Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Parents pack hearing on education bill

Washington parents from across the state converged on the Capitol yesterday in support of an education reform bill (HB 1410) which proposes big and exciting changes to the state’s struggling school system. One hundred twenty people packed the hearing room, only thirteen of which opposed the bill.

The enormous number of people testifying unnerved House Education Appropriations committee chair Kathy Haigh who had to practice crowd control.

She told the group that she "had never had one hundred and twenty five people trying to testify on a bill before."

Committee member and bill sponsor Representative Ross Hunter (D-Medina) said that now is the time to fix Washington schools.

As for paying for a better system, he said:
It’s our responsibility to provide the resources if we are going to ask kids to meet more rigorous standards.
Responding in part to opposition to the bill by the state’s teachers union, the WEA, Representative Pat Sullivan (D-Black Diamond) told the group:
I want to do what’s right and fair for the teachers of Washington state. I want to do what’s right and what’s fair for classified and administrative employees across this state, but most of all, I want to do what’s fair and right for the students of Washington. We owe it to them to do everything possible to come up with a solution to improve the way we deliver education in this state.
Chief among the WEA’s objections to the bill are the proposed changes to the state’s teacher pay system. The new system would reward performance and skill, instead of seniority which is currently a major factor in calculating compensation. Studies have shown that increased years spent in the classroom don’t correlate to increased student learning so why pay more for it?

National accreditation and mentoring have been shown to work better and HB 1410 proposes a pay scale based on these.

Cheers to the Washington State PTA and the League of Education Voters for rallying such a visible show of support for these two bills. This is the year to rebuild our school system. The kids just can’t wait any longer.


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