Archive for September, 2014

LEV Board votes to oppose I-1351: There is no silver bullet

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

The League of Education Voters (LEV) Board voted last week to oppose Initiative 1351, a statewide class-size reduction initiative on the November ballot.

Our founders authored and passed Initiative 728 in 2000, and LEV has always supported class-size reduction as one necessary, but not sufficient, gap-closing strategy for grades K–3 and high-poverty schools. Nine years later, we endorsed the re-definition of “basic education” developed by our State Legislature, which includes smaller class sizes of 17 in grades K–3 upon which McCleary v Washington is based.

So, given LEV’s history and commitment to smaller class sizes, why are we opposing I-1351?

We believe the pathway to providing a high-quality public education for all students begins with identifying and funding what works.

We know there is no single silver bullet that will close the opportunity and achievement gaps for Washington students. We believe I-1351 will preclude our ability to make investments in other proven strategies, such as early learning and college readiness.

High-quality early learning, including preschool and full-day kindergarten, can significantly reduce and prevent gaps in later years. LEV believes early learning is critical to a student’s success, which is why we fought, unsuccessfully, to include it in the 2009 re-definition of basic education.

Academic acceleration is another proven strategy to raise the academic achievement for all Washington students. Instead of just catching kids up, it pushes them forward. In Federal Way, the school district increased the number of low-income and minority students taking upper-level courses (Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses) by 2.5 times over a four-year period while holding exam passing rates steady.

As the leader of Washington’s only statewide advocacy organization that works to improve public education from early learning through higher education, I know that our state has the people, the resources, and the innovative spirit to create the best public education system in the world. But it’s going to take tough decisions from each of us to make it a reality.

This fall, we are talking with policymakers, community members, parents, and educators across Washington to discuss our vision for a high-quality public education system from cradle to career. I invite you to join us.

To learn more or join us at these meetings, please contact our State Field Director Kelly Munn.

Posted in: Press Releases & Statements

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Summer Internship Profile: Raymond Fenton

The League of Education Voters (LEV) benefits from the help, expertise, and hard work of summer interns. We recently interviewed our field intern, Raymond Fenton, who is pursuing his degree at Lewis & Clark College. Read more about his background and his experience at LEV, in his own words.

Raymond Fenton during his internship at the League of Education Voters.

Raymond Fenton during his internship at the League of Education Voters.

What was the focus of your internship at LEV?

As an intern, I did a lot of basic administrative work, like answering phones, taking messages, and documentation. However, I also had the opportunity to work on high-stakes tasks. For example, I played a major role in the preparation and support for the State Board of Education’s public hearing on the rules for the College and Career Ready Diploma and the Parents Partnering in Education Summit in Sunnyside, Washington.

Preparing for these events included inter-departmental meetings, and a lot of planning, visual design, and interpersonal communication on my part. While at the events, along with making sure that everything was running as planned, I took photos and live-tweeted. I also prepared for these events through blogging, sending press releases, and sending email blasts.

While interning, I also conducted research and wrote reports for LEV’s policy and field departments. In one of these reports, I had the opportunity to use both my quantitative and qualitative analysis skills to analyze each presenter’s success after the Parents Partnering in Education Summit.

Toward the end of my internship, I had the chance to create a strategic plan to launch an ad campaign. That was fun, difficult, and confusing at the same time, but it allowed me to start relationship building with other organizations around early learning. Finally, I brushed up on my interviewing and data collection skills through story-banking exercises as well as through some videography work. (more…)

Posted in: LEV News

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Chris Korsmo discusses McCleary with Kiro 7’s Essex Porter

CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7's Porter Essex regarding the McCleary contempt ruling on September 11.

CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7’s Porter Essex regarding the McCleary contempt ruling on September 11.

The League of Education Voters’ CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7’s Essex Porter about the Washington State Supreme Court’s contempt ruling in the McCleary v. State of Washington case yesterday.

Regarding the contempt ruling, Chris said: “We know the opportunity, we know the urgency, we know the obligation. Let’s give the state the opportunity to make good on their word to do something this session.”

While the League of Education Voters was not a plaintiff in the McCleary case, the foundation did file an amicus brief in January 2012.

Watch the entire clip on the Kiro 7 website.

Posted in: LEV News

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Summer Internship Profile: Taylor Beach

The League of Education Voters (LEV) benefits from the help, expertise, and hard work of summer interns. We recently interviewed one of our policy interns, Taylor Beach, who just completed a Master’s of Education Policy at the University of Washington. Read more about her background and her experience at LEV, in her own words.

Taylor Beach hikes at Mt. Rainier.

Taylor Beach hikes at Mt. Rainier.

What was the focus of your internship at LEV?

During my internship with LEV, I focused my efforts on two main topics: early learning and school discipline. My mentor, Policy Analyst Tracy Sherman, invited me to attend related meetings, and I was able to start assessing the early learning and discipline environments across the state.

My internship resulted in two deliverables: first, a directory of schools across the state that use discipline practices other than suspensions and expulsions; and second, a two-page briefing report that describes positive and preventative disciplinary practices succinctly. The intent of both of these instruments is to provide information to legislators and community members about a potential discipline bill that may be considered next session. (more…)

Posted in: LEV News

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Back to school: The excitement, the disappointments, and the magic. (It’s ok to be nervous.)

By Emma Margraf

An empty classroomI have always loved September. I love the warmth of the end of summer, I love new backpacks and pencils and notebooks… I love the promise, and the hope and the possibility. As Jane gets new books for new classes I get excited and say, “Oh boy! YOU get to read THIS!” and she rolls her eyes.

But the reality of back-to-school time has never lived up to my expectations. So my hopes for Jane and the new school year might be a little misguided. (more…)

Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Activist of the Month: Maria Estrada

Maria Estrada testifies in Olympia on the new discipline law in April 2014.

Maria Estrada testifies in Olympia on the new discipline law in April 2014.

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 September: Maria Estrada. Read more about her experience as an advocate for all kids, including her daughter, Paulina Zepeda (our March 2014 Activist of the Month).

Maria Estrada believes in parent engagement. She believes in it so strongly that she’s worked with Donald Bender, Migrant Academic Service Coordinator for ESD 105, to write a series of curricula on parent engagement. But it’s one thing to write curricula and another entirely to take action on it. Maria testified at the public hearing at the State Board of Education meeting in Spokane in July on that very topic.

Maria says that parent engagement is key to student success. “When parents are engaged, they can help their children make decisions about their future and successfully achieve their dreams. Parents should trust their children and love them, of course, but they also need to stay engaged. In doing that, they not only help their own children, they help all children.” (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month

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