Over the course of two days, members of the Washington State Board of Education set legislative priorities, examined gaps and gains in school districts’ compliance with educational mandates, and heard new arguments for and as opposed to adopting a statewide ethnic studies degree requirement. .
The 16-member council, which meets about six times a year, is charged with the defense and oversight of Washington’s education system.
Members were able to consult how well some districts are doing in adopting state-mandated activities and programs. Of the 254 school districts that submitted data by Oct. 18, most have successfully implemented plans to offer 12th grade students a day of financial counseling and programs for students to study Washington constitutions and United States.
A count of 119 districts has yet to adopt a âtribal history and culture curriculumâ. More than half of the reporting districts, 136, are ahead of implementing a comprehensive sexual health education program; the rest of the districts must comply by the 2022-23 school year at the latest.
Dozens of school districts – including the state’s largest, Seattle Public Schools – have yet to submit reports informing the board of trustees of their compliance with these requirements, as well as other practices. annual basic education as time spent on learning and graduation requirements. Districts will be notified to submit their surveys this month. Board members plan to review the reports at their December meeting, during which they can recommend actions such as asking the state superintendent to suspend funding for schools until those requirements are met.
Budget requests include $ 236,000 for fiscal year 2023 and $ 230,000 per year for outreach efforts, including the hiring of an engagement coordinator. A request of $ 100,000 for fiscal year 2023 and $ 25,000 for fiscal year 2024 will be made to investigate where improvements in climate and school safety are needed in school districts and to submit a report on recommendations for a statewide approach to address these concerns.
âFor me it’s a very exciting time to be in K-12 education – a tough time, yes – but I think there is an opportunity and I think COVID has shed light on some of the things that did not work before COVID, âsaid Chairman of the Board Bill Kallappa II, of Tumwater. âAnd when I say that, I mean for students of color, kids in foster care, kids in special education,â he said.
Kallappa said the new programs and supports being offered in the areas of fluency-based learning and socio-emotional learning support. But he said the latter was “something that should have been in place 30 years ago,” which is why the board wants to adjust the school funding model to invest in more staff in emotional health and safety and social services for schools as a legislative priority.
The board spent most of the meeting listening to presentations focused on equity and inclusion in school staff, instruction, curriculum and school materials. During a public comment period ahead of a presentation by the state’s Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, council officials heard concerns from students and teachers that the proposed framework and materials for ethnic studies are not enough to fight anti-Semitism. Two speakers identifying themselves as parents said they thought the language suggested in the frame might be divisive. One speaker called ethnic studies an introduction to critical race theory in schools.
Board members completed a series of trainings with ethnic studies educators this summer, and Kallappa said that while the board is still considering adopting a graduation requirement in ethnic studies, “this is not something we want to get up and running quickly and hope it works. ”
Executive board director Randy Spaulding said building “local intent” and community support for the program “is going to take time and different kinds of resources to do it right.”
As shown in data from other mandatory programs and the number of districts that still do not have a tribal history program, Kallappa said “the system is not ready at this time.” He said professional development programs and staffing are needed before instruction. “But we are at a good starting point,” he said.