It was wonderful to see so many of you last Thursday at our breakfast! Thank you to those who made it—I hope you found the event as inspiring as I did. A huge thank you to our speakers, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, President of WSU; Dr. Jill Wakefield, Chancellor of Seattle Colleges; Frank Blethen, Publisher of The Seattle Times; and Kaysiana Hazelwood and Midheta Djuderija, two students with big dreams. Their stories were just amazing. And important reminders why we do this work.
Speaking of the work, now’s the time when it gets interesting. With just four weeks left in the (scheduled) session, conversation is turning to the state budget. The House Democrats’ budget was released Friday. The Senate Republican version should come out in the next few days. Neither budget will pass whole-cloth, but they’re both important in signaling the priorities of either chamber. The House budget, for example, proposes closing tax loopholes and creating new taxes, while remaining silent on the property tax issues that vexed the Supreme Court in their school funding decision. (more…)
The College Bound Scholarship Program was established by our Legislature eight years ago. College Bound provides scholarships to low-income and foster care students who enroll in middle school, keep their grades up, and stay out of trouble.
More than 212,000 students have signed up, and the program has had a huge impact. Enrollment has shown to positively impact high school academic performance, graduation rates, as well as college going rates and persistence. Of students enrolling in higher education, College Bound students are almost 50 percent more likely to attend a four-year college than low-income students statewide.
We strongly support College Bound and were proud to serve on the state’s College Bound Task Force last year. During the past few years, we have worked with many partners, including the College Success Foundation, Washington State Student Achievement Council, and the Road Map Project, to amplify College Bound’s impact and success and advocate for ongoing state support.
This program changes lives.
We were fortunate to hear the stories of two College Bound students this morning at our annual breakfast. We heard from Kaysiana Hazelwood, a senior at West Seattle High School, and from Midheta Djuderija, a student at the University of Washington.
Below are their incredible stories, told in their own words. (more…)
For nearly every occasion in life there is a metaphor, tortured or otherwise, that amplifies the circumstance. Whether mundane or horrifying, they roll from the tongue without much thought. For those of us engaged in Olympia on education, the offending phrase would have to be “no news is good news.” At a minimum there’s not been a lot to report in terms of education policy advancing—so if it is true that no news is good news, then education must be in fan-freaking-tastic shape.
Not that I’m throwing shade on our legislative friends, as this is the time of year when things typically go a bit off the rails, with policy bills traded or held close like baseball cards and state budget proposals still wrapped in mystery. To get a better idea of where things are, you can check our legislative bill tracker. But remember, even when you think something’s dead, until Sine Die (the Legislature’s equivalent of the closing bell) nothin’ is done, done. (more…)
This February, in nearly 60 local bond and levy elections across the state, Washington voters sent a strong message of support to their local schools by approving 55 school levies, raising more than $817 million dollars for schools.
Sixteen of the 27 bonds passed, raising $1.11 billion for districts across the state. Unlike levies, the passing threshold for bonds is 60 percent. If a simple majority were the threshold, nine other bonds would have passed, raising an additional $694 million for school districts. A bill was introduced this session by Rep. Mia Gregorson to change the passing threshold for bonds to 50 percent, but it did not make it out of the House Education committee.
Of the 55 levies that passed, 44 were for maintenance and operations and raised $804 million total for districts across the state. Eleven of the 55 passed levies are capital levies, which raised more than $12 million for schools.
Eight of the levies passed thanks to simple majority, a 2007 voter-approved constitutional amendment supported by the League of Education Voters. Between 2008 and 2015, nearly $5 billion was raised for schools through local levies.
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 March: Tony Vo. Read more about Tony’s work organizing and advocating for his community.
Tony Vo recently graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in public health and American ethnic studies.
While at the UW, Tony began working with underrepresented minorities as a Student Ambassador, and he noticed that Southeast Asians tended to get lumped into the “model minority” stereotype. Tony says, “I didn’t see myself in that stereotype. I grew up in White Center. Vietnamese was my first language. Many of my peers have similar stories—we come from low-income, refugee backgrounds.” So Tony started doing advocacy work on behalf of Southeast Asian American communities. (more…)
I invite you to join me over coffee for a series of informal meetings to share your stories and discuss how to advocate for education to our policymakers.
This is a critical year for education. We are working to ensure that increases in education funding—as a result of McCleary v. Washington or other efforts—are ample, equitable, stable, and targeted toward evidenced-based strategies that improve access and outcomes for all students. Our vision for public education is one that guarantees every Washington student the opportunity for a high-quality education from early learning through the first two years of college. (more…)