Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, issued the following statement regarding Senate Bills passed on March 6:
“The Washington state Senate spent many hours on the floor yesterday to pass a package of five bills dealing with K-12 education policy. While some good progress was made, our attempts to ensure funding to support those efforts were blocked and worse, some extremely poor legislation actually passed over our objections.
“Because not all kids learn the same way and not all kids make it in a traditional school environment, I was extremely proud to both sponsor and support a bill that will ensure continued support for our Alternative Learning Experience programs such as those in my district. I also supported the passage of Senate Bill 5237 and its goal of ensuring all our children are reading by third grade. I was disappointed however, that our attempts to add funding to support the promises in that bill were thwarted.
I will continue to work tirelessly to secure funding for that bill. Another example of a good policy that passed without funding is Senate Bill 5244. This is a good reform for school suspension and expulsion policies, but without dedicated money I worry it could be another unfunded mandate.
It is unfortunate that despite our attempts the funding for these critical polices was not supported by Republican majority.
“However, other bills I did not support and strongly spoke against were still passed. I was adamantly opposed to those bills that won’t move the state any closer to fully funding public education and that are not true reform, but are instead punitive measures towards teachers and schools.
Senate Bill 5328 is one of those bills. It does nothing more than create a new A–F label for schools and includes no support or funding for any schools labeled as failing or struggling. During floor debate on the A-through-F school grading system, I argued that many alternative schools that are serving our neediest students would be labeled an “F”, not because they are failing our students but because the students they are working with need more help. An overly simplistic system that only looks at a few variables such as test scores or on-time graduation rates fails to take into consideration the demographics of the students or their needs and is an unfair representation of the progress those schools are making with their students.
“We made a few achievements for the 40th legislative district yesterday. As the father of a four-year old I have a vested interest in our public school system. I will continue to promote true education reform that is fully funded so that my daughter and everyone’s child has access to a strong educational system and the same opportunities to succeed. Ultimately we must not only continue to look for ways to improve educational opportunities for our children, but also for funding those opportunities.”