Policy committees wrap up first full week of hearings back from floor cutoff
House and Senate policy committees wrapped up their first full week of hearings following the March 20 floor cutoff, taking up bills from the opposite chamber. Community and technical college system representatives were on the hill testifying on the Career Connect Washington and the Washington College Promise Scholarship bills. Also up for a hearing was a bill that would create a summer Running Start pilot program and a bill that would create a scholarship program for eligible College in the High School and Running Start students.
Plan for secured internet in prisons bill heard in House higher education committee
March 20 — The House College and Workforce Development Committee at its hearing Wednesday heard a bill, 2SSB 5433, that would require the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Department of Corrections and the Office of the Chief Information Officer to write a plan on implementing secure internet connections in prisons for postsecondary education. The plan, due to the governor and the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2019, would also assess the barriers and costs associated with providing internet, a fiscal impact review and a plan for implementing expanded postsecondary degree opportunities.
“Education is the pathway. It's a pathway out regardless of whether you're in prison or whether you're not,” said Sen. Claire Wilson, the bill’s prime sponsor.
Wilson told committee members she brought the bill forward because education is shown to help former inmates get jobs so they’re less likely to recidivate. Second, she said, access to higher education in prison is shown to reduce violence, creating a safer environment for inmates and staff.
“Secured internet is a critical need for our current students. Current vocational certificates and courses are no longer accessible by pencil and paper,” Pat Seibert-Love, a policy associate for corrections education at the State Board, said. “Prior to release, students need to test for industry certification; start applying for work. If they wait until they release, they're unable to get these critical job skills certifications and risk recidivating. More and more industries are advancing technologies and sunsetting non-internet methods and standards.”
Eric Harstead, a former inmate who participated in an automotive technology program while incarcerated, also testified about the importance of having internet access available in prisons. He was able to take ASE certification exams by paper. Those exams are now exclusively online. He was already at a disadvantage finding a job after release, he said, because he was competing for jobs with people who had associate degrees, an option that was not available to him during his time in prison, making the ASE certifications an important tool in his job search.
“What I see is men that are hungry and desperate for a new life. The only reason why Jet [Chevrolet] hired me was because of my five ASE certifications. ASE is the required certification that a technician needs to have in order to work at a shop,” he said. “Because of the advancement of technology, most tests like the ASE are all online now, making them impossible for inmates to take, making them miss out on a huge educational opportunity.”
Governor-requested Career Connect Washington and Washington College Promise Scholarship bills up in House College and Workforce Development
March 19 — The governor-requested bills on Career Connect Washington and creating the Washington College Promise Scholarship were hot topics at Tuesday’s House College and Workforce Development Committee hearing.
The Career Connect Washington bill, E2SSB 5327, would create a multi-agency work group to coordinate career-connected learning opportunities, create a competitive grant program to support regional networks to expand career-connected learning opportunities, requires school districts to be funded up to 1.2 full-time equivalent for students in certain career-connected learning programs, and requires colleges and universities to have career-connected learning coordinators who would work with faculty and administration to expand certain career-connected learning programs.
“We're looking at a 21st century economy, and we're looking at really developing — reforming — our education system from the inside out, understanding that it is a continuum at least from 'K through credentialing' and 'K through making sure that kids have pathways moving forward,'” Sen. Lisa Wellman, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “The objective here to make sure that kids have those pathways moving forward.”
Nate Humphrey, director of workforce education at the State Board, testified in favor of the bill.
“It excites us that this bill is not only an opportunity for our existing students, but goes on to address the needs of our local communities in both incumbent worker training as well as backfilling apprenticeship tuition waivers. Strategic investments like these in the people of Washington state are critical if we are to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive economy,” he said. “Career Connect Washington will allow our colleges to build upon their current workforce programs, expand what they offer and more effectively serve a greater diversity of students in all parts of the state.”
The committee also heard E2SSB 5393, which would change the State Need Grant program to the Washington College Promise Scholarship program. The new program would be an entitlement for eligible students whose family incomes are at or below 110 percent of the federal poverty level.
State Board legislative intern and Tacoma Community College student Kristina Pogosian told representatives her mother used the State Need Grant to fund her education after immigrating to the United States and while raising her children.
“This is not something that only benefits the individual themselves to get more money and contribute to the economy and support the family the way my mother was able to after she received her degree, but this is also something that impacts the future generation because children are more likely to attend college when their parents have attended college.” Pogosian said. “They're more likely to be successful when their parents are able to financially support them, and so for that reason I ask you to support this bill because I am the product of a mother who was funded by the Washington State Need Grant.”
State Board legislative intern and Edmonds Community College student Mustapha Samateh also testified in favor of the bill’s passage.
“I'm grateful for the education I am receiving at our state's college system and recognize the critical role community and technical colleges play in educating the future generation of our state,” he said. “The Washington College Promise will effectively remove cost barriers to higher education for CTC students statewide facing prohibitive financial challenges. It will ensure that promising and ambitious students have the resources they need to focus on their studies and build a better future for themselves and their families.”
Also up for a hearing was 2SSB 5800 which would create pilot programs at four community or technical colleges and two 4-year universities to provide assistance to homeless students and students who were in foster care.
“This bill is important to me because we in Washington have made a commitment to make sure that all students can receive the education that they deserve,” Sen. Emily Randall, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “This is going to be an amazing way that we can understand what problems our students are facing and ensure that they have the tools that they need to succeed.”
Arlen Harris, legislative director for the State Board, asked for the committee’s support for the bill.
“We hear from students anecdotally that they don't want to go to class if they don't have an appearance to fit into that classroom. And we know that after two or three classes, when those students don't appear, they're not going to come back. And we know that our colleges are pathway out of poverty for many, many people. We want to keep that track record,” he said.
Bills creating an emergency grant program and dual enrollment scholarship program among bills heard in Senate higher education committee
March 19 — The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee’s hearing Tuesday saw testimony on five bills that would affect the community and technical college system. First, ESHB 1355 would create a joint legislative task force to look at issues related to counselors in the community and technical college system. The task force must examine issues related to minimum standards and staffing ratios, best practices for counseling, how colleges will meet student and staff mental health needs, and whether legislation is needed to address the issues.
“This study brings everyone together to really look at how we should move forward in this and making sure that all of our students are safe in the State of Washington, and that we address mental illness and depression and suicide in the way that we're supposed to be addressing it,” Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, the bill’s prime sponsor, said.
Joe Holliday, director of student services at the State Board, testified in favor of the bill, saying the college system has work to do to increase counseling services.
“The bill names us as the agency to provide staff support, and we’d be honored to do that,” he said.
Emergency grant and food assistance
The committee also took up 2SHB 1893, a bill that would create a grant program for community and technical colleges to provide emergency monetary assistance to students. It would also require the state Department of Social and Health Services to identify educational programs at the colleges that would meet the requirements of state-approved employment and training programs, and requires the department to request waivers from the federal government so students could use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on campus. Lastly, the bill would allow students who are eligible for the State Need Grant to be also eligible for SNAP.
“Whatever it is that we can use to help them to be successful, I'd like to be able to create an account to do that,” Rep. Debra Entenman, the bill’s prime sponsor, said.
Erin Frasier, a workforce education policy associate at the State Board, also testified in favor. She told committee members that in the 2017-18 academic year, community and technical colleges served over 67,000 economically disadvantaged students with need-based financial aid. On average, she said, 15,000 community and technical college students receive basic food assistance and most colleges now have food pantries to address food insecurity. Resources for the pantries, however, are not stable.
"Most of them are supported through staff, student and foundation contributions, and so we appreciate this bill's focus on addressing student food insecurity and the effort to expand state approved employment and training programs for individuals receiving food assistance so we can increase workforce development opportunities," Frasier said.
Dual enrollment scholarship
Senators heard a bill, 2SHB 1973, that would create the Washington Dual Enrollment Scholarship Pilot Program which would award qualifying Running Start students funds to cover mandatory fees and a textbook voucher equal to $10 for every credit the student is enrolled in, up to 15 credits per quarter. For qualifying College in the High School students, the program could cover tuition and fees.
Rep. Dave Paul, the bill’s prime sponsor, told senators the bill aims to reduce opportunity gaps in Running Start and College in the High School.
“OSPI’s [the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction] office has data that demonstrates that for low-income families, their participation rate is almost half of that of middle income families, and we'd like to help overcome that barrier and get more of our needy families into these two great programs,” he said.
Ruben Flores, a student services policy associate at the State Board, testified in favor.
“We see the Washington Dual Enrollment Scholarship Pilot Program as an essential tool in closing the opportunity gap for students, specifically our under-represented minority groups and our low-income students where there is an obvious gap in participation in these dual credit programs,” he said. “But what an amazing investment opportunity this is for the state. College in the High School boasts a 98 percent of course completion rate for students. Running Start has a 91 percent of course completion rate for these students. This is a sound investment for the state, and an excellent opportunity for students who need it the most.”
Title IX protections
The committee head a bill, ESHB 1998, that would create a task force on Title IX protections and compliance. The task force would examine options, develop model policies and recommend oversight on college and university campus sexual violence.
“This bill seeks to make sure that those current operations and the way that we here in our state handle Title IX enforcement our institutions of higher education and other educational institutions. Essentially we maintain the way we've been doing things regardless of what happens in the other Washington,” Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, the bill’s prime sponsor, said, referring to Title IX rule changes proposed by the US Department of Education. “I think this is an important step for to make sure that those Title IX protections that have been in place continue to stay in place.”
Holliday also testified in support.
“We are concerned about the potential impact of new Title IX regulations in creating a chilling effect on reporting on sexual violence, as the bill language indicates. We believe it's already underreported so we are really in support of this proactive effort and we support it,” he said.
National accreditation for dual enrollment programs
The committee also took up SHB 1734, a bill that would require any college or university offering dual enrollment programs to be nationally accredited by 2027-28, prohibiting any college or university from offering those programs if it as not attained or is not pursing national accreditation. If the college or university is not accredited by the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, the bill requires those institutions to undergo state authorization.
“We want our students to have not just to have that expected college experience, but to have the rigor and standards that prepare them for the sequence courses beyond and upon completion,” Rep. Mari Leavitt, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “This is simply the right thing to do for our students their families and certainly the teachers who teach in these courses.”
Flores also testified in favor of the bill’s passage, saying the community and technical college system believes that students should have access to college-level credit and courses.
“We believe that this is a huge step forward ensuring that students will be successful in the next course in their sequence, whether they are attending the course as a College in the High School course or as a course at our college institutions,” he said. “This bill ensures that these classes are going to receive the same rigorous once-over that our institutions do for all of our classes, and provide training for instructors at the high school that are going to be providing this instruction, so we wholeheartedly support this effort.”
Bill allowing underage students to taste alcohol heard in Senate Labor and Commerce
March 19 — The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee took up EHB 1563, a bill which would allow students under the age of 21 who are enrolled in specified culinary or alcoholic beverage technology classes to taste alcoholic beverages while participating in certain campus and field trip tastings. It would also allow domestic winery licensees to allow qualified intern volunteers to engage in wine-production work.
“When you're 18 to 21-years-old, you can't you can't learn how to make wine, so there's a three year delay in the workforce,” Rep. Bill Jenkin, the bill’s prime sponsor, said.
The community and technical college system has winemaking programs at South Seattle College, Walla Walla Community College and Yakima Valley College.
Arlen Harris, legislative director for the State Board, told senators that alumni of the Walla Walla Community College Enology and Viticulture program give back by providing internships to current students.
“It's a fabulous partnership for the wineries to give back to the college and present these opportunities for students to come and learn and have hands-on experience. The tasting that goes along with that,” he said.
Summer Running Start bill heard in House Education Committee
March 18 — The House Education Committee heard a bill Monday, HB 1459, that would create the Running Start Summer School Pilot Program. The State Board would select three applicant colleges to participate in the program and report findings and recommendations to the governor and the House and Senate education committees by Nov. 15, 2021.
“For students who would like to get their AA degree, but simply don't have enough time during the standard school year, this enables them to go make up some of those credits during the summer between their junior and senior year, especially,” said Rep. Pat Sullivan, the bill’s prime sponsor. “But it also I think gives us an advantage where students who maybe have never attended college in the past, and that they want to see what it's like to take a course at a community college and see if it's something that is right for them.”
Ruben Flores, a student services policy associate at the State Board, and Anne Molenda, director of student services at South Puget Sound Community College Lacey, testified in favor of the bill’s passage.
Flores told committee members that Running Start students complete their college-level classes at a 91 percent pass rate. On average, Running Start students finish with 52 transferrable college credits and about 20 percent of students complete an associate degree along with their high school diploma.
“This bill is about providing access to a fantastic opportunity for students,” he said. “We're talking about an excellent program and providing access to these for these students. We wholeheartedly support that effort.”
Molenda echoed Flores, saying students participating in Running Start could benefit from a summer programs for a variety of reasons.
“Having that opportunity to come in during the summer to try out a course or two before we hit the full term in fall is something that could really do a lot of benefit for many students who are on the fence about their own confidence in being a college student,” she said.
Students in STEM programs would benefit because the structure of those programs often don’t allow students time to complete other parts of their high school graduation requirements. Other students who had to drop or withdraw from classes during the year could make up credits over the summer. Lastly, Molenda said, a Running Start summer program would allow students to stay involved in high school programs that take place during the regular academic year, but still allow them to earn college credit.
Trustee confirmed by Senate
- Dwayne Johnson, Peninsula College, confirmed March 13
Coming up next week
The House is expected to release its operating and capital budget proposals Monday. The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear the operating budget proposal Monday afternoon while the House Capital Budget Committee is scheduled to hear the capital budget proposal Tuesday morning.