Opinion: Senate Bill 5054, to cut classroom learning time in schools by four hours a week

Photo courtesy Ridgefield School District
Photo courtesy Ridgefield School District

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center points out that the bill would set the precedent of filling classrooms with district staff who are not qualified to teach

Liv Finne
Washington Policy Center

The text of SB 5054 proposes to re-define the meaning of “instructional hours” in state law to include the time students spend with non-teachers.  During that time their regular teachers would be absent and meeting in groups as newly-formed “professional learning communities.”

Liv Finne
Liv Finne

The effect of the bill would be to cut instruction time for students by four hours a week, from 30 hours to 26 hours. 

SB 5054 is being proposed as the level of academic achievement provided students in the public system is falling. For example, on the 2022 Smarter Balance state tests public schools failed to educate 62 percent of students adequately in math, and failed to educate 49 percent of students adequately in reading.  

SB 5054 would contribute to inequity in education.  Students attending private schools and charter public schools would continue to receive full instructional time with fully-qualified teachers. The bill would hurt the education of Washington’s 1.1 million K-12 students by denying them access to a quality education.  

In addition, the bill would set the precedent of filling classrooms with district staff who are not qualified to teach.  The bill would result in lower academic standards, and would deny students the public education they have been promised, at a time when school funding and teacher pay are at record-high levels.  Both trends would work to encourage more families to lose confidence in public education and to transfer their children to other schools.

For more information, here is our Legislative Memo on SB 5054: https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/detail/sb-5054-to-cut-classroom-learning-time-in-schools-by-four-hours-a-week.  

Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.

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  1. Loren Sickles

    As usual, Ms. Finne misrepresents the content and intent of the bill. True to form she treats it as a zero-sum game, assuming that no learning will take place while teachers are out of the class to learn and collaborate with their colleagues. In addition she demonstrates a lack of understanding the value PLCs will bring back into the classroom to help raise those lagging test scores that are the holy grail of her and her ilk.

    A cursory reading of both the proposed bill and Ms. Finne’s key findings, begs the question if she has even read the bill and the supporting bill report. Something I’ve come to expect whenever I see her name attached to an op-ed.

    For those interested in making their own comparison here is a link to the bill that was so conveniently left out of the op-ed.

    1. Susan

      Don’t know what world you live in, but your feet are NOT planted firmly in the real world. What is being proposed is absolutely incredible.

      Ms. Finne is right on the mark; please read the info presented in the Legislative Memo link that appears in the story.

      Loren Sickles appears to be a schill for the teacher union.

  2. MetaWorld2

    Shaking My Head. Who comes up with this stuff? There IS already no confidence in our education, and I see no avenues for that to change!


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