My name is Hillary Shaw, and I am addressing you today as both an individual and an Independent voter, not representing a particular organization. My background and experience, however, are relevant to my testimony, so let me share with you that I am a co-founder and past president of the Fairmount Park Elementary PTA, and am one of twenty-five co-submitters of the Washington State PTA’s platform issue “Amply Fund Basic Education.”
I largely paused my professional life and sidelined many of my family responsibilities for two and a half years to fulfill the aforementioned roles, to serve the children of my community, because I take to heart and firmly believe that it is — to quote our state constitution — “The paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex,” and I have been in the trenches doing my part as a citizen who is committed to upholding that collective value.
By most measures, Fairmount Park Elementary is a successful public school:
In its third year, the school has far-exceeded student population projections and had the longest wait list in West Seattle during the last enrollment period. The student population includes:
Twenty homeless children of 3,000 homeless students district-wide
Seventy students on IEPs (Individual Education Plans)
Highly Capable students
The most Syrian refugee students in West Seattle
Failure to pass HB 1059, commonly known as the Levy Cliff Bill, could result in the children at Fairmount Park Elementary losing their school counselor and their assistant principal. This would be a devastating loss to the school. My message with regards to 1059 is simple. Pass it. The only reason I have seen cited for rejecting the extension is to keep pressure on to fulfill the McCleary promise. While I appreciate that sentiment, I can assure you there are many constituents who will continue to press this issue, and who are willing to help as needed to ensure you succeed by the deadline. In the event, however, that you fail, our children should not be made to suffer because HB 1059 was not passed as a safety net.
With regards to SHB 5607, I implore you to adhere to the definition of “Basic Education” as established in HB 2261 and HB 2776 and revisit the Washington State PTA platform issue, Amply Fund Basic Education, for accountability measures — I have included a copy with my testimony. Amply Funding Basic Education is not a partisan issue, but rather an obligation to every child in our state, and you have the opportunity to succeed where many of your predecessors have failed. Seize the opportunity to improve our public schools for all children in our state, an investment on which returns are immeasurably beneficial to all of us.
Thank you for considering my testimony.