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Ensuring that all kids get a strong start in life

Thrive by Five WashingtonThe Walla Walla Valley Early Learning Coalition held its sixth annual Our Kids: Our Business luncheon today. Sam Whiting, President and CEO of Thrive by Five, spoke about the importance of high-quality early learning during the luncheon.

Sam also announced the results of a recent Thrive by Five survey of 400 registered Washington voters on public support for early learning, conducted by independent, non-partisan firm DHM Research in late September 2014.

The statewide survey was conducted by phone, with both land lines and cell phones, and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.9 and 4.9 percent. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Early Learning, Press Releases & Statements

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Tracy Sherman: A true leader and advocate

Tracy ShermanTracy Sherman joined the League of Education Voters (LEV) three years ago as a Policy Analyst. During her time at LEV, Tracy worked on numerous bills and issues, most with a focus on gap-closing strategies. She took a lead in policy work on high-quality early learning and transforming school discipline.

This past spring, Tracy took a lead role in work on school discipline, coordinating a coalition of organizations in the implementation of a 2013 school discipline law, SB 5946.

Tracy recently accepted a position at the Gates Foundation as a Program Officer of Postsecondary Communications and Engagement. Today is her last day at LEV.

Tracy is a proud product of public schools. She received a BA in political science with minors in business and legal studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MA in political management from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

After spending almost a decade in the other Washington, Tracy decided it was time to move back home to the Pacific Northwest and continue education advocacy in a less partisan environment. She got her start in education policy working for several members of Congress. Her love of politics, passion for making the world a better place, and strong belief that we must improve education so we have a skilled workforce for tomorrow, brought her to LEV.

Amy Liu, Policy Director at LEV, spoke about Tracy’s contributions to LEV, saying, “Tracy has been an invaluable part LEV’s work to improve public education across the state. She brings to the table leadership, passion, analysis, and determination. We are excited for her as she takes on a new role but will also miss her presence in the office.”

Please join us in wishing the Tracy the best in her next endeavors at the Gates Foundation!

Posted in: Blog, LEV News

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Kicking six-year-olds out of school

A preschool student at South Shore PK-8. (Photo copyright: Stefanie Felix.)Remember the one about the six-year-old who got kicked out of school for pecking a classmate on the cheek? That happened last year in Colorado, but the same sort of thing could happen in Washington state—and likely does.

A recent article in the Seattle Times by Claudia Rowe reports that 104 kindergartners and first-graders were suspended or expelled in Seattle alone in 2012–2013—the majority, for “other behavior.”

What “other behavior” means isn’t clear, but it includes any behavior other than weapons, fighting, tobacco, drugs, or alcohol. It includes things like being “disruptive” or “disrespectful”—and the harshness of the punishment is up to the individual teacher or administrator, regardless of the crime.

And when you’re six years old, being “disruptive” is often synonymous with “being six.”

There is also, Rowe writes, a “growing stack of evidence that shows that educators mete out punishments differently, depending on a student’s race.” (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, School Discipline

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