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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today, on the 22nd day of the 105-day legislative session, I wanted to provide you with an information about the status of K-12 public education, bills I am working on, and other valuable resources you can use to participate in the legislative process.

K-12 education

Our students’ state and national test scores have been trending downward in recent years. On the most recent State Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) assessment, less than 38% of all Washington students met grade-level standards in math, and roughly half were able to do so in English language arts.

The learning loss suffered during the pandemic-related school closures is likely a big factor. But even before the pandemic, too many students were not receiving a quality education.

Last week, I introduced House Bill 1615 to empower parents and improve student’s educational outcomes by allowing parents to use their share of state education funds for private or home-based education. The bill would direct the Washington Student Achievement Council to establish and administer the Students First program, which would fund education savings accounts (ESAs) for students.  

The program would prioritize ESAs for students eligible for special education services, students whose families are low-income, and those in failing schools. Each ESA is funded based on the amount of money the state provides public schools to provide a basic education, which is over $10,600. For students with disabilities, the program would provide additional support as the state does. Those ESAs would be funded at over $20,600.

Parents with participating students would receive a debit card that can only be used for education-related expenses, such as private school tuition, fees, textbooks, uniforms; tutoring, exam fees; homeschool curriculum; education-related therapies; postsecondary education; and more.  

I will be providing more updates on this effort as the bill moves through the legislative process.

My proposal is already scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education Committee on Thursday, Jan. 2, at 8:00 a.m.

To sign-up for public testimony on the House Bill 1615, click here and select “Education” under “Committee” and “02/02/23 8:00 AM” under “Meetings.”

You can also comment directly on the bill by clicking here.

To read more about K-12 education in Washington state, click here.

More funding for rural schools

I want to highlight another important education bill I am supporting, and that’s House Bill 1044 by Rep. Joel McEntire.

This proposal would help our small schools with capital finances. In the 39th District, we have small schools that can’t access state funding for construction. It’s a great bill and I am working to get it over the finish line.

Other bills I am sponsoring

  • House Bill 1430 would improve communication between the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and caregivers.
  • House Bill 1438 would authorize charitable or nonprofit organizations to conduct Calcutta auctions on shooting sports contests.
  • House Bill 1500 would increase the cap on gross sales for cottage food operations.
  • House Bill 1583 would create the profession of certified peer specialists.
  • House Bill 1609 would strengthen access to high-quality school library information and technology programs with qualified teacher-librarians.

Broadband

Access to broadband is a critical social and economic issue in the 21st century. But lack of high-speed internet remains a problem, particularly in rural areas. In 2021, I sponsored House Bill 1064 to require home sellers to disclose whether a home has access to high-speed internet. It was approved unanimously and was signed into law. The state must do more to invest in this critical infrastructure.

The Washington State Broadband Office has an ongoing internet mapping initiative to test internet speeds across the state. You can take their survey here or view results here.

Stay connected

My legislative website | My contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.

Participating in the Process | Information about how you can participate in the legislative process

The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.   

The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.

TVW | TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.

The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.

Legislature’s website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.

State agencies | Lists of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.

Thank you!

Please contact me if you have questions about the legislative process, bills, or important issues facing our communities and state.

During session, my office receives hundreds of emails per week. I will do my best to answer the ones I receive from constituents first, so please include your home address and phone number in your correspondence.

It’s an honor to serve you!

Sincerely,


Carolyn Eslick

State Representative Carolyn Eslick, 39th Legislative District
RepresentativeCarolynEslick.com
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
carolyn.eslick@leg.wa.gov
(425) 327-2093 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000