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2018 Legislative Priority: Early Childhood Education

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

32.6 percent of low-income five-year-olds enter Washington schools fully kindergarten-ready.

In comparison, 60% of non-low income five year olds enter school kindergarten ready.

This 30-point opportunity gap – unequal access to the resources necessary for academic success – contributes over time to the assessment, graduation, and dropout rate gaps currently experienced by Washington’s low-income students.

Washington has worked diligently over the past two decades to increase early childhood education opportunities to close this gap. National and state-level research proves that quality early learning environments – like the Washington Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) – can help close the opportunity gap. Even better, it does so with a $4.75 return on every $1 invested. One study that compared test scores from 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who attended ECEAP to those who did not found that ECEAP alumni earned significantly higher math and reading scores – as good or better than the most effective pre-K programs nationally.

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Posted in: Early Learning

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Education Advocate of the Month: Nikki Lockwood

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

We are pleased to announce our Education Advocate of the Month for January: Nikki Lockwood. Read about her advocacy for students with special needs.

January Education Advocate of the Month Nikki Lockwood - League of Education Voters

January Education Advocate of the Month Nikki Lockwood

Nikki Lockwood has served as the lead on parent organizing for the Every Student Counts Alliance (ESCA), a group of advocates, parents, and community leaders seeking to reform school discipline in Spokane, and has worked effectively with Spokane Public Schools to change discipline policies. Parents with students of special needs look to her for advocacy when it comes to their kids.

Nikki first met League of Education Voters Spokane Regional Field Director Sandra Jarrard through ESCA, and they participated in the same Spokane public community meetings. Nikki grew interested in our statewide work, while Sandra wanted to learn about experience of parents and became more involved in ESCA. “Sandra has been helpful in helping me navigate the education system,” Nikki says, “And League of Education Voters has great resources for parents in the ESCA.”

Nikki started school in a private Montessori kindergarten, and her children went through public Montessori. “My parents were teen parents,” Nikki says. “They got divorced when I was 3 years old. I am grateful and impressed that my dad provided that educational experience for me.” She greatly enjoyed the open environment of Montessori, although she remembers wondering in kindergarten what she was supposed to be doing.

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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South Shore Stories – Takeaways from Roses in Concrete Community School

League of Education Voters works with Seattle’s South Shore PreK-8 on preschool, social emotional learning, and student supports. This blog series focuses on how South Shore engages students who come from a background of trauma.

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal - League of Education Voters

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal

By Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal
Guest Blogger

“Don’t reinvent the wheel” is often a mantra heard when discussing education. At South Shore, we believe that this often holds true across the educational spectrum. Many times there are other schools that have thought of, or at least explored, solutions to challenges that our school community faces. At the end of last year, our leadership team began to think about changes for the upcoming school year; it’s never too soon to start planning.

Through the connection of one of our teachers, in May we were offered a chance to visit Roses in Concrete Community School, located in East Oakland. A team of teachers, families and administrators traveled to Oakland to visit this school in order to gain a better understanding of what they are doing right. Roses in Concrete is known for a strong social justice lens and serves as a model of how staff genuinely reflect the community it serves through strong and ongoing communication. This school was founded by Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, a well-respected professor, teacher, and speaker focused on critical pedagogy in urban schools.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Education Advocate of the Month: David Cortinas

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

We are pleased to announce our Education Advocate of the Month for December: David Cortinas. Read about his education journey in Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities.

December Education Advocate of the Month David Cortinas - League of Education Voters

December Education Advocate of the Month David Cortinas

While many issues can divide a community, one thing that can bring us together is wanting what is best for our students. David Cortinas, Owner, Editor, and Publisher of award-winning La Voz Hispanic Newspaper in the Tri-Cities community, is a staunch supporter of students. David kept his community engaged in the Campaign for Student Success, which led to the McCleary school funding deal in the 2017 legislative session, and he has consistently shared information to make the community stronger. He was also one of the first Eastern Washington businessmen who took time out of his busy newspaper schedule to visit with representatives and legislative aides in Olympia to ask that education funding goes to the students who need it the most.

David became involved with League of Education Voters through Tri-Cities Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez, whom he has known for over 12 years. They served together on the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Business Association, and worked together on boards and community festivals in the Tri-Cities.

David’s parents always encouraged him to go to school. “As immigrants who worked on farms, they constantly told me that I’ll never get an education if I don’t go to school,” David recalls. He attended elementary, middle, and high school in Walla Walla, where he was born and raised, and worked in the fields, harvesting onions and other crops.

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Powerless to Powerful: Moving Washington State Schools Towards Excellence and Equity

Suzann Girtz, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Teacher Education, Gonzaga University - Powerless PowerfulBy Suzann Girtz, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Teacher Education, Gonzaga University
Guest Blogger

Imagine your school is in the bottom 5% of all Washington state schools for graduation. About one out of every two students will not graduate. And when people visit your school to question what’s happening, the students respond, “What do you expect?” They attribute the failures to themselves and maintain, “That’s just the way it is here.”

That is a quote from a student at Sunnyside High School several years ago. Its graduation rate hovered at 49%, students blamed themselves, teachers were exhausted, and everyone was working as hard as they could. It was difficult to envision this struggling school becoming a top performer in just a couple years – but it did. Significant change in a short time IS possible in our schools; we’ve experienced it.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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The Latest Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary Ruling

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Temple of Justice - League of Education Voters McCleary RulingThis morning the Washington State Supreme Court issued their latest order on the McCleary case detailing whether or not the state has met its responsibility to fully fund education. In a unanimous opinion the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s plan to fully fund education will provide enough resources to meet its constitutional responsibility to fund basic education, but the Court also stated that the timeline for full-funding put forward by the state takes too long. Basically – the policy and structure are good, but the state needs to pay for it faster.

In the order, the Court details each funding stream that constitutes the Washington State Legislature’s plan to fully fund education:  Materials, Supplies, & Operating Costs (MSOC), transportation, categorical programs such as the Learning Assistance Program (LAP) and the Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program, staff salaries, K-3 class size reduction, and full-day kindergarten. The Court concludes that when fully funded according to House Bill 2242, the funding amounts will be sufficient to provide for an amply funded basic education.

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Posted in: Funding

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The Supreme Court’s McCleary Check In

Daniel ZavalaBy Daniel Zavala, Director of Policy and Government Relations

96 days. That is how many days have passed since sine die (the official term for when the legislative session ends) back on July 20. Since that time, here at League of Education Voters, we’ve been sifting through the language of HB 2242 (the major education bill this past session) and the state budget (SB 5883) to determine the impact of new state money in K-12. All of this revolves around the context of the McCleary court order.

Importantly, today the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether the state fulfilled its duty to adequately fund basic education. Previously, the court ruled that the state overly relied on local levies to fill what the state wasn’t providing around compensation and K-3 class size reduction, among other areas. While both sides (the state and plaintiff’s attorney, Thomas Ahearne) made their case about whether the legislative action this year satisfies the court’s order, the direction around McCleary, adequacy, and equity still remains murky.

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Posted in: Funding

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South Shore Stories – Getting James Back in the Classroom

League of Education Voters works with Seattle’s South Shore PreK-8 on their preschool, social emotional learning, and student supports. This blog series focuses on how South Shore engages students who come from a background of trauma.

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal

By Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal
Guest Blogger

Attendance matters. That is a common saying in education these days, and research backs this up. Studies have shown again and again that students with fewer absences achieve at higher academic levels. In fact, a recent study looking at young children found that absenteeism in kindergarten was associated with negative first grade outcomes, such as greater absenteeism in subsequent years and lower achievement in reading, math, and general knowledge.*

At South Shore, we have been working hard to build systems that are able to quickly identify students with academic concerns by triangulating several sets of data including absences, tardies, and office referrals, as well as teacher concerns. We then begin building individual plans to address these concerns through a relationship stance; we build support rather than assume ill intent and move in a punitive direction. What we have found over and over is that there are many reasons that students are missing school. Some reasons include transportation, lack of childcare for siblings, illness in the family, or in some cases, severe anxiety in students.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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South Shore Stories – Providing Wraparound Support for Students

League of Education Voters works with Seattle’s South Shore PreK-8 on their preschool, social emotional learning, and student supports. This blog series focuses on how South Shore engages students who come from a background of trauma.

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal - League of Education Voters

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal

By Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal
Guest Blogger

School is an experience that most Americans can relate to. These school experiences, whether public or private, help shape our perception of what a school should be. As our country becomes more and more diverse, the need to diversify supports available at a school have increased as well. Schools have become so much more than places that focus solely on academics, although academics is often the only parameter of how schools are judged.

Many schools in under-served communities often provide meals to the majority of their students. They may also offer social and emotional supports in the form of a school counselor or a Family Support Worker. Here at South Shore, we have decided to prioritize the social and emotional supports of our most vulnerable students. We have done this by reallocating both district funds as well as outside resources to focus on building strong relationships within our school building.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Education Advocate of the Month: Leo Perales

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

Meet our Education Advocate of the Month for October: Leo Perales. Read about his experience as a strong advocate for equity in the Tri-Cities and beyond.

Leo Perales - League of Education Voters

October Education Advocate of the Month Leo Perales

Leo Perales is vice chair of Consejo Latino, he is part of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and was one of the first community members to join the Campaign for Student Success, the coalition that advocated during the 2017 legislative session for education funding to go toward the students who need the most support. Since 2015, Leo has worked continuously with League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez. He is involved in forums and events encouraging community activism to improve the quality of life in the Tri-Cities. He currently manages The Perales Report Facebook page.

Leo was born and raised in Kennewick, Washington, the grandson of migrant workers, and the son of Jennifer and Lloyd Perales, who have family ties to the lower Columbia Valley. He graduated from Kamiakin High School in 2005, and later transferred to Columbia Basin College and eventually Heritage University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 2012.

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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