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House Democrats and the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) have released bills to address the McCleary education funding lawsuit.
The House plan, HB 1843, would set a minimum salary of $45,500 for new teachers, and would slow the decrease of maximum local school tax levies from 28 percent of total state and federal funding, to 24 percent by 2021, instead of by next year as under current law. The basis for the calculations is changed, as well; and HB 1843 seeks to lower teacher-student ratios.
The Senate plan, SB 5607, sets a similar minimum starting teacher salary of $45,000, and the state would collect local property tax levies for schools, adding $1.4 billion per biennium to supplement education funding. Local districts could still raise additional money with voter approval, but the amount would be capped and could only pay for extras, not basic education.
See our side-by-side comparing fiscal elements of the House Democratic plan and the Senate MCC plan with the current funding system and Governor Inslee’s budget plan here.
Donations are made to the League of Education Voters (LEV) and the League of Education Voters Foundation by individuals, groups, and businesses throughout the community. These generous donations from you who believe in high-quality public education allow us to ensure measurable progress toward LEV’s vision that every student in Washington state receives an excellent public education from cradle to career.
Below are our donors from the fourth quarter of 2016, October 1–December 31. We regret any omissions or errors to the donor list. Please contact our Development Associate, Jessica Nieves, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 206.728.6448 with any questions or to correct any information.
League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Senator Christine Rolfes (D-23) to talk about solutions to funding our education system, how to close achievement gaps, the importance of career-connected learning, and why she decided to run for office.
THANK YOU for sticking with us and Giving Big!
We’d like to give a special shout-out to the Aurora Lilac Fund, Anonymous, Lisa Jaret, Betsy Johnson, Erin Kahn, Arik Korman, Amy Liu, Kelly Norton, Laurel Preston and Sharon Rodgers!
Although there were some technical glitches that hindered the day, we still raised important funds that will only increase after Seattle Foundation calculates their totals and adds their stretch pool in the coming weeks!
Your gift to LEV allows us to help finish the McCleary fight to fully fund public education, so our kids who need more support get the resources they need.
We couldn’t do it without your support. Thank you for all you do!
By Chris Korsmo
After giving a voice to Washington state students and families for almost eight years at LEV, I am proud – albeit sad – to wish Frank Ordway all the best as Assistant Director of the Department of Early Learning (DEL).
Frank, our Government Relations Director, will be helping Ross Hunter at the state level, making sure our youngest learners have every opportunity they can to succeed at school. His last day at LEV is Dec. 4.
Frank has served the League – and the kids of Washington – in extraordinary ways. His passion, commitment and vision were the threads that helped sew together state budgets increasing education funding by billions of dollars, create and pass the Early Start Act and fully fund College Bound Scholarships.
Frank would say that he didn’t do these things alone – and he’s right – but it’s safe to say some of these things wouldn’t have happened without him. It is a bittersweet moment for us at LEV, but we know that our kids will be served well with Frank in a leadership position at DEL.
While we will greatly miss Frank, we are thrilled to have a deep bench at LEV. Jene Jones will serve as our voice in Olympia during the upcoming short budget session. She will tackle issues large and small on behalf of kids as LEV’s representative in Oly.
On behalf of LEV, we are all proud that one of our own will be helping our students at the state level. We know that Frank will continue to be tireless advocate for our students, families and schools. We wish him all the best.
This blog post originally was featured on Summit Voices.
By Linda Sikora
The issue of charter schools is our state’s newest political hotbed – if you’re “for” charters, you must be Republican and anti-teacher/anti-union, and if you’re “for” public schools, well then of course you’re Democrat and most assuredly can’t support charters.
All the rhetoric, all the vitriol, all the heated arguments supporting “your side” and demonizing the “other side” and all we do is stay locked in our positions and nothing ever happens, no positive change ensues – how could it?
I don’t claim to be particularly political; in fact, I consider myself to be pretty politically fluid as I’m willing to listen to both “sides” and settle where my inner sense guides me. Sometimes it’s “left”, sometimes it’s “right”, but it’s always right…for me. I find it oddly curious how we divide ourselves, and I often just sit back and observe the antics, wondering what a different way could look like.
And I certainly don’t consider myself to be an education expert or even well-versed in the issues. But you know what? I support charter schools and here’s why. No “side” convinced me, the children did. I sat and listened and looked in their eyes, and I knew this is the kind of change our children need. I visited Summit Sierra High School, a charter school in the Chinatown International District that opened this year and is serving its inaugural ninth grade class; a school that in its infancy, is wondering if its doors will be shuttered and their children thrown to the wind. Sure, we sat and listened to the administrators talk about their advantages and their approach; of course they would toot their own horns. But then we got to go into the classrooms and observe and sit with the children and ask questions and talk with them. In each classroom, I observed a microcosm of our planet, beautifully diverse, with small groups of these children within the classroom context, communicating, brainstorming, working together and collaborating.
But the “ah-ha” moment for me was in Spanish class when I was talking to two of the students who were working on their project together. The boy was effervescent and outgoing and telling me great things about this class and how they worked and how it was different. His project partner, a girl, was very quiet and hesitant to speak, eyes downcast. I asked her how this school was different. And she looked me right in the eye and her eyes lit up, she engaged and she started talking to me about MATH. How, in her old school she was so far behind and the teacher would just stand up in front of the class and lecture and then give you tests, which she failed, but she didn’t know how to understand it or improve. And then when she came to Summit, her teacher and her mentor (yes, each child at Summit has a mentor they work with on individualized learning plans – and this mentor stays with them until they graduate) worked with her and they discovered that she learned differently than the other kids, so instead of teaching her oneway that was not her way, they allowed her to learn in her own way. They taught to that specific child. And guess what? She said she’s now ahead in math, but more importantly, she told me she used to hate going to school, but now she wakes up every morning and can’t wait to go!
I know there are funding issues and administration issues and legislative issues and union issues…all the “yeah buts” that people stake their positions on so vehemently. Here’s my “yeah but” – I wish we could channel that passion differently, I wish the “opposed” people could have the experience I had today…to see a child’s eyes light up and watch her confidence emerge. It was one of those soft, seminal moments in my life. In that moment, I knew this child’s life, her trajectory, could completely change. Sometimes, the biggest changes start small – one child at a time, one school at a time. We can figure this out, people.
Please don’t close these schools.
The League of Education Voters applauds Washington state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling declaring public charter schools unconstitutional.
As the Attorney General pointed out, the Court’s ruling goes even beyond public charter schools, and calls into question the constitutionality of other public education programs, like Running Start and Tribal Compact Schools.
In 2012, voters made Washington the 42nd state to allow public charter schools. We hope the Supreme Court will act to not overturn the voice of the voters of Washington state. If not, the legislature must step in to fulfil the will of the voters.
Parents from Seattle to Spokane have made the choice for their nearly 1,300 students that public charter schools are the best education option for their child. Whether it’s the Supreme Court or the Legislature, courageous actions must be taken to ensure the nine public charter schools continue to operate, student’s learning doesn’t get disrupted and this public school choice remains a future option for parents and students across the state.
Along with Attorney General Ferguson, former Attorney Generals Rob McKenna, Chris Gregoire, Ken Eikenberry and Slade Gorton disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
This morning former Washington state Governor and former Attorney General Chris Gregoire was interviewed by KING 5 and gave her views on the Supreme Court’s charter school decision and McCleary. Below are some excerpts from the interview. See the interview here (charter school and education discussion starts at 7:49)
On the Supreme Court’s charter school ruling:
“As a lawyer and Attorney General I’m surprised at the majority opinion. I think the minority opinion on that case is spot on.”
“Even more surprising to me than the outcome of the case is the timing of it. The case had sat before the court for some time and then it issues its opinion on the eve of when these students are going to go to school. These parents are expecting their students to go to these schools.”
“The court has to be aware of the implications of a decision like this and what it means to the children and the families when they have their children all scheduled to go to school and then are put on a moments notice that your kid has no place to go. Not right. Not fair,”
“We’ve got a long way to go to fully fund education as defined by the legislature in a bill that I signed as Governor. No question about it. They made good progress this last legislative session. I want to give them credit, but I find it unprecedented that they’ve held the legislature in contempt when the deadline has not yet hit.”
“The legislature needs to use its process to get the job done. I’m leaning on the legislature. The court needs to understand the separation of the branches of government and understand that to hold them in contempt while they still haven’t met the deadline is unprecedented in the country.”
A child’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions from early learning through postsecondary education. The League of Education Voters (LEV) is pleased to release its vision for an expanded definition of basic education.
Washington’s policymakers have spent much time, money, and intellectual capital trying to overhaul our state’s education funding system—multiple task forces, studies, work groups, legislative efforts—and yet, we lack a plan for ample, equitable, and stable funding. In addition, our definition of “basic education”—what this funding system is supposed to pay for—doesn’t go far enough to prepare our kids for college or career.
The Washington State Supreme Court found that the state was violating its constitutional obligation to amply fund basic education in the McCleary v. State of Washington funding case. Lawmakers were given a 2018 deadline to fix how we fund basic education. The passage of Initiative 1351 to lower K–12 class sizes statewide magnifies the intense pressure on the Legislature to determine a viable funding plan for public education. Though the 2018 deadline looms, the Court found the Legislature in “contempt of court” last fall, giving them until the end of the 2015 legislative session to make significant progress on a funding plan. While the funding issues are paramount to the Court, this time frame provides a unique opportunity to reflect on what our kids really need from our public education system to succeed. (more…)