WA bill offers extra year of school for students looking to get last year right

Mar 12, 2021, 3:27 PM
school year, in-person learning...
(MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Many students have been struggling with school over the past year after having to move to a remote learning model due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some of them, this year is possibly their last shot at getting it right, their last shot to make it into a good school, get a scholarship, or even graduate. So if schools cannot make it right for kids this year, why not give them another chance next year?

That is what state Senator Sam Hunt of Olympia wants to do with his new bill.

“My bill is patterned after a bill that passed in the New Jersey Legislature last year, and it would merely allow students a couple of things to try to give them a more normal high school experience,” Hunt told the Gee and Ursula Show.

“First of all, if a student gets a D or an F this year — which I think there are quite a few who have because they struggle with online learning and stuff — they can take that course over again. And if they get a better grade, that grade will show on the record and the other one will be expunged.”

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The extra year would also allow students to take part in all the activities they were not able to during the pandemic, if they’d like.

“Secondly, it will allow students to have an extra year to participate in activities, sports, debate, band, business clubs, like future business leaders, and things like that,” Hunt said. “So, in essence, it’s like in college [when] they get a redshirt year, because we know most of the schools have not had the opportunity to have sports.”

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“So this would just merely give them the opportunity, as long as they have not graduated and are still enrolled in high school, … or in Running Start,” he added.

As Gee asked, what does Senator Hunt think is some negative blowback that he might get to something like this?

“Well, the bill has already passed the Senate, and it passed fairly well,” Hunt responded. “But there was opposition, and some of it was uncertain about will there be additional costs, and there will be. But already in the state, we allow kids to come back for a fifth year and graduate if they have not received their credits.”

The other concerns relate to ages and sports, but Hunt doesn’t see that becoming a huge issue.

“The other concern is, well, what about that ninth grade student that comes in and wants to play football? And all of a sudden, he, or the girls’ basketball player, or track star ninth grader has to run against somebody who’s in their fifth year? And, yeah, that is a possibility,” he said.

“But I think we know most of the ninth graders do not participate in varsity sports. So you have to be a really good ninth grader to be there. And if you’re that good, I assume you can go ahead and compete.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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WA bill offers extra year of school for students looking to get last year right