The Washington State Board of Education earlier this week adopted a legislative platform that prioritizes funding for equity initiatives and special education.
While the platform does not promote specific bills or budget requests for the upcoming legislative session starting January 2024, some priorities are connected to bills that the board believes will be up for consideration.
The board’s list of priorities includes expanding previous legislative work, including establishing a clear timeline for implementing what’s known as “Since Time Immemorial,” a curriculum endorsed by all federally recognized tribes, which covers Indigenous sovereignty, history and culture.
Although state lawmakers passed legislation requiring all schools to teach the “Since Time Immemorial” curriculum in 2015, the Legislature never set a deadline. A bill setting a deadline, HB 1332, failed to pass last year.
The board will also call for expanding dual language education, hands-on learning and the “Ninth Grade Success Initiative,” a program focused on supporting student transitions into ninth grade.
“We’re meeting the students where they’re at rather than forcing them to meet where we’re at,” said Patty Wood, an at-large board member from Kelso. Additionally, the board is again calling for ending a cap on special education spending.
Spending in Washington state on special education students is capped at 15% of a district’s student body, even if a district’s population of students on individualized education plans exceeds that cap.