League of Education Voters http://educationvoters.org Building a quality public education system from cradle to career. Fri, 24 Apr 2015 22:54:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fully funding basic education http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/16/fully-funding-basic-education/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/16/fully-funding-basic-education/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 19:06:49 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24378 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.

In the past few days, multiple proposals have been introduced. The proposal from Senator Bruce Dammeier is the most comprehensive in its recommended system reforms. It limits local levy funding for expenses that are not “basic,” meaning that teacher salaries would be covered by the state. This will make teacher salary increases more uniform statewide, facilitating more equitable compensation for teachers from district to district and freeing up local levy funding for supplemental program costs, as originally intended.

In addition, for the first time, healthcare for all K–12 employees would also be covered by the state. The proposal saves the state money and increases quality of coverage for thousands of employees. It will reduce out-of-pocket costs for most K–12 employees, especially those with families.

The proposal also includes increases to starting teacher salaries. In Washington, starting base pay for beginning teachers is $34,048. Changes to our state’s compensation system are necessary to attract, retain, and reward quality teaching. Our current system pays too little for starting teachers, is results-blind, and is too focused on time served and degrees earned rather than the difficulty of the job, student growth, and career ladders.

To finance the reforms in his proposal, Senator Dammeier includes a property tax reform concept as a first step. The proposal also includes regional adjustments to ensure that communities with the lowest assessed properties would receive additional resources. The financing plan would be phased in over a two-year period, during the 2017–19 biennium, giving school districts time to prepare. We are still analyzing if the proposal completely funds the plan or if additional resources might be needed to make it work.

The League of Education Voters thanks our leaders in Olympia for their ongoing hard work, refusal to accept the status quo, and commitment to ensuring a high-quality public education for each Washington student, from cradle to career. We will continue to work them to create an ample, equitable, and stable funding system for our schools.

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: April 15 http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/15/korsmos-weekly-roundup-april-15/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/15/korsmos-weekly-roundup-april-15/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:00:55 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24319 If you’re a baseball fan, the new rules intended to speed up the game are likely a welcome relief. Unfortunately, those same rules don’t apply to the legislative session. This session, once on track for an on-time ending, is now cruising at a speed close to stop—as if stuck in a perpetual pitching change. I won’t use the “righty” or “lefty” metaphor to describe the whole thing, because we’d be looking at a third arm to save this game. And, well, that’s a tortured metaphor even I can’t do.

The current debate—if you can call it that, with both sides pretty much just ignoring the other—centers on an age old polemic: taxes. Whether to raise, what to raise, etc., etc.—Voters, much like the legislators representing them, seem split according to a new Elway poll. Though the divide could be that folks didn’t buy into the forced choice: raise taxes and fully fund education, or don’t raise taxes and cut social services. A choice that hasn’t been forced in the Legislature, and likely won’t be.

One huge education budget item that policymakers will have to deal with is how and whether to fund the class-size initiative. Both the House and Senate fund further reductions to class size from kindergarten through third grade, as they are part of the State’s definition of basic education. From there, the Senate would send the initiative back to the voters, to ask whether they really want to spend $3.8 billion in this way. The House objects to this, but doesn’t provide a solution to the initiative beyond the K–3 funding. Meanwhile, Superintendent Randy Dorn released his own plan. Team LEV applauds his call for reducing the reliance on local levies and reforming the teacher compensation system.

Get your own take on the budgets next week and hear directly from Sen. Andy Hill and Rep. Ross Hunter in our upcoming LEVinar series.

A piece of good news, early learning seems somewhat immune to political—or even jurisdictional—controversy. The state budget will likely fund the Early Start Act. And Seattle begins implementing its pre-K initiative.

On other fronts, the conversation over the new state learning standards and their assessments continues to get lots of ink and air. While there is widespread support for the standards, the response to the assessments is varied. Driven in large part by misinformation and touch of hysteria, an opt-out “movement” threatens to wreak havoc on our ability to know whether kids are actually learning the standards. Thankfully, here in Washington, the problem seems somewhat isolated to that special snowflake we call Seattle.

Meanwhile, in the other Washington, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have hammered out a compromise on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The “Every Child Achieves Act” maintains federal requirements for statewide assessments, but changes much of the accountability framework of the “No Child Left Behind Act.” The bill has a long way to go, as it begins the journey through the rest of the Senate before going over to the House.

A couple of good reads for this week:

That’s it for right now. You can find updates on state policy here. As always, thanks for all you do on behalf of Washington’s kids.

Chris (and Team LEV)


Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup is emailed to subscribers weekly and posted on our blog on Fridays during the 2015 legislative session. Sign up to receive Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup via email.

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Possibly the best budget for education in our history http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/08/possibly-the-best-budget-for-education-in-our-history/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/08/possibly-the-best-budget-for-education-in-our-history/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 21:30:25 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24309 Last week, our CEO Chris Korsmo was cautiously optimistic when she wrote about the proposed budgets, saying that Washington was “heading in the right direction on education funding.”

This week, I will go one step further. By the end of this legislative session, what we will see is possibly the best budget for education in the history of the State.

Yes, that is a bold statement, especially with so many issues still unaddressed. However, we can see that the Legislature will invest more comprehensively across the spectrum of education than they ever have.

The 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.

Below, I elaborate on the supports added, as well as some of the supports still needed, in early learning, K–12 education, and higher education that will bring Washington closer to providing all students access to a public education system that prepares them to succeed and provides them the opportunities to reach that success

Early learning

Washington state has made steady progress over the years in increasing access to high-quality early learning. While that progress has been meaningful, it has also left far too many children without care and far too many in poor care.

This year, our Legislature is poised to increase access to high-quality early learning and dramatically increase the quality and viability of our childcare system.

In addition to this meaningful step, we need to ensure that children get continuity of service. The current approach causes too many children to cycle into and out of care due to fluctuations in their family’s income levels. We need to ensure stability in their lives by guaranteeing meaningful timeframes for service and end the month-to-month approach to maintaining eligibility for childcare.

K–12 education

While the Washington State Supreme Court has held the Legislature’s collective feet to the fire, we will have two successive budgets that make major investments in K–12 education. Our state will continue on a legitimate path toward satisfying major parts of our obligations to our public schools, including fully funding full-day kindergarten by 2016–2017 and fully funding school materials, supplies, and operating costs (collectively referred to as “MSOC”). Both the House and Senate also added funding for guidance counselors, family engagement personnel, and services for English Language Learner (ELL) students. In addition, K–12 teachers, who have not received cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) since 2008, will finally receive them with this budget. Over one million Washington students will benefit from this budget. This in undeniable and laudable progress.

But so far we have seen no progress on the vexing issue of local levies being used to pay for basic education. Untying this knot is as complicated as anything in state politics (think revising the entire tax code at the federal level for a comparison). However, left unresolved, this issue not only leaves thorny legal issues, it also ensures continued inequities in access for students, wasted state investments, uneven pay for our teachers, and intractable financial challenges for local districts. We must end the use of local levies to pay for state obligations to our schools and fund a rational salary and benefit system for our public school employees.

Higher education

Given where we were a few short years ago, when higher education was used as the ATM machine to balance the budget (higher education took a 50 percent cut between 2008 and 2013), the change is as positive as it is breathtaking.

At a minimum, tuition will be held at current levels and may even go down. Faculty and staff at both two- and four-year institutions will receive long-delayed increases in pay. Targeted investments in high-need areas will be made. The financial solvency of the successful College Bound Scholarship Program is maintained.

As we head toward the final deal, the last piece of the puzzle is to ensure that we make progress in addressing the waiting list for the State Need Grant. Low-income families and people in transition from one career to another are the most price-sensitive consumers of higher education. While the potential for a tuition decrease is meaningful to many Washington families, it is not a deal maker for those that still cannot afford higher education. We must address funding for the State Need Grant and access for the more than 30,000 Washingtonians who want to go to college but cannot afford to.

Last fall, I urged our lawmakers to keep the “art of compromise” in mind as they worked together on a path forward that provided ample, equitable, and sustainable funding for public education in our state. With these budgets, I am pleased to say that we are closer than ever before to achieving just that.

We are planning a Lunchtime LEVinar series this month on education funding in the budget, Finding Our Way Forward. Stay tuned for more information or sign up for event announcements!

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Celebrating our 2015 Donors: First Quarter http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/07/celebrating-our-2015-donors-first-quarter/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/07/celebrating-our-2015-donors-first-quarter/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 17:00:43 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24279 January 1–March 31, 2015

Thank you2015 has gotten off to a great start. Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors who gave generously at our annual breakfast on March 26, 2015!

Donations are made to the League of Education Voters (LEV) and the LEV Foundation by individuals, groups, and businesses throughout the community. These generous donations from those who believe in high-quality public education allow us to ensure measurable progress toward LEV’s vision that every student in Washington state has access to an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

We regret any omissions or errors to the donor list. Please contact our Development Manager, Jackie Schultz, by emailing jackie@educationvoters.org or by calling 206.728.6448 with any questions or to correct any information.

Donor Names

Courtney Acitelli Malcolm Grothe Mary Ellen O’Keeffe
Anne Adams Kacey Guin Colleen Oliver
Alaska Airlines Clarence Gunn Ordinary People Foundation
Rachelle Alston Erin Gustafson Frank Ordway
Glenn Anderson Cathy Habib Vicki Orrico
Anonymous Nick & Leslie Hanauer Pacific Coast Feather Company
Anonymous Edie Harding Alan Painter
Anonymous Kevin Harrang Deborah Parsons
Apex Foundation Leah Hausman Betty Patu
Lesley & Jim Austin Leanne Hawkins John Pehrson
Janis Avery and Mary Kabrich Linda Hendrickson Melissa Pendelton
Dea Barnett Jean Hernandez Jeff Petty
Destiny Bassett David Hill Susan Pierson Brown
Russ Beard Lindsay Hill Thomas Pitchford
Pamela Belyea Aaron Hilliard Mona Pitre-Collins
Heidi Bennett Kathryn Hobbs Mary Lynne Poole
Karen Besserman Charles Hoff Dave Powell
The Boeing Company Ross Hogin Tamara Power-Drutis
Bezos Family Foundation Ray Holmdahl Laurel Preston
The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation Lisa and Sam Howe Verhovek Mitch Price
Alexandra Blackstone Jason Huff Marquita Prinzing
J. Paul Blake Ashley Hulsey Kathy Putt
Stephan Blanford Jim Hurley Lyle Quasim
Frank Blethen Peter Hussey Rene Radcliff Sinclair
David Bley Andrea Insley Tony Ramsey
Paul and Debbi Brainerd Dena Isaac Brinton (Brinnie) Ramsey
Heather Bridges Thelma Jackson Sheri Ranis
Theresa Britschgi Trudi Jackson Jon Reingold
Doug Brown Debrena and Kiana Jackson Gandy Sarah Reyneveld
Tom Brubaker Marty Jacobs Mian Rice
Bill Bryant Betsy Johnson Tom Riley
Diane Buckley Katherine Johnson Judy Rogers
Tom Bugert Alex and Kimberly Johnston Matt Rosenberg
Tim Burgess Jene Jones Dave Rule
Malia Burns Erin Kahn Renee Russak
Sarah Butcher Katherine Kaiser Angela Russell
Kurt Buttleman Ata Karim Naria Santa Lucia
Terry Byington Jennifer Karls David Schaefer
Sylvester Caan IV Thomas Kelly Juliette Schindler Kelly
Christine Campbell Jillian Killby School Employees Credit Union of Washington
Greg Canova and Barbara Linde Paul Killpatrick Cheryl Schulz
Allison Capen and Mark Iverson Caroline King Kiana Scott
Cerillion Partners K & L Gates Carol Scott Kasner
Michael Cheever Susan Klastorin The Seattle Times
Lisa Chick Katherine Kleitsch Pete Sechler
Lisa Chin Danette Knudson Adel Sefrioui
Betsy Cohen Mike Komola John Sharify
College Success Foundation Arik Korman Gene Sharratt
Christy Collins Chris Korsmo Barry Shaw
Lance and Marilyn Colyar Diane Kroll Bill Shaw
Stephan Coonrod Alison Krupnick Mike Sheehan
Karen Cooper Lee Lambert Tracy Sherman
Julie Cooper Mary Beth Lambert Adam and Sarah Sherman
Karen Cooper LaVerne Lamoureux Kimberly Shin
Lynn Coriano Steve and Janet Leahy Christine Shotwell
Juan Cotto Sherry Lehmann Byron Shutz
Aileen Cronin Seth Levy Beth Sigall
Bruce Dammeier Yuyun Lewis Carolyn Simpson
Steve Daschle Kristina Libby Priya Singh
Jessica de Barros Tracy Libros Ekkarath Sisavatdy
Heidi De Laubenfels Steve Litzow Walter Sive and Cheryl Ellsworth
Tania de Sa Campos Amy Liu Catherine Smith
Michael And Marie DeBell Jenny Lockwald Amy Spinelli
Lisa Decker Grindell Lisa and Ross Macfarlane Nelle Steele
John D. Delafield Bill MacGeorge Denise Stiffarm
DHM Research Cathy MacLeod Susan Sullivan
Cheryl Di Re Peter Maier and Liz Tennant Shirley Sutton
Carmela Dillino Caroline Maillard Catherine Sweeney
Wendy Durst Angus Mairs Anne Tarver
EcoNorthwest Paola Maranan Mary Theisen
Deb Eddy Sarah Margeson Jennifer Thompson
Frank Edgar Kimberly Martinez Thrive Washington
Susann Edmond Harium Martin-Morris Lynne Tucker
Lisa Eggers Dawn Mason Tulalip Tribes
John Engber Matt Matson United Way of King County
Meeghan Engberg Marcie Maxwell Carol Van Noy
Walter Euyang Kristina Mayer Tom & Karen Vander Ark
Kelly Evans Marian McDermott Jake Vela
Cary Evans Joanne McEachen Vulcan Inc.
Rick Farmer Lauren McGuire Jill Wakefield
Mary Fertakis Rob McKenna Liz Warman
Fidelity Charitable Gifts McKinstry Kevin Washington
Bill Fleming and Steven B. Zeliadt Bob McNamara Washington State University
Kathryn Flores Gil Mendoza Yolanda Watson Spiva
Beth Foster Jennifer Merkel and Chris Charles Suzanne Weaver
Kyle Frankiewich Alison Meryweather Vicki Weeks
Thomas Franta Tom Mesaros Pam Weeks
Jim Fridley Maggie Meyers Tom Weeks and Deborah Oyer
David Frockt Microsoft Corporation Bob Weeks and Sally Shintaffer
Carol Frodge Steve Miller John & Lisa Welch
Sandi Fukumoto Susan Mitchell Ronna Weltman
Mark Funk Jessica Monger Scott Wetstone
C. Gants Cliff Monlux Sara Wetstone
Jill Geary & Neil Beaton Erik Morgan Sam Whiting
Kevin Geiger Sara Morris Jen Wickens
Connie Gerlitz Pam Morris Maggie Wilkens
Stacy Gillett Katie Mosehauer Cindi Williams
Heather Gingerich Kelly Munn Jill Williams
Anthony Gittens Isabel Munoz Colon Lilna Williams
Susan Goding Marty and Melissa Nelson D.C. Wolf
Rebecca Goehner Dean Nielsen Elaine Woo
Ben Golden Stephen Nielsen Kristen Woodward
Meg Goldman Roxana Norouzi Larry Wright
Ann Goos Jessica Norouzi Gerald Wright
Barry Goren Eileen Norton and Patricia Bettasso John Wyble
Jon Gould Manuel & Vange Ocasio Hochheimer Florencia Ybarra
Daniel Greenstein Ann O’Doherty Evelyn Yenson
Howard Greenwood Gary Oertli Dan Youmans
Ryan Groshong Mari Offenbecher Jenny Young
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Activist of the Month: Dakoda Foxx http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/06/activist-of-the-month-dakoda-foxx/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/06/activist-of-the-month-dakoda-foxx/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 17:00:05 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24267 At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for April: Dakoda Foxx. Read more about Dakoda’s advocacy and activism in her community.

Dakoda FoxxDakoda Foxx’s advocacy work began close to home in 2011, after her daughter was suspended for 100 days. Dakoda knew this “wasn’t right,” so she went to TeamChild to talk to them about her daughter’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) and her options for reengagement. Through her conversations about school discipline, Dakoda learned that many parents in her Puyallup community had children facing the same issues.

From there, she began advocating in earnest. Dakoda advocated at all levels—from doorbelling to testifying about discipline. In 2012, Dakoda began looking for organizations who would work on legislation about school discipline, and that’s how she learned that the League of Education Voters was already working on Senate Bill 5946.

The rest, as they say, is history. Dakoda has continued testifying about school discipline and closing the gaps on a regular basis—most recently in support of Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos’ bill on closing the achievement gap (HB 1541). Shortly before that testimony, Dakoda also spoke at the March State Board of Education meeting in Tacoma about transforming school discipline.

One thing that Dakoda strongly believes is that you cannot silo an issue like school discipline without looking at the larger implications—you cannot transform school discipline without looking at the opportunity and achievement gaps; likewise, you cannot close the gaps without looking at school discipline. “You have to focus on both—they’re symptoms of a greater problem.”

Dakoda also stresses the role of cultural competency in closing gaps. “Kids act out when they feel they are not being heard or represented. They’re also watching, and they know when schools don’t care or aren’t being held accountable.”

League of Education Voters Community Organizer Joyce Yee describes Dakoda as a “fantastic advocate for families and children,” always willing to go the extra mile. In her spare time, Dakoda volunteers at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and at her local Boys and Girls Club.

Going forward, Dakoda plans to continue focusing on school discipline. “We need to actually do what we promised to do with the new law. Right now, a lot of people are talking, while doing nothing.” And, Dakoda plans to add her energy to efforts to ensure that low-income students have access to the supports they need to successfully complete college.

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: April 3 http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/03/korsmos-weekly-roundup-april-3/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/03/korsmos-weekly-roundup-april-3/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 23:00:07 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24291 My dad used to say “there are at least two sides to every story. But the truth is always somewhere in the middle.” As far as I could tell, he didn’t have telepathic powers, and if he did, I’m not sure he would have predicted the varied responses to the budget proposals released over this past week. The House has managed to push their proposal through the floor, while the Senate has bogged down a bit in a sea of amendments. The Senate is expected to clear their bill by early next week and then the real fun begins. Making one out of two. Like a legislative version of an arranged wedding from hell.

With only four weeks left until the curtain falls on the legislative session, and with both sides agreeing to a boatload of new cash into education, it might seem that there’s little to debate.

Well, kids, money can’t buy you love—something that should be abundantly clear to House Democrats, as this week’s political theatre on the ESEA waiver legislation showed. While nearly every other state has figured out how to include statewide testing as a measure—A measure, not THE measure—of student growth, (as a factor—A factor, not THE factor—in teacher evaluations) we are mired in one of the most roundabout debates to come this way in a while. Which is saying something for a place that makes up its mind by voting over and over again on issues until everyone is just plain weary of the whole darn thing.

Btw, folks are asking, which budget proposal is better? Well, depends which part of it you’re focused on. Both chambers put more than a billion dollars of new investments into education. The House version put more into Early Start and expanded access to higher ed through the State Need Grant; the Senate version lowered college tuition but did not expand the State Need Grant. Both fund full-day kindergarten (FDK) at close to the same rate. Both invest in class-size reduction—without explicitly funding initiative 1351—though the House version doesn’t actually require that the money be used for that purpose. Both fund materials, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC) at $741 million. And both fully fund the College Bound Scholarship program. The House version leaves a lot of money on the table for local bargaining. The Senate version leaves less. Neither addresses the Supreme Court’s admonition that it is the State’s responsibility to fully fund the staff it takes to run an education program and no one yet touches the use of local levies to backfill the state’s obligation. I look for both of those things to change in the coming weeks. Or as my dad would say, looking to find the middle ground here, where the truth lives.

Multimedia: Every day I receive links to podcasts, TED talks, YouTube videos, etc.—they may fill your inbox, too. Too often I don’t have the time carved out that these opportunities require. After experiencing the three I’ll share today, I’m re-thinking that. They’re not cute. Or funny. There are no cats playing pianos. And they will stay with you.

That’s all for this week—there’s always more, and you can find some of it here. As always, thanks for all you do on behalf of Washington’s students.

Chris (and Team LEV)


Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup is emailed to subscribers weekly and posted on our blog on Fridays during the 2015 legislative session. Sign up to receive Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup via email.

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Join Joyce Yee for Coffee: April Meetings http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/02/join-joyce-yee-for-coffee-april-meetings/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/02/join-joyce-yee-for-coffee-april-meetings/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 17:00:31 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24241 Joyce YeeI invite you to join me over coffee for a series of informal meetings to share your stories and discuss how to advocate for education to our policymakers.

This is a critical year for education. We are working to ensure that increases in education funding—as a result of McCleary v. Washington or other efforts—are ample, equitable, stable, and targeted toward evidenced-based strategies that improve access and outcomes for all students. Our vision for public education is one that guarantees every Washington student the opportunity for a high-quality education from early learning through the first two years of college.

I am holding two different types of coffee meetings multiple times each month:

  1. The first is a way to share your stories and hear about what is happening in your community. Chat with us about your experiences advocating for change in your community and get to know your neighbors and community members better!
  2. The second is a way to share your stories and learn how to best share those stories with your policymakers. Chat with us about your hopes and practice advocacy work—from written or online messages to our legislators to phone calls, from in-person meetings with legislators to townhall meetings.

These are both drop-in meetings. Please stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee on me!

Below are the scheduled coffee meetings for the month of April.

I hope you will join me! If you have any questions, please contact me at Joyce@educationvoters.org or 206.251.2629.

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Heading in the right direction http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/01/heading-in-the-right-direction/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/04/01/heading-in-the-right-direction/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 23:00:11 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24271 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.

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: March 30 http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/30/korsmos-weekly-roundup-march-30/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/30/korsmos-weekly-roundup-march-30/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:00:05 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24253 It was wonderful to see so many of you last Thursday at our breakfast! Thank you to those who made it—I hope you found the event as inspiring as I did. A huge thank you to our speakers, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, President of WSU; Dr. Jill Wakefield, Chancellor of Seattle Colleges; Frank Blethen, Publisher of The Seattle Times; and Kaysiana Hazelwood and Midheta Djuderija, two students with big dreams. Their stories were just amazing. And important reminders why we do this work.

Speaking of the work, now’s the time when it gets interesting. With just four weeks left in the (scheduled) session, conversation is turning to the state budget. The House Democrats’ budget was released Friday. The Senate Republican version should come out in the next few days. Neither budget will pass whole-cloth, but they’re both important in signaling the priorities of either chamber. The House budget, for example, proposes closing tax loopholes and creating new taxes, while remaining silent on the property tax issues that vexed the Supreme Court in their school funding decision.

The House funds the education continuum, from early learning through higher education, something we expect from the Senate budget proposal as well. The House doesn’t fund the class-size initiative (1351), but rather funds class size in K–3 and leaves it to local bargaining to decide where the money goes. A paradox, to be sure. It’s a step backward from how we fund class size in K–3 now, where the money is targeted specifically for that purpose and not left to local bargaining. However, it doesn’t throw billions at reducing class size in 4–12, a definite positive. By the way, a lawsuit will be filed challenging the constitutionality of 1351 later this week.

While we’re on the topic of money, a House hearing today (Monday) on the state’s lost waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act was expected to bring fireworks. These days, calling for accountability will draw fire. Despite widespread support for legislation to restore the waiver, including a Senate vote, the issue seems mired in a stew of politics, confusion, and misinformation. Today’s political theatre likely won’t solve that. (By the way, if you’re wondering who LEV stands with, it’s with the governor and the thousands of low-income kids whose education are put at risk by the loss of control over $40 million in Title 1 funds.)

In happier news, two Washington schools have received recognition for their significant improvements in student outcomes this past year. Lakeridge Elementary School in Renton used longer school days as part of their recipe for a turnaround. Rainier Beach High School in Seattle is being heralded for big improvements in graduation rates—the result of “hard work.” Congratulations to both of these schools.

While there’s always more to tell you, that’s going to be a wrap for this time. We’ll come back at you later this week with a look at the Senate budget proposal and the rest of the edu-news. As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of Washington’s students.

Chris (and Team LEV)


Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup is emailed to subscribers weekly and posted on our blog on Fridays during the 2015 legislative session. Sign up to receive Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup via email.

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Kaysiana and Midheta share their stories http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/26/kaysiana-and-midheta-share-their-stories/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/26/kaysiana-and-midheta-share-their-stories/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:00:00 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24243 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.

Kaysiana Hazelwood

Kaysiana HazelwoodGood morning. I am Kaysiana Hazelwood and I am a senior at West Seattle High school. I will graduate in June this year.

The College Bound Scholarship has played a big part in my decision to go to college. I learned about the College Bound Scholarship in the 8th grade and once I heard about what it was for, I knew I had to sign up. The scholarship was a promise to me that college was attainable, and from that point on, I knew what I was going to accomplish. However, the path to get there has not always been straight and narrow.

High school has been a bumpy ride with the ups and downs that come with it. I am the second oldest of five siblings and my mom is a single parent, so we are all expected to contribute to our house. When my mom had to work long hours, I was expected to step up and help with my siblings. Almost every day in 8th grade, I was responsible for getting my younger brothers from school and day care right after school, walking us all down to the bus stop to get home, and making sure my brothers were fed and that the house was clean. I was responsible for doing the same thing the start of 9th grade and my grades didn’t take that so well.

In my junior year, a new program was introduced to me and I only knew of this because of the College Bound Scholarship. That is also how they knew about me. The program was called the Achiever’s Scholar Program. It is a free college prep program offered through the College Success Foundation. Through it, I got so much more support from mentors, advisors, and even from my school counselors. They helped make sure I was on the right track to go to college and able to use my College Bound Scholarship and do something with my life.

Being a part of the Achievers Program, I got to go to a camp at Pacific Lutheran University during the summer before my senior year. This camp is called ACE, which stands for Achievers College Experience. We were able to experience what college would be like for three days and two nights. We got to sleep in dorms, use meal cards, explore the campus, and just generally see what it is like to be in college. It was so much fun and serious at the same time. We had a talent show, talked about the ACT/SAT, and they gave us some very useful advice. It was exciting and overwhelming. The campus was big and there was lots and lots of walking. I got lost a few times but I found my way. Overall, it was an experience that made me excited for senior year and what would come after it.

This year, after I graduate in June, I will be attending Seattle Central College to pursue early childhood education and later transfer to WSU to earn my teaching degree.

I’ve heard the statistics for kids who come from single parent households, who have lower levels of education and higher dropout rates, but I will be not be a statistic. I will become the first person in my family to graduate from college.

The College Bound Scholarship plays a big part in that.

In order to prove to myself—as well as everyone else that I could be successful, all I needed was a starting point. For me, the College Bound Scholarship was my starting point.

Thank you.

Midheta Djuderija

Midheta DjuderijaHello, my name is Midheta Djuderija and I am currently in my second year of college at University of Washington. Truthfully, it feels surreal to be standing before you all as a university student because there was a point in my life when I didn’t think that was possible for me.

I came to America before my 5th birthday. I was born in the genocide-torn country of Bosnia. I was a war baby; born towards the end of the war. My father was a solider which kept him away from home so much. I only saw him about once every month in those early years. At that time, survival was a priority for our family, not education. It wasn’t until I came to America that my priorities shifted.

Starting school in America, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was never in ELL, thanks to watching Dragon Tales as a child while my mom went back to the community college for an early childhood education associates degree. However, I was the tall, Eastern European girl who was just trying to figure out how the education system worked. Any privilege I may have had was taken away from me when people heard my name: Midheta Djuderija. They would reply with “That’s… odd,” and then immediately ask, “Where are you from?” When I would say Bosnia, they replied with, “Oh, I’m sorry.” I always wondered what they were sorry about.

Then in middle school, I remember being introduced to the College Bound Scholarship. It was easy to sign up for, and I was told that if I kept my grades up it would follow me through high school, all the way through college. This was such a motivation for me. College scholarships, like College Bound, would be my only guarantee of a college education. My dad works long, tiring hours driving trucks for the airport. Although my mom was a trained educator in Bosnia, her education was not looked at the same way here. She has not been able to work in her chosen profession and has been unemployed for a number of years now due to ongoing illnesses.

With opportunities like the College Bound Scholarship, I was given hope. As a College Bound Scholar, I was motivated to keep my grades up because I knew a reward was to come for my hard work. And I kept up with my grades in high school, even while taking classes at the community college through running start. Loe and behold, I got accepted to the University of Washington.  As I planned to start college at UW, there was no doubt in my mind that my parents were proud of me. But equal to the pride they felt that I’d be pursuing a college education, I knew that financial costs would be a concern. Scholarships such as College Bound were helpful in calming their worries.

Not only has the College Bound Scholarship helped me, but numerous other families in need. Even my younger sister, who is a senior in high school this year will be benefiting from it. And my cousin, who desperately needs the financial assistance after being raised by a single mother due to his father’s incarceration. The College Bound Scholarship is there to support families from all different backgrounds, all that matters is our drive to succeed and willingness to put in the work.

With an opportunity like the College Bound Scholarship, I was given the chance to go to college and be exposed to many things that have inspired me to take action with issues I am passionate about; I care about empowering younger girls, I care about discrimination with health insurance, I care about first generation college students pursing competitive degrees, and I care about children with mental illness who suffered neglect in early childhood.

I have learned a lot about life, the world, and how I can positively affect change. Having a college education will allow me to have a greater impact on these things.

Here before you is the little refugee girl from Bosnia. After a little over a decade in America, I am pursing a degree in nursing at one of the top public universities in the country. All of this is possible thanks to wonderful opportunities like the College Bound Scholarship.

Thank you to both of these inspiring young students for sharing their stories with us. Learn more about the College Bound Scholarship Program.

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