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Washington Senate Democrats: GOP Pushing 'Cookie-Cutter' Education Reforms

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington Senate are on the attack over a series of Republican-backed education reform measures. At a news conference Friday, the Democrats accused Republicans of getting boilerplate legislation from a corporate-backed education foundation run by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Democrat Andy Billig serves on the Senate K-12 committee. He highlighted two specific proposals: letter grades for schools and holding back struggling third graders.

“None of them make sense for Washington and no wonder,"Billig says. "They’re cookie-cutter proposals copied from Florida and Louisiana.”

A third proposal would turn over failing schools to non-profit corporations.

Republican Steve Litzow chairs the Senate Education Committee. He confirms Jeb Bush came to Washington to speak to state lawmakers last summer.

“But I’ve also talked to the Gates Foundation, I’ve also talked to the UW. I’ve talked to the WEA. I mean we’re talking to everybody.”

Litzow believes Washington is behind the curve nationally on education reform when it comes to closing the achievement gap and improving the graduation rate.

On the Web:

Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee (Washington Senate)

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."