The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has made it easy to track education-related legislation this session.
If you go to the OSPI website and click on the heading "This week's OSPI Legislative Schedule" you'll find an agenda for the week's hearings and testimony on education-related bills. You'll have to weed through other legislative matters, but it is one of the most concise lists I've found available.
One word of caution - read beyond the headline attached to the bill. This week, for example, you'll find there is a hearing today, Monday, Jan. 31, on Senate Bill 5191, which, according to the bill description, "provides for flexibility in education."
In reading through the bill though I find that many of the sections of the Revised Code of Washington (28A.300.405) requiring Civil Rights education - specifically lessons regarding the history of exclusion, removal and detention of persons of Japanese Ancestry during World War II - would be suspended until July 1, 2013 under provisions of SB 5191 (section 8, line 13 and section 9, subsection 9, line 30). Most of the flexibility, it would appear, is related to funding and implementation of education-related programs.
When it comes to education funding, Representative Marko Liias (D-21st Legislative District) says lawmakers are being forced to make what he calls "stupid decisions." With the current budget crisis looming, Liias told a group of constituents gathered last week to watch the documentary "Race to Nowhere" that, "most of the decisions being made in Olympia are penny-wise and dollar foolish."
Liias, who serves on the House Education Committee, has introduced a bill that would require employers to give workers time off to attend parent-teacher conferences. Of HB 1164, Liias says, "As we consider more budget cuts to education, the least we can do is ensure an active parent has the opportunity to be involved and support their child's education."
Another hearing on HB 1164 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, before the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee.