31st District Senate debate between Rep. Cathy Dahlquist and Sen. Pam Roach: Part II

This is the second installment of an in-paper debate between Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, the two candidates vying for the 31st District seat in the state Senate.

Sen. Pam Roach and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist

This is the second installment of an in-paper debate between Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, the two candidates vying for the 31st District seat in the state Senate.

The first installment was published last week and can be found on the website at www.courierherald.com. The final debate will be published next week with questions posed by the candidates to each other.

The general election is Nov. 4. Ballots for the all-mail election will go out in mid-October and must be postmarked by Nov. 4.

Question No. 1

• Do you believe teacher evaluation and student test scores should be linked? What, if any,  evaluation system do you support?

Pam Roach: I support the Teacher-Principal Evaluation Program that was recently set in place by the Legislature. Student growth is a part of that evaluation matrix. We all want to measure student growth.

Local evaluation programs are better than those that are state or federally mandated. Student growth, over time, is an important measure and yet it is not contained in the state system.

There is a tendency for those outside of the education system to want to link teacher evaluation with student test scores. But, there are many factors in a student’s life that enable or disable learning. The teacher should not be expected to surmount all difficulties, nor unfairly benefit by being assigned only high achieving students.

Not every child is blessed with an educated, well-financed, harmonious, and innately intelligent family. Not every child has parents who give quality time to education at home. We often forget that it is the parent – not the teacher – who has the greatest influence on the student.

And, from a teacher’s perspective, difficulties can reside in whole schools and whole communities. Rural, industrial, non-English-speaking and/or alternative schools often attract outstanding teachers, precisely because they can work miracles with kids. But, if there is a link between test scores and evaluation, many of the best teachers will head to Bellevue or leave teaching and go into private industry.

With the advent of top-down federal and state mandates to local schools our achievement levels have declined. I am an advocate of local control and the potential for a variety of teaching methods. Starting in 1983 with Nation at Risk and continuing on to today’s Common Core, parents, teachers, and local districts have less control. I support more local control, not less.

Cathy Dahlquist: Two pertinent laws passed in 2010 and 2012 that required new teacher and principal performance evaluations to be implemented statewide during the 2013-14 school year. I am proud to say that I was involved in the bipartisan work group that negotiated the details of the bill. The new evaluation system helps provide meaningful feedback to teachers and administrators, while matching professional development opportunities with individual needs and lastly, considers “student growth” as a significant factor in evaluations. Since student growth was an element, no single test could be used in an evaluation.

Washington’s current evaluation law says that districts “can” not “shall” (shall, being the language that many school districts have already implemented) use state tests as one of multiple measures when calculating student growth in teacher and principal evaluations. Our law is inconsistent with the federal requirements, and because the legislature did not pass a bill to require student growth on state test scores in 2014, the federal government is revoking a waiver from the restrictions of No Child Left Behind.

Losing this waiver means that our state will have to go back to the punitive effects of the No Child Left Behind requirements and lose over $40 million in federal funds that help our schools serve our most vulnerable and highest risk students.

 

Pam Roach Rebuttal to Question No. 1 – teacher evaluations

We agree that the recently implemented Teacher-Principal Evaluation Program is a good evaluation. It gives feedback to teachers and administrators and considers student growth as part of the matrix.

It is a state program being used for the first time this year. Yet, the federal government already wants it replaced. The federal government prefers a federal program. No surprise. They want to bring in Common Core Standards, a system that federalizes curriculum and testing, and in doing so, saps away local control.

Dahlquist refers to a Senate bill that would have implemented the federal testing. It failed 19-28 with minority Democrats joining seven Republicans to defeat the encroachment on state and local control. I was one of those seven Republicans and proud of it! The bill would have scuttled our earlier testing work for yet another untested, federally mandated system.

As always with federal demands there are threats to take away funds if legislatures fail to comply. Dahlquist was wrong in saying our law is inconsis tent with federal law. She is also wrong in saying that we are losing $40 million dollars by not having passed the bill.

The $40 million stays here. Instead of going to Title 1 it goes directly to students for tutoring which is a more direct way to help families and kids.

Dalquist is in opposition to our state’s teachers, most legislators and the governor. Dislike of Common Core is a major point of agreement between teacher and parents; The Alliance of Common Sense.

 

Cathy Dahlquist Rebuttal to Question No. 1 – teacher evaluations

Unfortunately Pam Roach’s position cost our schools nearly $40 million in funding this year. Student test scores is just one of many aspects that should be used to evaluate teacher performance. Pam Roach outlined an extreme position that made our state the first in the country to lose this federal funding because we did not apply the most basic standards of accountability in our classrooms.

As a parent, former local school board member and the ranking member on the House Education Committee, I believe that education is the path to our state’s economic success.  Jobs from the construction industry to manufacturing and engineering all require strong basics in education.

Reality is that a portion of all public schooling is federally funded which comes with federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which has been in effect in one form or another since 1965.  Washington’s current evaluation law says that school districts can (and many districts do) use state tests as one of the multiple measures when calculating student growth in teacher and principal evaluations. The new comprehensive evaluation system helps provide meaningful feedback to teachers and administrators, matching professional development opportunities with individual needs, and considers “student growth” as a significant factor in evaluations.  Far more than mere test scores, student growth measurements place a greater priority on evaluating progress within anticipated ranges rather than specified results.  Providing help to schools that serve our most vulnerable and highest risk students in reading and math is what my opponent plans to cut with the ideas she suggests.

 

Rebuttals

Next are the Dahlquist and Roach reply/rebuttals from two questions answered in last week’s edition.

The state Supreme Court ruled the Legislature is not meeting its paramount duty to fully fund education.

In the 2015 two-year budget if you are elected as 31st District Senator will you support a plan to fully-fund K-12 public schools? If so, please provide details and specifics of the plan. How much money will need to be allocated for K-12?  What are specific programs are you willing to see cut, if any, to balance the budget and fund schools?

 

Cathy Dahlquist

After four successful years in the state House of Representative, I chose to run for the Senate because of a lack of effective representation for the people of the 31st Legislative District.

The Supreme Court agreed with my legislation to fund education first and ruled that the lack of action from the Senate was incomprehensible and held the legislature in contempt for not following their direct order last April. Their (the Supreme Court) ruling declared that, “education funding is to be prioritized prior to any other program or agency” when writing the budget.  I have advocated for this very issue since being elected to the Legislature in 2010 after serving two terms on our local school board.  It is time to move in a positive direction for the future of our children and our state.

In 2013, I worked with a small group of Democrats and Republicans that wrote the budget and funded an additional $1 billion toward education.  As a member of the state Senate, my plan is to write a budget that fully funds our education system first and prioritizes student outcomes.  I have had the honor of being selected to the Funding Education Task Force, the Quality Education Council and the Appropriations Committee and served the House as the Ranking Member on the Education Committee.  I have the experience, knowledge and compassion to do what is best for kids while being responsible and balancing the concerns of the taxpayers.

 

Pam Roach

There is agreement in support of fully funding education. We support my Senate Majority Coalition Caucus’ idea of a balanced approach in levy use and in incentivizing the economy to increase jobs and revenue.

But, there are points to be made. Dahlquist states: “Serving on the Enumclaw School Board gave me a unique perspective into the impacts that funding reductions and burdensome mandates have on our local schools….”

Dahlquist did not learn about burdensome property taxes.  She negotiated the Tri-Party Agreement between the Enumclaw School District, the city of Black Diamond and YarrowBay Development for Enumclaw School District to provide seven new schools for Black Diamond’s 6,000 new homes.

Plateau taxpayers will be asked to pay thousands in new taxes for what Dahlquist calls her legacy. Meanwhile, our Enumclaw kids will be housed in 50 year-old buildings. And, when the population of Black Diamond exceeds that of Enumclaw, there will be a different dog wagging the tail!

As chairman of the Governmental Operations Committee, I am reviewing land use law with an eye to protecting taxpayers while providing schools. I have a solution for taxpayers and students. And, it does not include the coming debacle between kids and high taxes!

Dahlquist references her bill, HB 1174, which says none of the budgets may pass until the education budget passes. We should not hold the Transportation Budget (with all those needed jobs) hostage for something in an entirely different budget! No surprise, the bill never got a hearing.

 

State why you are the best fit as senator for the 31st District. What specific strengths and knowledge do you bring to the position concerning the problems facing the 31st and the state? Please state why you would be effective legislator in Olympia for the next four years.

 

Pam Roach

I lead both in Olympia and at home: Saving Lake Tapps; winning with a  “NO” on Valley Medical’s costly annexation attempt; challenging DSHS for families. It is an honor to help citizens as they interface, usually with government, to protect their civil rights or their property. No one does this like my staff and me!

I have done these things with honesty and integrity. I don’t make deals. I don’t cave on principle. And, recently, I was designated the “most successful legislator in Olympia” by the Sunlight Foundation. Consequently, there are people who want me out of office.

Cathy Dahlquist says education is her top priority. Yet, when given an education leadership spot…she quit!

I don’t quit!

I chair the Senate Government Operations Committee specializing in property rights, election law, growth management, The National Guard and emergency management.

I have chaired the Senate Law and Justice Committee; served 18 years on the Ways and Means Committee (expert on budget); Co-chair, Military and Veterans Affairs; member, Governor’s Anti-sex Trafficking Committee; Governor’s  Drone Task Force; Sentencing Guideline Committee; Chair Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus; working on new White River State Park. My nonprofit helps kids in Honduras.

Law Enforcement awarded me “Legislator of the Year” four times. State business and labor organizations have rated me highest.

 

Cathy Dahlquist

I will be the voice for the people of my district that has been missing in the Senate for too long.  I have the respect of working across party lines for the last four years to achieve proven results.

There is a well documented history of abusive and demeaning behavior amongst colleagues, staff and constituents.  In January of 2010, Senate leadership once again banned Pam Roach from caucus for creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.  In a public letter, they documented Roach’s pattern of abusive outbursts spanning her entire tenure as a state legislator.  One incident put the taxpayers at risk for $1.75 million. Our constituents have been without representation for many years.  These sanctions were only lifted because Senate Republicans needed the vote that she held hostage for a majority.

She was missing during session last year while some of us were working to invest over $1 billon to restore school funding. While I was helping to write the education budget, Pam Roach was out of the country. It was discovered later that she was in Azerbaijan on a junket cruise.

The Legislative Ethics Board sent an alert to all members that the junket would be an illegal gift and no other Washington state legislator accepted the free trip.

There is an investigation by the ethics board into who  paid for the Senator’s trip.

Republican and Democratic leaders agree and support my campaign for the Senate because they understand my hard work and respectful working relationships provide the positive results our constituents have been without for years.

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