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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Olympia Watch

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February 18, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Olympia Watch: Should school bonds pass with majority vote?

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Some lawmakers want to make it easier for school construction bonds to pass in Washington state.

Under a bill proposed by 44 Democrats and one Republican, a school bond on a general election ballot would need only a simple majority to pass — instead of today’s required 60 percent approval.

At least one recent school bond in Highline Public Schools, which gained 55 percent approval in the Feb. 10 special election, would have succeeded if a simple majority was all it took. In the past five years, three bond measures in the Lake Washington School District have also gained more than half the popular vote, but failed because they fell short of the 60 percent mark.

If lawmakers back the idea, voters would ultimately get the final say; lowering the 60 percent supermajority to 50 percent would require a Constitutional amendment, which voters must authorize.

The House Education Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday. You can watch live video of the meeting, which starts at 8 a.m., here.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Highline Public Schools, Lake Washington School District, Olympia Watch

February 3, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Olympia watch: Shake-ups proposed for Seattle schools

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Two proposals from Seattle-area lawmakers this session would shake up the way Seattle Public Schools does business, and Seattle school district leaders oppose them both.

The first, a bill to allow Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to appoint two of the Seattle School Board’s seven members, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Education Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The other, a proposal to split Seattle Public Schools and its 52,000 students into two school districts, was introduced in the House on Friday.

In a news release, Seattle school district leaders said that, despite what the bill’s sponsors claim, Seattle Public Schools is not failing its students. In fact, they said, state test results show Seattle students lead the state in most tested areas.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Ed Murray, Olympia Watch, Seattle Public Schools

January 27, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Key Democratic committee condemns Common Core

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

The governing body of the Washington State Democratic Party voted to condemn the educational benchmarks known as the Common Core at a party meeting in Olympia on Saturday, saying private and corporate interests pushed the reading and math standards without evidence they will improve student learning.

A resolution, adopted by the party’s Central Committee, asks state lawmakers and schools chief Randy Dorn to revoke the standards, which Washington — like most states — adopted in 2011.

David Spring, a leader in the party’s progressive caucus and a precinct committee officer from North Bend, announced the resolution on a website he and two other teachers created to publicize their viewpoints.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, David Spring, Olympia Watch

January 12, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Olympia Watch: Besides money, what will lawmakers debate?

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Washington state lawmakers convene today in Olympia, where hulking budget decisions loom. The Legislature must show the state Supreme Court that it is making substantial progress on increasing public school spending under the court’s McCleary ruling and must deal with a sweeping class size initiative passed by voters in the November election.

Beyond budget talks, several other policy proposals are brewing. Here’s a short list of bills that leaders of education committees expect to see this session:

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Comments | More in News | Topics: 2015 legislative session, Initiatve 1351, McCleary