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Archive for November, 2015

Longtime LEV lobbyist to join the state Department of Early Learning

By Chris Korsmo

After giving a voice to Washington state students and families for almost eight years at LEV, I am proud – albeit  sad – to wish Frank Ordway all the best as Assistant Director of the Department of Early Learning (DEL).

Frank, our Government Relations Director, will be helping Ross Hunter at the state level, making sure our youngest learners have every opportunity they can to succeed at school. His last day at LEV is Dec. 4.

Frank has served the League – and the kids of Washington – in extraordinary ways. His passion, commitment and vision were the threads that helped sew together state budgets increasing education funding by billions of dollars, create and pass the Early Start Act and fully fund College Bound Scholarships.

Frank would say that he didn’t do these things alone – and he’s right – but it’s safe to say some of these things wouldn’t have happened without him. It is a bittersweet moment for us at LEV, but we know that our kids will be served well with Frank in a leadership position at DEL.

While we will greatly miss Frank, we are thrilled to have a deep bench at LEV. Jene Jones will serve as our voice in Olympia during the upcoming short budget session. She will tackle issues large and small on behalf of kids as LEV’s representative in Oly.

On behalf of LEV, we are all proud that one of our own will be helping our students at the state level. We know that Frank will continue to be tireless advocate for our students, families and schools. We wish him all the best.

Chris

Posted in: Press Releases & Statements

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One Seattle Parent: Making A Non-Political Case For Charter Schools

This blog post originally was featured on Summit Voices.

By Linda Sikora

The issue of charter schools is our state’s newest political hotbed – if you’re “for” charters, you must be Republican and anti-teacher/anti-union, and if you’re “for” public schools, well then of course you’re Democrat and most assuredly can’t support charters.

All the rhetoric, all the vitriol, all the heated arguments supporting “your side” and demonizing the “other side” and all we do is stay locked in our positions and nothing ever happens, no positive change ensues – how could it?

I don’t claim to be particularly political; in fact, I consider myself to be pretty politically fluid as I’m willing to listen to both “sides” and settle where my inner sense guides me. Sometimes it’s “left”, sometimes it’s “right”, but it’s always right…for me. I find it oddly curious how we divide ourselves, and I often just sit back and observe the antics, wondering what a different way could look like.

And I certainly don’t consider myself to be an education expert or even well-versed in the issues. But you know what? I support charter schools and here’s why. No “side” convinced me, the children did. I sat and listened and looked in their eyes, and I knew this is the kind of change our children need. I visited Summit Sierra High School, a charter school in the Chinatown International District that opened this year and is serving its inaugural ninth grade class; a school that in its infancy, is wondering if its doors will be shuttered and their children thrown to the wind. Sure, we sat and listened to the administrators talk about their advantages and their approach; of course they would toot their own horns. But then we got to go into the classrooms and observe and sit with the children and ask questions and talk with them. In each classroom, I observed a microcosm of our planet, beautifully diverse, with small groups of these children within the classroom context, communicating, brainstorming, working together and collaborating.

But the “ah-ha” moment for me was in Spanish class when I was talking to two of the students who were working on their project together. The boy was effervescent and outgoing and telling me great things about this class and how they worked and how it was different. His project partner, a girl, was very quiet and hesitant to speak, eyes downcast. I asked her how this school was different. And she looked me right in the eye and her eyes lit up, she engaged and she started talking to me about MATH. How, in her old school she was so far behind and the teacher would just stand up in front of the class and lecture and then give you tests, which she failed, but she didn’t know how to understand it or improve. And then when she came to Summit, her teacher and her mentor (yes, each child at Summit has a mentor they work with on individualized learning plans – and this mentor stays with them until they graduate) worked with her and they discovered that she learned differently than the other kids, so instead of teaching her oneway that was not her way, they allowed her to learn in her own way. They taught to that specific child. And guess what? She said she’s now ahead in math, but more importantly, she told me she used to hate going to school, but now she wakes up every morning and can’t wait to go!

I know there are funding issues and administration issues and legislative issues and union issues…all the “yeah buts” that people stake their positions on so vehemently. Here’s my “yeah but” – I wish we could channel that passion differently, I wish the “opposed” people could have the experience I had today…to see a child’s eyes light up and watch her confidence emerge. It was one of those soft, seminal moments in my life. In that moment, I knew this child’s life, her trajectory, could completely change. Sometimes, the biggest changes start small – one child at a time, one school at a time. We can figure this out, people.

Please don’t close these schools.

Posted in: Charter Schools

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