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Archive for May, 2015

Finding a way forward

Finding a way forward. At the League of Education Voters, we believe a student’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions. 2014 was a successful year as we worked to improve public education throughout Washington state. We are pleased to release our 2014 annual report, Finding a way forward, and we invite you to read highlights from the past year.

In 2014, we also released our vision, A way forward, which calls for a new definition of basic education that includes early learning, strategic investments in K–12 education, and at least two years of postsecondary education for each Washington student.

While some may suggest that this definition is more than we can afford, we believe that we can’t afford not to make this investment. Too many kids arrive at kindergarten already behind. At the other end of the education spectrum, all evidence points to the need for a postsecondary degree or certificate in preparation for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

A high-quality public education system from early learning through higher education is critical to ensuring a strong home-grown workforce and state economy.

Washington state has the people, resources, and 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. During 2015, we are engaging policymakers, community members, parents, and educators across the state to discuss this vision and how, working together, we can make it a reality.

We invite you to join us.

Read or download our 2014 annual report.

Posted in: Development, LEV News

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Recap of our Lunchtime LEVinars

By Josefina Hellensberg

Finding Our Way ForwardA few days after the regular legislative session wrapped up, the special session kicked into full force on April 29. Now we watch as the debate continues in this (and perhaps a second) special session and the budget is finalized.

The League of Education Voters (LEV) hosted a series of Lunchtime LEVinars to keep voters updated on the proposed budgets from the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the effects that they have on education in our state. Although each budget proposal have differences in how they fund education, they both make huge investments in our public education system, and regardless of how the final budget comes together, the outcome will be promising for students throughout Washington state.

In our webinar series, we heard from Senator Andy Hill and Representative Ross Hunter, lead budget writers for the Senate and House budgets, respectively. Senator Hill and Representative Hunter each discussed their respective budget proposals and answered audience questions. The series wrapped up with a presentation from LEV’s own Government Relations Director Frank Ordway on the strengths of each proposal, along with areas that LEV hopes will be better funded in the budget by the time negotiations are finalized. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Events, Funding

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Opt Out? Widen the Gap

Hope Teague-BowlingHope Teague-Bowling is a board member of the League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation. Hope is a National Board Certified Teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma and teaches Sophomore English and AP Language and Composition. She writes for Stories from School, the Center for Strengthening the Teacher Profession‘s blog.

Below is an excerpt of a recent article she wrote, “Opt Out? Widen the Gap.” Read the entire article on the Stories from School blog.

It’s testing season. Each year I administer whatever Language Arts assessment is currently required by law. I glance over the Pearson booklet at the rows of earnest faces nervously listening to the directions of their state assessment. They know results will be used to determine whether or not their receive a diploma. Their eyes communicate “we will do you proud” while their scrunched up noses say, “you’d better have taught us what we need to be successful on this thing.”

Walking the rows, I think about how 78.6% of the students in my building qualify for free and reduced lunch. At least 8% are ELL and 13.4% are in Special Education programs. More than anything, my students need education opportunities that will set them on a trajectory out of poverty and in pursuit of their version of the “American Dream.” Yet we know that this dream is guarded by a variety of gatekeepers, most vital of which is access to quality post-secondary education. One such gatekeeper is the ominous standardized test.

I understand the urge of parents and teachers to want to resist this system and opt out. Yet, every time the topic of standardized testing is brought up I can’t help but wonder…. Does the opt-out movement actually widen the opportunity gap???

I’m hard pressed to find research on this topic and I have no time for a PhD. Yet, the continued presence of a culture of low expectations for low-income students and students of color leads me to believe there is a relationship between low expectations, low performance results, and opting out of testing.

The entire article is on the Stories from Schools blog.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps

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Activist of the Month: Gabriel Portugal

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 May: Gabriel Portugal. Read more about Gabriel’s advocacy and activism in his community.

Representative Dan Newhouse with the travelers from Washington. From left: Gabriel Portugal, Rep. Newhouse, Quontica Sparks, and Ruvine Jiménez.

Representative Dan Newhouse with the travelers from Washington. From left: Gabriel Portugal, Rep. Newhouse, Quontica Sparks, and Ruvine Jiménez.

Gabriel Portugal has been involved in his community for his entire career. A retired educator, Gabriel served two terms on the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. As Commissioner, Gabriel founded Washington’s Latino Legislative Day (now known as the Latino Civic Alliance) to empower members of the Latino community to advocate for themselves and their families. Gabriel says he declined to serve as Latino Legislative Day Board member for more than four years because he believes that “when you’re in a position of power for too long, you lose your efficacy as a grassroots activist.” (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, LEV News

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Join Joyce Yee for coffee: May meetings

Joyce YeeI 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.

I am holding two different types of coffee meetings multiple times each month:

  1. The first is a space to share your stories and hear about what is happening in your community. Chat with us about your experiences advocating for change in your community and get to know your neighbors and community members better!
  2. The second is a space to share your stories and learn how to share them with your policymakers. If you yourself have some policy updates to share, please bring those! Chat with us about your hopes and practice advocacy work through written or online messages, phone calls, in-person meetings with legislators, or town hall meetings.

These are both drop-in meetings. Please stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee on me! (more…)

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Events, Legislative session

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