Topic: McCleary decision
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February 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM
The Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee heard yet another education reform bill this morning, this time one that would create bonuses for math, science and special education teachers working in middle schools and high schools.
Proposed by State Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, Senate Bill 5278 would offer bonuses to teachers deemed “experts” by the state. The bonuses, paid in a lump sum, would be equal to 10 percent of the teacher’s base salary.
Committee Vice Chair Bruce Dammier, R-Puyallup, said the bill could be a good way to lure promising scientists and mathematicians into teaching. But Jerry Bender, spokesman for the Washington Association of School Principals, said the bonus isn’t high enough to provide a real incentive. He opposed the bill, arguing that Washington schools have no difficulty in finding qualified math and science teachers.
“You want to have key people in all your roles,” Bender said. “And my experience is if you start hiring early, if you pick the fruit early in the season, there are good hires out there.”
Schools have a harder time finding speech therapists and retaining special education teachers, said Lucinda Young, a lobbyist for the Washington Education Association. She said state money would be better spent reducing class sizes and providing more classroom support to special education teachers. Young also argued that the state shouldn’t favor certain subjects over others.
“I think we would all agree that every single [subject] is important,” Young said.
February 11, 2013 at 7:35 AM
This week, the state House and Senate will discuss a wide variety of bills, ranging from the ever-present topic of education reform to the hot-button issue of gun control.
Monday,, the House Finance Committee will begin to tackle the financial implications of the McCleary decision made last year by the Washington Supreme Court. The Joint Task Force on Education Funding will present its findings and members of the public are invited to comment.
The education reform debate will continue Friday in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. Senators will hear testimony on Senate Bill 5278, which would provide salary bonuses for teachers in high-demand subjects. Math, science and special education teachers would be eligible.
On Tuesday, the House Technology & Economic Development Committee will conduct a public hearing on House Bill 1693 providing tax relief to certain new businesses. Under the bill introduced by Rep. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland, the businesses would be able to deduct up to $2 million in business-and-occupation taxes each calendar year.
Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee meeting will feature a hearing on House Bill 1588 requiring background checks for all firearm sales in the state. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, and has the support of 37 other lawmakers, including Lake Stevens Republican Mike Hope.
January 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM
OLYMPIA — A state Senate committee heard testimony Wednesday about a trio of bills that would shake up public education in Washington state.
The bills, a mix of specific policies and broader accountability measures, were the first significant education measures introduced this session by Republican lawmakers, who — for the first time in many years — control an education committee .
In a two-hour hearing, the measure received praise from those advocating change, while some some teachers-union and school officials mostly criticized them.
Senate Bill 5237 would prohibit most third graders from advancing to fourth grade until they pass the state reading test; Senate Bill 5328 would give a letter grade to all schools and reward the ‘A’ earners; and Senate Bill 5329 would group schools that score the lowest on standardized tests into a special school district run by the state.
“We’re failing 18,000 kids a year, and they are disproportionately poor children of color,” said committee chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, referring to the number of students who fail to graduate high school each year. “We have to do something.”
Supporters described the measures as common-sense approaches that would spur improvements by holding schools more accountable and giving more information to parents.
“We grade our students. Why not grade our schools?” said Dave Powell, a lobbyist for Stand for Children. “Honestly, what are we afraid of?”
Opponents said the bills were rife were logistical problems and would rely too much on test scores.
Marie Sullivan of the Washington State School Directors Association, a group representing school board members, said bills ”shaming and blaming schools” would be counterproductive.
Most of all, opponents argued that a recent state Supreme Court decision mandates that lawmakers more fully fund education — before seeking to reform it.
“It needs to be a two-way accountability system, and it’s your turn,” said Wendy Rader-Konofalsk, a teachers union lobbyist.
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