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Statement from Chris Korsmo on I-1351

While the Initiative 1351 votes are still trickling in, it’s clear that what everyone thought was a slam dunk is looking more like a shot from mid-court.

From pre-election polling we know that the more voters learned about I-1351, the more concerns they had.

This fall voters heard from diverse groups—including the Children’s Alliance, Association of Washington School Principals, and every major editorial board across the state—all opposing I-1351.

Reasons for opposition included concerns about the price tag, the impact the initiative would have on other important state-supported social service programs, and the potential to preclude state’s ability to make investments in other proven education strategies, such as early learning and college readiness.

We were told by all the pundits that 1351 would win and win big. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

Win or lose, these margins aren’t indicative of the kind of voter mandate that is going to shake things up heading in the 2015 legislative session.

Instead, the results leave the door wide open for a conversation about the best next steps to create an ample, equitable, and stable plan to fund our public schools and ensure each and every student in our state with the opportunity for success.

Posted in: Blog, Funding, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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LEV Board votes to oppose I-1351: There is no silver bullet

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

The League of Education Voters (LEV) Board voted last week to oppose Initiative 1351, a statewide class-size reduction initiative on the November ballot.

Our founders authored and passed Initiative 728 in 2000, and LEV has always supported class-size reduction as one necessary, but not sufficient, gap-closing strategy for grades K–3 and high-poverty schools. Nine years later, we endorsed the re-definition of “basic education” developed by our State Legislature, which includes smaller class sizes of 17 in grades K–3 upon which McCleary v Washington is based.

So, given LEV’s history and commitment to smaller class sizes, why are we opposing I-1351?

We believe the pathway to providing a high-quality public education for all students begins with identifying and funding what works.

We know there is no single silver bullet that will close the opportunity and achievement gaps for Washington students. We believe I-1351 will preclude our ability to make investments in other proven strategies, such as early learning and college readiness.

High-quality early learning, including preschool and full-day kindergarten, can significantly reduce and prevent gaps in later years. LEV believes early learning is critical to a student’s success, which is why we fought, unsuccessfully, to include it in the 2009 re-definition of basic education.

Academic acceleration is another proven strategy to raise the academic achievement for all Washington students. Instead of just catching kids up, it pushes them forward. In Federal Way, the school district increased the number of low-income and minority students taking upper-level courses (Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses) by 2.5 times over a four-year period while holding exam passing rates steady.

As the leader of Washington’s only statewide advocacy organization that works to improve public education from early learning through higher education, I know that our state has the people, the resources, and the 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.

This fall, we are talking with policymakers, community members, parents, and educators across Washington to discuss our vision for a high-quality public education system from cradle to career. I invite you to join us.

To learn more or join us at these meetings, please contact our State Field Director Kelly Munn.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Press Releases & Statements

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup, Week of 2/17-2/21


Greetings! Friday already. Where did the week go? For those of us mid-winter-breaking (No, I won’t go there again) (but if I did, it would be epic) the week went like this: create to-do list, set up playdates, have a near emotional breakdown when you realize that your to-do list is longer than the time allowed—in fact, it’s longer than your lifetime—make corndogs for playdates, hire help for to-do list, look into going to the museum to see the Lego exhibit, realize you don’t have time for Lego exhibit because of aforementioned to-do list, download “Guilt for Dummies,” because your kid is eating half-frozen corndogs and playing video while you’re scrubbing the floor from the “touch-up” paint you spilled and you’re not at the museum looking at Lego configurations that actually resemble something recognizable. And that was Tuesday. Onward! (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Early Learning, Funding, Higher Education, Legislative session, LEV News, School Discipline, Weekly Roundup

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