The Education Year-End Awards for Washington State
The Hulk Hogan Heel Turn Award:
Senator Rosemary McAuliffe
......but it also guaranteed the eventuality that there would be legislation this upcoming session to mandate that student test scores were a part of a teacher's evaluation, never mind that the tests are changing RIGHT NOW along with our adoption of Common Core standards.
....and the payoff is a kick in the teeth when Senator Tom shepherds this bill through with a big grin and a thank you to someone who really should have known better. The state is going to bend over backwards to implement a bad idea at the behest of a lousy federal administration, and there's no good reason why. Pbbbbbbt to you, Rosemary.
The "I Really Hate the Reykdal Family!" Award:
Representative Cathy Dahlquist
It started on Valentine's Day when Kim Reykdal, a counselor for the Olympia School District, went to the Education Appropriations Subcommittee as part of a panel to give one of those perfectly innocuous "We have a meeting scheduled, let's put something on the agenda!" presentations that happen throughout the session.
After giving her spiel the committee chair opened things up for questions, leading to this eyebrow-raiser from Rep. Dahlquist:
"I have children, they're juniors and seniors in high school, and I can tell you that they went K-12 without ever really seeing a counselor.....It's very difficult for some of us to see the value (of counselors) for those kids who are just regular kids."
That's right--regular kids wouldn't ever need to access a school counselor. This is a former president of the Enumclaw School Board talking, folks.
11 days later Rep. Chris Reykdal goes to that same committee to speak on behalf of a bill he prime-sponsored on paying kids to work in agriculture programs, where he is promptly met by Rep. Dahlquist asking some of the most bizarre questions ever posed during a committee hearing--the fun starts at about the 10 minute mark:
and Premera Blue Cross
If you read this, you probably also read the Legislative Update put out by the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA). Their February 24th update (since edited!) was a dandy as it talked about some of the reform-minded legislation that was still alive at the time, namely retaining 3rd graders and giving schools letter grades:
This legislation is part of a national push for model legislation supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Bill sponsor: Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup.Now, if you're Steve Litzow, and you like to make a show of being moderate, you'd just as soon not have yourself linked to ALEC, even if it's glaringly obvious that the bill THAT YOU FILED has language cribbed from Jeb Bush's Florida and being pushed around the country. So maybe you make a phone call, or you have Rodney make a phone call, and you say, "Hey, remember how in previous years we had a proposal to make membership in WSSDA optional? Fuck you, that's back." So the next day you backpedal like an NFL cornerback with this:
This legislation is part of a national push for model legislation supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Bill sponsor: Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
That's the way Olympia works--hell, my union had to apologize for leaving a flaming bag of doody on Steve Hobbs' doorstep--but I think it also goes to show you that, despite all prostrations to the contrary, the Majority Coalition Caucus wasn't really all that interested in being different than the Democrats were when they had power. And speaking of people who didn't handle power well......In the February 24 Legislative Update, references were made linking bills in the Les Misérables list and their sponsors to “model legislation proposed by the national organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).” This link between bills and ALEC model legislation is incorrect, and WSSDA sincerely apologizes for the error.
State Senator Steve Litzow
It's been eminently clear that one of the big reasons--perhaps the biggest reason--that Rodney Tom switched parties was because he really, really hates Rosemary McAuliffe, and that's what made Senator Litzow the chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
He simply wasn't ready for the job.
The good Senator tries to wear a big grin with his bipartisan bona fides, but his committee kept crapping out some of the most anti-teacher, anti-education legislation that has ever been countenanced in this state. What's notable is that of the 16 education-related bills that Senator Litzow prime sponsored this year, exactly 1 went on to be signed by the Governor, and even that was only after it was completely overhauled by the House.
Senator Tom (R-Medina) is promising that education reform will again be a hot issue during this short 60 day session coming up, which is going to once again put Senator Litzow in a prime position, but it's not easy being the tip of the spear when you're dull.
I thought first about trying the "Lobbyists are like lawyers, everyone hates them until you need a good one!" line of thinking, but that kept leading me to "Randy Parr is just like Thurgood Marshall," and I don't know that he'd appreciate that.
Similarly, I thought about comparing him to some of the other lobbying professionals I've come to know from hours of watching TVW--"Say what you will about Randy, but he's got a better haircut than the guy from the Association of Washington Cities!"--but that's a joke that works for about 5 people in the world.
Instead, I'm going to go with regrets. As a local president I get asked sometimes just what the point of WEA membership is. It costs a ton of money, after all, and my members don't always see the tangible benefits linked to that big outlay every month. I wish that I could show all of them this piece of video:
.....and make them understand that when our retirement plans were under attack, it was Randy Parr of our lobby staff who gave some of the best testimony I've ever seen and won the argument for us. When there have been technical committees looking at the formulas for salary, retirement, or student funding, it was our budget lobbyist Randy Parr who had to get into it up to his neck to maneuver through all the numbers and come out the other side with legislation that was good for our schools. We've got an outstanding Government Relations office that often toils in anonymity, but I will loudly sing their praises to anyone at anytime, and Randy has been a big part of that.
This year, Randy retired. My hope for him is that he's sitting by the side of a lake somewhere with absolutely no thought of politics, because he's earned that. The work that Randy Parr did for all of us for years improved the life of every public school employee in the state--even those who are represented by a different union, or no union at all--and I thank him for it.
Read more here, if any.