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Archive for February, 2015

Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: February 20

Well, kids, it’s that time of year. The gnashing-of-teeth-while-twiddling-thumbs time of year. It’s too early to plant. The Grammies and Westminster are already over. And the rush to see all the Oscar nominees is out-weighed by the lack of desire to spend $35 on a movie and a box of popcorn. On the legislative front, it’s much the same. The first cut-off date for the Legislature just passed.

And no one is talking seriously, yet, about possible solutions to the state budget challenges. Namely, how to make public education whole, fund, or repeal the class-size initiative, and solve the transportation mess, all while not really changing the tax structure. (Note: I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t change the tax structure. Just that, well, they won’t.)

Gnash and twiddle. It feels sort of like watching my 9-year-old clean his room. Yes, sweetie, you really CAN throw away the broken Nerf darts. And the half- chewed gum. You can also re-purpose those too-small-shoes. And neaten those boxes of toys. Or not. So much promise amid the flawed execution.

Something else that my son and the Legislature share is that there is still time. Not infinity. But time. Enough lamenting. As always, you can track the movement—or lack thereof—on education policy here. On with the news. This week, let’s play the half-used-popular-phrase game. You’ll get it. (more…)

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: February 6

Well campers, that was quite a finish! No, not that. I’m talking about the eighty points put up by Team Ruff in Puppy Bowl Xl! Oh, come on. What’s a girl to do? The Super Bowl pre-game felt like it was three hundred and thirty-seven hours long—or roughly the same length of a Hobbit movie, both of which make me want to watch commercials thinly veiled as puppy shows. Plus, I’m a sucker for a Clumber Spaniel. (By now, you’ve noticed the very soft treatment of the Super Bowl. I’ve lived in the Northwest for nearly eight years now, and the one lesson I’ve learned is that if you want a decent table in this town, or a holiday card or sarcasm-free latte, you don’t rub ‘Hawks devastating Super Bowl loss in their fans’ faces. So I didn’t. Until just then. And even then, gently.)

Enough of the kerfuffery! Lots of action going on in policy-land, and for a just-the-facts-ma’am look at it, check out our legislative tracker. So far, there’s been a fair amount of attention paid to underserved kids, including foster youth, special education students, and low-income kids. This is laudable as the state explores system change to bring more equity to our schools and beyond. In addition to bill action, there is a lot of speculation about resolving McCleary, the Supreme Court decision finding the State to be out of compliance in education funding.

Speaking of the Hobbit, and I just was, did you see this piece wherein someone “in charge” thinks a kid with a Hobbit ring talking about making someone invisible is the equivalent of a terrorist? It’s no wonder teachers want clear guidance on discipline. Onward, ho. (more…)

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Activist of the Month: Emma Margraf

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 February: Emma Margraf. Read more about Emma’s experience as a foster parent who advocated for her foster daughter even when told by everyone around her to simply expect less.

Emma MargrafEmma Margraf became a foster parent nearly seven years ago. You may have read her guest blog posts on our website over the years about her foster daughter Jane and their experiences through the school system. As you might imagine, Jane and Emma both had an uphill battle to success. As Emma writes in her most recent blog, “Fewer than two out of five foster kids graduate from high school in Washington—let alone go to college.”

Jane had her work cut out for her, but so did Emma. Emma says that dealing with the education system was much more complicated than expected. She was new to the world of foster care and “didn’t speak the language of the system.” While she had help from a case manager to help “translate,” Emma says that new issues with the system constantly cropped up and every issue had cascading consequences that were new to her.

And Jane was suspended weekly—or even more frequently—in her first year with Emma. Although the school didn’t notice, it didn’t take long for Emma to realize what was happening. Jane, who loved to read but struggled with math, would act out in her math class, get sent to the suspension room, and be allowed to read whatever book she happened to have with her—usually Harry Potter.

After years of working on political campaigns, Emma says that her response to obstacles has never been “Ok.” So, she set out looking for alternatives to the school Jane was attending. (more…)

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Democracy in Action

League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez traveled to Washington, DC, to attend a US Senate Education Committee hearing and speak with her legislators with two eastern Washington education advocates, Quontica Sparks and Gabriel Portugal. Below is Ruvine’s account of her trip.

Senator Patty Murray with the travelers from Washington. From left: Quontica Sparks, Ruvine Jiménez, Sen. Murray, and Gabriel Portugal.

Senator Patty Murray with the travelers from Washington. From left: Quontica Sparks, Ruvine Jiménez, Sen. Murray, and Gabriel Portugal.

I am so appreciative for the opportunity to visit Washington, DC, and attend a U.S. Senate Education Committee hearing on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization, as well as speak to our senators, representatives, and their legislative aides. I enjoyed hearing from Senator Murray about her hopes for all Washington kids and speaking with Representative Newhouse, who hails from Sunnyside, Washington.

In addition, I was grateful to have been accompanied by such great community leaders from eastern Washington. We were given the opportunity to stand up and testify on behalf of all children. But most importantly, I was grateful for the opportunity to explain why accountability, fair and reliable assessments, and equal access to high-quality public education is important for all kids. (more…)

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