The long view on special session

I spent the day in Olympia at the governor’s Higher Education Steering Committee meeting and getting caught up with legislative watchers. CWU’s legislative staff, Ann Anderson and Steve DuPont had said that the special session of the legislature, initially slated to last four or five days at the end of the month, now appears headed for a longer ride.

It seems that our own budget discussions are going about as well as those of the Super Committee in D.C., which is to say, not well.  It may be that the governor called the special session a little early. If lawmakers go into session with their budget cuts undetermined, it could spell a very long holiday season indeed.

If you read yesterday’s post you must be dying to know the outcome of the pension policy committee meeting. It’s good news! Steve DuPont was there and said the committee decided not to change current policy that allows exempt staff to participate in the CWU retirement plan. Yay!

The Higher Ed Steering Committee, charged with figuring out what will replace the Higher Education Coordinating Board, wrestled with a proposal to steer higher education governance into a larger world, connected more closely with K-12. I have pasted this proposal below for your reading pleasure.

It is a significant departure from the bill  (SB 5182) the legislature approved last year that did away with the HECB and transferred its financial aid functions to a new agency. Today the governor explained her idea was to create an agency that could pull together the entire education “pipeline” in order to increase student achievement. The committee may meet again, but has been encouraged to gather feedback from their stakeholders (other comprehensives and students, staff and faculty thereof, in President Gaudino’s case) and get it to the committee asap. With the special session looming, there’s little time to waste.

Higher Education Steering Committee: Chair’s DRAFT proposal for Nov. 15, 2011 meeting

 The Office of Student Achievement  should be created with an Executive Director appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.  (The Office could also be named the Coordinating Office of Student Achievement.)  This executive branch agency should be responsible for improving student achievement through:

  • Strategic planning
  • Strategic state investment recommendations for education  including budget recommendations
  • System design and coordination
  • Student transition improvement
  • Consumer protection
  • Performance improvements and incentives
  • Educational data and analysis
  • Policy research
  • Financial aid
  • College and career access programs
  • An 11 member advisory board should be created to advise the Office of Student Achievement. The Governor  should appoint 6 citizens and one representative each from the Department of Early Learning, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and the public four-year institutions through the Council of Presidents.  The members should be subject to Senate confirmation.
  • A Joint Legislative Select Committee should be created focused on increasing educational attainment. The Committee should be bipartisan composed of at least two members from each House and Senate committee having jurisdiction over early learning, K-12 education, higher education, and the operating budget.
  • Additional duties of the Office and Board: 
  1. Mission and goals:  The mission of the Office of Student Achievement should be to increase the educational attainment of Washingtonians.  The Office should be responsible for developing strategies to improve student transitions throughout the educational system to achieve this mission.  The Office should set measurable goals for increasing educational attainment.  The Office should work with each individual agency to develop a set of integrated goals that set measureable goals for each sector’s contribution to the overarching goal of increasing educational attainment.  Each agency should continue to have their individual goals.
  2. Educational Dashboard:  The current Complete to Compete measures that are being incorporated into a dashboard for higher education should be expanded to include P-12 metrics.  The Office working with each agency should set these measures.
  3. The new Office of Student Achievement should be created by merging the State Board of Education and the Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Statutes should be amended to reflect the merged duties. Duties of the former boards that are no longer needed should be eliminated.
  4. The Office of Student Financial Assistance should become part of the Office of Student Achievement.
  5. The Educational Research and Data Center, currently within the Office of Financial Management, should be transferred to the Office of Student Achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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