Capitol pace remains red hot, even during snow days
Monday, February 11, 2019
A snow day for much of the Willamette Valley, but not the Legislature, created a little hiccup last week. Tuesday started out slow as members made their way from outside the Salem area, but as usual, everything picked up speed and committees were all back on track by noon.
The Legislature has extended its committee schedules into the early evening this year. With some new joint committees and special issue committees, including one on education, more meetings extend already packed days. I’m still waiting for the typical initial session slowdown.
I can see on the faces of legislators, their staff and lobbyists that the pace is rapidly turning happy grins into dazed looks. Much of my work consists of chasing down new bills as they drop into the system, with people for and against the bills asking me where OSBA stands.
The House Education Committee took on the “test or not to test bill,” House Bill 2318, on Feb. 4 with considerable testimony surrounding what, if any testing, should be done with prekindergarten children. Overtesting is a concern, but informative testing helps incoming students receive the additional supports they need as they start their school experience.
The Senate Education Committee heard bills related to student safety on Feb. 6. There was barely a dry eye in the room, including legislators. We heard heart-wrenching stories from parents who had lost their children to suicide and from students and adults who had experienced bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts. Educators and community health advocates detailed the need for mental health supports and other ways to get at this crisis that touches an entire school when students take their own lives.
We continue to work on what accountability means to legislators, parents and schools. Given Gov. Kate Brown’s investment budget for education, there is a real need to tell the Legislature, public, parents and students how any additional monies would be spent and the expected outcomes for students. This conversation will continue; stay tuned.
Thank you to the legislators, school board members, teachers, administrators as well as the public who have been attending our school funding town halls. The town halls have engaged attendees in great conversations, giving legislators additional insight about the needs of schools and students. The town halls keep the school funding message in the forefront of legislator’s minds.