Our short 2020 legislative session is nearing its end. There is so much to be proud of – especially all the work we’ve done to give all of our kiddos every opportunity to succeed. As chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, I spend a lot of time opening doors for students after K-12, but setting people up for success in college and careers means supporting kiddos long before their senior year. Investments in early learning, supporting students struggling with homelessness, improving social-emotional learning standards, and bolstering graduation pathways are all parts of building a well-prepared workforce. And we have so many education and career wins to celebrate this year!
Spotlight: K-12 Education
*FYI most of these bills have passed the House and the Senate. Final stop: the governor’s office!
HB 2455 allows parents who are attending high school or who are working toward completing a high school equivalency certificate to qualify for Working Connections Child Care, a federal- and state-funded program. Parents in high school would be able to take care of their little one and focus on their education, and schools will even provide transportation to both parent and baby. We know earning a high school degree is critical for future job success. This bill will help alleviate the burden of child care on parenting teens so they can earn their degree, pursue their dreams, and take care of their family.
HB 2660 helps feed kiddos who struggle with food insecurity. It increases the availability of school meals provided to public school students at 18 lower income school districts. This program provides all students with no-cost lunch which eliminates stigma and meal debt, and we know that kids do better in school when they’re well-nourished.
SB 6117 would increase the funding for students enrolled in special education who are in the general education classroom. This would help us support our students in special education programs at schools throughout the state, something that para-educators and teachers have been asking for. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to education – especially for our young learners with special learning needs – doesn’t work. With this bill we can work to accommodate all of our students. This bill hasn’t made it to the House floor yet, so if it’s something you’re excited about, I encourage you to reach out to your representatives in the House and urge them to help us get this bill to the governor’s desk this session!
HB 1660 helps close the current opportunity gaps in extracurricular participation at high school. It also directs school boards to adopt a policy to waive fees for students who are low-income. Participation and success should never be limited by socioeconomic status. This bill will help schools examine what they can do to help more of their students pursue soccer, marching band, theatre, debate – whatever they love and whatever they want to try! I am so excited this bill has passed both chambers this week with bipartisan support.
Besides voting on great bills for kids, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting with students from Lighthouse Christian School, East Port Orchard, Hidden Creek Elementary, Libert-T School, Discovery Elementary, and Mullenix Ridge Elementary – and heard great ideas from our youngest neighbors. I love how much they care about their classmates and their siblings in different grades, and how excited they are to do everything they can to help make the world a better place. Chatting with our young neighbors gives me so much hope, and reminds me why we do the work to support our students. Keep an eye on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts – I’ll be answering questions from these kiddos in the weeks to come!
My week in Olympia
I believe in transparency, and I want to keep you all informed about what I’m doing on behalf of the 26th District in Olympia. That’s why I’m making a practice of posting my calendar here each week on Facebook, and have launched an Instagram account (@senatoremilyrandall) to give you more in-the-moment updates.
Keep in touch
We are all eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what we’re up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at 360-786-7650 or Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov. The more we hear from you, the better our work in Olympia can reflect our shared values and goals.
All my best,