Last week was do-or-die for most bills in Olympia. When it came to education, some controversial proposals survived, and others are all but dead.
Proposals to split the Seattle school district, use test scores when gauging teacher quality and no longer require students pass a test before graduating from high school all survived a major deadline in Olympia last week.
With very few exceptions, any bill lawmakers did not pass out of committee by Friday died.
Among the school-related ideas that won initial approval was a controversial bill to cap all large school districts at 35,000 students. Only Seattle Public Schools, with 52,000 students, fits into that category. Seattle school district leaders oppose the measure, saying the district leads the state in student test scores and that splitting it into two districts would increase costs. Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, the bill’s sponsor, says smaller school districts would improve performance for low-achieving children. The bill will head now to the House Rules Committee.
A proposal to mandate that school districts use student test scores when measuring teacher effectiveness also passed the House Education Committee last week. The bill will likely be controversial. Last year, Washington became the first state to lose its waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law because lawmakers here refused to do that, wanting to leave the decision up to each district.
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Also still alive is a proposal to stop requiring students to pass state tests before graduating. State Superintendent Randy Dorn requested the bill and the state teachers union generally likes the idea, but some lawmakers voted against it.
Among the ideas that died:
- Ax the Common Core learning standards in Washington state.
- Allow a simple majority of voters to approve school construction bonds.
- Begin paying school board members, who are now volunteers.
- Allow Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to appoint two of Seattle’s seven school board members.