While comprehensive K-12 school reform is still a long way off, state lawmakers were able to push through three pieces of legislation this session that should help our most vulnerable students achieve a better education.
Thanks to the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature, more money has been allocated for assisting homeless students, and more emphasis will be made in helping foster kids get to college. Another new law calls for an end to long-term suspensions and expulsions with no alternative education plan — a discipline strategy youth advocates say disproportionately punishes minority students.
These are all admirable measures that have the potential to change the course of many young lives, and legislators were wise to see them through.
▪ House Bill 1682 will create grant programs to add school liaisons for homeless students, as well as provide other resources, like transportation and emergency shelter.
▪ House Bill 1999 sets the goal that Washington will be top in the nation for the number of foster kids graduating from high school and completing college. It would be incredible if we could make this happen.
▪ House Bill 1541 requires school districts to find a way for students to continue their education when they have been suspended or expelled, using online resources, tutoring services or other alternative programs. Prior to this new law, students could be removed from school for up to a year with no process in place to see if they were keeping up with their schoolwork.
All in all, getting these three education measures through the Legislature shows an encouraging emphasis by lawmakers to help troubled and anxious kids get an education. In this, legislators deserve some praise.