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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…)

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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.”

(more…)

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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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How the State Need Grant Helped Me

By Nicole Portillo
Guest Blogger

State Need Grant recipient Nicole Portillo - League of Education VotersNicole Portillo is a junior at the University of Washington Tacoma Campus. A College Success Foundation alumna, she now works as a CSF Navigator, peer mentoring incoming CSF scholars. She also works as a sales advisor for Costco in Tacoma. In addition to the State Need Grant, Nicole receives financial aid through the UW Tacoma Undergrad Tuition Exemption and the College Bound Scholarship.

The State Need Grant has helped me overcome many obstacles in my life. Without the grant, I wouldn’t have been able to attend school, let alone be able to manage to pay for school.

I am a DACA recipient, which already creates many barriers when searching for scholarships because you must be a U.S. citizen to even be eligible, so I really don’t get much access to scholarships due to my status. My parents and loved ones have been my support to push through anything that comes up in my life, because every problem has a solution. The State Need Grant gives me the advantage to pursue my dreams, and provides a boost in life that everyone needs.

(more…)

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2018 Legislative Priority: Postsecondary

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

More than 20,000 State Need Grant eligible students attending Washington higher education institutions are not currently receiving a State Need Grant because the program has not been
fully funded by the legislature.

Opportunity:

The legislature established the State Need Grant (SNG) fifty years ago to increase access to higher education for low-income students. Although the SNG annually funds almost 70,000 students, the underfunding of SNG left over 20,000 eligible low-income students unserved in each of the last seven years. (1)

Over ten years ago Washington established the College Bound Scholarship (2) that provides financial aid to students from income eligible families who sign a pledge in middle school that they will earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher in high school and have no felony convictions. (3)

Both programs cover a portion of the cost of attendance leaving students cover the rest of the costs via family contributions, loans, or jobs. (4) As of 2012, the average SNG award covered 12% to 35% of the cost of attendance. On average, students cover between 14% and 28% of the cost through loans with the rest of the costs of attendance being paid though other types of aid or family and/or student generated sources.

Research:

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Career Connected Learning in NEWTECH Skill Center’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program

By Suzanne Gretch, Pre-Apprenticeship Coordinator, NEWTECH Skill Center
Kathleen Proud, Administrative Intern, NEWTECH Skill Center
Tricia Talbot, Counselor, NEWTECH Skill Center
Guest Bloggers

NEWTECH Skill Center student Jacob Caputo - League of Education Voters

NEWTECH Skill Center student Jacob Caputo, working at Wagstaff, Inc.

I have been working in Career and Technical Education for the better part of a decade. Until recently, I have never seen the well-deserved attention heeded to the trades by businesses, school administrators, or our lawmakers. At the end 2017, Governor Inslee awarded $6.4 million to Career Connect Washington grant funding, which will create close to 30,000 career connected learning experiences through 2019. Students, educators, and employers will now have the funding and resources to create and run internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships. Governor Inslee and Career Connect are rightfully recognizing the immediate and future demand for skilled labor in our state, and are preparing to equip our students with the skills and on-the-job learning opportunities that will fill that demand and grow Washington state’s economy.

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2018 Legislative Priority: Career Connected Learning

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Career Connected Learning - League of Education VotersMake sure all students have access to supports & opportunities as they explore their career options and determine the academic pathway that helps them achieve their goals.

Opportunity:

Career connected learning provides the guidance and opportunities for elementary through high school aged students as they explore career options and the academic pathways to pursue their career interests inside and outside of the classroom. To better serve students our schools can be better supported to utilize and support the High School & Beyond Plan, Career & Technical Education (CTE), dual credit, student learning plans, transition planning for special education students, counseling and other elements of a robust career connected learning system.

Context:

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Closing Gaps in Higher Education

SEA_162_blog photoBy Joyce Yee

Seattle Education Access (SEA) is a college access program that helps low-income, non-traditional students aged 16-29 in King County obtain a post-secondary education. SEA is the only college access organization in Washington state, and one of few in the country, that works with out-of-school young people and specializes in serving those who have experienced homelessness, students of color, foster youth, single parents and immigrants.

Over the past five years, SEA has served over 1,000 students: over half have experienced homelessness, 10% have been in foster care, one-third are single parents, 45% are the first generation in their family to finish a high school diploma or GED, 80% are the first generation in their family to attend college, and one third are immigrants, many of whom are undocumented.

SEA’s Education Advocates work with partner organizations throughout King County including nearly every community college, Open Doors (drop out retrieval), and organizations that provide basic needs to low-income youth. At community colleges, SEA staff often work in adult basic education, GED, and High School 21+ programs. High School 21+ serves young people over 21 who are not eligible to attend Open Doors schools. In these competency-based programs, students can earn high school credits through project-based learning or life experiences, rather than by taking assessment tests.

There is a language, culture and shared understanding, expectation and support that middle and upper-middle class families often have about their children going to college. The children of college-educated parents are more than twice as likely to go to college as the children of high school graduates and seven times as likely as those of high school dropouts. Only 5% of Americans ages 25-34 whose parents did not finish high school have a college degree.

Students from low-income backgrounds often do not see themselves as potential college students, so SEA Education Advocates help create a college-going culture at partner sites. When  a student sees their peers going to college, they are more likely to think of themselves as potential college students.

In the first phase, the College Prep program, Education Advocates works one-on-one with students to help them set goals for post-secondary education, put together a career and academic plan, and assist them with overcoming barriers. SEA staff have a vast knowledge of the degree, certificate, apprenticeship, technical/professional, and college programs available to students in King County and how they may fit a student’s life circumstances and earn them a living wage upon graduation. SEA teaches students how to navigate the education system, find a high school completion program to fit their needs, obtain financial aid, compete for private scholarships, make a budget, secure housing, register for classes, choose the right campus and degree program, and effectively access campus services. In addition, they provide tutoring, study guides, and funds for testing fees for the GED and college entrance assessment tests. This phase is typically from 6 months to a year, depending on how much support the student needs and where they are in their education pathway.

The second phase, the College Success program, begins the day a student starts classes, and supports students to stay in school and graduate successfully. Supports include tutoring, mentoring, continued career exploration, and program transfer assistance. SEA gives small scholarships to students, mostly under $350, to help them close budget gaps for books, bus passes, child care and first month’s rent. Ideally, Education Advocates’ support of students tapers off after they finish their first year as students learn the skills to navigate the education and financial aid systems themselves. In the past five years, 84% of SEA’s students have graduated from their program or are still enrolled in good academic standing.

Shouldn’t this be part of basic education?

#BeyondBasic

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Op-Ed: Washington’s community, technical colleges can bridge the skills gap

Published in today’s Puget Sound Business Journal

Dr. Amy Morrison Goings is the President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Dr. Amy Morrison Goings is the President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

By Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Recently, the League of Education Voters convened over 400 hundred of our neighbors to discuss the challenges around bridging our state’s skills gap. There are many theories being discussed as to why we are facing a lack of prepared talent across manufacturing and information technology sectors, to name a few. We believe Washington State’s chronic underfunding of public higher education, particularly our 34-member community and technical college system, is one of the reasons why we have these ongoing skills gaps.

The mission of the community and technical colleges is directly related to the viability of our state’s workforce. According to the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, from 2014-2015 Washington state community and technical colleges produced more than 45,000 college awards, including more than 10,000 associate’s degrees and nearly 300 applied baccalaureate degrees (four year degrees that are directly applicable to a graduate’s career aspirations).

Sixty five percent of all new jobs created in the next few years will require some form of a post-secondary credential. Not just a high school diploma and not necessarily a baccalaureate degree, but somewhere in-between. An associate’s degree, or a certificate backed by industry need, or an apprenticeship. Providing relevant, nimble, and industry connected workforce education is at the core mission and talent of the community and technical colleges.

 Even with the strong mission of our colleges, it’s becoming more difficult to close the skills gap, because community and technical colleges are not constitutionally protected in the same way as K12. Unfortunately, our colleges have not been financially supported through the Great Recession to the present day. In fact, today, community and technical colleges are funded per student at pre-2007 levels. Think about if you paid your employees, vendors and partners at 2007 levels. There would be gaps in service. The community and technical colleges are no different.

Those who work in the community and technical colleges system are advocates for the full funding of K12 and early learning, and work very closely with secondary partners to expose students, at an early age, to the two-year colleges. This partnership creates direct routes for students into career opportunities and earning potential that comes with technical preparation.

With that said, we believe most of us would agree that a “basic education” in the 21st century, must include early learning, a fully funded K12 system, and a post-secondary credential.

Through the support of the League of Education Voters, and the unmatched advocacy for K12, early learning, and higher education, especially the community and technical colleges, we will ensure that all Washingtonians can take full advantage of our growing economy and fully participate in the workforce.

We can’t do it alone. We need your help. Work with us to bridge the skills gap by engaging with a community or technical college. Our colleges have expert faculty who come from, and work in, industry, in addition to teaching. Programs have advisory committees that are comprised of business leaders from all different types of industry from aerospace and engineering, to game design and computer security, to welding and machine technology. Give to college foundations so that students have financial support through scholarships. And most importantly talk to your legislators about the value of our state’s community and technical colleges.

By partnering with advocates like the League of Education Voters, you will help send the message that we must fund K12 and stop the disinvestment in higher education. By doing this, we will all be able to give our state a fighting chance to bridge our growing skills gap.

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Kaysiana and Midheta share their stories

The College Bound Scholarship Program was established by our Legislature eight years ago. College Bound provides scholarships to low-income and foster care students who enroll in middle school, keep their grades up, and stay out of trouble.

More than 212,000 students have signed up, and the program has had a huge impact. Enrollment has shown to positively impact high school academic performance, graduation rates, as well as college going rates and persistence. Of students enrolling in higher education, College Bound students are almost 50 percent more likely to attend a four-year college than low-income students statewide.

We strongly support College Bound and were proud to serve on the state’s College Bound Task Force last year. During the past few years, we have worked with many partners, including the College Success Foundation, Washington State Student Achievement Council, and the Road Map Project, to amplify College Bound’s impact and success and advocate for ongoing state support.

This program changes lives.

We were fortunate to hear the stories of two College Bound students this morning at our annual breakfast. We heard from Kaysiana Hazelwood, a senior at West Seattle High School, and from Midheta Djuderija, a student at the University of Washington.

Below are their incredible stories, told in their own words. (more…)

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