Liias-sponsored bill passed by Senate
Last updated 2/20/2019 at Noon
A bill sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) would allow for more Washington students to have access to pathways for postsecondary education and degrees under legislation passed by the Washington Senate last week.
Senate Bill 5113, sponsored by Liias, Sen. Hans Ziegler (R-Puyallup), and Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) would allow community and technical colleges (CTCs) to award a larger group of students high school diplomas if they complete associate’s degrees. Doing this would reduce barriers and encourage educational attainment across the state, according to a press release from Liias.
“As the son of immigrants, my parents taught me that education was the path to a better life,” said Liias. “Enabling more students to earn high school and college credit at the same time is a common sense way of putting people first and creating more pathways to opportunity for all students.”
Community and technical colleges serve nearly 374,000 students each year in Washington, making them the largest higher education system in the state.
Of these students, 45 percent are employed, 27 percent have children and 43 percent are students of color.
Many Mukilteo graduates attend, or have attended, nearby community colleges, such as Everett Community College and Edmonds Community College.
According to the release from Liias, the lack of a high school diploma sometimes prevents some CTC students from proceeding on to a university or securing financial aid. Currently, Washington state law allows CTCs to award high school diplomas to students who do not have one if the student completes an associate’s degree through Running Start, a program that allows high school students to get both college and high school credit by taking courses through local community colleges.
Law also allows for students to receive degrees through a re-engagement program through a school district, if they’re over age 21.
Liias’ bill expands eligibility to include anyone over age 16 who completes an associate’s degree.
“Whether it’s a younger student who finds a better educational experience in our community colleges or an older student who never finished their high school diploma but is ready now, this new law will create a pathway for them,” said Liias.
“Ensuring that every student in our state has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their income, race or background, will require us to look for creative opportunities like this one.”
SB 5113 passed with a unanimous vote in the Senate last week, and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.