Championing Early Learning
The evidence is clear that early childhood education programs are the very best investment of our tax dollar.
Kids who are not ready for kindergarten fall behind right away and need extensive remedial education, and are more likely to drop out of school later, costing all of us to clean up the mess at the other end.
Roger has been a leader in the Legislature in enacting bills to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for all of Washington’s kids, helping to ensure that pre-school programs are available to kids at risk, helping them prepare for success in school and in life.
In 2010 Roger authored the “Ready for School Act,” HB 2731 (Chapter 231, Laws of 2010), a landmark piece of legislation establishing a new statewide program of early childhood education, to be fully phased in by the 2021 school year as an entitlement for all three- and four-year olds in the state.
That bill also preserved the existing capacity and funding for the state’s early learning program, one of the only programs that was not cut during the “Great Recession.”
Roger has been repeatedly named “Champion for Children” by the Children’s Alliance and has twice received their highest honor, the “Gold Crayon Award”.
Roger has also been named a “Champion for Education” by the League of Education Voters for his work to expand early learning in Washington.
Leading the Effort to Reduce Class Sizes in Public Schools
In 2014 Roger sponsored HB 2589, a measure to reduce class sizes throughout the public school system.
Knowing that “class size counts,” Roger followed the compelling research that links students’ academic achievement with class sizes in school, along with the quality of the teacher and the level of parental support for students.
After Roger championed this effort in the Legislature, the language of his bill was put on the ballot as an initiative to the people of Washington, Initiative 1351, which received a majority vote statewide and was enacted into law.
Roger has led the Legislature to enact more than a dozen bills related to education, child health and welfare and juvenile rehabilitation:
- HB 1505 (Chapter 136, Laws of 2016, incorporated in HB 2906), a significant expansion of restorative justice practices throughout the juvenile justice system.
- HB 1498 (Chapter 255, Laws of 2015, incorporated in HB 1625), requiring all ambulances to carry the medication needed to treat acute adrenal insufficiency in children.
- HB 1319 (Chapter 134, Laws of 2015), facilitating the release of certain adults who have served 20 years or more in state prison for offenses committed when they were juveniles, in response to U.S. Supreme Court rulings that sentencing juveniles to life in prison is unconstitutional.
- HB 1226 (Chapter 113, Laws of 2016, enacted as companion SB 5605), allowing diversion into alternative therapeutic programs for adolescents who commit violent acts in their homes.
- HB 1129 (Chapter 262, Laws of 2015, enacted as companion SB 5262), giving attorneys essential access to court case files to help them represent foster children.
- HB 1285 (Chapter 108, Laws of 2014, enacted as companion SB 6126), a landmark measure granting foster children statewide the right to their own legal representation.
- HB 1775 (Chapter 201, Laws of 2012), a major step forward for juvenile justice, enshrining for the first time in state law the concept of restorative justice, a victim-centered process allowing juveniles committing minor offenses to make their victims whole and be restored to the community.
- HB 1774 (Chapter 292, Laws of 2011), a major child welfare bill that improved adoption procedures, ensured better training for special child guardians, facilitated the reuniting of siblings and eased the restoration of parental rights.
- HB 2735 (Chapter 180, Laws of 2010), helping children in foster care navigate through the court system with better legal representation.
- HB 1782 (Chapter 477, Laws of 2009), helping parents retain their parental rights and reducing unnecessary separation and placement of children into foster care.
- HB 1491 (Chapter 177, Laws of 2012, enacted as companion SB 5389), altering the membership of Washington’s Early Learning Advisory Council (of which Roger has been a member), thereby securing $1.7 million from the federal government to support Washington’s early learning programs.
- HB 3168 (Chapter 164, Laws of 2008), setting the stage for an expansion of Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), modeled after the federal Head Start program.
Pioneering Four-Year Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology
Our area has a shortage of workers trained in technical disciplines, especially in high-tech and medical fields.
Roger passed legislation (HB 1885, Chapter 166, Laws of 2008, enacted as companion SB 5104) allowing Lake Washington Institute of Technology to offer a four-year degree program in applied science, for which Roger also secured the needed funding.
This successful program is already implemented at some community colleges around the state, and this was the first technical college program of its kind in our state. It provided an opening for those working to pursue additional education, as well as helping local businesses by supplying skilled new talent.