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Seattle Times: Lawmakers still have ‘a lot of work to do’ on education

From our news partners at The Seattle Times: State lawmakers ended their regular session Sunday after passing only a handful of major education-policy bills. The issue will be a focus of the special session, leaders said.

If lawmakers got a letter grade for progress on the issue of education this session — as some of them want schools to get — they'd give themselves an "incomplete."

The regular session ended Sunday with only a handful of major education-policy bills sent to Gov. Jay Inslee, one on additional supports for struggling schools, another on a new way to push more students into advanced classes and one on required reporting of seclusion and restraint of special-education students.

Those are compromise bills that changed significantly during the session.

For example, Senate Bill 5329 — perhaps the biggest of the passed bills — started as a proposal to allow the state to take over schools that perform the lowest on state tests. The version sent to Inslee would mostly give the state a larger role in school-turnaround efforts, if funding is available.

The Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-run Senate weren't able to compromise, however, on proposals to grade schools, overhaul dropout-prevention programs, intervene if a third-grader fails the state reading test, increase cultural competency of teachers or give principals more say in personnel decisions.

And while both sides have agreed to put hundreds of millions of new dollars into basic school operations in response to a state Supreme Court order, negotiators haven't settled on exactly how much money, where to put it or where to get it from.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," said state Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, who sits on a Senate education committee .

The governor's office and legislative leaders in both chambers and both parties said education would be a focus of the coming special session.

Read the full story here.

About the Author

Brian M. Rosenthal, Seattle Times Olympia bureau