Blog

Author Archive

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

LEV applauds Ross Hunter’s appointment as Director of the Department of Early Learning

The League of Education Voters has worked with the Washington State Department of Early Learning to since its inception to improve access to, and quality of, early childhood education for all Washington kids. We have also worked with Rep. Ross Hunter for many years as a legislator in the House of Representatives, where he has been a steadfast champion for education.

As an organization that believes in a continuum of education for all Washington students, from early learning through postsecondary, we are pleased with Gov. Inslee’s appointment of Ross Hunter as director of the Department of Early Learning. We look forward to working with him to continue growing access to high-quality early learning and working to ensure the strong implementation of the Early Start Act.

Posted in: Press Releases & Statements

Leave a Comment (0) →

Rainier Prep

As our students prepare to head back to school, the League of Education Voters is highlighting a few of the new public charter schools opening this fall. We recently sat down with Rainier Prep’s founding leader Maggie O’Sullivan to hear about the school’s opening.

Students work with a teacher. Photo courtesy of Rainier Prep.School begins at Rainier Prep on September 1 for students in grades 5 and 6. Based in the Highline area of Seattle, Rainier Prep’s mission is to prepare all students to excel at four-year colleges and become leaders in their communities. At full capacity, Rainier Prep will serve grades 5-8.

Rainier Prep will use a model of inquiry- and project-based learning that complements college readiness curriculum. It all comes back to the people, however, according to school founder Maggie O’Sullivan: “The number one difference at Rainier Prep is our teachers and our staff.” (more…)

Posted in: Charter Schools

Leave a Comment (0) →

Spokane International Academy

As our students prepare to head back to school, the League of Education Voters is highlighting a few of the new public charter schools opening this fall. We recently sat down with Spokane International Academy’s founding director Travis Franklin to hear about the school’s opening.

Students enter their classroom at Spokane International Academy.School began at Spokane International Academy on August 26 for students in kindergarten and in grades 1 and 6. Spokane International Academy’s mission is to “empower students with the academic skills, habits of mind and global competence necessary to complete advanced courses in high school and a four-year college degree in order to become leaders who can powerfully transform their communities in the future.” At full capacity, Spokane International Academy will serve grades K–8.

Spokane International Academy is a Cambridge International School and uses VIF International Learning curriculum, along with an inquiry-based learning model, to develop student global understanding and competence. Students will also learn Spanish as they progress through the school, and their parents will have the opportunity learn alongside them at no cost. Plans are also in the works to take students on international trips to Latin America. (more…)

Posted in: Charter Schools

Leave a Comment (0) →

LEV Board votes to oppose I-1366: Another mean-spirited distraction from Tim Eyman

The League of Education Voters (LEV) Board voted to oppose Initiative 1366 on June 23, 2015. I-1366 is sponsored by Tim Eyman and Jack and Mike Fagan and qualified for the ballot today.

The initiative would cut Washington state’s sales tax by one percent, resulting in the loss of approximately one billion dollars per year for the state—unless the Washington State Legislature approves a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue by April 2016. With about sixty-six cents of every sales tax dollar going toward public education, the passage of I-1366 would be disastrous for Washington’s students.

Eyman’s tactics in this initiative are nothing new; he has attempted time and time again to pass initiatives (I-960, I-1053, I-1185) requiring a two-thirds vote to raise or recover revenue. Thanks to the League of Education Voters v. State of Washington court case, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled I-1053 unconstitutional in 2013. Given the outcome of that case, Eyman is now resorting to extortion in an effort to force the Legislature to pass a two-thirds constitutional amendment.

Cutting the sales tax by more than $2 billion per biennium would necessitate devastating cuts to our schools, in violation of the Supreme Court’s McCleary orders and in violation of Article IX of the Washington State Constitution, which instructs the state to make “ample provision” for the education of Washington students.

Our Legislature recently passed one of the best budgets for education in our state’s history. Now is not the time to backtrack on the state’s progress toward an ample, equitable, and stable education system.

Learn more about our partners in opposition of I-1366 at the No on Tim Eyman’s I-1366 website.

Posted in: Press Releases & Statements

Leave a Comment (0) →

Emphasizing an education continuum

In 2014, after eight long years of work, Washington state updated its high school graduation requirements. The League of Education Voters worked with partners and community members to pass this 24-credit College and Career Ready Diploma.

Now the work begins for many school districts in implementing the new diploma. However, a number of districts are ahead of the game, and some have been for many years.

West Valley High School logoOne such school district is West Valley, in the Yakima area. West Valley began requiring 24 credits for high school graduation beginning in the 2001–2002 school year, when they increased their English language and social studies requirements. The second phase of the transition to a College and Career Ready Diploma happened in the 2006–2007 school year, when the district increased their math and science requirements. In 2013, more than 80 percent of their seniors graduated from high school, and of those who graduated, 67 percent continued onto college. (more…)

Posted in: Closing the Gaps

Leave a Comment (0) →

Kelly Munn Honored by the Issaquah Schools Foundation

Kelly Munn with her Golden Apple Award (right), with Issaquah Schools Foundation Past President Jody Mull.

Kelly Munn (right) with Issaquah Schools Foundation Past President Jody Mull.

Kelly Munn, State Field Director at the League of Education Voters, was recently recognized by the Issaquah Schools Foundation with the 2015 Golden Apple Award. The Issaquah Schools Foundation began presenting its annual Golden Apple Award in 1998 to recognize individuals in the community who made a difference for children.

Kelly began advocating the year her own children began school, through the PTA and then through Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, where she chaired multiple bond and levy campaigns and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Issaquah Schools. Kelly also served on the Issaquah Schools Foundation board for three years.

The Issaquah Schools Foundation describes Kelly as “someone who has been vigilant, tireless, unrelenting, and a passionate spokesperson for what’s in the best interest of children at all levels,” and we agree.

Congratulations, Kelly, and thank you for your work on behalf of all Washington students!

Posted in: LEV News

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 15 12345...»