Every 2 years, WSPTA legislative reps from every school gather to determine what state legislation issues PTA members should focus on getting passed. Various topics are discussed and voted on. On October 22, 2016, the top five topics chosen to support for the 2016-2018 Legislative platform were:

Social Emotional Learning – Support legislation to integrate social emotional learning and trauma informed practices in the education system, teacher and principal preparation programs and professional learning to ensure adequate staffing of mental health specialists in addition to prioritizing school climate. 2 youth between the ages of 10-24 die by suicide each week in WA. Trauma is the second-highest predictor of academic failure in WA. – fiscal impact would be cost of professional development, adequate staffing, and curriculum materials.

Amply Fund Basic Education – Support legislation that will fulfill WA’s duty to amply fund basic education. This is in response to the WA State Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary Lawsuit that orders Washington State to fully fund basic education. New revenue must be raised by the state in a manner that is equitable and progressive. Currently, the state is incurring a fine of $100,000 per day until it adopts a plan for funding basic ed. fiscal impact – inherent.

Closing the Opportunity Gap – support legislation to Close the Opportunity Gap. Recommendations were put forth into HB 1541 and signed into law. Implementing them needs our further support. Currently, there is a 20-30% gap in student achievement between students of color and white/many Asian students. This gap needs to be closed. The recommendations are the following:

(a)Reduce the length of time students of color are excluded from school due to suspension and expulsion and provide students support for reengagement plans;
(b) Enhance the cultural competence of current and future educators and classified staff;
(c) Endorse all educators in English language learner and second language acquisition;
(d) Account for the transitional bilingual instruction program instructional services provided to English language learner students;
(e) Analyze the opportunity gap through deeper disaggregation of student demographic data;
(f) Invest in the recruitment, hiring, and retention of educators of color;
(g) Incorporate integrated student services and family engagement; and
(h) Strengthen student transitions at each stage of the education development pathway: Early learning to elementary, elementary to secondary, secondary to college and career. fiscal impact is approximately $3,100,000 for the first 2 years.

Standards for Para-educators – Support legislation or policies that set statewide standards, training, and career development for para-educators, including training for teachers who have paraeducators in their classrooms. Better training and support of them will help improve cultural competency in our schools. Support Policies shall include minimum employment standards and certification. WA is the first state in the nation to propose establishing a career path for para-educators. - fiscal impact will be minimal.

Breakfast After the Bell – Support legislation that encourages the adoption of funding a Breakfast After the Bell Program in high needs schools and initiate policies at the district level that encourage Early Adoption of Breakfast After the Bell programs.

Washington State ranks 45th in the nation for utilization of school breakfast. It is well documented that hungry children do not have the same capacity to learn as their well-fed counterparts. In schools that are meeting national breakfast participation goals (70%) there are less suspensions and expulsions (17.7%), fewer missed school days (40%) and an increase in student test scores. For students with access to free and reduced lunch there is only a 33% utilization rate for breakfast, well short of the goal. In fact, only 10% of school districts in Washington State have reached that goal. - fiscal impact $192,000 to pay an OSPI coordinator to help districts with program implementation. School breakfast itself is funded through the federal government.

Issues Also Supported (listed alphabetically)
Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children*
Engaging Families in Student Success
Post-Secondary Higher Education*
Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
Restorative Justice and School Safety

*2015-16 legislative issues


New Long-Term Resolutions (as of 2016)
Child Sex Trafficking
Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, and Dyspraxia and their Educational Impact
Mitigating Environmental Hazards and Contaminants in Schools

Find more about the above information at these places:
• http://wsptagrassroots.blogspot.com (scroll down)
• #WSPTALegAssembly.

If you would like to get involved, contact me, and I will connect you with more sources.
Barbara Fuller: barbarafuller@yahoo OR cell:425-830-5832