Innovation schools bill sponsored by Hargrove receives public’s feedback

After a report by the State Board of Education outlined that 60 percent of the state’s 2,011 schools are rated “fair” under  the board’s accountability standards, Rep. Mark Hargrove believes there is no better time to think differently about how students learn.

“When I hear about schools around the country that have made dramatic turnarounds in student achievement, it’s always because they have embraced innovation and gone outside the box to find workable solutions. And, the parents and teachers who believe in the vision are excited about making sure it succeeds,” said Hargrove, R-Covington. “There are real-world examples in Washington state of how innovation schools have been successful, but the state could make the process easier.”

Introduced by Hargrove, House Bill 1546 would grant schools or groups of schools greater flexibility to design their own programs to meet the educational needs of their particular student populations. The goals are to improve underperforming schools, close the achievement gap and decrease dropout rates. The bill would also allow for managerial flexibility, including empowering principals to have more control over staffing selection, evaluations and educational programming.

“The idea is that those closest to the students know what is best for their students,” Hargrove added.

Supporters of the proposal, including Aviation High School in Des Moines, Wash., offered their thoughts on innovation schools and how different classroom models could benefit students as well as their future employers. Supporters believe the measure would provide schools flexibility to blend successful innovative learning programs into the public education system.

Addressing the committee, Hargrove said, “While there is widespread support for innovation in schools across the political spectrum, there is a tendency for groups to want to allow innovation, except in their particular area of concern. The problem is that by the time everyone has protected their special interest, we end up with no innovation at all. At a time when we seem to be focused on the budget and limiting the pain of budget cuts, this can be the year we make great improvements in education.

“Next year – not three or four years from now – but next year, when my daughter who teaches math at Auburn High School, along with the teachers and parents in other districts, would be excited to see underperforming schools improving, the achievement gap being reduced and dropout rates going down because of the programs they helped create, all of us could be able to tell parents and teachers we were a part of making change happen!”

House Bill 1546 will now be considered for committee passage and a possible vote in the House.


Washington State House Republican Communications