Washington Senate again passes bill to require ‘inclusive’ curriculum


For the second time, the Washington State Senate has passed legislation to require school districts to adopt an inclusive curriculum.

If passed, Senate Bill 5462 would require the Washington State School Directors’ Association, with assistance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to establish an inclusive curricula policy. The policy would be required for local school boards to adopt.

If passed, the curriculum would include “diverse, equitable, inclusive, age-appropriate, instructional materials that include the histories, contributions, and perspectives of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups,” according to bill language.

“Students learn best when they see their cultures and experiences reflected in the curriculum, and all students benefit from a diversity of perspectives. This will enrich student learning and success,” Washington Education Association President Larry Delaney said in a statement Wednesday.

While the Senate passed the same legislation with 29-19 in favor during the 2023 session, the bill failed to advance out of the House Education Committee.

“Growing up, it was so rare to hear anything about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community in any setting, let alone in the classroom,’’ said bill sponsor Sen. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, in a news release Wednesday. “The contributions of gay Washingtonians deserve recognition, and just as importantly, students deserve to see themselves in their schoolwork. That leads to better attendance, better academic achievement and better overall quality of life.”

On Wednesday, the vote was again 29-19. Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, was the sole Republican to vote yes this year, though he said he did so accidentally.

“When ESB 5462 came up for a vote on the Senate floor this afternoon, I was called to the wings to consult on another matter and inadvertently voted ‘yes’ when I intended to vote ‘no.’ I would like the record to reflect my intent to cast a no vote,” Braun wrote in an official entry into the Senate journal.

In an interview, Braun called the bill “overhanded” and said it was “micromanagement” of locally elected school boards.

Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, a former Eastmont School Board member, said on the Senate floor that the bill undermines the authority of local school boards.

“Here we go again,” Hawkins said in his remarks Wednesday. “The Washington State Senate is trying to become the Washington State Senate School Board.”

During the 2023 session, Hawkins introduced failed amendments that would have made the curriculum optional rather than mandatory. On Wednesday, Hawkins again said school districts should implement the curriculum if they desired to, but it should not be required.

“This is a mandate on all 295 different school districts,” Hawkins said. “School districts are their own local school governments, like cities and counties.”

Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, argued on the Senate floor the bill also does not contain an opt out provision for parents.

Once again, the bill will head to the House of Representatives. The current season ends March 7.