League of Education Voters http://educationvoters.org Building a quality public education system from cradle to career. Fri, 03 Jul 2015 20:38:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Closed: What happens if Washington state shuts down http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/25/closed-what-happens-if-washington-state-shuts-down/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/25/closed-what-happens-if-washington-state-shuts-down/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 21:52:13 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24569 While our state legislators continue to argue over the budget, we’re just days away from a government shutdown. State employees have begun receiving temporary layoff notices, and many state agencies will shut down on July 1 without an agreement between legislative chambers and a signed budget by midnight on June 30.

Image of the Washington State Capitol Building with a "Closed" sign.What will happen if our government shuts down?

If Governor Inslee is unable to sign the budget before July 1, state employees will be affected—but so will parents, children, and small business owners. And those hit hardest will be low-income parents and families. You see, if the budget is not signed by July 1, licensed childcare providers who received state funding will be unable to work, and this could have a huge impact on families.

I asked two childcare providers to explain the impact a government shutdown could have on their clients.

Bertha Ramirez, a licensed home childcare provider in the Pasco community, says:

I have served my community and low-income families and children for the last 17 years, but I will not be able to care for state-subsidized children without a state budget in place by July 1. In order for me to maintain the quality of care that I have worked so hard to achieve through classes, trainings, and investing in quality materials, I cannot work for free. I have discussed the situation with the families I serve, and the parents are very worried about what they will do so they can work without access to childcare. I feel so bad for them, but the only people that can stop this from happening are our legislators.

Jeff Robison, owner of the Bilingual Learning Center in Kennewick, says:

The Bilingual Learning Child Care Center will have to discontinue service for state-funded children on July 1 if we do not have a signed and ratified budget by then. Parents will either need to make alternate arrangements, which could put their children at risk if they are not in a licensed child care setting, or put their livelihood at risk if they choose not report for work or school until the budget is approved and signed. Not only will this impact the children and families that we serve, it will also negatively impact our child care center staff because we will not have the enrollment numbers to keep all of our staff employed. In addition, if our free and reduced price lunch students drop below 26 percent, our funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture could be impacted.

If parents who are employed as migrant workers cannot find childcare, they must either risk losing their jobs to stay home and care for their children during peak harvest season, or leave their children at home with no adult supervision or care.

Legislators should connect the dots on who a government shutdown will really affect the most.

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Remembering Elson S. Floyd http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/20/remembering-elson-s-floyd/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/20/remembering-elson-s-floyd/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2015 19:48:39 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24559

If there was ever an opportunity to improve the quality of life for individuals and their families, education is the way to do that.
–Elson S. Floyd, Tenth President of Washington State University

I was deeply saddened to learn of Elson S. Floyd’s passing today. As the tenth president of Washington State University, President Floyd’s commitment to higher education was clear. President Floyd was a champion for affordable, accessible higher education, which he described as an “individual good and a common good.”

Elson S. Floyd, President of Washington State University, gives advice to College Bound Scholarship student Kaysiana Hazelwood prior to her speech at the League of Education Voters' 2015 Annual Breakfast.

Elson S. Floyd, President of Washington State University, gives advice to College Bound Scholarship student Kaysiana Hazelwood prior to her speech at the League of Education Voters’ 2015 Annual Breakfast on March 26, 2015.

The League of Education Voters was honored with President Floyd’s presence at our 2015 breakfast, where he spoke passionately about the potential education has to transform lives: “If there was ever an opportunity to improve the quality of life for individuals and their families, education is the way to do that.”

One moment of inspiration for me that day actually occurred prior to our event. One of our College Bound Scholarship students, Kaysiana Hazelwood, was extremely nervous about speaking in front of such a large crowd. My staff worked to make her feel comfortable, and President Floyd joined their efforts after noticing her nervousness. He coached Kaysiana and gave her tips for speaking. Kaysiana did a fantastic job in her speech, and President Floyd later urged her to contact him or his office as she moved closer to her goal of attending WSU.

This is just one example of how much President Floyd cared, not just for WSU students, but for all Washington students. President Floyd was an inspiration through his work, and his legacy leaves a lasting impression on all of us regarding the value of education in our state. My deepest condolences are with his family and with Washington State University.

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: June 12 http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/12/korsmos-weekly-roundup-june-12/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/12/korsmos-weekly-roundup-june-12/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 23:00:46 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24545 Well, it wasn’t exactly “Dewey Defeats Truman,” but last week’s proclamation of a budget deal was—sadly—a bit premature. Not everyone bought into the hype that a deal was imminent; some remain optimistic, while others offer admonishment. For their part, the Supreme Court is taking a wait-and-see approach. They are due a report on progress and a plan to finish the necessary work of fully funding “basic education” shortly after the Legislature finally adjourns.

At which point, I hope that the Legislature is called back into another session. Because, well, they didn’t fully comply with the Court’s orders. A girl can dream, can’t she?

While we’re on the topic of school funding, a new report, “Is School Funding Fair,” asks and answers some pretty essential questions about the equitable distribution of resources. The report’s grades for Washington are nothing to rave about. (I’m sure there’s an “opt-out” joke in there somewhere, but gosh, I just can’t find it.)

A lot has been written about Common Core implementation, including the significant pushback to the assessments that go with the new standards. We will soon see the outcomes of our first full year of statewide implementation. To learn more, register for our upcoming “LEVinar,” taking place June 16.

With graduation season in full swing, a look at the national graduation rates, and the numbers (and strategies) behind them provides fresh and tempered insight.

The end of the school year also marks transition time for retiring teachers hanging up their chalk to tackle life’s next big thing. (Though I hope that the chalk wasn’t from this chalkboard.) Even as we give all due thanks to those who’ve served our kids, we have to ask: where’s the next generation coming from? Especially when we want a much more diverse teaching force that represents and reflects the kids we’re serving. And when our kids’ needs and the brain science that explains those needs are changing.

Speaking of transitions, the one from high school to college is both exciting and difficult—especially for students in “remedial” or “developmental” courses. Building the pathway—not just to, but through—college is also exciting and difficult.

Some lighter reading this time around:

Well kids, just a quick reminder that with this little golf tournament taking place a short drive from the capital, it’s hard to imagine much work getting done next week. Rumor has it that the much coveted hotels and camping spots favored by legislators have been snapped up. Mark your calendars, cuz budget D-Day is the end of the month when the state government will, for the most part, shut down without a budget deal. (And, yes, I said camping spots.)

Thanks for playing—and 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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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: June 5 http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/05/korsmos-weekly-roundup-june-5/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/05/korsmos-weekly-roundup-june-5/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 23:31:16 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24540 I’m not sure you can put all the blame on Dana Carvey’sChurch Lady” for the ruination of the word “special.” I mean, anybody else remember the ABC After School Specials of the 1970s? The first “entertainment specials” aimed at teen and tween angst on television were often anything but. Which brings me to the state of our legislative session(s). Wrapping up the first week of the second “special session” makes me long for the bad-hair-’70s nightmare that was “My Dad’s Wife” starring… Kristy McNichol. Now, those were good times. Our legislative sessions… not so much.

With a (partial) government shutdown looming at the end of the month, budget negotiators have been called to the office—the Governor’s office—to resume talks after the first really super special session resulted in nada. Well, not nada, exactly. Overall budget proposals seemed to have resulted in myriad teacher walkouts to protest a variety of issues—something we can expect to see more of, even though the budget will likely result in record investments in education. More on this in a moment.

You may be asking yourself, what’s the hold up on this budget? And how did we get here? Taxes.

The House Democrat budget included $1.5 billion in new taxes. The Senate Republican budget relied on increased revenue from a growing economy. The new House budget reduced the request for new taxes by nearly 2/3, but still seeks a capital gains tax that Senate Republicans say is unnecessary. The change in the Democrats’ approach was the result of a dreamy revenue forecast that put several hundred million dollars of unexpected money into state coffers. The two sides entered this set of negotiations with a smaller delta, but a delta, nonetheless.

Optimism? Pessimism? Politicism? Remember that the long sessions are for budget debates, the short sessions are to tee up an election cycle. Oops. I mean, to address non-budget-related policy matters.

Speaking of the Supreme Court and McCleary, looks like we might get another chance to see just how serious the Supremes are about their landmark school funding decision. Because despite the record amounts of green money all sides are pouring into education, none of the budget proposals address two intertwined elements of the Court’s decision; School districts’ over-reliance on local levies to pay for basic education and the state’s unwillingness to fully pay for compensation of the personnel it takes to run schools. The Court also expects a report on the State plan to fully fund basic education—a report that doesn’t seem to have an author yet.

One additional element to remind us about quickly here is the class-size initiative, 1351, which passed with a narrow margin in 2014. No one funds it. While the Legislature made additional investments in class-size reduction from kindergarten through third grade, the rest of the initiative remains unfunded. Not without reason—it’s expensive—and research only shows an academic benefit in reducing classes in the early grades. Meanwhile, a lawsuit looking to overturn the initiative based on a technical issue was filed in Kittitas.

That’s the pertinent state budget news. There’s always a lot more going on, though, and you can find a lot of it on our site. Here, for your reflection, a little not-so-light equity reading:

That’s all for this extra special week. 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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Kelly Munn Honored by the Issaquah Schools Foundation http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/03/kelly-munn-honored-by-the-issaquah-schools-foundation/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/03/kelly-munn-honored-by-the-issaquah-schools-foundation/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 15:30:57 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24533 Kelly Munn with her Golden Apple Award (right), with Issaquah Schools Foundation Past President Jody Mull.

Kelly Munn (right) with Issaquah Schools Foundation Past President Jody Mull.

Kelly Munn, State Field Director at the League of Education Voters, was recently recognized by the Issaquah Schools Foundation with the 2015 Golden Apple Award. The Issaquah Schools Foundation began presenting its annual Golden Apple Award in 1998 to recognize individuals in the community who made a difference for children.

Kelly began advocating the year her own children began school, through the PTA and then through Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, where she chaired multiple bond and levy campaigns and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Issaquah Schools. Kelly also served on the Issaquah Schools Foundation board for three years.

The Issaquah Schools Foundation describes Kelly as “someone who has been vigilant, tireless, unrelenting, and a passionate spokesperson for what’s in the best interest of children at all levels,” and we agree.

Congratulations, Kelly, and thank you for your work on behalf of all Washington students!

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Thank you to our advocates and activists http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/02/thank-you-to-our-advocates-and-activists/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/02/thank-you-to-our-advocates-and-activists/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 17:00:03 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24501 Thank youThe work that we do to improve public education is only possible thanks to the support of our activists and advocates—the parents, community members, students, and teachers who stand up and speak up. In order to recognize the difficult work that so many of our supporters do on behalf of all Washington students, the League of Education Voters began spotlighting the work of our “activists of the month” in late 2013.

Our activists of the month were selected for going above and beyond in their work for Washington students—in organizing, in testimony, in advocacy, and more. Before we break for the summer, we wanted to draw your attention to these activists once more.

With the release of our 2014 annual report, we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our activists around the state. For every activist of the month that we profile, there are dozens of others who have also taken a stand to improve public education in Washington state.

Thank you!

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Join Joyce Yee for coffee: June meetings http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/01/join-joyce-yee-for-coffee-june-meetings/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/06/01/join-joyce-yee-for-coffee-june-meetings/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:00:09 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24514 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 space 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 space to share your stories and learn how to share them with your policymakers. If you yourself have some policy updates to share, please bring those! Chat with us about your hopes and practice advocacy work through written or online messages, phone calls, in-person meetings with legislators, or town hall 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 June:

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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Finding a way forward http://educationvoters.org/2015/05/28/finding-a-way-forward/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/05/28/finding-a-way-forward/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 17:00:28 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24506 Finding a way forward. At the League of Education Voters, we believe a student’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions. 2014 was a successful year as we worked to improve public education throughout Washington state. We are pleased to release our 2014 annual report, Finding a way forward, and we invite you to read highlights from the past year.

In 2014, we also released our vision, A way forward, which calls for a new definition of basic education that includes early learning, strategic investments in K–12 education, and at least two years of postsecondary education for each Washington student.

While some may suggest that this definition is more than we can afford, we believe that we can’t afford not to make this investment. Too many kids arrive at kindergarten already behind. At the other end of the education spectrum, all evidence points to the need for a postsecondary degree or certificate in preparation for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

A high-quality public education system from early learning through higher education is critical to ensuring a strong home-grown workforce and state economy.

Washington state has the people, resources, and innovative spirit to create the best public education system in the world, but it’s going to take tough decisions from each of us to make it a reality. During 2015, we are engaging policymakers, community members, parents, and educators across the state to discuss this vision and how, working together, we can make it a reality.

We invite you to join us.

Read or download our 2014 annual report.

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Recap of our Lunchtime LEVinars http://educationvoters.org/2015/05/13/recap-of-our-lunchtime-levinars/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/05/13/recap-of-our-lunchtime-levinars/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 21:00:18 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24470 By Josefina Hellensberg

Finding Our Way ForwardA few days after the regular legislative session wrapped up, the special session kicked into full force on April 29. Now we watch as the debate continues in this (and perhaps a second) special session and the budget is finalized.

The League of Education Voters (LEV) hosted a series of Lunchtime LEVinars to keep voters updated on the proposed budgets from the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the effects that they have on education in our state. Although each budget proposal have differences in how they fund education, they both make huge investments in our public education system, and regardless of how the final budget comes together, the outcome will be promising for students throughout Washington state.

In our webinar series, we heard from Senator Andy Hill and Representative Ross Hunter, lead budget writers for the Senate and House budgets, respectively. Senator Hill and Representative Hunter each discussed their respective budget proposals and answered audience questions. The series wrapped up with a presentation from LEV’s own Government Relations Director Frank Ordway on the strengths of each proposal, along with areas that LEV hopes will be better funded in the budget by the time negotiations are finalized.

Frank says that the investments in both proposals are similar and direct considerable funding toward early learning, K–12 funding, fulfilling McCleary requirements, and higher education. The House budget has presented a proposal that funds early learning more robustly than the Senate’s proposal, with $227 million compared to the proposed $100 million in the Senate’s budget. With respect to K–12 investments, the Senate has worked hard to ensure that more of those dollars go toward increased services for students, something that we do not see as clearly in the House budget.

Another big difference in the two proposals is the investments in higher education. Two years ago, we saw a tuition freeze in our state, and this session the Senate has proposed a tuition decrease, which would be the first tuition reduction in Washington since the 1970s. The House budget continues the tuition freeze.

Both budget proposals include investments and prioritizations that we agree with, but we are watching closely as the Legislatures grapples with levy reform, which will be a central part of the debate as we get closer to a final deal.

You can watch to this webinar series by visiting our website.

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Opt Out? Widen the Gap http://educationvoters.org/2015/05/08/opt-out-widen-the-gap/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/05/08/opt-out-widen-the-gap/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 18:00:41 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24455 Hope Teague-BowlingHope Teague-Bowling is a board member of the League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation. Hope is a National Board Certified Teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma and teaches Sophomore English and AP Language and Composition. She writes for Stories from School, the Center for Strengthening the Teacher Profession‘s blog.

Below is an excerpt of a recent article she wrote, “Opt Out? Widen the Gap.” Read the entire article on the Stories from School blog.

It’s testing season. Each year I administer whatever Language Arts assessment is currently required by law. I glance over the Pearson booklet at the rows of earnest faces nervously listening to the directions of their state assessment. They know results will be used to determine whether or not their receive a diploma. Their eyes communicate “we will do you proud” while their scrunched up noses say, “you’d better have taught us what we need to be successful on this thing.”

Walking the rows, I think about how 78.6% of the students in my building qualify for free and reduced lunch. At least 8% are ELL and 13.4% are in Special Education programs. More than anything, my students need education opportunities that will set them on a trajectory out of poverty and in pursuit of their version of the “American Dream.” Yet we know that this dream is guarded by a variety of gatekeepers, most vital of which is access to quality post-secondary education. One such gatekeeper is the ominous standardized test.

I understand the urge of parents and teachers to want to resist this system and opt out. Yet, every time the topic of standardized testing is brought up I can’t help but wonder…. Does the opt-out movement actually widen the opportunity gap???

I’m hard pressed to find research on this topic and I have no time for a PhD. Yet, the continued presence of a culture of low expectations for low-income students and students of color leads me to believe there is a relationship between low expectations, low performance results, and opting out of testing.

The entire article is on the Stories from Schools blog.

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