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LEV Board votes to support Initiative 1B, the Seattle Preschool Program

Frank Ordway

Frank Ordway

The League of Education Voters (LEV) has been dedicated to high-quality early learning since our inception 13 years ago. We know that high-quality early learning can significantly reduce and prevent gaps in later years and have seen this first-hand through our support of South Shore PK–8 in Seattle.

In considering the two early learning proposals that will be on the November ballot in Seattle, we found a lot to like in both. Unfortunately, the reality of how the measures will be placed on the ballot means that if you approve Seattle supporting early learning, you have to choose one measure or the other—not both.

For the LEV Board, that choice is 1B, the initiative supported by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council.

Initiative 1B, which is based on best practices, will fund voluntary preschool for 2,000 children ages 3 and 4 in 100 high-quality classrooms by 2018. Lead teachers will be required to have, or be working toward, a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and will be paid on par with Seattle Public Schools kindergarten teachers. Most importantly, this modest plan will extend essential services to kids who would not otherwise receive them.

LEV agrees with many of the goals expressed in Initiative 1A, supported by our partners SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers. We agree that the cost of quality childcare is prohibitive for too many families. We have been consistent supporters of increased subsidy rates for childcare workers, who are demonstrably underpaid. We have championed access to training and professional development for our childcare workers. We also support childcare workers having direct input and influence over the standards that govern them.

But as a practical matter, the pay, training, and regulations that govern how childcare operates in Washington is entirely governed by Olympia and Washington, DC. Our state has spent more than $150 million over the past four years building a high-quality early learning system for Washington, including funding for technical assistance, professional development, and coaching for childcare providers across the state. We believe the best place to ensure that ALL childcare workers in our state are adequately trained and compensated, and that quality childcare is affordable to all citizens, is by continuing to support those policies in Olympia.

Please join LEV this November in supporting the Seattle Preschool Program. Learn more at http://www.seattle.gov/office-for-education/about-the-levy/early-learning/seattle-preschool-program.

Posted in: Blog, Early Learning, 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.

As the organization that authored and passed Initiative 728 in 2001, LEV supports class-size reduction as one necessary, but not sufficient, gap-closing strategy for grades K–3 and high-poverty schools. Eight 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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Parent engagement is key

Maria EstradaThe League of Education Voters’ September Activist of the Month, Maria Estrada, submitted a guest op-ed to the Seattle Times that was published this morning: “New graduation rules will help all parents get more involved.”

An excerpt from the op-ed is below:

Parent engagement is key to helping students make good decisions about their future and successfully achieve their dreams, particularly during students’ high school experiences.

But for me, parent engagement isn’t just about what I can do for my daughter. It’s also about what I can do to benefit all children.

My daughter Paulina and I moved to Washington from Mexico a few years ago. The language barrier made it difficult for me to understand how the school system worked or what classes my daughter was enrolled in.

Parents need to be engaged, but they also need accessible information about their child’s education. From personal experience, I can tell you that remaining engaged in your child’s education isn’t possible when you’re struggling to understand complex, bureaucratic information in a foreign language.

Read the entire article on the Seattle Times website.

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, LEV News

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