With a month left in this legislative session, Education Lab is tracking which education bills are still under discussion, which is a relatively small group compared with the scores of measures that lawmakers originally proposed this year.
The biggest education issue, of course, is how the Legislature plans to respond to the state Supreme Court order saying they are not paying enough for the state’s public schools. That may become clearer as early as this week, when the first legislative budget proposals are expected to come out.
Meanwhile, bills still under review in committees must be voted on by April 1 to stay alive, unless they are budget-related.
Here’s a glance at some of the bills that have made it this far — and what to look for next:
Restraint and isolation (HB 1240)
Sponsors: Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle
What it would do: Prohibit physically restraining or secluding special-needs students except in emergencies.
The latest: Passed House, 68-29
What’s next: Awaits action in the Senate, where a similar bill has passed several committees.
Substitute teaching in retirement (HB 1737)
Sponsors: Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama
What it would do: Expands how many hours retired teachers can substitute without losing pension payments.
The latest: Passed House, 97-1
What’s next: Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Schools across Washington are reporting a shortage of substitute teachers, leaving principals to fill in and sometimes forcing them to cancel teacher training when subs can’t be found. Some say the state’s pension policy may be partly to blame — some retired teachers can lose their monthly pension check if they substitute teach even one day.
Homeless students (HB 1436, SB 5404)
Sponsors: Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle and Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place
What it would do: Creates an office to coordinate homeless programs statewide.
The latest: Passed House, 62-36; passed Senate, 48-1
What’s next: House Committee on Early Learning & Human Services is scheduled to vote the Senate’s version of the bill on March 26.
College programs (HB 1031)
Sponsors: Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima
What it would do: Would expand college-in-the-high-school program to include 10th graders.
The latest: Passed House, 96-1
What’s next: Awaits action in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
Teacher evaluations (SB 5748)
Sponsors: Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island
What it would do: Mandates schools use student scores on state tests to measure teacher and principal effectiveness.
The latest: Passed Senate, 26-23
What’s next: Awaits action in the House Education Committee, where a similar bill has stalled.
Teacher evaluations have been a sticking point in Washington, which last year became the first state to lose its waiver from the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind because lawmakers here refused to pass a similar bill. The state, as a result, lost control over how to spend about $40 million in federal money aimed at helping the state’s most disadvantaged children. The state’s largest teachers union opposes the bill.
Early learning (HB 1491, SB 5452)
Sponsors: Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island
What it would do: Would restrict state subsidies to preschools and day cares with high marks on state’s rating system.
The latest: Passed House, 67-31; passed Senate, 39-10
What’s next: House Committee on Early Learning & Human Services is scheduled to vote on the Senate’s version of the bill on March 26
Under this law, any child care center that wants to receive state subsidies must participate in the state’s Early Achievers rating system. The proposal is an attempt to ensure preschool and other child care centers are high quality. The Early Achievers program has, until now, been supported with a large federal Race to the Top grant slated to run out this year.
WSU medical school (HB 1559)
Sponsors: Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane
What it would do: Allows Washington State University to start a medical school
The latest: Passed House, 81-17; passed Senate, 47-1
What’s next: The measure now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature
This bill would clear the way for Washington State University to pursue accreditation for its own medical school, though University of Washington officials say they fear that another medical school could draw faculty, students and state funding away from its multi-state medical school program. Not clear yet is whether the Legislature will also provide the funding necessary for the WSU medical school to go forward.
Reduce college tuition (SB 5954)
Sponsors: Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia
What it would do: Cuts tuition in the state’s public universities and community colleges
The latest: Passed Senate, 37-12
What’s next: A public hearing in the House higher education committee is scheduled for March 26
Computer science education (HB 1813)
Sponsors: Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, and Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah
What it would do: Require Washington to adopt computer science learning standards
The latest: Passed House, 91-7
What’s next: Awaiting action in the Senate
A few other bills that made the news earlier this year have died, including proposals to allow Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to appoint some school board members, to split Seattle Public Schools into two districts, to eliminate new Common Core learning standards and to require a simple majority — instead of a two-thirds vote — to pass school construction bonds.