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We Must Tell Our Students WHY

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Pasco Field Office

Pasco Student Roundtable - League of Education VotersSince there was no public school on May 25th, 2018, League of Education Voters hosted a student roundtable with legislators serving the greater Tri-Cities region. Senator Sharon Brown and Representative Larry Haler from the 8th district, and Representative Bill Jenkin from the 16th district joined 35 students from the Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland School Districts to have lunch and participate in community café-style conversations.

It was touch-and-go whether the luncheon would happen, because legislators are busy (and there’s always the possibility of a state emergency coming up) and because you never know if students will actually attend, even when good food is promised. Students are probably the busiest of us all – trying to juggle school, sports, jobs, homework, and family life. Some students are also dependent on others for transportation. That makes events even more difficult to plan!

So if everybody is so busy and the roundtable could wind up being a non-event, is it worth going through all that trouble? Yes, Yes, Yes, YES! (more…)

Posted in: Higher Education

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Our Reaction to the Washington Supreme Court’s Final McCleary Order

League of Education Voters appreciates all the work done by the state to satisfy the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision on school funding. While this case appears to be over, the fight continues to create and fund a system that drives resources first to our students who need the most support.

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Posted in: Funding

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Education Funding Priorities Across Washington

By Emma Elise Hodges, League of Education Voters Communications Specialist

To help direct our work with our community to create positive change in Washington’s education system, we sent out a survey via email and social media channels in May to learn how Washington community members would like state education funding prioritized. We thank the 737 people, from 71 school districts across the state, who submitted responses. While we received responses proportionate to the population of middle to high socioeconomic status school districts, there was a disproportionality for lower socioeconomic school districts. Therefore, we looked at the priorities overall amongst all survey respondents and then parsed out the data based on school districts’ percentage of students on Free and Reduced Priced Lunch (FRPL), a common marker for socioeconomic status, to make sure we were understanding the priorities of our entire state. (more…)

Posted in: Funding

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Education Advocate of the Month: Xochilt Lopez

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 June: Xochilt Lopez. Read about her advocacy for children in her community.

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Pasco Field Office

June Education Advocate of the Month Xochilt Lopez - League of Education Voters

June Education Advocate of the Month Xochilt Lopez

We are all fortunate to know Xochilt. While she is working on her own success as a student at Yakima Valley Community College, she is also ensuring that others around her focus on their success. Xochilt is a parent ambassador for the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), as well.

Xochilt first became introduced to League of Education Voters when she was president of the board at her children’s school in Yakima. Earlier this year, she went to Olympia to support ECEAP and the Early Start Act, and needed some extra help for her children. She met Julia Warth, our Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations, who connected Xochilt with me, the League of Education Voters Community Organizer in the Tri-Cities region.

Upon meeting Xochilt, I discovered a mom who was not only concerned for her children but also for the community’s children as well. It was right after the school tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Xochilt recognized that if we do not tend to our children, the children who suffer in silence, they either hurt themselves or they lash out at their community. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Will the Voice of Washington Parents, Students, and Voters on Charters Prevail?

(Why Washington’s May 17th Supreme Court Oral Arguments Matter)

By Bing Howell, Chief External Affairs Officer, Washington State Charter Schools Association
Guest Blogger

Bing Howell, Washington State Charter School Association - League of Education Voters

Bing Howell

I remember reading the disheartening news about the Washington’s state Supreme Court decision to overturn the legality of charter schools in 2015 from afar. I was aghast.  At the time, I was living and working in the K-12 education space in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I was closely following the developments in Washington for several reasons:

  1. Public opinion had spoken in favor of charter public schools: Washington voters had passed Initiative 1240, an initiative designed to establish a charter public school sector in Washington.
  2. Washington’s charter law was strong: Washington legislators had taken advantage of the 41 other states that had authorized charters to create best-in-class statutes and regulations to govern charter schools and their growth across the state.
  3. There was strong demand from parents, who were expressing the urgent need for high-quality public school options for their children: Over 1,000 students and families eagerly enrolled to attend new charters in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane.
  4. High quality school leaders were leading the movement: You would be hard pressed to find any state in the country starting off with a stronger group of pioneering leaders than in Washington. An army of educational leaders from across the state and country joined forces to make a bold vision for Washington’s new public school sector a reality.

These seemed like the right conditions for a strong charter sector that would respond to Washington’s educational inequities and provide struggling students with new, high-quality, and innovative school models… (more…)

Posted in: Charter Schools

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Rural Counselors Come Together

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, League of Education Voters Pasco Field Office

Jamey Jo Steele (R), Mansfield School District CTE/FFA/Shop/Agriculture Teacher, and students - League of Education Voters

Jamey Jo Steele (R), Mansfield School District CTE/FFA/Shop/Agriculture Teacher, and students

The Rural Counselor Network is a major milestone/deliverable of the Rural Alliance, which was first convened in July 2010 in Spokane with 35 founding rural school districts. In June 2016, several rural district superintendents and the Mary Walker School District initiated a strategic plan for the Rural Alliance. Together they have been able to attract new members and represent 79 districts, 46,000 students, 15 colleges/universities, and non-profit organizations.

The Rural Alliance mission is, “Partnering to increase options and opportunities for rural students, families and communities.” Their vision is. “Success for every rural student, family and community.” Their values are, “Student-Centered, Relationship-Based, Equitable, Innovative, and Inclusive.”

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Posted in: Higher Education

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Education Advocate of the Month: Maite Cruz

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 May: Maite Cruz. Read about her advocacy for increasing expectations of success for her community.

May Education Advocate of the Month Maite Cruz - League of Education Voters

May Education Advocate of the Month Maite Cruz

18-year-old Maite Cruz is a senior at Chiawana High School in Pasco, and plans to study political science this fall at Western Washington University. Already she has testified before the state legislature in Olympia, testified before the State Board of Education, and has been a tireless advocate for her community group, Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS).

Maite met League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez during her freshman year of high school, when she started attending Pasco Discovery Coalition meetings. Ruvine showed Maite how she could become a more active advocate for her community and her peers, and guided Maite through the process of organizing community forums. Maite recalls, “Ruvine came to Lakeview, and showed us statistics about my school and how it compares with other schools.”

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Leveling the Playing Field in LaCrosse

By Codi Titus, Academic Counselor, District Test Coordinator, Special Education, LaCrosse Schools
Guest Blogger

LaCrosse High School 2017 seniors - League of Education Voters

LaCrosse High School 2017 seniors on College Signing Day

The town of LaCrosse, Washington, is often referred to as a piece of Paradise, and I would like to think that is a pretty good description of our schools, as well. LaCrosse is situated on the west end of Whitman County on the edge of the Palouse, and is home to LaCrosse Schools. Our small community of preschool through high school numbers around 75 students. Many of our classrooms are multi-age, both in elementary and upper grades. 11th and 12th graders take courses together, as do the junior high students and several elementary classes. This gives students greater opportunity for variety in their courses, and this is how our school leveled the playing field for our rural students who do not have access to Running Start.

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Posted in: Higher Education

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Helping students who need it most benefits all

By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director

From The Olympian:

Last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced the new Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF). The WSIF comes out of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan and the recommendations of the Accountability workgroup, of which League of Education Voters was a part.

The new WSIF will provide schools and communities with new, rich data on school performance, with a focus on historically and systemically underserved students. The WSIF also focuses on the “now what” — labeling schools by the level of support they will receive from the state.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Our State of Education: Superintendent Survey

By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst

When an educator earns a superintendent position, they know their job description does not just put them between a rock and a hard place – they will be between a rock, a hard place, and a fire. They hold responsibility for the current education and future educational prospects of the children in their school district. Simultaneously, parents, community members, and their staff expect their leadership in translating and implementing statewide directives and policy changes. And, of course, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) holds them accountable to agency and legislative directives and outcomes goals.

This is why most superintendents develop a refined skill set – the ability to collaborate with a wide range of community and education leaders, the passion to advocate for their students and communities on the state level, deep and broad engagement with education research, an engaging and thoughtful political persona, and long term project management and planning abilities. This is also why we knew we needed to gather as much feedback as possible from superintendents across the state, particularly on their understandings of current and emergent issues in our K-12 schools.

We sent a survey request in November 2017 to 295 superintendents in Washington; 57 (19%) returned our survey, giving these results an 80% confidence level with an 8% margin of error. Our survey over-represents districts with 500 to 4,999 students, and under-represents districts of 499 students and less. Respondents hail from all areas of the state, but disproportionately represent rural districts.

Aside from demographic details, our survey was limited to three main questions:

  1. How urgent are issues such as achievement/opportunity gaps, student supports, teacher supply, college readiness, etc., in your district?
  2. Is your district experiencing new or different educational issues?
  3. What should we work on in the next legislative session?

This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with superintendents and educators across Washington.

(more…)

Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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