Parents Tout Legislative Goals for Digital Schools and Outline Activities to Advance Agenda

Return of full funding, opposition to Dorn Bill, Removal from ALE. Olympia, WA – The Digital Public Schools Alliance (DPSA), a coalition of Washington parents with children in online public schools, have outlined their agenda for the 2013 legislative session and their plans for accomplishing these three core objectives.

  • Full Funding: In the last two-year state budget (2011-12), students in digital public schools became the only public school students to have their state minimum Full Time Equivalent (FTC) temporarily cut.  That 15% cut must be reversed if our digital public schools are going to survive as viable options for kids who function more productively outside traditional classrooms.
  • Opposition to Dorn Proposal: DPSA is vehemently opposed to HB 1431, a bill from Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. The proposal eliminates funding for current high-quality educational opportunities for thousands of children attending full-time online programs in grades kindergarten through 5th grade.  Eliminating funding for online learning reverses a positive trend for growing public schools that are both student-centered and highly accountability by the state.
  • Support for ALE separation: DPSA is actively supporting HB 1423, a bill introduced by Representatives Kathy Haigh and Susan Fagan to remove digital public schools from the definition of Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) programs.  In the Online Learning Act of 2009 the Legislature established the Digital Learning Department (DLD) to govern school district’s digital programs within the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction. The Legislature mandates that the DLD specifically govern digital public schools and programs.

“Our goals as a parent coalition are simple: protect access to digital public schools, secure stable funding, and insist on high-quality programs,” said Kimberly Platt, President of the Digital Public Schools Alliance.  “Our schools are already state-approved and highly accountable.  Restoring the state minimum funding level and separating them out from other ALE programs will strengthen the state’s ability to protect and improve them in the future.”

“The Dorn bill has to be stopped,” said Eric Stark, a board member of the Digital Public Schools Alliance with a daughter in 3rd grade at the Washington Virtual Academy.  “Superintendent Dorn wants to destroy a public school option that is working for young kids who perform better outside the traditional classroom setting, forestalling an inevitable trend toward the future.  Our parents will fight this or any proposal that endangers the best way to educate our children.”

Coalition Activities to support full funding, fight Dorn and support ALE separation:

  • Demo Day: Last week, digital public school families and teachers held a day-long demonstration of our schools for legislators and their staff.  Legislators and staff representing 32 offices dropped by to see our schools in action, speak with our families, and engage with our incredible Washington certified teachers.
  • Hearing Testimony: DPSA parents have made presentations to the Education Funding Task Force and the House Appropriations Committee.  As the Dorn bill and ALE separation bill get scheduled for hearings, our parents will be present to express their strong opposition to Dorn’s proposal and support for ALE separation.
  • Capitol Day: On February 25th, hundreds of digital public school families from across the state will come to the Capitol to rally in support of full funding for our students, in opposition to Dorn’s proposal, and in support of ALE separation.  They’ll also circulate throughout the legislative buildings to speak with their individual Senators and Representatives.
  • Outreach to Legislators: Our families live and work in every legislative district in Washington and will be reaching out to their representatives through phone calls, emails, hotlines, personal meetings, and town halls.

“What legislators do with digital learning directly impacts the future of our children,” said Platt.  “It’s our job to let them know how they can best represent us, and we will support them in doing that.”