access to Student Vision Screenings

Kids do not learn to read from 20 feet away, and yet, with the current school requirement of only screening for distant vision, undetected near vision issues are missed which prevents kids from excelling in reading and their education.

The bill to provide near vision screenings to students in schools was voted out of the House and currently sits in the Senate’s Early Learning/K-12 committee.  HB 1865 updates the current school screenings by requiring near vision screenings in conjunction with distance and color blindness screenings.

Getting a hearing for HB 1865 in the EL/K-12 committee is the next step toward moving the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.  An email to committee chair requesting a hearing as well as contacting committee members  requesting their support would help get Washington kids the vision screenings they need for the educational success they deserve.

Sam Ames, Northshore School District Parent

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Breakfast after the Bell Clears House and Social & Emotional Learning Clears Senate with Bipartisan Vote!

The PTA was thrilled to have two of our priority bills pass their house of origin well before the cut-off on Wednesday. House Bill 1295, Breakfast after the Bell, passed the House with a wide margin last Wednesday and Senate Bill 5688, the Social and Emotional Learning Bill, passed the Senate with an equally wide margin last Friday afternoon.  Both bills have already been referred to Senate and House Education Committees respectively. We expect hearings on both bills to be heard next week. Thank you to all for your help and support in moving these bills forward!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

House and Senate in All Day Sessions until Wednesday Cut-off

As we enter the middle of the official legislative session, the House and Senate are meeting until late in the evening all this week and through cut-off on Wednesday.  Our PTA record for passing key legislation has been great so far - with our two Top 5 priority platform issues that had bills attached passing both houses this week. Both Breakfast after the Bell and Social & Emotional Learning had strong coalitions supporting them and our combined efforts helped put them over the top for the first round of legislative hearings.  

After cut-off, most legislators will be heading home for the weekend to host town halls.  When they return, hearings will resume on bills heard in the house opposite their origin.  In addition, the House is expected to release their budget near the end of the month and the Capital Funding / McCleary discussions will burst out into the open. Watch here for details on how our PTA will be shaping the debate on basic education funding!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stand up, Speak up, and Show up to Legislative Town Halls this Weekend.

At the beginning of the Session, the PTA called on its members to "Stand Up, Speak Up, and Show Up" on McCleary.  This coming weekend, you will have the ability to do so in the comfort of your own community. Starting on Thursday evening, legislators from across the state will be hosting town hall meetings to discuss state issues.  We need to be heard on McCleary and deliver a simple message to our legislators.  

Levies are for extras, not for funding basic education. Teacher compensation is the job of the state, not the local district. We support your need to stay in Olympia until you fix this.

To find out where a town hall is for you legislators, click here.

Remember when you go to town halls, you are helping spread the message of the PTA.When you speak, remember, you are not alone, and we are united in our efforts.  Be firm, but be respectful. We understand the legislators have a tough job ahead of them.  We are there to be strong for them and to help them succeed.

Stand Up, Speak Up, and Show Up this weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rep. Gerry Pollet's Higher Education Tuition Planning Proposal Gaining Traction in the House.

House Bill 1238 by Representative Pollet is one of many bills that looked at finding solutions to the rising costs of higher education tuition in Washington State.  Pollet's bill aims to task the Washington Student Achievement Council (WASC) to develop a roadmap with the ultimate goal of restricting higher education costs to no more than 10% of the state's median family income.  The study requires WASC to develop a series of potential solutions to the problem in a report due no later than December 15, 2016. &n bsp;What sets this bill apart from the others is the comprehensive scope and direction in developing a plan to control price hikes. The bill passed out of committee and is currently awaiting action in House Rules.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Family Engagement in Education Act of 2015

Yesterday, the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2015 was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Congressman Mark Desaulnier (D-CA), and in the Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

These Congressional champions need our help!  Contact your members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2015. The evidence is clear—schools need parents to help close the achievement gap, and we stand ready to help them with this important task. We need Congress to make sure that family engagement is a cornerstone of the ESEA reauthorization.

Please take a moment to Take Action, contact your Members of Congress today and ask them to co-sponsor the bill today!

Proponents of Change for Education Capital Budget hit a roadblock - key bills not moving forward.

Whereas other segments of our "Top 5" priorities experienced success this week, supporters of change in how we allocate and obtain capital funding dollars for schools hit the skids.  Although Senate Bill 5859 by Senator Jamie Pedersen had been moving forward with substantial bipartisan support, the bill failed to be voted out of committee on Friday. This bill would have reduced the threshold requirements for school districts to qualify for matching funds for projects. Current law discriminates against larger, high growth districts.  This bil l is an attempt to strike a balance in the name of fairness.  The statutory changes offered by the bill are unlikely to be enacted this session. However, and we stress the "However" quite strongly here - this does not mean that parts of the bill will not make their way into the Senate's proposed Capital Budget later this year. Consider this to be "Schroedinger's Bill" - it is both alive and dead at the same time.   

House Bill 1941 on the other hand, is truly dead. This bill would have reduced the bond requirements from 60% voter approval to a simple majority in general elections. The bill was imperfect - it only offered a change for November general elections and it split many allies in the education community.  Some representatives saw the proposal as at least a start in the process to have a bill moving forward while others saw challenges with only allowing for a November vote.  PTA leaders testified on behalf of the bill in committee while urging amendments to allow for more opportunities to run bond issues bey ond the originally offered November date.  Supporters have declared they will continue to work this issue during the interim.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Social and Emotional Learning and Breakfast after the Bell Legislation Moves to Floor Action.

This has been a wild week for the Washington PTA. The Senate versions of Breakfast after the Bell SB 5437 and Social and Emotional Learning SB 5688, have passed out to Senate Rules before the cut-off. Our legislative champi on in the Senate, Senator Steve Litzow, sponsored both bills and his efforts on behalf of Washington's kids have been successful thus far.  

Over in the House, Representative Zack Hudgins version of Breakfast after the Bell, HB 1295, has also been moved out of committee and into House Rules.  Sadly, Representative Senn's version of Social and Emotional Learning, HB 1760, was not moved forward in committee.

The next big challenge will occur this coming week when all bills must be voted off the Senate floor and over for hearings in the State House of Representatives.  This is a difficult session for new initiatives, even ones that are proven effective.  If you get the chance, e-mail,, and to thank them for their efforts!