New Podcast – Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau

Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau - League of Education VotersIn our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this latest episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau to discuss her listening tour around the district, her Student Advisory Board, her strategy for closing achievement gaps, and her personal education journey.

 

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Students Educate Educators on Implicit Bias

By Arik Korman, League of Education Voters Commnications Director

 

Inspirational Workshops has partnered with King County Best Starts for Kids to expand trauma-informed and restorative practices in schools, beginning with Garfield High School and Washington Middle School in Seattle to offer the Trailblazers Program: youth of color blazing the trail for others.

The Trailblazers Program, created by Inspirational Workshops founder Theresa Hardy, is designed to empower underrepresented students to gain confidence that will support them with navigating institutionalized racism. Trailblazers introduces youth to social justice awareness and elevates student voice.

Trailblazers Implicit Bias Professional Development Presentation part 1 - League of Education VotersLast week, Trailblazers presented a professional development (PD) workshop on implicit bias for the entire educator staff at Washington Middle School, which was the first PD in the Seattle School District ever led by students. The session was led by Washington Middle School students Sona, an 8th-grader, and Kimilo (a.k.a. Bubbles), a 7th-grader. Sona and Kimilo told their personal stories and led discussions on what implicit bias is, which biases were in the room, why people have implicit bias, negative impacts of implicit bias, and solutions. Read More

Education Advocate of the Month: Patty Shastany

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 November: Patty Shastany. Read about her advocacy for early childhood education.

November 2018 Education Advocate of the Month Patty Shastany - League of Education Voters
November Education Advocate of the Month Patty Shastany

Patty Shastany serves as a coach in Spokane for the Early Achievers program, which improves the quality of early learning in Washington state. As an Early Achievers coach, she spends most of her time in the field at childcare programs to work with directors and teachers to improve the quality of care for children. Since 2012, she has facilitated a monthly meeting for childcare owners and directors to build relationships and support each other in improving program quality. As part of that work, early learning professionals have advocated for effective, realistic regulations, and better funding to support quality improvements. Patty’s organizing paved the way for the statewide Washington Childcare Centers Association (WCCA). “I am most proud of the relationships I have built,” she says, “especially with people who want to make the world better for kids.”

Patty has known League of Education Voters Spokane Regional Field Director Sandra Jarrard for years. Since Early Achievers rolled out in 2012, Patty has been facilitating monthly meetings with owners and directors of childcare programs. “Sandra came to a meeting in 2015 to help us understand advocacy,” she recalls. “A year after that, the minimum wage law passed and the unintended consequence was that childcare programs struggled to increase wages without raising tuition rates beyond what families can afford. Childcare programs have always worked on the very edge of being sustainable, especially programs that cared for significant numbers of children who received subsidies from the state. State reimbursement rates are far below the market rates. “It’s hard to maintain quality and keep teachers without adequate funding,” Patty says. “Programs need to cut corners wherever they can, which impacts the level of quality you can provide.” Read More

Wins, Losses, and What Lies Ahead

By Chris Korsmo, League of Education Voters CEO

Chris Korsmo

Friends,

As I prepare to leave the League after nearly twelve years, I’ve had the chance to reflect on our work, our wins, losses, and what lies ahead. I’m incredibly proud of my service to LEV and the kids we work so hard for. This team is talented, compassionate, and committed to improving the lives of our students and families – in particular, those furthest from opportunity. These past dozen years or so have been a tutorial on the changing needs and assets of Washington’s students, a slow societal and organizational awakening to the inequities we’ve baked into our entire system including the education system, and coming to terms with the need to change strategies to match or stay ahead of changing realities. Like all good living things, we’ve grown and changed, and we think we’re more impactful because of that evolution.

We started out 18 years ago focused on K-12 education funding, with the thinking that if we just put enough resources into the system, everything would be all right. We soon learned that money, while important, isn’t the only resource we need to consider. And we learned that if we start in kindergarten, we’re too late, and that ending at high school doesn’t guarantee much in terms of success for kids and families. Read More

Congratulations Students and Families on State Supreme Court Victory

Charter public school students - League of Education Voters

56 percent of Washington’s 3,400 charter public school students come from low-income households, as compared to 42 percent statewide.

60 percent of students identify as students of color, as compared to 46 percent statewide.

15 percent of students receive special education services, as compared to the statewide average of 14 percent.

Today, all these students learned that they can stay in the school of their choice.

Washington’s charter public schools continue to serve higher-than-average percentages of students impacted by inequities.

Today the Washington Supreme Court has given families with students in charter public schools new hope by affirming that their schools will continue to be a valuable part of our state’s public education system.

 

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New Podcast – Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal - League of Education VotersIn our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this latest episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal to discuss his office’s statewide survey on funding priorities, how the survey informed his budget ask for the 2019 legislative session, and how we can get involved in making these priorities a reality.

 

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The Work Ahead: District Decisions Around Teacher Salary Post-McCleary

Teacher working with 2 students, Teacher Salary Blog IntroBy Jacob Vela, Senior Policy Analyst

As districts across the state start planning for next school year they will be faced with some unfamiliar choices as they look to allocate $2.5 billion more in state funding next school year than the current school year. The most recent increase in state education funding was directed mostly to increase K-12 staff salaries, including the more than 50,000 teachers across the state. This was a key part of the court’s ruling as the state has underfunded teacher salaries for many years leaving districts to pick up the tab if they wanted to offer teachers a competitive salary.

As districts plan for how the influx of money will be spent in the face of the shifting funding landscape districts and community members will have some difficult questions to consider:

  • Does the state provide enough for all districts to attract and retain teachers, especially for high-poverty or rural districts?
  • How will the increased investments impact how districts use their local levy dollars?
  • How will the educational experience of students be positively impacted with the new investments?
  • Will district budgets be financially sustainable?

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The Work Ahead

By Julia Warth, Director of Policy and Research

South Shore PK-8 students - League of Education VotersThe recent investments and changes made to the K-12 funding system in response to the Washington State Supreme Court McCleary ruling will have long-lasting impacts on our education system. While progress has been made to adequately fund basic education, more work remains to ensure that we equitably fund basic education. League of Education Voters is committed to working with districts and partners to continue to move towards an education system that is funded to provide every student what they need to succeed.

We will be providing a number of resources and series of analyses that will highlight some of the remaining opportunities and work ahead looking towards the 2021 legislative session. These include:

  • A series of maps that illustrate the impact of House Bill 2242 (2017 legislative session) and Senate Bill 6362 (2018 legislative session) across the state, and the inequities that remain;
  • A brief on the choices facing districts and the new investments in teacher salaries;
  • An analysis of the continued challenges in special education funding in preparation for the 2019 session; and
  • A broader analysis of the impact of HB 2242 and SB 6362 and solutions to explore to address challenges created by regionalization factor and the two-tiered local levy structure, and how we can better target resources to students who have been systemically and historically underserved.

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Join us in wishing Chris well

Chris Korsmo

Our longtime CEO Chris Korsmo is leaving League of Education Voters effective November 1st. She is not going far – she will be joining our longtime strategic partners at Strategies 360.

We are extremely grateful for Chris’ leadership through a strong period of growth and transition. She and the LEV team drove critical changes to and billions of dollars in funding for Basic Education and played a leading role in two statewide campaigns – one to make levies a simple majority vote, and the other to bring public charter schools to Washington – all anchored in the education finance system and its role in delivering equitable opportunities to Washington’s students.

Under Chris’ leadership, LEV worked with partners to champion major investments in Early Childhood Education, expand postsecondary access through the College Bound Scholarship and State Need Grant, and begin new and exciting work to reach our students furthest from opportunity.

Chris is most proud of where LEV is now: building critical systems of support so that every student is career and college ready.

We are excited about the work ahead. In the 2019 legislative session and beyond, LEV will focus on early learning, career and college readiness, and working with and on behalf of our students furthest from opportunity.

The Board has begun the process of identifying an interim director and establishing the timeline for the search for the next Chief Executive of LEV. You can reach our Board Chair, Betsy Johnson, at BetsyJ@educationvoters.org and Board Vice Chair, Tom Halverson, at TomH@educationvoters.org.

Thank you for all you’ve done in support of Washington’s kids!

 

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Project-Based Learning Through Partnership

Tilth Alliance facilitates project-based learning with South Shore Students. Six children crowd around a blue tarp with dirt and critters on it. The children are in winter clothes.
Second grade students explore critters in the soil

Thanks in part to an incredible partnership with Tilth Alliance, League of Education Voters has continued to promote project-based learning. Since 2002 League of Education Voters has been partnering with South Shore, a Seattle Public Schools PreK-8 school serving around 700 students in Rainier Valley, to fund innovation and create proof points in hopes of spreading effective practices across the state.

Through our partnership with South Shore, since 2009 we have also helped support what has become the Rainier Beach Learning Garden, located behind South Shore, providing project-based learning for several nearby schools, community centers, and daycare programs. While land management and site coordination is now provide by Seattle Parks, the garden’s educational programming is managed by Tilth Alliance, a statewide nonprofit organization focused on organic gardening and urban ecology.

Tilth Alliance specifically utilizes the Rainier Beach Learning Garden as a facet of their mission “to increase access to fresh healthy food for folks in Rainier Valley.”  By working with Tilth Alliance, League of Education Voters has continued to impact each South Shore student’s education. Read More