House, Senate Pass Key Education Reforms; Budget Still in Flux
With just four days left in the 2013 legislative session -- although it's likely to move into special session to finish budget negotiations -- both the House and Senate have been working in a bipartisan manner to pass important education legislation. Some key bills that have been sent to the Gov. Inslee for his signature include:
Senate Bill 5329: Gives the state the authority to intervene in schools that fail to improve after undergoing a three-year turnaround plan. This issue has long been a priority of the Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning. See Peter Callaghan's column in The News-Tribune on the bill.
Senate Bill 5491: Establishes statewide indicators of educational health -- kindergarten readiness, 4th grade literacy, 8th grade math proficiency, high school graduation rate and postsecondary enrollment, training or employment. The indicators will be used to identify realistic but challenging system-wide performance goals and to align strategic planning and reform efforts.
House Bill 1472: Allows students who take Advanced Placement computer science to receive credit in math or science (currently the course is considered an elective). Students will have a greater incentive to take the advanced course and it will help increase STEM education in our state, which is part of solution to fill the job skills gap, as outlined in the recent Washington Roundtable report, "Great Jobs Within Our Reach."
House Bill 1642: Each school district is encouraged to adopt an academic acceleration policy for high school students, similar to the Federal Way School District program.
See the PFL Bill Tracker for the status of many of our 2013 education priorities and follow us on Twitter for any key legislative education updates.
NATIONAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Zillah High School science instructor claims honor
For the second time in five years, a Washington K-12 teacher was named National Teacher of the Year. Tuesday, Jeff Charbonneau, a science teacher as his alma mater of Zillah High School, was honored at the White House by Pres. Barack Obama (Watch the ceremony).
Charbonneau teaches science, chemistry and engineering at Zillah, where enrollment in science courses is increasing and students are graduating with college-level credits.
Pres. Obama was impressed by Charbonneau's dedication to turning around science education at Zillah High: "He wanted to convince kids that something like quantam physics wasn't something to run away from, but something to dive into. And he said, "I'm my job to convince them that they are smart enough, that they can do anything."
MICROSOFT VP BRAD SMITH HONORED: Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president for Microsoft, was honored Tuesday by City Year Seattle for his work on Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative, which empowers youth to change the world. Smith was presented with City Year's Lifetime of Service Award.
EXCELLENT SCHOOLS NOW: The Excellent Schools Now steering committee has re-opened its Request for Proposal (RfP) process to award two, 18-month grants of up to $80,000. These grants are intended to enable recipient organizations to operate as full partners of the ESN steering committee. Click here for RfP.
CHANGING THE ODDS LUNCH: Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, is the keynote speaker for Stand for Children Washington's annual luncheon Friday at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. Limited seats are still available.