Spring, a season full of blooming and growth, means many legislative sessions across the country are coming to an end—which can mean changing laws and policies. As of mid-May, PIE Network members from Washington, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Hawaii have completed their 2019 legislative sessions.
Many Network advocates have pursued and passed important work in 2019. Below are just a few highlights from members’ major priorities that bloomed into legislation this spring. We’ll continue to provide updates throughout 2019 as additional sessions come to an end.
A highlight of the Colorado session was the passage of full-day kindergarten, an investment supported by many members in Colorado. Additionally, a bill improving the state’s approach toward early literacy was also signed. Finally, Colorado Succeeds was successful in advancing The Agility Agenda, which includes work-based learning opportunities, eliminating barriers to high school innovation, increasing access and rigor in high school, and building pathways for students.
The Foundation for Florida’s Future called the work in Florida “one of the Nation’s boldest sessions on education this year.” This year’s wins include an increase in per-student funding, the creation of the Family Empowerment Scholarship program, and legislation that aligns and promotes career and technical education. You can read the full details of Florida’s work here.
Georgia passed many significant education bills this session that are currently awaiting signature from the governor. GeorgiaCAN notes in their legislative summary that three of their legislative priorities are part of the package on the governor’s desk. First, SB48, puts in place a process to screen, identify, and support students with dyslexia. Second, SB108, phases in a requirement that all middle and high schools must offer courses in computer science. And, third, the budget, includes a $2 million increase in charter school facility grants.
According to a Stand for Children Indiana report that shares how their priorities fared at the capitol, they “saw incremental progress in what we hope is a long-term commitment by lawmakers and the governor to lift-up teachers across Indiana knowing the critical role they play in our society.”
In Kentucky, the Prichard Committee noted in a legislative recap that they were encouraged by the passage of the School Safety and Resiliency Act, which was the product of a year-long effort by a bipartisan group that included a member of Prichard’s Student Voice Team. They also noted that discussions and protests over pensions proposals commanded center-stage during the session.
TennesseeCAN’s legislative summary reflects on a successful session, one that included the passage of two monumental school choice bills. One bill established a statewide appellate charter school authorizer to ensure high-quality charters are being opened and low-quality charters are being closed. Another bill created an Education Savings Account Pilot program in Nashville and Shelby County. You can view a full review of Tennessee’s session provided by TennesseeCAN here.
The Washington legislature passed HB 1559, making Washington the first state in the country to adopt a policy that automatically enrolls all proficient high school students into “the most rigorous course” available to them. Stand for Children Washington provides more detail on this historic legislation and other successes in their session recap.
Also in Washington, the League of Education Voters spent the session fighting for sufficient and effective special education funding, supportive and safe schools, fair local K-12 funding, high-quality early childhood education, and access to postsecondary opportunities. According to their more detailed session recap, they made progress on all of the priority areas.
Congratulations to all the advocates who have completed their sessions. Interested in learning more about the efforts described here? Reach out.