PTA ADVOCACY AND LEGISLATION

WSPTA PTA Advocacy Information                                                                  National PTA Advocacy Information

Action E-List: Be Notified When and How to Take Action                              WSPTA Grassroots Connection Blog

What is happening?

2016 Legislative Session
Week 8 Legislative Committee Schedule: 2/29-3/5
2015-16 Legislator Handout - Updated 1/2016

 

2016 Focus Day Event
PTA has a strong voice in Washington State.  Northshore PTSA Council represented with a large group and a vital voice for the kids of NSD! Three members from Kokanee participated.

 

Washington State PTA Adopts Top 5 Platform

Washington State Parent Teacher Association Sets Legislative Agenda (October 28, 2014) -- The Washington State Parent Teacher Association held its’ 36th Annual Legislative Assembly this 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.

WSPTA’s priorities for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions:
1. Funding McCleary Funding McCleary
2. Create Positive School Climates Through Social Emotional Learning
3. Increasing Capital Funding
4. Increased Access to Higher Education
5. Breakfast After the Bell

Also supported (listed alphabetically):
Access, Equity & Opportunity for Students with Disabilities and Special Needs
Closing Opportunity Gaps
Equal Access for ELL Students
Family and Community Engagement
Inclusive Special Education
Playground Safety
Investing in Teacher Professional Learning (CTWG Implementation)
Regulating Child Restraint and Isolation in Schools            

Kokanee Making an Impact for Foster Kids
By Carrie McKenzie, Kokanee Advocacy Chair

In the state of Washington, less than 50% of foster kids graduate from high school and less than 4% go to college. Let’s be real…that’s just plain terrible. So when House Bill 1999 was introduced that gives OSPI the responsibility to coordinate education services and improve graduation outcomes for foster kids, I felt compelled to demonstrate to legislators why they needed to support this bill. I teamed up with a friend and long-time awesome foster mom, Connie Boze, and on March 19, 2015, I went to Olympia to testify before the Early Learning & K-12 Education Senate Committee. 

 

In the three minutes that I had to testify, I needed to convey how courageous and giving the Boze family is to take in so many foster children over the years; how some kids move from school to school with no one to help them get credit for work that they do across all schools so they just give up; how if kids have to be moved to a teen home here or on the other side of the state that they are not allowed to go to school while they are there putting them so far behind that they give up; or how kids don’t have the much needed consistency across agencies and systems so that they don’t just give up. When I finished, every Senator in the room was visibly moved and truly understood what it meant to have coordinated services for foster kids. As a result, I was invited to submit language to update the bill to address these key areas; something I found out later was not a common request. At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids and the amazing families like the Boze family. But I also learned a very cool thing in that moment: legislators need to know the real life stories that drive the need for change and telling your story makes a difference.   It’s not over, the bill has not passed into law yet. Please feel free to contact your legislator and provide your comments.

How Washington State Taxes Got This Bad

We've heard a lot lately about Washington State's outdated and unfair tax system. Even USA Today reports that WA's poorest residents pay nearly 17% of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest few pay just 2%. Our tax system hasn't always been this lopsided - have you ever wondered how it got this bad? Rep. Reuven Carlyle made this video to help explain the problem step by step. 

Northshore Council Advocacy Update

Your PTA has been very active this legislative session as legislators are tasked with adding billions of dollars in additional education funding under court order. Through direct conversations, testifying in committee hearings and high participation in targeted Action Alerts, PTA has had success in getting key legislation supported and moving forward. We are at a critical point in the legislative session where talk turns to doing. The Revenue budget, House Budget and Senate Budget have been released in the last two weeks and there is much work to do to understand if these budgets fully meet the basic education that the McCleary decision mandates. Both the House and the proposed Senate budgets fully funded MSOC , reduced K-3 class size, and funded all-day kindergarten, but the amount in each budget determined to be necessary to meet that goal differed. In addition, both budgets were balanced assuming a partial repeal of I-1351, the recently pass law for reducing class sizes in all grades. Neither budget, however significantly addressed the issue of local levies funding items, for example teacher salaries, etc., that have been deemed to be part of basic education.

Side by Side Comparison of Senate and House Budgets

McCleary Funding - Better - But Still Falls Short  

House Budget Unveiled: SEL and Breakfast Funded

Senate Bill 6080 - Good Start - But Not Enough to Meet Student Needs

Keep up to date on fast paced news by joining Grassroots Connection and Action Alerts.

Here’s how I stay current:

  1. Follow the #waleg hashtag on Twitter (absolutely easiest/fastest way to stay current)
  2. Subscribe to legislators email newsletters. They send them out regularly during session (you can go to our advocacy page on the Council website and on right hand column is the website for each legislator)
  3. The League of Education Voters has a bill tracker for bills related to education. It’s here: http://educationvoters.org/resources/bill-tracker/
  4. If you want to watch/share a simple & highly effective teaching tool about McCleary – check out this video – “McCleary…In 57 Seconds” – put together by Sen. Joe Fain (47th LD). http://joefain.src.wastateleg.org/mccleary-in-57-seconds/.
  5. Watch daily/weekly news updates on TVW.org  http://www.tvw.org/
  6. WA State PTA Bill Tracker http://www.wastatepta.org/advocacy/WSPTA_2015_Bill_Tracker.pdf 

Important Links and Information

National PTA's annual public policy agenda outlines policy priorities and recommendations for Congress

WA State PTA Advocacy

Find And Contact Your Legislator

United States House of Representatives

United States Senate

Washington State Legislature

Washington Secretary of State

US Department of Education - BLOG

Understanding McCleary Presentation

 

CONTACTS


•WA State Legislative Director:

- Duncan Taylor  EMAIL: PTALegDir@wastatepta.org

•Regional Legislative Chairs:

- Lisa Surowiec, RLC6  EMAIL: RLC6@wastatepta.orgor Heidi@bennettdirect.net 

•Northshore Council and Kokanee PTA Legislative VP/Chair:

 - Carrie McKenzie  EMAIL: carrie.mckenzie@hotmail.com

 

Tips to Help Maximize Your Effectiveness as an Advocate

• Recognize that legislators are not experts – they cannot possibly keep completely informed about all issues. They need education, supporting information, and referrals. Avoid using jargon, use specific examples, be factual, and think of the constituent (voter) impact. • Return address – put your return address on the letter, not just on the envelope. Envelopes are often thrown away before a letter is answered. Always put your home address in any e-mail. Legislators want to know that you are one of their constituents.

• Identify yourself – if you are writing on your own behalf or as legislative chair of an association, say so.

• Identify your subject – state the name of the legislation or the topic about which you are writing in the first paragraph. Include the bill number or some way they can identify which bill you are writing about.

• State your position – explain how a bill would affect you, your family, your school, or even your state or community.

• Be reasonable and honest – don’t ask for the impossible and don’t intentionally misinform a legislator. Don’t threaten your legislator. Just be firm, confident, positive, and courteous. Even if they do not agree with you on this point, there may be another point in the future on which you will both agree.

• Get to know staff – remember that they control the legislator’s schedule, monitor the information received, and influence the legislator’s decisions.

• Keep it short – write your letter about one issue. If you cannot express your position in one paragraph, you may not be clear about your position.

• Ask for a reply – indicate to your legislator that you would appreciate a reply containing his position on the issue. As a constituent, you have the right to know your representative’s views.

• Follow up – if your legislator’s vote on the bill pleases you, express your thanks. Everybody appreciates a complimentary letter. By the same token, you should politely express your dissatisfaction with votes that do not support your position.

 



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WSPTA is saddened by the number of recent shootings that have taken place at schools across our country. Our mission states that PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families, schools and communities, and a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.
 
During the October 2013 WSPTA Legislative Assembly in Seatac, the following policy was adopted by members:  The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that extend criminal background checks to the purchase of guns from non-licensed sellers.
 
On April 24, 2014, the WSPTA board of directors discussed the upcoming initiatives 594 and 591 that will be on the November ballot. Our legislative director, Sherry Krainick brought forth information from her state legislative committee members. After discussion and debate the board voted to endorse and support initiative 594 on extending background checks on gun purchases from non-licensed dealers.  Support at this time will not include financial resources but may include very limited use of our grassroots network, action alerts and other communications that may be timely.
 
At that time the board also voted to oppose initiative 591 (an Act relating to protecting gun and other firearm rights; adding new sections to chapter 9.41 RCW; and creating new sections.)
 
WSPTA keeps kids at the focus of everything we do. While we understand this is not a solution for children’s safety, we do recognize that this is one small step in that direction.