Today is day 12 of the 2011 Legislative Session. Again I want to thank you for signing up to receive my email updates. I appreciate the feedback I received last week, and the valuable input so many of you offered. I hope you will keep in touch on the issues of importance to you. If you have any questions regarding bills I've sponsored or co-sponsored please do not hesitate to contact me.
Again, please feel free to forward this to friends, family and neighbors you think might be interested. And if you wish you be removed from this list, you can do so by clicking here.
This week, I want to focus my email update on the education issues I've been working on in Olympia:
As a former school board member and president, I can personally attest to the fact that many “one size fits all” state requirements do not meet the unique needs of school districts across the state. The Legislature continues to ask school districts to comply with new mandates (often unfunded) that may not relate to their specific district. Local elected officials are in a better position to make decisions for the specific and unique needs of their districts than state-level officials. A one-size-fits-all approach to education can often be problematic and create unnecessary financial burden.
For this reason, I co-sponsored House Bill 1414 which authorizes waivers of state requirements for school districts. This legislation is an effort to give some local control back to our school boards by giving them the option of waiving state requirements. It is important to note a public hearing would be required prior to waiving any state requirements, and the waiver is good for a period of two years. Statutes and administrative rules pertaining to state and federal health, safety, parents and students rights, civil rights, special education, privacy and nondiscrimination laws may not be waived.
Article IX of our Washington State Constitution says, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” We have an obligation to our children, as mandated in our constitution, and I am concerned that once again this year proposals by budget leadership to balance this budget would fall on our school districts and our students. We must fund our basic priorities and fundamental obligations first, and for that reason I have co-sponsored House Bill 1415, which would remove education expenditures from the general operating budget, and require that education be funded first in the budgeting process prior to passage of the operating budget. It's time to look at new and creative ways to change the way we approach education funding. I am pleased to support this effort.
In the first two weeks, much of our committee work has been focused on work sessions that provide essential background information on the issues and policy proposals that will come before the House for deliberation. If you have requests regarding state programs or proposed legislation, please let me know, and we'll do our best to link you with the appropriate information.
Again, please feel free to forward this to friends, family and neighbors you think might be interested. I look forward to hearing your ideas, and I assure you that while we may not always agree, I truly believe the best solutions often come from the respectful deliberations and collaboration of many differing viewpoints. Have a lovely weekend.