Student Success Committee begins ironing out the details
Monday, March 18, 2019
Joint Committee on Student Success Co-chairs Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (left) and Sen. Arnie Roblan presented proposals Thursday, March 14, to focus the committee's education work. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
The Joint Committee on Student Success seems poised to tackle big problems.
Sen. Arnie Roblan posed a pair of questions during the Thursday, March 14, full committee hearing: “What do we, the committee, want?” and “What are the requirements that we’re going to make for districts?”
Those two questions summarize the work of the committee to date and look to guide its work moving forward. Roblan expressed interest in addressing student wellness, extracurricular activities, parent engagement, expanded learning time, school safety, expansion of nutrition services and many other issues, and committee members continued calls for some sort of cost containment.
The committee co-chairs — Roblan, D-Coos Bay, and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland — used the hearing to roll out broad suggestions for investment made by the committee, organized into three categories: School Improvement Fund, early learning and statewide initiatives. The committee gave no clear direction about what percentage of any hypothetical new money would go into each category, but members did spend a significant amount of time discussing the benefits and costs of each category.
These categories represent the work of two of the three subcommittees: Accountability and Transparency and Early Childhood Education. The third subcommittee, Revenue, has not completed its work. That subcommittee continues to work on new ways to raise revenue, the signature issue of this legislative session.
Procedurally, the committee is in an interesting position. Prior to the start of the legislative session, members of the committee had said that they wanted to keep the committee charge narrow, hoping to have just one or two bills to pass. However, the opposite has occurred. Policy bills from other House and Senate committees have been referred to the Student Success Committee. The bills must go through Student Success to get a full vote on the House or Senate floors.
This gives the Student Success co-chairs control over all those bills and the policies they cover. “All the hostages in one place” is how one education advocate in the Capitol somewhat-sarcastically described it. How committee members will proceed, including how aggressively they will consider bills from other committees, has not been determined.