League of Education Voters http://educationvoters.org Building a quality public education system from cradle to career. Tue, 01 Dec 2015 20:40:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Longtime LEV lobbyist to join the state Department of Early Learning http://educationvoters.org/2015/11/13/longtime-lev-lobbyist-to-join-the-state-department-of-early-learning/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/11/13/longtime-lev-lobbyist-to-join-the-state-department-of-early-learning/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 16:32:47 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24900 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.


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One Seattle Parent: Making A Non-Political Case For Charter Schools http://educationvoters.org/2015/11/12/one-seattle-parent-making-a-non-political-case-for-charter-schools/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/11/12/one-seattle-parent-making-a-non-political-case-for-charter-schools/#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2015 21:53:10 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24895 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.

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LEV applauds WA state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its public charter school ruling http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/25/lev-applauds-wa-states-attorney-general-bob-fergusons-request-to-the-washington-supreme-court-to-reconsider-its-public-charter-school-ruling/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/25/lev-applauds-wa-states-attorney-general-bob-fergusons-request-to-the-washington-supreme-court-to-reconsider-its-public-charter-school-ruling/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 21:47:29 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24849 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.

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Former Gov. Gregoire calls court ruling on charters “Not right. Not fair” http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/18/former-gov-gregoire-calls-court-ruling-on-charters-not-right-not-fair/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/18/former-gov-gregoire-calls-court-ruling-on-charters-not-right-not-fair/#comments Fri, 18 Sep 2015 23:21:04 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24837 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,”

On McCleary:
“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.”

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Supreme Court Leaves Kids in Limbo http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/08/charter_ruling/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/08/charter_ruling/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 01:30:38 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24829 The Washington State Supreme Court issued a devastating ruling late on Friday afternoon, prior to a 3-day weekend and after charter schools had already started their year, declaring the way the state funds public charter schools unconstitutional.

The ruling puts the immediate future of over 1200 students in jeopardy. In addition to public charter schools, the ruling may impact tribal compact schools, Running Start, and other programs that do not fit into the Court’s narrow view of what can be funded with education dollars. Many strategies aimed at addressing the state’s achievement and opportunity gaps are at risk.

The parents with children in these schools, and the advocates who support them, will continue to work to ensure these schools stay open now and into the future.

  • Teams of supporters are reviewing the Court ruling and preparing a legal response.
  • Options for keeping these schools open are being explored.
  • Advocates are asking the Governor and legislators to act immediately to rectify the situation.

You can help by contacting your legislator and asking them to support a technical fix to ensure public charter schools are funded and other investments aimed at closing gaps continue now and into the future.

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Activist of the Month: Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/08/activist-of-the-month-ambassadors-of-lakeview-achieving-success/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/08/activist-of-the-month-ambassadors-of-lakeview-achieving-success/#comments Tue, 08 Sep 2015 16:00:27 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24730 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 September: a student group called the Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success, or ALAS. Read more about ALAS’ work to engage their community.

Students from Ambassadors of  Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS)

Students from Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS)

Maite Cruz testified for the first time ever this summer at the State Board of Education meeting in July. A rising tenth grader, Maite says she was “unbelievably nervous” but was determined to speak up about the importance of setting graduation requirements at a college-ready level (a level ‘3’ cut score) for Smarter Balanced assessments. She learned about the opportunity to testify after meeting League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez at a Pasco Discovery Coalition meeting.

In her testimony, Maite asked the board: “If our own state doesn’t have confidence that we can achieve a ‘3,’ how will we ever have confidence in ourselves that we can succeed?” The State Board ultimately voted to set the cut score mid-way between a ‘2’ and a ‘3,’ but Maite’s testimony moved them. Later that same evening, Maite had the opportunity to sit next to Board Chair Isabel Muñoz-Colón at dinner, who expressed her gratitude for Maite’s testimony.

Along with Maite, her friend Diana Alonso also testified. Both Maite and Diana are members of a student organization, Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS). ALAS formed about four years ago, and Maite says her older brother was one of the founding members when he was in high school. The goal of the group is to grow community engagement in education and cultural events.

When they initially formed the group, ALAS members didn’t want to have any leadership roles—they wanted all of the members to have an equal voice. That turned into one of their “biggest challenges,” says Maite, because it made it much more difficult to stay organized. They ultimately changed their mind and created various roles within the group, with Maite taking on the role of president.

ALAS holds multiple events throughout the year, and one of their biggest events is a week-long summer camp for students in grade K–6. The camp is offered in English and Spanish and is organized entirely by the fifteen teenagers comprising ALAS. This year, ALAS enlisted the help of student teachers from Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, and they provided curriculum for the week.

Each day of the summer camp had a theme. One day, for example, was “Volcano Day,” and the students learned about, and made their own, volcanoes. Students attended the camp, which included lunch and snacks throughout the day, at no cost. This year was the third year of offering a camp; last year’s camp was covered in the Tri-City Herald.

Going forward, Maite says ALAS wants to make a more concerted effort to engage all members of the community, in addition to students. They recently held a community “café event” for 16 families that both parents and students attended. The parents loved the event and enjoyed discussing community-wide concerns and issues. The Pasco School Board President attended the event, as well, and responded positively to the community voice.

ALAS is also planning an event in September in honor of Mexican Independence Day, and they are partnering with a health organization in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

And Maite? She says she’s not sure what she wants to do after high school yet, but she does know that she really wants to help out her community and give back to them in the same way that they have supported her.

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Celebrating our 2015 Donors: Second Quarter http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/03/celebrating-our-2015-donors-second-quarter/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/09/03/celebrating-our-2015-donors-second-quarter/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:29:43 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24771 April 1–July 31, 2015

Thank youDonations 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.

Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors who gave generously during the second quarter of 2015

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

Anne Adams Heather Gingerich Jilda Nettleton
Aurora Lilac Fund Kendall Guthrie and Eric Honea Melissa Pailthorp
Megan Bartot Julie Hankes John Pehrson
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Edie Harding Telca Porras
Anonymous Ramona Hattendorf Karl Quackenbush
Anonymous Janet Hilton Cynthia Raffety
David Bley Ross Hogin Micaela Razo
Boeing Matching Gift Nancy and Hoover Hopkins Sharon Rodgers
Diane Buckley Lisa Jaret Jackie Schultz
Carter Subaru Ruvine Jiménez Tracy Sherman
Judith Chase Betsy Johnson Todd & Carolyn Simpson Family Trust
Child Care Resources Erin and Brad Kahn Jennifer and Robert Stephenson
Christine McCabe Lisa Karl Cory and Karen Stevens
Julie Cooper Barbara Kelley Wendolyn Turkatte
Kate Coxon Kristina Libby United Jewish Foundation
Kimi Credle Amy Y. Liu United Way of King County
David and Cathy Habib Foundation Patrick Long Vulcan Inc.
Maria Ehsan Cathy MacLeod Washington State Charter Schools Association
Christine Enslein Microsoft Matching Gifts Program Kevin C. Washington
William H. Gates Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust Ronna and Jordan Weltman
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LEV applauds Ross Hunter’s appointment as Director of the Department of Early Learning http://educationvoters.org/2015/08/31/lev-applauds-ross-hunters-appointment-as-director-of-the-department-of-early-learning/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/08/31/lev-applauds-ross-hunters-appointment-as-director-of-the-department-of-early-learning/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:48:24 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24735 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.

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Rainier Prep http://educationvoters.org/2015/08/30/rainier-prep/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/08/30/rainier-prep/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 17:00:41 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24713 As our students prepare to head back to school, the League of Education Voters is highlighting a few of the new public charter schools opening this fall. We recently sat down with Rainier Prep’s founding leader Maggie O’Sullivan to hear about the school’s opening.

Students work with a teacher. Photo courtesy of Rainier Prep.School begins at Rainier Prep on September 1 for students in grades 5 and 6. Based in the Highline area of Seattle, Rainier Prep’s mission is to prepare all students to excel at four-year colleges and become leaders in their communities. At full capacity, Rainier Prep will serve grades 5-8.

Rainier Prep will use a model of inquiry- and project-based learning that complements college readiness curriculum. It all comes back to the people, however, according to school founder Maggie O’Sullivan: “The number one difference at Rainier Prep is our teachers and our staff.”

Maggie has taught in and led Washington public schools for more than 18 years as both a teacher and a principal. Her commitment to helping all students succeed is clear through her work. As a principal in Federal Way, Maggie received the Martin Luther King Closing the Achievement Gap Award.

Maggie and the rest of the founding team moved into the school on July 1, and staff began on August 3. All of the students have already met with their advisors and after four days of orientation, school will start tomorrow, on September 1.

Maggie says that the biggest challenge for her in opening a school was simply the “sheer number of details” to track, from registering and welcoming families to making sure they had the correct license for food service.

One of the most gratifying experiences, though, has been the community support. Rainier Prep had 25 volunteers helping to get the school ready on August 14 (Washington’s Charter Champions Day of Service). Families are excited for the school’s opening and have been pitching in to paint or make bulletin for the school. Maggie says that it has been fun to welcome family and community members. Lots of people “just drop by” to learn more about the school and see how things are going.

Maggie says she’s most looking forward to the first day of school. Their board members and supporters will be present to greet the 160 students getting off the school buses for their first day at Rainier Prep. Maggie also describes herself as a “doer, not a planner.” After 2-and-a-half years planning to start a school, Maggie is excited to jump in and get going with the new year.

Learn more about Rainier Prep on their website.

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Spokane International Academy http://educationvoters.org/2015/08/27/spokane-international-academy/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/08/27/spokane-international-academy/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 23:00:11 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24726 As our students prepare to head back to school, the League of Education Voters is highlighting a few of the new public charter schools opening this fall. We recently sat down with Spokane International Academy’s founding director Travis Franklin to hear about the school’s opening.

Students enter their classroom at Spokane International Academy.School began at Spokane International Academy on August 26 for students in kindergarten and in grades 1 and 6. Spokane International Academy’s mission is to “empower students with the academic skills, habits of mind and global competence necessary to complete advanced courses in high school and a four-year college degree in order to become leaders who can powerfully transform their communities in the future.” At full capacity, Spokane International Academy will serve grades K–8.

Spokane International Academy is a Cambridge International School and uses VIF International Learning curriculum, along with an inquiry-based learning model, to develop student global understanding and competence. Students will also learn Spanish as they progress through the school, and their parents will have the opportunity learn alongside them at no cost. Plans are also in the works to take students on international trips to Latin America.

Travis Franklin, the founder and head of Spokane International Academy, came up with the idea for a school five or six years ago, but it wasn’t until Initiative 1240 passed that he thought the school had become a real possibility. Beginning in late 2013 through mid-2014, Travis and other members of the initial design team met bi-weekly to come up with a plan for the school—all while Travis was teaching sixth grade full time.

Travis says that one of the biggest champions along the way was Spokane Public Schools’ Superintendent Shelley Redinger. Spokane Public Schools is also the state’s first district authorizer for public charter schools.

One of the biggest surprises along the way for Travis was how interested the community was in the school, and how supportive they were. For him, it was a “Field of Dreams” moment. He left his teaching job in a great district to build this school and says there were multiple opportunities throughout the process where it would have been easy to give up.

Spokane International Academy opened on Wednesday with phenomenal staff and 172 students, all excited to be there and for the opportunities ahead.

Learn more about Spokane International Academy on their website.

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