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Archive for September, 2015

LEV applauds WA state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its public charter school ruling

The League of Education Voters applauds Washington state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling declaring public charter schools unconstitutional.

As the Attorney General pointed out, the Court’s ruling goes even beyond public charter schools, and calls into question the constitutionality of other public education programs, like Running Start and Tribal Compact Schools.

In 2012, voters made Washington the 42nd state to allow public charter schools. We hope the Supreme Court will act to not overturn the voice of the voters of Washington state. If not, the legislature must step in to fulfil the will of the voters.

Parents from Seattle to Spokane have made the choice for their nearly 1,300 students that public charter schools are the best education option for their child. Whether it’s the Supreme Court or the Legislature, courageous actions must be taken to ensure the nine public charter schools continue to operate, student’s learning doesn’t get disrupted and this public school choice remains a future option for parents and students across the state.

Along with Attorney General Ferguson, former Attorney Generals Rob McKenna, Chris Gregoire, Ken Eikenberry and Slade Gorton disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Posted in: Charter Schools

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Former Gov. Gregoire calls court ruling on charters “Not right. Not fair”

This morning former Washington state Governor and former Attorney General Chris Gregoire was interviewed by KING 5 and gave her views on the Supreme Court’s charter school decision and McCleary. Below are some excerpts from the interview. See the interview here (charter school and education discussion starts at 7:49)

On the Supreme Court’s charter school ruling:
“As a lawyer and Attorney General I’m surprised at the majority opinion. I think the minority opinion on that case is spot on.”

“Even more surprising to me than the outcome of the case is the timing of it. The case had sat before the court for some time and then it issues its opinion on the eve of when these students are going to go to school. These parents are expecting their students to go to these schools.”

“The court has to be aware of the implications of a decision like this and what it means to the children and the families when they have their children all scheduled to go to school and then are put on a moments notice that your kid has no place to go. Not right. Not fair,”

On McCleary:
“We’ve got a long way to go to fully fund education as defined by the legislature in a bill that I signed as Governor. No question about it. They made good progress this last legislative session. I want to give them credit, but I find it unprecedented that they’ve held the legislature in contempt when the deadline has not yet hit.”

“The legislature needs to use its process to get the job done. I’m leaning on the legislature. The court needs to understand the separation of the branches of government and understand that to hold them in contempt while they still haven’t met the deadline is unprecedented in the country.”

Posted in: Charter Schools

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Supreme Court Leaves Kids in Limbo

The Washington State Supreme Court issued a devastating ruling late on Friday afternoon, prior to a 3-day weekend and after charter schools had already started their year, declaring the way the state funds public charter schools unconstitutional.

The ruling puts the immediate future of over 1200 students in jeopardy. In addition to public charter schools, the ruling may impact tribal compact schools, Running Start, and other programs that do not fit into the Court’s narrow view of what can be funded with education dollars. Many strategies aimed at addressing the state’s achievement and opportunity gaps are at risk.

The parents with children in these schools, and the advocates who support them, will continue to work to ensure these schools stay open now and into the future.

  • Teams of supporters are reviewing the Court ruling and preparing a legal response.
  • Options for keeping these schools open are being explored.
  • Advocates are asking the Governor and legislators to act immediately to rectify the situation.

You can help by contacting your legislator and asking them to support a technical fix to ensure public charter schools are funded and other investments aimed at closing gaps continue now and into the future.

Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Activist of the Month: Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success

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: a student group called the Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success, or ALAS. Read more about ALAS’ work to engage their community.

Students from Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS)

Students from Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS)

Maite Cruz testified for the first time ever this summer at the State Board of Education meeting in July. A rising tenth grader, Maite says she was “unbelievably nervous” but was determined to speak up about the importance of setting graduation requirements at a college-ready level (a level ‘3’ cut score) for Smarter Balanced assessments. She learned about the opportunity to testify after meeting League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez at aPasco Discovery Coalition meeting.

In her testimony, Maite asked the board: “If our own state doesn’t have confidence that we can achieve a ‘3,’ how will we ever have confidence in ourselves that we can succeed?” The State Board ultimately voted to set the cut score mid-way between a ‘2’ and a ‘3,’ but Maite’s testimony moved them. Later that same evening, Maite had the opportunity to sit next to Board Chair Isabel Muñoz-Colón at dinner, who expressed her gratitude for Maite’s testimony.

Along with Maite, her friend Diana Alonso also testified. Both Maite and Diana are members of a student organization, Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS). ALAS formed about four years ago, and Maite says her older brother was one of the founding members when he was in high school. The goal of the group is to grow community engagement in education and cultural events.

When they initially formed the group, ALAS members didn’t want to have any leadership roles—they wanted all of the members to have an equal voice. That turned into one of their “biggest challenges,” says Maite, because it made it much more difficult to stay organized. They ultimately changed their mind and created various roles within the group, with Maite taking on the role of president.

ALAS holds multiple events throughout the year, and one of their biggest events is a week-long summer camp for students in grade K–6. The camp is offered in English and Spanish and is organized entirely by the fifteen teenagers comprising ALAS. This year, ALAS enlisted the help of student teachers from Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, and they provided curriculum for the week.

Each day of the summer camp had a theme. One day, for example, was “Volcano Day,” and the students learned about, and made their own, volcanoes. Students attended the camp, which included lunch and snacks throughout the day, at no cost. This year was the third year of offering a camp; last year’s camp was covered in the Tri-City Herald.

Going forward, Maite says ALAS wants to make a more concerted effort to engage all members of the community, in addition to students. They recently held a community “café event” for 16 families that both parents and students attended. The parents loved the event and enjoyed discussing community-wide concerns and issues. The Pasco School Board President attended the event, as well, and responded positively to the community voice.

ALAS is also planning an event in September in honor of Mexican Independence Day, and they are partnering with a health organization in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

And Maite? She says she’s not sure what she wants to do after high school yet, but she does know that she really wants to help out her community and give back to them in the same way that they have supported her.

Posted in: Activist of the Month

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