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Shortened school year draws fire

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
February 8, 2011 5:56 pm

The House Education Committee heard a barrage of opposition today to the idea of shortening the school year, ranging in tone from “concerns about this measure” (the Washington Education Association) to “very strong, vehemently, stomp-my-foot in the ground opposition” (the Washington State PTA).

In between, there were all kinds of interests unhappy that the Legislature would consider giving districts a way to apply to shorten their 180-day, 2010-11 school year by three days to deal with budget cuts.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn, the one districts would apply to under the bill, is opposed to it. So is the State Board of Education.

Opposition to the bill is even bringing together groups that are sometimes at odds. Unions don’t like it, and neither do education-reform groups like the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children.

It cuts into basic education that is constitutionally protected, said Ramona Hattendorf of the PTA.

It’s not like lawmakers are crazy about it either. Yet it has broad support, including from the education chairs in the House and Senate.

Rep. Connie Ladenburg noted school districts are looking at even tougher cuts, with Tacoma contemplating closing Foss High School.

“How can we keep those schools open without something like this?” Ladenburg asked.

Nobody had an answer.

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