By Evan Smith
State Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self’s first bill to pass in the House of Representatives passed the State Senate on a 45-4 vote Friday, just a few minutes before the cutoff deadline.
The bill is aimed at boosting student success across the state.
The measure requires a geographic analysis to identify communities where the effects of employment, health, safety and stability correlate with academic and behavioral indicators of student success.
“We need this information to target strategic interventions where they are needed the most,” said Ortiz-Self, a newly appointed 21st District Democrat. “This bill will help us build our education platform for next year. We want to be sure we make the appropriate investments to help students with multiple needs and barriers succeed in school.”
Ortiz-Self’s measure directs the education data center to contract with the Area Health Education Center of Eastern Washington, through Washington State University Extension, to conduct the study using existing data already collected in the K-12 system.
The report is due to the Legislature in January, 2015, and must contain: the prevalence of family and community health, safety, and stability factors relevant to student success; resilience factors that correlate with improved population outcomes; correlation of these factors with community variation in academic, behavior, and graduation outcomes; and implications for policy targeted at improving academic performance.
The bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
“I believe children do not come to us in a vacuum, they come to us with multiple needs and many of them with traumatic experiences,” Ortiz-Self said after the bill passed the House in February. “The geographic analysis required in this legislation will map out the areas where there is high vulnerability so that we can target interventions to those communities with high-risk factors.
Ortiz-Self is a counselor at North Middle School in Everett.
“We know hungry and hurting children cannot learn to capacity. And while we have numerous personal stories of how our children come to our schools, it’s not good enough to address these problems effectively,” she said. “We need hard data so that, instead of putting out fires, we can be proactive and develop different approaches depending on what these children are lacking and where they are located.
“My bill moves us a little bit closer to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed academically in our schools.”
Ortiz-Self won appointment in January to represent the 21st District, which includes most of Edmonds, unincorporated areas north of Edmonds and Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett.
She joined the House to replace Democrat Marko Liias, who moved to the Senate to replace former Sen. Paull Shin.