Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are still hearing many bills, and also voting to advance some of them in the appropriate committees.
On Wednesday, legislation was heard that addresses firearm possession, a topic I have heard about from many of you. You can watch the public hearing here. I want you to know I value your Second Amendment rights and want to ensure we address school safety in a responsible manner.
Fund education first
A recent Supreme Court ruling, McCleary vs. State, determined that the Legislature was not adequately funding education as required by the state's constitution. In an earlier e-mail, I mentioned the proposal to fund education first, House Bill 1174. This would not only meet our state's constitutional obligation and the Court's requirements, it would also specify funding with targeted reforms and expected outcomes. This legislation would:
- Prioritize all-day kindergarten and one-half of K-3 class-size support in the upcoming 2013-15 biennium;
- Fund the remaining K-3 class-size enhancements, an additional 80 instructional hours for grades 7-12 and some materials, supplies, and operating cost upgrades – also known as MSOC – in the 2015-17 biennium; and,
- Restore the remaining MSOC and student transportation support in the 2017-19 biennium.
Research shows focused attention to these younger grades leads to lifelong learning and long-term educational and career success. The goal of “fund education first” is to shift the financial burden from local levies back to the state, where the responsibility lies to make education the paramount duty of the state. You can read more about this proposal here.
Success with these initiatives will be measured not by how much we have increased funding, but by the learning outcomes we see in our students. Have their test grades improved? Are graduation rates increased? Does the anecdotal evidence point to increased learning in the classrooms and teachers who have the ability to innovate? I'd like to know what you think about the fund education first proposal – please share your opinion here.
We can and must do better for our students – they are the future of our state, and the decisions we make this year in the Legislature will have long-term consequences.
It's an honor to serve you – please contact my office anytime with questions, comments or concerns.