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Listen to the Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidates in Their Own Words

Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones (L) and Chris Reykdal

Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones (L) and Chris Reykdal

The League of Education Voters interviewed both candidates for Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Listen to Erin Jones HERE

Listen to Chris Reykdal HERE

Note: The League of Education Voters did not promote or endorse either candidate.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Elections, ESSA, Funding, Higher Education, Media Clips, Podcast, School Discipline, Teacher Prep

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Strong words on education funding

The Washington State Legislature recently submitted a report to the Supreme Court detailing their progress in fully funding basic education as ordered in McCleary v. Washington. In anticipation of this report, both The Olympian and The Seattle Times continued their solid coverage of Washington education by publishing strong editorials on the topic.

In addition, The Seattle Times asked lawmakers, the League of Education Voters (LEV), and the Washington Education Association to weigh in on what they think is still needed.

LEV will be focusing on the Supreme Court this summer by profiling each of the nine justices.

Posted in: Blog, Funding, LEV News, Media Clips

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Chris Korsmo discusses McCleary with Kiro 7’s Essex Porter

CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7's Porter Essex regarding the McCleary contempt ruling on September 11.

CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7’s Porter Essex regarding the McCleary contempt ruling on September 11.

The League of Education Voters’ CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7’s Essex Porter about the Washington State Supreme Court’s contempt ruling in the McCleary v. State of Washington case yesterday.

Regarding the contempt ruling, Chris said: “We know the opportunity, we know the urgency, we know the obligation. Let’s give the state the opportunity to make good on their word to do something this session.”

While the League of Education Voters was not a plaintiff in the McCleary case, the foundation did file an amicus brief in January 2012.

Watch the entire clip on the Kiro 7 website.

Posted in: Blog, Funding, LEV News, Media Clips

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Education funding on TVW

League of Education Voters CEO Chris Korsmo and Stand for Children Executive Director Dave Powell chat with Austin Jenkins for TVW's Inside Olympia program on September 11, 2014.

League of Education Voters CEO Chris Korsmo and Stand for Children Executive Director Dave Powell chat with Austin Jenkins for TVW’s Inside Olympia program.

The League of Education Voters’ CEO Chris Korsmo and Stand for Children Washington’s Executive Director Dave Powell sat down with Austin Jenkins yesterday to discuss education funding and reform on TVW’s Inside Olympia program.

In particular, Chris and Austin chatted about the League of Education Voters wish to redefine “basic education” to include early learning and higher education.

View the discussion below or on the TVW website.


Posted in: Blog, Funding, LEV News, Media Clips

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Technology Alliance: Stick with math & science requirements

(This is a guest blog post by Susannah Malarkey, executive director of Technology Alliance, a statewide, not-for-profit organization of leaders from Washington’s diverse technology and related businesses and research institutions.)

If “innovation is in our nature,” then sticking with the math and science graduation requirements should be the natural decision for state policy leaders to make.

On behalf of the Technology Alliance, I feel compelled to add my voice to the growing chorus of indignation at Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn’s proposal to delay math and science graduation requirements. Washington’s innovation community is deeply concerned that this proposal signals a retreat from a commitment to ensure all students possess the foundational knowledge and skills they need to be successful in post-secondary education and 21st century careers.

Sticking to the task of preparing our students to be informed, engaged citizens and to compete for family-wage jobs is not only a matter of economic competitiveness; it is a matter of basic fairness. Our state has a diverse technology sector that creates high-wage, high-impact jobs. Unfortunately, we are not preparing the vast majority of Washington students to benefit directly from the opportunities our economy is creating.

We continually tout our highly-educated and innovative workforce (we rank 4th in the nation for intensity of scientists and engineers), but we ignore how we got there (we also rank 4th for net-migration of college degree-holders).

For years, we have made do with minimum high school graduation requirements that don’t align with the level of preparation students need to be successful in college-level work (around half of Washington graduates entering community colleges must take non-credit bearing coursework on content they should have learned in high school), or even be eligible to apply for admission to our public 4-year institutions.

And now, when we have an opportunity to make significant strides in bringing our education system into the 21st century through the basic education reform work currently underway and federal investments aimed at spurring innovation and accountability within our K-12 system, Washington’s education leader proposes yet another delay in math and science graduation requirements.

How can it be that one of the most innovative states in the nation is still having a debate over whether students should demonstrate proficiency in math and science before exiting high school?

As state education strategies go, it does not inspire confidence. Instead of repeated delays and watering down of expectations, we should be pursuing reforms that would help our students to meet those expectations:

– Implementation of CORE 24 to align minimum course-taking requirements with the expectations of college and the workplace;
– A concerted focus on improving teacher quality and our teacher evaluation system; and
– Data and accountability systems that will empower teachers, school leaders, parents and policymakers to take the steps necessary to ensure our K-12 system is serving the best interests of our students.

Our state leaders need to maintain their commitment to providing a meaningful high school diploma to all Washington students. Anything less is unfair to our kids and unsustainable for our state economy.

Susannah Malarkey is the executive director of Technology Alliance.


Posted in: Blog, Media Clips

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Weekly roundup of education news from LEV

Education advocates and newspapers quickly weighed in on Superintendent Dorn’s proposal to delay math and science high school graduation requirements last week. LEV has begun to post in-depth analysis on the final Race to the Top guidelines on our blog.  We’re also introducing a Question of the Week to encourage discussion on thought-provoking questions about education and public policy.

Question of the Week

In Portland Public Schools, budget cuts could hit home to students and parents. Up to five classroom days could be cut from the school calendar because of furlough days. Recent polling shows that 60 percent of Washington residents don’t believe our state is facing a budget crisis even though higher education and K-12 have been cut by 12 percent.

Should policymakers consider eliminating all-day kindergarten or cutting school days to help balance the budget?

Join the discussion with other parents, educators and advocates:

News from LEV

Superintendent Randy Dorn’s speech to the state school directors
TVW filmed Superintendent Dorn’s speech to the Washington State School Directors’ Association on delaying math and science graduation requirements.

Wrong move, wrong time
In case you missed it, here’s LEV’s reaction to Superintendent Dorn’s proposal to delay high school graduation requirements for math and science.

What’s at risk in the state budget?
Our friends at the Washington State Budget and Policy Center have put together this excellent narrated slide show about the very real impacts of the projected $2.7 billion state budget shortfall.

What are Washington’s chances of winning Race to the Top dollars?
LEV reviews the eligibility requirements for Race to the Top and how Washington stacks up.

Final Race to the Top guidelines released
Each Race to the Top application will be evaluated based on a 500-point scale. Here’s the breakdown for how points will be awarded.

News from the Media

Editorial: State schools chief Randy Dorn blinks on math and science requirements
The Seattle Times is concerned that Dorn’s proposal will harm low-income and minority students the most.

Editorial: Don’t delay reckoning on science, math norms
The Spokesman-Review believes students will rise to the challenge to meet math and science requirements similar to how they responded to reading and writing.

Posted in: LEV News, Media Clips

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pre[k]now recognizes Washington’s forward momentum on early learning in basic education.

pre[k]now just released a new report:Vote Count – Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2010.

The report recognizes the Legislature’s work in the 2009 Legislative Session to include a program of early learning for at-risk children in the new definition of basic education. They briefly describe the work of the December 1st Drafting Team, the group of government agencies and early education advocates (including LEV) to develop recommendations to Gov. Gregoire for next session, including adding voluntary, universal preschool for all four-year-olds in basic education.

Want to learn more about how Preschool for All in basic education would ensure all children are ready for school and ready for life?

  • Want to tell early learning leaders that you agree with [pre]know? Go to a local town hall near you in the next two weeks.
  • Click here to show how this program would serve all at-risk three-year-olds by expanding ECEAP, all four-year-olds with universal preschool, and all kindergartners with full-day kindergarten.

Cutos to Sen. Oemig and McAuliffe for their great quote and support. Here is the full text from pre[k]now’s report:

In Washington, the high-quality Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), which served 6 percent of the state’s four year olds in 2008,12 will suffer a funding cut of nearly 3 percent for FY10, reducing enrollment by about 170 children. Despite the cut, lawmakers attempted to preserve some momentum in the state by bringing pre-k into the state’s definition of basic education. Though the bill did not include funding provisions, the new language stated that early learning for at-risk children should be included in publicly funded education, just like kindergarten or first grade, and seemed to signal a real intent on the part of state legislators to provide high-quality pre-k for more children.

In a last-minute move that caught early childhood advocates and lawmakers entirely by surprise, the governor vetoed the legislation, citing a concern that the change did not define pre-k as a basic educational requirement for all children. Though the veto was disappointing, the governor did follow up by asking state education agency leaders to develop a proposal for the 2010 legislative session to ensure that all children have the benefit of early learning. Lawmakers and the governor will need to communicate and collaborate effectively to bring that plan to fruition, but should they do so, Washington could be on the path to offering pre-k for all four year olds – a smart strategy for the state’s economic future.

Washington State Senators Rosemary McAuliffe (D) and Eric Omeg (D), chair and vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee: “Our students, educators and teachers deserve better, and we can’t give that to them without changing the way we invest in our schools… We must include early learning as a cornerstone of our school system.

Posted in: Blog, Early Learning, Media Clips

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Education news of the day

Awards given out but are pink slips next?: Local school employees dominate at statewide awards program

Texting is the new note passing: Students Crave a Break on Cellphone Ban

Mistakes uncovered in “Discovering Math” books: Seattle Schools’ “Discovering Math” curriculum risks a generation of students

Seattle’s Summit K-12 says goodbye: Alums, teachers say goodbye to Seattle’s Summit K-12

Posted in: Blog, Media Clips

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Beating the odds

Vote Yes for Yakima KidsIt’s a tough economic climate—especially to achieve the supermajority vote needed to pass a school bond. And yet, that’s exactly what happened last week thanks to the tenacity and hard work of students, schools, and volunteers in Yakima.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, voters in the Yakima School District approved a $114 million school bond to build a new high school and modernize seven other schools.

The critical factor for this success story was the kids!

Two student coordinators from each high school worked together to organize their peers and community members to build support for the school bond. One of the culminating events was the BondFest rally, where students from each school marched from their campus to the park to hear speakers and performances. More than 1,000 students and community supporters attended the event.

In an election with nearly 12,000 votes cast, students and volunteers delivered a powerful message that reached more than 10,000 voters via door-to-door knocking, phone calls, and rallies.

These students truly gave their heart and soul. Their work will mean future high school classes will learn and walk the halls of modern and safer buildings.

Special thanks should go to Central Washington Progress and The Washington Bus for providing technical help and know-how around elections and organizing.

If you’re starting up a levy and/or bond campaign in November or next year—you’re not alone! Yakima is a success story that can work in any community in the state.

At LEV, I’m one of two field organizers who will travel anywhere in Washington State to help you setup and develop a solid plan to win a school levy or bond. We can also put you in touch with other resources that can provide voter analysis and assistance with K-12 finance and organizing. And, there’s LEV’s Levy Library for online access to collective knowledge from dozens of past levy and bond campaigns. 

Contact me or Frank Ordway, our NW WA Regional Director, about getting involved in or running a levy or bond campaign at info@educationvoters.org.

Posted in: Blog, Media Clips

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