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Education Reform Bills Divide Wash. Lawmakers

Bryan Buckalew

A bipartisan group of Washington state lawmakers plan to introduce two bills that would overhaul the state's education system. One bill would let school districts make layoffs based on teacher evaluations instead of seniority. The other would authorize charter schools. KUOW's Bryan Buckalew reports the bills are dividing lawmakers.


Democratic Representative Eric Pettigrew stood with a Republican colleague in front of a packed house and said it's hard for him to buck the education system.

Pettigrew: "But when it's done for the right reason. When it's our obligation as leaders to make sure every single child in this country has an opportunity to succeed. It's well worth the fight. It's well worth the scars. It is well worth the (unintelligible). Whatever it takes to get it done."

Pettigrew already faces fierce opposition. The chair of the house education committee opposes charter schools. So does the state–wide union representing teachers. Even Democrats in Pettigrew's home district in South Seattle are urging lawmakers to oppose his charter schools bill. Governor Chris Gregoire's office says she has not read over the new bills. Last month she left charter schools out of her own package, saying voters have rejected them three times.

For KUOW News, I'm Bryan Buckalew.

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