Archive for January, 2014

Parent and Family Summit: Access, Equity, & Excellence

The League of Education Voters (LEV) is holding a parent and family summit in Sunnyside, Washington, on Saturday, February 8. We recently sat down with our Yakima-based community organizer Micaela Razo, to learn more about the event. Micaela has been an advocate for parent involvement and education for over 12 years. Micaela resides in Yakima County with her husband, her son, and two daughters. She is also the Region 11 Director for the Washington State PTA and is the PTA President for her local Smith School.

Access, Equity, & Excellence Parent & Family SummitWhat is a parent and family summit, and how did it get started in Sunnyside?
Our parent and family summit is similar to the activist training LEV held in the Puget Sound area on January 25th. Even though LEV has held an activist training near Seattle for the past four years, there is a need for a training summit in the Yakima/Lower Valley region because so many families want to know how they can support their child’s education. This will be LEV’s first training east of the mountains.

What’s the goal of the parent and family summit?
Many of the parents in the Yakima area do not know how to advocate and so they don’t know how to speak up or have their voice be heard. Many of the parents are migrant workers and there are students here who barely speak English and as a result, they have to do twice the amount of work as their non-ELL counterparts because they don’t speak the language well. Both the parents and students need a lot of help and coaching to be prepared to advocate.

The goal of the summit is to empower the parents and students with the right tools so that they have a voice and so that they have the connections to work with the district—and beyond—to improve public education in their schools.

As a community organizer, I support, mentor, and organize parents and community members to give them hope and confidence that they can help their children in school and in their careers. (more…)

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Higher Education, LEV News

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Roz Jenkins: Advocate for the Underprivileged, Underserved, and Disenfranchised

Rosalund JenkinsRosalund (“Roz”) Jenkins joined the League of Education Voters (LEV) in 2011 as Director of the Black Education Strategy Roundtable (BESR), an advocacy group striving to close opportunity gaps and elevate achievement for all students in public schools. Roz has years of experience working on education and race issues and prior to joining LEV she served as Executive Director of the Commission on African American Affairs. She recently left our organization to take a position at the Parents Union as their Director of Communications.

During her time at LEV, Roz and BESR were critical partners in LEV’s work to transform school discipline reform. Roz and BESR rallied activists around the cause and called and emailed legislators on the Hill nonstop—so much that they shut down the phone lines—and helped to successfully pass a school discipline bill (SB 5946).

According to LEV Board member Thelma Jackson, BESR was the unofficial political action arm of the African American Affairs Commission and Roz was a critical player in the Roundtable’s development. “She was a ‘great connector’ who brings both people and deep subject expertise to the table,” says Thelma.

Roz had a great impact on our organization and in supporting BESR, which LEV helped to incubate and which is being established as an independent advocacy organization. Thelma Jackson sums up her contributions best: “No matter where she goes, Rosalund will always be a strong advocate for the underprivileged, underserved, and disenfranchised.” Please join me in wishing Roz the best at the Parents Union.

Posted in: Blog, LEV News

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High-quality instructional time

A number of bills are being heard this week in the House and Senate related to instructional time—the amount of time students are in school engaged in learning activities. In Washington, instructional time includes any time from the first bell of the day to when students are released at the end of the day, minus the lunch period. Included in this definition are passing times, recess, and parent-teacher conferences.

At the League of Education Voters, we believe high-quality instructional time:

  • Actively engages students in learning
  • Provides students with the knowledge needed to meet academic goals
  • Helps develop social emotional or other non-academic skills that contribute to academic success
  • Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge by completing tasks, assignments, or tests
  • Is inclusive of teacher/parent-guardian conferences that discuss a student’s educational needs
  • Minimizes the amount of days teachers aren’t in the classroom due to other professional responsibilities

The League of Education Voters anticipates that with the full funding of McCleary v. Washington, there will be more, not less, K–12 instructional time for our students. Professional development time for teachers is critically important, but it must not come at the expense of student instructional time. Teachers must be paid for a full work day, like any professional, and this time must include state-funded, principal-directed professional development. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session

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Making sure our kids are ready

Graduating from high school in Washington today does not mean that you’re ready for college or a career—and that’s a problem.

Washington prides itself on having an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

But only 4 in 10 graduating seniors meet the basic admissions requirements to get into an in-state public university. And only 6 in 10 graduating seniors are considered “qualified applicants” by Washington employers.

The truth is that most jobs in Washington require some form of education or training after high school. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session

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A short session with significant possibilities

Yesterday the legislature reconvened in Olympia for a short session and a number of the League of Education Voters’ (LEV) legislative priorities  are already in play.

The House wasted no time in passing the Washington State DREAM Act (HB 1817), with a bipartisan vote of 71 to 23 on the first day of the 2014 legislative session. All eyes now turn to the Senate on this important bill. LEV partner organization One America has published an excellent fact sheet on the DREAM Act.

Today in the Senate, K–12 leaders will introduce legislation to support the effective implementation of the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot (TPEP) to improve educational outcomes for all students.

This afternoon, our early learning champions will announce legislation to overhaul our state’s early learning system to ensure high-quality, affordable, effective programs are accessible to all Washington families. Early learning is one of the best economic investments we can make for our state. For every dollar spent on early learning there is a return of seven dollars or more, which comes from a variety of savings, including decreased costs for special education, grade repetition, and criminal justice. One of the reasons early learning is such a powerful investment is because the majority of brain development happens before age five. It is critical to provide children with the supports and education they need during their first five years.

To learn more about what happens today and join in the conversation, follow us on Twitter @edvoters. And don’t forget about our weekly online webinar series, Lunchtime LEVinars, which take place during the lunch hour every Thursday of the legislative session. Once a week. 30 minutes. Your legislators. Your issues. Our next webinar features Washington Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Chair of the House Education Committee and Co-chair of the Washington State Education Opportunity Gap Accountability and Oversight Committee.

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session

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Activist of the Month: Lynda Collie-Johnson

By Andaiye Qaasim, Community Organizer at the League of Education Voters

At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for January: Lynda Collie-Johnson. Read more about Lynda’s experience as an educator and at LEV’s Activist Training last year.

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Blog

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Bringing the Lessons from Baltimore to Washington State

Representatives from the League of Education Voters (LEV) and community-based organizations recently traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to learn more about the discipline reforms that have  been implemented by Baltimore City Public Schools with great success. This is the ninth and last in the series, Lessons from Baltimore: Transforming School Discipline.

Tre' MaxieBy Tre’ Maxie, Member, Washington State Board of Education

I come from a family of educators. My family always valued education, and they set an expectation that I would not only attend college, but that we would also assist others in doing the same. I have been working to improve public education for a long time, so when the League of Education Voters invited me to visit Baltimore to see how Baltimore City Public Schools has successfully implemented equitable discipline reforms, I jumped at the chance. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Transforming School Discipline: Lessons from Baltimore

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Erin Jones to Keynote Activist Training

Erin JonesThe League of Education Voters is pleased to announce that Erin Jones will be the keynote speaker at our January 25 activist training, Access, Equity, & Excellence.

Erin Jones is the Director of Equity and Achievement for Federal Way Public Schools. She has worked in education for the past 18 years as a volunteer, a private and public school teacher, a late night program director, and an instructional coach. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, LEV News

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