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Archive for Press Releases & Statements

LEV applauds Ross Hunter’s appointment as Director of the Department of Early Learning

The League of Education Voters has worked with the Washington State Department of Early Learning to since its inception to improve access to, and quality of, early childhood education for all Washington kids. We have also worked with Rep. Ross Hunter for many years as a legislator in the House of Representatives, where he has been a steadfast champion for education.

As an organization that believes in a continuum of education for all Washington students, from early learning through postsecondary, we are pleased with Gov. Inslee’s appointment of Ross Hunter as director of the Department of Early Learning. We look forward to working with him to continue growing access to high-quality early learning and working to ensure the strong implementation of the Early Start Act.

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

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Statement on the Supreme Court’s Order to the State

Today, the Washington State Supreme Court issued their response on the Legislature’s progress in funding basic education.

The Court recognized the Legislature’s record progress in funding an education continuum and called out their work in fully funding transportation, materials, supplies, and operating costs, as well as their progress in partially funding K–3 class-size reductions and full-day kindergarten. The Court also called out the areas where the Legislature did not make significant progress, namely in funding facilities for class-size reduction and full-day kindergarten, compensation for teachers and other school personnel, and reliance on local levies to provide basic education.

Effectively immediately, the Court is fining the state $100,000 a day until a plan to fully fund basic education is implemented, which will go into a special fund reserved for basic education. The Court also encouraged Governor Jay Inslee to call the Legislature back for a special session. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Funding, Press Releases & Statements

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State Board of Education must become a leading voice for all students

The Washington State Board of Education today fell short of setting a clear path for our state toward all students graduating high school prepared for their next step in life.

The State Board of Education’s leadership has been essential in trying to realize their own vision of “a high quality education system that prepares all students for college, career, and life.” Nine years ago, they recommended that the state update high school graduation requirements to 24 credits, and they saw that recommendation to fruition in 2014 despite opposition and numerous obstacles along the way.

Unfortunately, the State Board made no progress today toward moving the system forward in preparing all students for college, career, and life. They took an “equal impact” approach on setting the English Language Arts (ELA) cut score. Due to poor-quality data, the State Board was unable to take an “equal impact” approach in setting the score for Math, so they set a correlating score based on the ELA cut score. This approach maintains the status quo without setting any specific date by which the cut score would be set at a college and career ready level or a plan to get there.

The League of Education Voters acknowledges the complexity of setting graduation cut scores. We also believe that decisions based on maintaining an “equal impact” without any date or plan to get to the goal of college and career readiness for all students is not good enough for our students, nor is it leading with a sense of urgency for the approximately 50 percent of high school graduates who enter postsecondary in remedial courses.

A transition period is understandable. A transition period with no end date or specific plan does not serve our students’ best interests, nor does it display any urgency for closing our state’s growing achievement and opportunity gaps.

Earlier this summer, we called on the State Board again to hold our system to a higher standard. We asked that they set the graduation cut score at the level of college and career readiness—level 3—in order to bring our state closer to their vision, or at least set a date for when this goal might be achieved. They started to do so in a draft position statement but postponed that action and any related discussion until the September meeting.

We look to the State Board to once again to become a leading voice for all students, and the League of Education Voters is committed to working with them and others going forward to ensure that the State Board achieves its vision of preparing all students for college, career, and life.

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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LEV Board votes to oppose I-1366: Another mean-spirited distraction from Tim Eyman

The League of Education Voters (LEV) Board voted to oppose Initiative 1366 on June 23, 2015. I-1366 is sponsored by Tim Eyman and Jack and Mike Fagan and qualified for the ballot today.

The initiative would cut Washington state’s sales tax by one percent, resulting in the loss of approximately one billion dollars per year for the state—unless the Washington State Legislature approves a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue by April 2016. With about sixty-six cents of every sales tax dollar going toward public education, the passage of I-1366 would be disastrous for Washington’s students.

Eyman’s tactics in this initiative are nothing new; he has attempted time and time again to pass initiatives (I-960, I-1053, I-1185) requiring a two-thirds vote to raise or recover revenue. Thanks to the League of Education Voters v. State of Washington court case, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled I-1053 unconstitutional in 2013. Given the outcome of that case, Eyman is now resorting to extortion in an effort to force the Legislature to pass a two-thirds constitutional amendment.

Cutting the sales tax by more than $2 billion per biennium would necessitate devastating cuts to our schools, in violation of the Supreme Court’s McCleary orders and in violation of Article IX of the Washington State Constitution, which instructs the state to make “ample provision” for the education of Washington students.

Our Legislature recently passed one of the best budgets for education in our state’s history. Now is not the time to backtrack on the state’s progress toward an ample, equitable, and stable education system.

Learn more about our partners in opposition of I-1366 at the No on Tim Eyman’s I-1366 website.

Posted in: Blog, Elections, Funding, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Statement on the 2015-2017 Budget

After one long legislative session (followed by three special sessions), Governor Inslee signed Washington’s 2015–2017 state budget into law late in the evening on June 30, averting a government shutdown by less than an hour. An unprecedented series of events ultimately delayed sine die until today, but with the true end of our historically long 2015 legislative session at hand, we take a moment to reflect.

What we see in this budget is a more comprehensive investment in education than at any other time in the state’s history. Through their strong investments in public education across the spectrum, early learning through postsecondary, the Legislature has given all Washington’s students more hope for their future.

The 2015 Legislative SessionThe League of Education Voters has long argued that a child’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions from early learning through higher education. We have worked with partners around the state in pursuit of that vision, including with the Cradle through College Coalition. It is gratifying to see the Legislature following through with strategies and investments that support students at all ages. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Early Learning, Funding, Higher Education, Legislative session, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Dear Legislature: The time is now

Dear Legislature,

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

Thank you for your hard work and commitment to ensuring a high-quality public education for each Washington student, from early learning through higher education. The Legislature is poised to pass the most comprehensive education budget in the history of the state that has the potential to increase opportunities for all Washington students.

But there is important work that still needs to be done.

We must ensure expanded access to quality early learning by passing the Early Start Act. We must increase the number of people who can access the State Need Grant Program. But the biggest job left to tackle is in K–12 education. To address legal issues and profound inequity in the current system, we must design a cogent, viable, funding plan for K–12 education. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements, Weekly Roundup

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Fully funding basic education

While the final days of this legislative session are nearing, yesterday leaders from both the House and Senate proposed three plans to reform the ways schools in our state are financed and end an over-reliance on local levies. These plans are in addition to a plan put forward by State Superintendent Randy Dorn earlier this week. Currently, local levy funding is used to pay for basic education costs, including teacher salaries and school supplies; costs that the State Constitution requires be covered by the State. This is major step forward on one of most vexing challenges confronting the state legislature.

We know that teachers make the biggest school-based difference in a child’s education. Effective school leadership plays a significant role in the academic results of students building-wide. Strategic investments in K–12 teacher compensation and professional learning are necessary to close gaps and improve outcomes for all kids. By ensuring the state is fulfilling its responsibility, we will ensure these critical elements are in place to benefit our children. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Funding, Legislative session, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Heading in the right direction

Thanks to our Legislature, Washington state is heading in the right direction on education funding.

With the House budget released on Friday and the Senate budget released yesterday, we see our Legislature stepping up to the challenge of funding the full continuum of public education in our state—from early learning through higher education. The League of Education Voters and our partners have long advocated for support of this continuum, and we are pleased to see bipartisan support in both chambers answering this call.

While neither budget bill is perfect, they echo the growing demand that education investments reflect the returns from early learning, as well as the necessity of a postsecondary degree or certificate. There are details to be ironed out, especially with regard to the constitutional issue of compensation and the use of local levies to fund basic education. Look for more from Team LEV on both budgets after they are voted off their respective floors.

In the meantime, please join us in thanking our leaders in Olympia for making a significant investment in education and looking out for Washington’s students.

Posted in: Blog, Funding, Legislative session, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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League of Education Voters and LEV Foundation welcome new board members

The League of Education Voters and LEV Foundation, two non-partisan Washington organizations working to improve public education, are pleased to announce our newest board members.

The League of Education Voters, a 501(c)4 organization, engages in the political process through lobbying; partners with candidates and elected officials who support our vision for students; and sponsors voter statewide initiatives or litigation as a last resort. New board members are:

  • Vange Ocasio Hochheimer, Assistant Professor of Economics at Whitworth University
  • Betsy Johnson, former Microsoft executive and Bellevue School Board Member
  • Bill Shaw, Partner at K&L Gates

LEV Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, provides strategic, accurate, and timely information to citizens, educators, policymakers, and the media; highlights research-driven educational practices that prepare all students to reach their full potential; and advocates for reforms and revenue to implement the research-based practices in Washington. New board members are:

  • Former State Rep. Renee Radcliff Sinclair, recently led strategic initiatives for Apple, Inc.
  • Larry Wright, Chief Operating Officer, College Success Foundation

More information about all LEV board members can be found at educationvoters.org.

Posted in: Blog, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Statement from Chris Korsmo on I-1351

While the Initiative 1351 votes are still trickling in, it’s clear that what everyone thought was a slam dunk is looking more like a shot from mid-court.

From pre-election polling we know that the more voters learned about I-1351, the more concerns they had.

This fall voters heard from diverse groups—including the Children’s Alliance, Association of Washington School Principals, and every major editorial board across the state—all opposing I-1351.

Reasons for opposition included concerns about the price tag, the impact the initiative would have on other important state-supported social service programs, and the potential to preclude state’s ability to make investments in other proven education strategies, such as early learning and college readiness.

We were told by all the pundits that 1351 would win and win big. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

Win or lose, these margins aren’t indicative of the kind of voter mandate that is going to shake things up heading in the 2015 legislative session.

Instead, the results leave the door wide open for a conversation about the best next steps to create an ample, equitable, and stable plan to fund our public schools and ensure each and every student in our state with the opportunity for success.

Posted in: Blog, Funding, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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