Parents delivered a petition to legislative leaders in Olympia on Tuesday supporting a bill that would require student scores on state tests to be used in evaluating teachers.
OLYMPIA — A group of parents delivered about 20,000 signatures to top education lawmakers and the state’s largest teachers union on Tuesday, trying to rally support for a bill that would require districts to use student test scores in evaluating public-school teachers.
That bill passed the state Senate earlier this month, but the House’s education committee has not made any promises on whether it will vote on it before an April 1 deadline.
By requiring the use of state test scores in evaluations, Senate Bill 5748 could open the door for Washington school districts to regain control over about $40 million in federal funding. When a similar bill failed last year, Washington became the first state to lose its waiver from many of the requirements of the federal law known as No Child Left Behind.
Congress is now debating whether and how to rewrite that law. But in the meantime, Washington school districts have had to set aside about $40 million because, under the law, schools judged as making insufficient progress must pay for outside tutoring for some students or give them the opportunity to move to another school.
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On Tuesday, about 25 parents organized by Stand for Children Washington, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the loss of control over that money is hurting children.
They carried signs saying “Pass 5748” and “Protect school funding” outside the Olympia office of the Washington Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, which opposes the bill.
“I have one agenda, and that’s put the children before anything else,” Tacoma parent Becky Padilla told the two union staff members who accepted the petitions.
Along with supporting this bill, Stand for Children, one branch of a national advocacy group, has also lobbied for stricter teacher evaluations and more school choice.
The group collected the 20,658 signatures mostly online over the past year, said spokeswoman Jeanette Lewis. It vetted the signatures by deleting those with duplicate or invalid email addresses.
The parents said the teachers union and other lawmakers who oppose the bill are putting the needs of teachers before the needs of students.
But the union says there’s no research showing that it’s a good idea to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations. And its spokesman said the bill’s supporters exaggerate the impact that losing the waiver has had.
After delivering the four cardboard boxes of petitions to the union, the parents then drove to the Capitol to meet briefly with state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, who sponsored the bill, and delivered copies to him, too.
Litzow thanked them for their help.
“Now let’s go get the House,” he said, rousing cheers.
Later, the parents walked into the offices of state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, the head of the House Education Committee that must vote by April 1 for the bill to stay alive. Santos wasn’t there, but the parents stacked their boxes on her assistant’s desk.
A spokesman for Santos said Tuesday that while no vote has yet been scheduled, the committee will hold a public hearing on the bill on Monday.