Sen. Hawkins Education Proposals in Olympia
12th District Senator Brad Hawkins gave an update Monday on the status of several education bills he has introduced in Olympia this session. The legislature is about one third through the 105 day session and the first cut-off date for bills is Friday, Feb. 17th
Hawkins SB 5505, aimed at addressing learning loss by expanding the school year
Hawkins serves on the K-12 Education Committee and has proposed a response to the learning loss by students that occurred as a result of the COVID pandemic. Take advantage of surplus revenues and add five extra state funded days to the school year. Hawkins bill also encourages school districts to apportion those proposed 185 instruction days over a longer period of time. Rather than a roughly nine and a half month calendar, school districts could incorporate a shorter summer break. "There would be less learning loss that occurs every summer due to this summer slide."
Hawkins says teachers have told him some kids are two to four years behind grade level as a result of COVID and other issues. "So we really do have to think differently about our education system, our system is is very inefficient. We start the process, we stop and then we restart again and we spend almost all of September re teaching" Hawkins points to the fact that most industrialized countries don't take a two and a half or three month break every year. Hawkins says the real solution to learning loss and to compete with other countries would be to fund around 200 days. To go from 180 to 200 day school calendars is too much of a financial leap for the state of Washington in Sen. Hawkins estimation.
Hawkins has sponsored Senate Bill 5670--Running Start online classes starting in 10th grade.
In addition to Hawkins K 12 education committee assignment assignment, he serves on the Senate Higher Education Committee. Running start programs allow juniors and seniors to earn college credit and some students graduate from High School and Wenatchee Valley College at the same time. Hawkins bill would modernize the program that has been around 30 years. With the increase in online courses because of the COVID pandemic, Hawkins bill proposal allows 10th graders to participate in one Running Start class per quarter. "I consider it a walking start to running start. And I think it will help some students dabble in higher education. Hawkins considers SB5670 could serve as a pilot program to modernize a popular option with many students. He is hopeful the bill will be approved in the Higher Education Committee this Wednesday.
Another education related bill Hawkins is watching would allow parents more access to classroom materials. "There is so much is happening in the school system these days parents may not be able to always follow everything as close as closely as they want to, and they want to have access to what's happening, the ability to opt out of things."
Hawkins says the bill got a good hearing and there was a lot of support however, Hawkins is doubtful as to its future. "I don't believe that democratic committee chair, Senator Lisa Wellman is going to move that bill through (committee) That bill is sort of in the same holding pattern as my learning loss, expanding the school year bill." Hawkins said.