Advocacy News -- As the school and PTA year wind to a close, leadership teams at each school should be making some early plans for the 2017-2018 school year. If your PTA has not had an Advocacy Chair recently (or ever), next year is the year to change that! The easiest way to start in the Advocacy role is to focus on communicating to members information on Bond and Levy campaigns. Why is that easy? Because they see the impact at home and in their schools! The School Board will decide this week if there will definitely be a Bond vote in February. The Advocacy person on your PTA team could spend just a few minutes each week getting updates on the process and sharing the information with their PTA thru your regular member communications.
Do you have questions about what the Advocacy Chair does at the local level? Contact Kim at email@example.com
Everett School Board Special Board Meeting on High School Capacity March 30, 2017 by Kim Kuhne, Advocacy Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
The special School Board meeting was held in the Jackson High Commons on the evening of March 30th. There were about 50 people in attendance representing different schools in the school district, multiple school Principals, and Mayor of Mill Creek.
The first part of the meeting was a detailed review of how the State of WA and the Everett School District forecast population changes for the coming years, in order to plan for budgeting and classroom space. The details are all in the attached slide show. To summarize, the Kendrick method of forecasting has been extremely accurate for the past few years. That method shows that our population levels will continue to increase going forward, with a peak at Jackson High School near 2400 students in 2023. The Jackson HS population will then level off for about 7 years before it begins to climb again in 2030.
Historically, a new high school has been built in the Everett School District when high school populations have reached about 2300 students.
From there, the discussion turned to solutions for the over-crowding that we currently have and what is predicted to get worse. The School Board offered 3 main options (of the many possible solutions available).
Option A: Add portable classrooms to Jackson High School and Cascade High School, costing $4.6 million dollars. At JHS, additional portables would cover half of the tennis courts.
Option B: Build a new high school on the property off 180th street, next to the new elementary school. Cost would be $185 million. The school would open in 2022 and the district would re-draw the high school lines to equalize student populations to about 1500 per school. The district would still need to add portables to JHS and 3 added to Cascade HS to deal with over-crowding until 2022. Construction costs are projected to increase 4% for each year that the district puts off building a new high school.
Option C: Bus 325 JHS students to Cascade HS and 325 CHS students to Everett HS. JHS would still add 3 portables (going in this summer), CHS would need to add 7, and EHS would add 5 to deal with the overcrowding in all schools. The cost would be $3 million for the portables and about $280k/year for transportation. No additional portables would be needed until 2030.
Other options to help with over-crowding included looking at year-round school, school on 2 shifts, and increased use of on-line school.
General pros and cons were discussed as a group before individuals were given the opportunity to spend 3 minutes with a School Board member to voice specific concerns. At the end of 30 minutes, the group re-gathered and Board Members summarized what they heard. In general, the people in attendance were in support of a new high school. There were concerns with the health and safety in portable classrooms (at all schools). There were large concerns with busing students away from the neighborhood schools.
There were big concerns about getting another bond to pass in 2018. If you have a child currently at JHS, you understand some of the difficulties with the over-crowded campus, but your kids will be graduated before a new school is built. If you have students on the north end of the district, you don’t have the over-crowding. If you have younger students, you haven’t even thought about having 2400 students on one campus and what that looks like.
Where do we go from here? The School Board will continue discussion with residents about options. The target time for a school bond vote is currently February 2018, in order to open a school in September 2022.
What can YOU do? - Read over the presentation from March 30th found here: http://www.everettsd.org/Page/24216 - Then contact the School Board with any thoughts, comments, concerns at email@example.com - Finally, participate in other discussions (on-line, via phone, or in person) that will be taking place over the next 11 months.
The Everett PTSA Council will continue to keep members updated on the conversation.
Selecting the Platform Every 2 years, the WSPTA votes on a new advocacy platform to guide actions for the 2 year period. There were 10 issues that moved forward to be voted on during Legislative Assembly on October 21-22. Members in attendance had the chance to spend 30 minutes learning more about 6 issues before discussion opened in General Session. In General Session, the main pros and cons of each issue were debated before going to vote. All 10 issues were voted to move onto the ballot for ranking. All voting delegates were asked to simply mark 5 of the 10 issues on the ballot to determine the Top 5. The WSPTA Top 5 Issues are:
1)Social and Emotional Learning – WSPTA shall initiate/support legislation or policies that integrate social & emotional learning and trauma informed practices in the education system, teacher and principal preparation programs and professional learning ensure adequate staffing of psychologists, counselors, social workers, behavioral specialists and nurses in schools and prioritize school climate. 2)Amply Fund Basic Education – WSPTA shall initiate/support legislation or policies that fulfill Washington State’s paramount duty to amply fund basic education. Funding solutions must be progressive revenue sources that are sufficient, sustainable and equitable, and must not cut services that support the whole child, or rely only on redistributing existing education funds. 3)Closing the Opportunity Gap – WSPTA shall initiate/support legislation or policies that complete implementation of the recommendations of the Educational Opportunity Oversite and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC) and HB 1541 to close the educational opportunity gap. 4)Standards for Para-educators – WSPTA shall initiate/support legislation or policies that set statewide standards, training, and career development for para-educators, including training for teachers who have para-educators assisting in their classrooms, and their principals. Policies should include minimum employment standards, certification, and endorsements. 5)Breakfast After the Bell – WSPTA shall initiate/support legislation or policies for instituting and funding a Breakfast After the Bell program for high-needs schools and initiate policies at the district level that encourage early adoption of Breakfast After the Bell programs.
Other Platform Issues are (alphabetically):
Engaging Families in Student Success
Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program)
Restorative Justice and School Safety
What is an Issue/Resolution/Principal? Legislative Assembly started with this informative class on the different guiding statements that help WSPTA advocate for all children. The Uniform Bylaws are the “Constitution” of the WSPTA. They detail how the work gets done in WSPTA. The WSPTA did a complete rewrite of the Uniform Bylaws in 2014-2015, with final discussion and vote taking place at the 2015 Convention. Please go to http://www.wastatepta.org/resources/bylaws/index.html and follow the link the Bylaws if you have not read thru them before. Modifications to the Bylaws must be submitted to the WSPTA Board of Directors by November 15th to be voted at the 2017 WSPTA Convention.
To determine how WSPTA advocates for children, there are 3 types of statements: Principals, Resolutions, and Issues.
Principals are the “lens thru which we view Issues and Resolutions”. We use the Principals to question if the specific points in an Issue or Resolution meet the basic ideas of what WSPTA supports or opposes. Please see below for examples of how the Principals were modified during Legislative Assembly.
Resolutions are long-term, permanent statements on government policy. They carry the weight of everything PTA stands for. Resolutions are written with very specific language. They start with “Whereas” statements that give a basis for the Resolution and finish with “Resolved” statements that detail the actions WSPTA will support going further. Yes, these statements can be modified and even retired as needs change. The oldest resolution in WA dates to 1980. Take a look at the current resolutions here: http://www.wastatepta.org/advocacy/Resolutions/WSPTA_resolutions_board_positions_April_2015.pdf
Issues are the short-term items that the WSPTA will advocate on specifically over a 2-year period. Issues can be re-submitted. Issues involve the points that we wanted acted on RIGHT NOW. The WSPTA votes on issues submitted by members/PTAs/Councils every 2 years to create a new, relevant Top 5 Platform, followed by a list of other supported issues. See above for the new platform.
What is Caucusing? Caucusing is a “vision of what advocacy looks like”. It is the coming together of concerned individuals to craft a solid foundation for civil and rational debate. This is the phase BEFORE debate. It is the safe space in which to discuss and issue, point out possible pro and con statements, and look at responses to those statements. This is the time where Opening and Closing Statements can be developed on a specific issue. Caucusing is NOT the place to “battle” an idea/party/statement or to further a cause/goal/candidate.
Changes to the WSPTA Legislative Principals The biggest surprise this weekend was the amount of discussion on changes to WSPTA Legislative Principals. Remember, the Legislative Principals are the “lens thru which we view our Resolutions and Issues”. Some of the changes were simply to clarify the language of the Principal. Other changes represented shifts in thinking over time. I will not detail all of the changes, only point out a few of the “shifts”.
Discussion on Community Engagement and inclusion of different types of families has led many PTAs to change their language. Where it was once the norm to just say “Mom and Dad”, we now need to be aware that some families are led by other family members, foster parents, a single parent, or by 2 moms or 2 dads. In order to be more inclusive, we changed: “…advocating for: Employee release time for parent and community involvement” to read “…advocating for: Employee release time for parent/family and community involvement”.
“Redefining Basic Education” was changed to state: “Support State’s redefinition of basic education” to match the work being done to Amply Fund Basic Education, as defined by the State of Washington. At this time, WSPTA is happy with the definition of what is included in “basic education” and has no interest in redefining it.
“Reducing the achievement gap” was changed after MUCH debate to read: “Eliminating the achievement gap and opportunity gap”. That statement alone has many talking points. (see more below) In short, the achievement gap is the measure of the difference in outcomes for students-- some graduate with honors and move on to college while some fail to progress and eventually drop out of school. The opportunity gap is the measure of the difference in the resources available to students across the state. For example, some schools have the best equipment, teachers, and optimal class size while others attend class in outdated buildings with less-educated teachers and overcrowded classrooms. Members of the WSPTA acknowledge that it is NOT possible for every special needs or ELL student graduate with the same proficiency as the average student. However, members would like to continually reduce these gaps to get them as small as possible. Many members felt that the word “reducing” was not strong enough in this statement.
Finally, “Integrate internet safety and online communications into school curriculums” was edited to state, “Integration of internet safety and electronic communications into school curriculums” to address the rise of cell phone use for children throughout the State.
Issues Summary and Talking Points Closing the Opportunity Gap- This issue had no debate on the merits of supporting the State at it works to frame implement the features in since the passage of HB 1541 in 2016.
Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP- The only question on this issue was if preschool would be required once the State is able to include all children. The answer is that enrollment in school OR a home school program is only required in WA once a child is 8 years old. The benefit of this program is that for every $1 spent to help kids affected by this program equals $4 that is saved on future spending to correct issues.
Post-Secondary/Higher Education- Two years ago, the discussion was on PTA’s place at the table in the discussion of education beyond high school. Today, we are assuming that PTA advocates for kids until they can take on adult roles (in simple terms). This issue now has 4 components: Educate K-12 parents on the benefits of education beyond high school, Fund Higher Education by making programs more affordable AND fully funding need-based grants, Increase access to degrees/certificates at public colleges and universities, and Start the Higher Ed commitment in HS with more access to Running Start, College Bound, and Career Start (technical education -CTE-certificates). There was no con discussion on this point.
Restorative Justice and School Safety- In a perfect world, our schools would all have programs in Social and Emotional Learning to help children process conflict, trauma, and emotional issues from the start of school. Without the training on how to deal with the emotional issues, conflict occurs more often. The issue of Restorative Justice and School Safety is a POSITIVE way to deal with conflict in the school with the help of everyone in the school community. Mandating these programs at a State level would force all schools to develop programs, ensuring equal treatment of students across the State.
Engaging Families in Student Success- In the discussion of “Basic Education”, the State understands that Family Engagement is the best predictor for student success across all measurable demographics. However, the State is lacking a clear definition and title for the Family Engagement coordinator. Additionally, although the State says that each school with 400 students should have 1 person in this role, there has been no funding to pay for these employees. What could this role look like?? Imagine a full-time staff person (1 per 400 students) that works to make sure volunteers are approved, trained, and in place for events and activities. Additionally, this person would coordinate between teachers and outside groups to enhance community involvement and parent education opportunities. There was no argument against this issue.
Amply Fund Basic Education- No one disagrees with the need to fund basic education to the level determined by the legislature before the McCleary decision. The arguments against this issue fell into 2 categories: the need to put other issues in the Top 5 since this is supposed to be resolved this year and the implied “full PTA support” of any funding solutions put forth by WA State. To the first, amply funding basic education has been on the platform (in one form or another) for over 20 years with little forward progress. Some members feel that WSPTA could be more productive if another issue took its place in the Top 5. For the second point, when pushed to answer “Does PTA need to support a State income tax if that is the funding solution put forth by the State?”, the committee was evasive.
Standards for Para-Educators- Paraeducators provide 62% of the education to the students that need additional help- the special needs and ELL students. As of now, there are no standards for training, education, and career development for paras. PTA supports policies for additional training for teachers and principals that utilize paraeducators. Additionally, policies shall include minimum employment standards, certification, and endorsements. Senate Bill 5179 was progressing thru the system in 2016, but both houses wanted amendments that watered down the bill. It will be resubmitted in 2017.
Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children- This issue was added to the platform last year with no argument. Currently, Foster children graduate at a rate of only 43%, well below the State average. The goal with this issue is to create and support services that facilitate a smooth transition between schools when children need to change homes. There was no con argument on this issue.
Social and Emotional Learning- This was the number 2 issue on the platform for the past 2 years. This issue does NOT specify one SEL program fitting all schools, but rather would support each school in developing a program that best fits its own needs. The one parent statement on this issue detailed the failures for her child when the school lacked these tools and his success when his new school had the training. Her statement brought tears to the eyes of many members in the room, showing just how important a personal story can be in “selling” an issue.
Breakfast After the Bell- This issue was the #5 issue on the platform for the past 2 years. On the positive side, it was very close to making it thru both houses in 2016. It stands a very good chance of passing in 2017 with just a little more push. There is no argument against this issue- it would allow high-needs schools to serve breakfast after the bell, so that all students have access to free/reduced breakfast and not just those that get to school early. Since 2014, the level of utilization of free and reduced breakfast has decreased. The passage of legislation supporting this program would result in 25,000 more students having access to breakfast.
New Resolutions There were 3 resolutions up for approval this weekend. Remember, Resolutions are long-term statements of policy the encompass the possibility of supporting multiple bills and mandates.
The first Resolution was against Child Sex Trafficking. There was no discussion against this resolution and no changes to the resolution as presented. The 3 resolves within the statement go to support the adoption and enforcement of laws to deter sex trafficking, advocate for protection of victim rights and victim recovery, and to support programs that raise awareness of this issue from the school to State level.
The second Resolution was written to help support students with dyslexia. However, during the caucus section of the weekend, it was determined that this needed to be edited to include all language processing disorders including dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. This resolution supports early screening for signs and symptoms of these issues and supports training of teachers and staff in Multisensory Structured Language Teaching that would help all students better access the general education curriculum.
The third Resolution was on supporting policies that work to mitigate environmental hazards and contaminants in schools. There were no arguments against this resolution as a whole, only on the wording of the last resolved statement. The final statement was amended to read: “…we call for appropriate policies that ensure that only the safest chemicals are used in schools…”
Coming Next Week in Part 2: Advocacy thru the Year Equity in Education Advocacy Chair training track National PTA Advocacy
Focus Day 2016 Recap by Kim Kuhne (Heatherwood PTSA President)
Breakfast After the Bell Passed the House 69-28!The state House of Representatives today passed HB 1295 by a 69-28 margin. The bill would create "breakfast after the bell" programs in high-needs schools across the state, and is one of the WSPTA's top 5 priorities this session.
Republican Camas Rep. Liz Pike offered an amendment to encourage school districts to give preference to breakfast foods that are healthy, fresh and Washington-grown. Her amendment was accepted, and is now incorporated into the bill.
HB 1295 would focus on schools where 70 percent of students are eligible for the federal free and reduced price meal programs. To help districts get started, the bill includes one-time start-up grants of $6,000. The estimated cost of the program is about $2.3 million.
The bill now moves to the state Senate and the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee for consideration.
The Senate includes a similar program in part 2 of SB 6244. This bill doesn't specifically call out "breakfast after the bell" but refers to "nutritional enhancements." It has yet to be voted out of the Senate committee, and doesn't go as far as the House version.
Marie Sullivan Legislative Consultant Washington State PTA
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) "Made final and official in December just before our winter break, the federal government actually did replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law with a new law, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). And while the goals of NCLB were admirable, the logistics of it as you know were very problematic. Thus, after several years of wrangling at the federal level, and an era of Department of Education waivers that states received and in our case lost for not complying with some DOE rules, we enter a transition year! The NCLB act officially ends this August; however, the 2016-17 school year is the transition year for the new law, ESSA. During this next year, many of the items need to be further defined and refined by the “state” not the federal government. Most see this as a good thing, and depending on how the state does its job… I will agree," writes Nick Brossoit, Edmonds School District Superintendent. Follow this link for full text.
PTA BILL TRACKER 2015 Looking for a way to follow the bills that the legislative team is reviewing? Click here for information. You can also find a lot of great information on the WSPTA website on the legislative news page.
NATIONAL PTA TO RECOGNIZE SENATOR PATTY MURRAY WITH THE CONGRESSIONAL VOICE FOR CHILDREN AWARD The Congressional Voice for Children Award is presented to a senator and a representative for their work on behalf of our nation's children. This includes sponsoring legislation, offering and supporting important amendments, and supporting National PTA recommendations. In 2015, PTA will present Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) with the award at the National PTA annualLegislative Conference.
WASHINGTON STATE PTA SETS LEGISLATIVE AGENDA The Washington State Parent Teacher Association held its’ 36th Annual Legislative Assembly this past weekend, in Vancouver, Washington. There, delegates met to set a new platform of legislative priorities for the 2015 -2016 legislative session in support of the organizational vision of “Making every child’s potential a reality.” The legislative platform supports the delivery of our mission: · PTA is a powerful voice for all children. · PTA is a relevant resource for families, schools and communities. · PTA is a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child. In all, 13 issues made the short-term platform. As a whole child advocacy association, our priority issues represent health, well-being and educational needs of the children of Washington State.
(link to legislative survey results for Everett School District area)
Legislative Principles (WSPTA long-term platform): The Legislative Assembly delegates considered two changes to the Legislative Principles which guide the association's long-term advocacy efforts. The members agreed to add "Integrate Internet Safety and Online Communication Into School Curriculums." The proposal before delegates to remove "Re-defining Basic Education" from the Legislative Principals did not pass. Therefore, "Re-defining Basic Education" will remain as on the WSPTA Legislative Principles.
Resolutions: Delegates also considered and approved all of the proposals submitted for resolutions. Resolutions 1.10 Adolescent Marijuana Use Prevention was edited to remove from the first resolved statement the following words: "Marijuana should be treated like any other medication, keeping it stored out of reach of children." The delegates also voted to direct the Resolutions Committee to include these removed words into one of the "whereas" clauses that precede the "resolved" clauses. The other resolutions that were considered and adopted by the delegates are: · Access to Health and Dental Care · Paid Sick and Family Leave · E-911 Safety Training for Youth · Financial Literacy These additions will help inform WSPTA's local and statewide long-term advocacy efforts.
2012-14 WSPTA'S Top 5 Legislative Platform 1. Advance Basic Education Reforms 2. Fund Education First 3. Closing the Opportunities Gap 4. Revenue for Kids 5. Access to Highly Effective Teachers
Also supported (listed alphabetically) * Access, Opportunity & Equity for Special Education * Access to Algebra in Middle School * Access to Quality Early Learning * Great Family Engagement in Every School * Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports * School Zone Signage * Screening and Support for Struggling Readers * Social Emotional Learning * Training to Support Highly Capable Learners
2011-2012 WSPTA Top Six Priority Issues/Legislative Platform 1. Improve basic education – this includes implementing and funding a new definition that supports college and career readiness, as well as student-focused steps to increase accountability. 2. Strengthen math and science instruction 3. Phonological awareness screening and reading instruction. 4. Changing layoff policies to include more than just seniority. 5. Fund education first in the state budget process. 6. New, research-based model for teacher compensation that emphasizes rewarding teacher effectiveness in improving student learning.