Washington State To Permanently Reduce School Time For Kids By 20%, Teachers Teach Less Than Ever

The 2020-21 school year was a disaster for kids. Businesses closed in record numbers, people lost jobs at alarming rates, and kids were forced to learn remotely while also being forced to stay inside their homes, unable to go to school much less see and be with friends. While it was bad for kids, teachers actually seemed to like it. They liked it so much that they are now trying to make some aspects of it permanent.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

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The 2020-21 school year was a disaster for kids. Businesses closed in record numbers, people lost jobs at alarming rates, and kids were forced to learn remotely while also being forced to stay inside their homes, unable to go to school much less see and be with friends. While it was bad for kids, teachers actually seemed to like it. They liked it so much that they now have lawmakers working to make some aspects of it permanent. Lawmakers in the state of Washington are working to pass legislation that would allow Washington schools to keep remote learning on a permanent basis up to one day a week.

Senate Bill 5735 is being introduced to the Washington legislature by sponsors Sens. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond; John Lovick, D-Mill Creek; Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island; and Claire Wilson, D-Auburn. This one-day-a-week permanent “homework” day would represent 20 percent reduced in-person learning, something kids need most desperately. Those lawmakers see the Washington school bill differently.

“Up to 20 percent of the instructional hours per week required to meet the instructional program of basic education under this section may be provided using asynchronous instructional hours,” says SB5735. But what exactly are “asynchronous instructional hours?” These would be hours in which students are not receiving in-person learning from their teacher. The “day off” proposed in the bill would then make that day a “homework day.”

Thankfully, not everyone supports this proposed Washington school bill. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia is one opposing, and he says that if the bill is passed, it would only worsen the pandemic-related educational problems the state already faces. Braun says, via a statement on his official website, that it’s “alarming that anyone would propose taking away one-fifth of our kids’ instructional time when teachers and students are trying to regain academic and psychological ground lost during a year of remote learning and isolation.”

Unfortunately for Washington parents, the state officials opposing the new plan to give teachers another permanent Netflix and chill day at home are Republicans. Washington is a uniparty state, a state where the Democratic party has a huge majority. Republicans have no power in the state of Washington and will likely have no ability to stop this bill from passing.

According to an op-ed piece on Clark County Today (CCT), the latest Washington school tests show 70% of students failing math while 53% of them are failing English. Rather than working to improve those numbers, the Washington State Board of Education has already been working on lowering academic learning standards and weakening the high school graduation standards, to make it easier for kids. The CCT piece claims Washington school districts are instead devoting much more time to their prioritized and “racially-based” CRT [critical race theory] training.

“Assessing students’ academic performance during the pandemic is only going to tell us part of the story of the impact on learning.” This came from a report from last year conducted by the Washington Student Achievement Council. In it, they were looking at the effects the pandemic had on students which included school closures and remote learning. “However, understanding the impact on learning for K-12 students can help prepare educators and policymakers to address the potential effects on future high school graduation rates and transitions to postsecondary education that are critical for our state’s economic and social wellbeing,” the report read. When all was said and done, it concluded that the COVID pandemic and everything that followed had a majorly negative impact on students’ academic performance.

The CCT piece, though, had more to say as well. In it, they pointed out that this proposal to shut down school one day a week comes when schools are receiving record numbers of funding, seeing $17.5 billion. They point out that teachers in the state earn, on average, $120,000 annually for 10-months-worth of work. They also claim that public schools get on average $16,800 per student, a figure that is far far more than the average price of private school tuition.

These numbers could be why Washington Public Schools have seen 41,000 families pull their children from the Washington Public School system. It could also be why school choice is becoming one of the most popular topics in the state and across the country.

Not only will students be affected by this bill, if passed, but parents will also be affected, says Braun. “Parents will struggle to find and afford childcare for that time their kids should be at school,” he said to the Washington Examiner. He then expanded on the possible issues parents could face if SB 5375 were to pass.

“Senate Bill 5735 would create an unnecessary hardship for families already struggling to pay the bills, especially for those with multiple children in school or for single parents. It would create an undeserved roadblock for children with special needs who depend on classroom time and teachers’ aides for their development. And it would worsen our shortage of affordable childcare.”

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This newly proposed Washington school bill appears to be a one-sided affair. Teachers will win big while students and their families will continue to suffer. Haven’t they suffered enough already?