League of Education Voters http://educationvoters.org Building a quality public education system from cradle to career. Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:58:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Our View on NPR’s School Money Education Funding Series, Part 2 http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/27/our-view-on-nprs-school-money-education-funding-series-part-2/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/27/our-view-on-nprs-school-money-education-funding-series-part-2/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:56:33 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25509 By the LEV Policy TeamNPR School Money series part 2

On Monday, NPR published the second installment of the “School Money” series. The series aims to illustrate the complexity of the school funding system and examines how money matters to educational outcomes.

The second installment focuses on one essential question: What difference can a dollar make in our schools? Through examples of various education reform efforts across the country, the article attempts to shed light on the ongoing debate of what matters more—the amount of money spent on education or how the money is spent.

The education funding stories of Camden, New Jersey and Revere, Massachusetts are two examples featured. The article highlights the large amount of money that has been invested in Camden’s educational system with limited improvements s in student outcomes. The district’s per pupil spending is nearly double the national average, with the majority of the additional funds going towards combating poverty and educational necessities that have been historically underfunded. In comparison, Revere, MA received additional funding and invested the funds in people—teacher recruitment, professional development, new teaching materials and a technology team. And the results? Massachusetts has moved from ranking in the middle of the pack for student achievement to the top.

The objective of these two examples and the other cases that were sprinkled throughout the piece (early learning and investments in English Learner programs), is to demonstrate that while the amount of money does matter, how that money is spent is equally as important. How effective the investment strategies are also depends greatly on the challenges, political landscapes, and needs in each state, district, and school.  It’s important to remember that whenever tracking the effectiveness of investments we must start at the beginning and not the end (outcomes). Years of systemic discrimination and oppression become more apparent when we begin to invest in schools and districts that have been underfunded for years. To that point, a couple of years or even decades of more investments, even if they are intentional and targeted, will not fix hundreds of years of inequality overnight. But money matters, especially for low income students. The investments need to be stable and sustained and reflective of community needs.

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Our View on NPR’s School Money Education Funding Series http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/20/our-view-on-nprs-school-money-education-funding-series/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/20/our-view-on-nprs-school-money-education-funding-series/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 21:26:17 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25484 NPR School Money series

By the LEV Policy Team

On Monday, NPR launched the first installment of a three week series on education funding. The series is highlighting disparities between states and between districts within the same state. This story shows that Washington is one of many states working towards adequately funding schools and ensuring students who need more support get more support.

This article brings attention to how the local and state share of education funding is generated and why different schools generate different levels of funding support. This point rings especially true for Washington, as it is the over-reliance on school district levies to provide basic education that was a key element of the McCleary Supreme Court ruling in 2012.

According to the article, Washington ranks behind 38 states in the level of funding support for K-12 schools at $9,383 per student. One challenge in comparing per-student spending across states is that the most recent data available is often three years old, making even new ranking lists not reflective of recent changes in education funding. The data used in this analysis is from the 2012-13 school year. For Washington, this means that it does not include any of the $3.2 billion of new investments dedicated to basic education over the last two budget cycles. Including the recent enhancements will boost per-pupil funding amounts in Washington by more than 10% over the per-student amount included in this article.

Washington still has substantial progress to make in fully funding basic education, but it has made significant strides in recent years that are not reflected in the per-student funding ranking of states in the NPR article. It is important to both acknowledge the progress Washington has made in funding education and continue to strongly advocate for equitable and ample education funding.

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Op-Ed: Washington’s community, technical colleges can bridge the skills gap http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/15/op-ed-washingtons-community-technical-colleges-can-bridge-the-skills-gap/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/15/op-ed-washingtons-community-technical-colleges-can-bridge-the-skills-gap/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 18:57:07 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25476 Published in today’s Puget Sound Business Journal

Dr. Amy Morrison Goings is the President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Dr. Amy Morrison Goings is the President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

By Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Recently, the League of Education Voters convened over 400 hundred of our neighbors to discuss the challenges around bridging our state’s skills gap. There are many theories being discussed as to why we are facing a lack of prepared talent across manufacturing and information technology sectors, to name a few. We believe Washington State’s chronic underfunding of public higher education, particularly our 34-member community and technical college system, is one of the reasons why we have these ongoing skills gaps.

The mission of the community and technical colleges is directly related to the viability of our state’s workforce. According to the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, from 2014-2015 Washington state community and technical colleges produced more than 45,000 college awards, including more than 10,000 associate’s degrees and nearly 300 applied baccalaureate degrees (four year degrees that are directly applicable to a graduate’s career aspirations).

Sixty five percent of all new jobs created in the next few years will require some form of a post-secondary credential. Not just a high school diploma and not necessarily a baccalaureate degree, but somewhere in-between. An associate’s degree, or a certificate backed by industry need, or an apprenticeship. Providing relevant, nimble, and industry connected workforce education is at the core mission and talent of the community and technical colleges.

 Even with the strong mission of our colleges, it’s becoming more difficult to close the skills gap, because community and technical colleges are not constitutionally protected in the same way as K12. Unfortunately, our colleges have not been financially supported through the Great Recession to the present day. In fact, today, community and technical colleges are funded per student at pre-2007 levels. Think about if you paid your employees, vendors and partners at 2007 levels. There would be gaps in service. The community and technical colleges are no different.

Those who work in the community and technical colleges system are advocates for the full funding of K12 and early learning, and work very closely with secondary partners to expose students, at an early age, to the two-year colleges. This partnership creates direct routes for students into career opportunities and earning potential that comes with technical preparation.

With that said, we believe most of us would agree that a “basic education” in the 21st century, must include early learning, a fully funded K12 system, and a post-secondary credential.

Through the support of the League of Education Voters, and the unmatched advocacy for K12, early learning, and higher education, especially the community and technical colleges, we will ensure that all Washingtonians can take full advantage of our growing economy and fully participate in the workforce.

We can’t do it alone. We need your help. Work with us to bridge the skills gap by engaging with a community or technical college. Our colleges have expert faculty who come from, and work in, industry, in addition to teaching. Programs have advisory committees that are comprised of business leaders from all different types of industry from aerospace and engineering, to game design and computer security, to welding and machine technology. Give to college foundations so that students have financial support through scholarships. And most importantly talk to your legislators about the value of our state’s community and technical colleges.

By partnering with advocates like the League of Education Voters, you will help send the message that we must fund K12 and stop the disinvestment in higher education. By doing this, we will all be able to give our state a fighting chance to bridge our growing skills gap.

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Education Advocate April 2016 http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/13/education-advocate-april-2016/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/13/education-advocate-april-2016/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:51:14 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25470 ED Advocate, League of Education Voters Newsletter, April 2016

Greetings

Chris Korsmo
Chris Korsmo, CEO

Thank you to those who were able to join us at our annual breakfast two weeks ago.  We enjoyed a thoughtful conversation about helping our kids create personal pathways for success with Lake Washington Institute of Technology President Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, Will Sarett, Director of the NewTech Skill Center, and Mike Sotelo, Co-Founder of the Combined Ethnic Chamber, moderated by Washington Business Alliance President Colleen McAleer

Below, you will find a shout-out to our donors from the first quarter of 2016.  If you supported us at the breakfast, watch for your name in the second quarter report.  Thank you!

With the legislative special session over and the fate of this year’s crop of education bills decided, we can now officially celebrate our wins.  Take a look at Jene Jones’ blog post to cheer for your favorite issues.

Thanks for all you do for kids. We couldn’t do it without you.
  Chris Korsmo signature

 

Chris Korsmo

Celebrating Our Donors

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.

We’d like to take a moment to celebrate our supporters who donated to LEV or the LEV Foundation between January 1 and March 31 of 2016. Thank you!

LEV’s Activist of the Month

WA Charters is April 2016 Activist of the MonthAt 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: WA Charters. Learn how WA Charters helped us save public charter schools. Read more

Hear Chris and See Breakfast Photos

Our 2016 LEV Breakfast panelThank you for making the 2016 League of Education Voters Foundation Breakfast a success!  Hear CEO Chris Korsmo’s inspiring speech and see photos from the event. Learn more

GiveBIG is back!

A strong start for all kids.GiveBIG is back! Support the League of Education Voters Foundation on May 3, 2016, as part of our community’s biggest day of giving of the year.

Start now by following us on Twitter and stay tuned for details.

Get Involved

COMING UP

May 17, 2016 | Lunchtime LEVinar on education funding, Watch for info soon!


HELP SUPPORT THE LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS FOUNDATION
| Donate online


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Celebrating our 2016 Donors: First Quarter http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/13/celebrating-our-2016-donors-first-quarter/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/13/celebrating-our-2016-donors-first-quarter/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:16:06 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25467 January 1–March 31, 2016

Thank youWe are excited about the way 2016 has begun. Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors who gave generously at our annual breakfast on March 31, 2016!  Watch for your names in the Second Quarter report.

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

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation William Conner Julie Cooper
William Ellis The Nick & Leslie Hanauer Foundation Edie Harding
Anonymous Kathleen and Leslie Perry The Raikes Foundation
Beth Sigall Cory and Karen Stevens Washington State Charter Schools Association
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New Achievement Gap Report Generates Concerns http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/12/new-achievement-gap-report-generates-concerns/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/12/new-achievement-gap-report-generates-concerns/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 00:44:00 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25449 By the LEV Policy Team

Education Equality Index slide

The recently released Education Equality Index takes a look at the achievement gap in student performance between low-income students and the whole student population. The report assesses the gap in 35 states and 100 large cities across the country, including Tacoma, Spokane, and Seattle. No state fared well on the index. On a scale of ‘no gap’ to ‘massive gap,’ 9 states’ achievement gaps for low-income students rated ‘large’ while the remaining 26 states have ‘massive’ achievement gaps for low-income students.

The index compares the percentage of low-income students that score proficient on a state assessment to the percentage of the entire student population that scores proficient. A rating score is then determined based on this comparison.  The report authors also adjust scores “to more fairly compare schools [and states] serving a higher percentage of FRL [free and reduced lunch] students.” States with a larger low-income student population receive additional points because of the added ‘challenges’ that accompany serving low-income students. And while there are issues with comparing one student group to the whole student population, addressed here, there are larger philosophical concerns with adding points simply for enrolling large populations of low-income students.

Awarding points for having a large low-income student population sets different expectations for schools, cities, and states serving low-income students, and, ultimately, sets different expectations for the students themselves. While poverty is a challenge, we cannot claim that education is the great equalizer if we allow our systems to count different outcomes as success for different populations of students.

This report reaffirms that we have large and unacceptable achievement gaps for low-income students across the country. But it also highlights that we continue to develop measures that do not further our understanding of how to better serve those students. Adding extra points for the mere enrollment of low-income students does not push schools, cities, or states to better serve students. How do we devise a measurement that acknowledges some students will require more resources and supports, without lowering the bar for systems serving those students? How do we determine what schools, cities, and states are giving kids the extra push they need, celebrate them, and learn from them? How do we encourage systems to guide resources towards students that need them the most?

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2016 Legislative Session Recap http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/12/2016-legislative-session-recap/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/12/2016-legislative-session-recap/#comments Tue, 12 Apr 2016 23:49:55 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25456 By Jene Jones, Government Relations

Jene Jones headshot cropped

Great things happened in Olympia for kids this year. Monumental things. And I’m going to celebrate here. So if you want to fill up your emotional bucket with some extra happy today, read on.

After unprecedented funding investments in schools last session, and new money pre-spent before legislators arrived this session in Olympia on necessary emergencies such as wildfires and unexpected prescription drug costs for WA residents, “manage your expectations” was the refrain to all advocates.

We didn’t. And our kids were prioritized. I’ll provide proof. In case this is as much extra ‘happy’ as you need today and you don’t need details before moving on, I am going to say thank you first. Thank you to the hard working legislators who balance the weight of so many issues – present & future. Thank you to the community members who told stories of their kids and talked about their dreams in Olympia. Thank you for listening, acting, and collaborating. Tim McGraw sings “always stay humble and kind.” I witnessed a lot of humanity this year in the halls and offices of the Capitol. This is the result:

For our littlest learners, additional money was invested in family child care providers so that the teachers can improve the quality of facilities and curriculum offered our precious preschoolers, thus assuring they are ready to thrive in kindergarten.

For our K-12 kids, we now have money to make sure we will no longer be suspending or expelling students for discretionary offenses, and will have better statewide data on demographics of kids to make sure the system is working to keep all students on-track and in school. This will happen in part through new discipline frameworks and trainings which are being developed sensitive to culture and positively supporting all students’ growth. Social Emotional Learning is a proactive way to reduce stress and behaviors associated with it, leaving teachers more time to teach, and students more time to learn. Pilots are being tracked statewide.

In addition, policy was passed aimed at providing in-school support for foster youth, including better information sharing with schools and more adult support to help students navigate frequent changes in school buildings. Our homeless student population is getting increased identification for schools, which will help with in-school support for learning and community partnerships for family housing stability. The early data from Tacoma housing/school partnerships shows fantastic academic gains for these students as well as an increased percentage of family member employment. Grants for 15 school districts are now available.

In the individualizing learning and choice bucket, we also re-approved (3rd time) charter schools. Charters are one piece of the puzzle of allowing innovation and flexibility to schools so that kids’ needs and academic growth stay at the center of the conversation. These non-profit public WA charter schools are operating under the top 5 most rigorous state accountability laws in the US.

Finally, and for the first time, near vision screenings will be offered when distance vision is tested in elementary and middle schools statewide. Seeing the numbers and letters on a page correctly dramatically increases academic potential. Duh. This was 17 years in the making, and the victory for kids happened this year.

In higher education, a new college savings plan for families passed as an alternative and addition to the GET program. Another law now assures that higher education students who have learning accommodations will no longer have to wait up to 6 months for those accommodations to start, which provides every student what they need to be successful right away. Yes!

Additionally, more money was allocated to get the students in teacher prep programs scholarships for high-need teaching positions. Test fees for teacher candidates can now be waived, and a central data system is being set up so that districts can see what teachers are out there applying for jobs in Washington. When beginning teachers get to schools, there is now money for peer mentor programs to support teacher quality and retention. Retired teachers are also now allowed to be re-hired as substitutes, which will help the shortage and assure students continue to learn even if their teacher is not in the building that day. And new money is available to train the classified staff who also work with groups of students, so that they have the tools to be a part of the core teaching team.

I have more good news. Next session amazing things will happen for kids. The work has already begun to provide ample opportunities for every student to have a meaningful and personalized learning experience. More options. More choice. More student understanding of how what is learned leads to a successful, prosperous future while raising up WA communities and finding new ways to make WA businesses thrive. That’s my North Star. We will get all kids the tools they need to discover their passions and proudly take leadership in growing WA. That vision keeps my bucket full. Tim, I’ll add one word: “always stay strong, humble, and kind.”

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Activist of the Month: WA Charters http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/08/activist-of-the-month-wa-charters/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/08/activist-of-the-month-wa-charters/#comments Sat, 09 Apr 2016 00:22:35 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25442 1450459984_6348

WA Charters is the April Activist of the Month

To save public charter schools in the 2016 legislative session, LEV partnered with the Washington State Charter School Association.  It took a whole lot of people to do the job.  And many stepped up repeatedly to make a call or a bunch of calls, sign a petition or send an email.

Below are some statistics on what WA Charters’ Act Now for Washington Students campaign accomplished.  There is no doubt that this campaign had an incredibly robust grassroots effort that was organized, efficient, and one that made an incredible impact on legislators.

The campaign did the following:

From February 8 through March 10, at least ten callers every day made 15 calls each.  And other calls happened organically.  These calls were made in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, East King County, Pasco, Yakima and Walla Walla for a total of 8105 calls.

WA Charters also organized two rallies in Olympia.  The November 11 rally brought 400 people on campus and the February 25 rally brought 575 people to the state Capitol.

Approximately 45 people testified in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee, 70 people testified in the Senate Ways and Means committee and 90 people testified in the House Education committee.

Two parents attended 74 meetings with legislators.

At least five parents visited the state Capitol every day from February 29 to March 9.

Parents made and delivered four dozen cookies to 15 legislative offices.

Parents created and delivered over 300 session survival kits.

Parents created and delivered nearly 200 Thank You kits to legislative aids.

WA Charters mailed over 300 holiday cards to legislative offices and mailed over 300 Valentine’s Day cards to legislative offices.

Parents organically organized six big phone bank nights.

Hundreds of phone calls a day went to the Governor’s office since March 10, the day the bill was passed in the Senate.  These calls were made from parents, students, family members and tireless advocates from Seattle, East King County, Pasco, Yakima, Spokane and Tacoma.

Finally, 300 letters were signed and mailed from Yakima asking Governor to sign public charter schools Senate Bill 6194.

LEV would like to extend a huge Thank You to the Washington State Charter School Association and the thousands of volunteers who stepped up for our kids.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

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Breaking news: Gov. Jay Inslee has decided to let the Legislature’s charter school fix become law without his signature http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/01/breaking-news-gov-jay-inslee-has-decided-to-let-the-legislatures-charter-school-fix-become-law-without-his-signature/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/04/01/breaking-news-gov-jay-inslee-has-decided-to-let-the-legislatures-charter-school-fix-become-law-without-his-signature/#respond Fri, 01 Apr 2016 22:58:25 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25424 Many students created their own signs

Public charter schools Senate Bill 6194 is going to become law! We are excited for our kids to have more options for an excellent education. This is a big victory for our kids and their families! Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.

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Photos from the 2016 Annual Breakfast http://educationvoters.org/2016/03/31/photos-from-the-2016-annual-breakfast/ http://educationvoters.org/2016/03/31/photos-from-the-2016-annual-breakfast/#respond Fri, 01 Apr 2016 04:19:55 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=25410 Thank you for making the 2016 Annual Breakfast a success!

We enjoyed a thoughtful conversation about helping our kids create personal pathways for success with Lake Washington Institute of Technology President Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, Will Sarett, Director of the NewTech Skill Center, and Mike Sotelo, Co-Founder of the Combined Ethnic Chamber, moderated by Washington Business Alliance President Colleen McAleer.

The panel emphasized the need for preparation, support and high expectation for our kids.  Dr. Amy Morrison Goings said, “Two-thirds of all jobs will require a certificate or degree.  We need to ensure that our kids are ready.

LEV believes in providing supports for our kids to graduate from high school ready for college and career.  As aging workers retire, there will soon be tens of thousands of opportunities available in the trades.  We need to make sure our kids see the relevance and excitement of their coursework so they can enroll in and complete two- and four-year degrees and certificates, which will give them more options for a prosperous future.

Here are the questions the League of Education Voters is grappling with:

–        How should we work to expand rigorous Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

–        How do we help our kids get to and complete higher education?

This is an ongoing national conversation.  Career and Technical Education (CTE) is the new “Race to the Top” in education circles, highlighting great opportunities and the challenges of meeting students where they are.

Listen to CEO Chris Korsmo’s speech.  And here are a few photos from the event:

Our rockstar panelists (l-r): Will Sarett, Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, Mike Sotelo and moderator Colleen McAleer

Our rockstar panelists (l-r): Will Sarett, Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, Mike Sotelo and moderator Colleen McAleer

LEV Breakfast (4)

LEV Board Member Thelma Jackson greets guests

LEV Breakfast (6)

LEV staff members Jene Jones and Cindy Raffety at the check-in table

LEV Breakfast (9)

Senator Mark Mullet was among many elected officials from all levels of local and state government

LEV Breakfast (12)

95-year-old Georgie Kunkle was a Rosie the Riveter during WWII and landed helicopters on school playgrounds to show girls they could fly

LEV Breakfast (16)

LEV State Field Director Kelly Munn in action

LEV Breakfast (18)

LEV Communications Director Arik Korman served as MC, asking guests to share thoughts on our strategic planning process

LEV Breakfast (22)

LEV CEO Chris Korsmo emphasizes the importance of helping kids build a bridge from high school to college and career

LEV Breakfast (23)

LEV Board Secretary Vange Ocasio shares her personal education journey

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