League of Education Voters http://educationvoters.org Building a quality public education system from cradle to career. Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:36:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: March 20 http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/20/korsmos-weekly-roundup-march-20/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/20/korsmos-weekly-roundup-march-20/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 23:00:38 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24142 For nearly every occasion in life there is a metaphor, tortured or otherwise, that amplifies the circumstance. Whether mundane or horrifying, they roll from the tongue without much thought. For those of us engaged in Olympia on education, the offending phrase would have to be “no news is good news.” At a minimum there’s not been a lot to report in terms of education policy advancing—so if it is true that no news is good news, then education must be in fan-freaking-tastic shape.

Not that I’m throwing shade on our legislative friends, as this is the time of year when things typically go a bit off the rails, with policy bills traded or held close like baseball cards and state budget proposals still wrapped in mystery. To get a better idea of where things are, you can check our legislative bill tracker. But remember, even when you think something’s dead, until Sine Die (the Legislature’s equivalent of the closing bell) nothin’ is done, done.

Budget preview: While we’ve seen precious little in the way of specific budget proposals, except from Governor Inslee, we do have some optimism for what may come. In addition, we have clear ideas of what we’d like to see, and while it largely comports to what the Supreme Court has laid out, it doesn’t reflect a perfect mirror image. That’s because the McCleary decision focused on K–12 funding. In our view, basic education is a continuum from early learning through postsecondary attainment, and the budget’s education investments should reflect that.

Just a reminder that the core elements of McCleary include materials, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC); full-day kindergarten (FDK); transportation; class-size reductions for K–3; and fully funding compensation. The latter ends our reliance on local levies to pay for teachers and staff that are part of the model school framework established in legislation and recognized by the Court as essential to the definition of basic education. Deadline for funding is 2018.

What to look for:

MSOC: The cost of fully funding materials, supplies, and operating costs is a cool $856 million.

FDK: The delta on full-day kindergarten is $348 million. We’d like to see an investment this year that cuts this in half.

Class size: The elephant in the room here is what, if anything, the Legislature will do to fund and implement the class-size initiative 1351. McCleary considers class size K–3 as part of the basic ed definition, and the gap there is $1.1 billion. Some additional investment there is necessary to comply with the court’s ruling, but it comes with open questions about how to fund additional buildings and where to find the teachers necessary to make the implementation successful. (By the way, the current shortage of qualified substitutes is the canary in the coal mine of an oncoming teacher shortage.)

Transpo: The funds allocated to transportation in 2013 fully funded the McCleary requirement and will/should be continued at that level.

Compensation: Currently the state pays for somewhere between 65–70 percent of the costs for fully staffing our schools. This has led to an over-reliance on local levy funds for these essential staff. The Court was very clear that this is an unconstitutional practice. We believe that the Legislature should act swiftly to end this practice and fulfill the state’s obligation. Fully funding compensation would take roughly an additional $1.5 billion per biennium. An earnest down payment on this element is essential in any serious budget proposal that purports to address McCleary. In addition, the state should make the teachers “whole” by passing their cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). $235 million is not a huge lift and would end at least six years of silence on the matter at the state level.

Waiver: After Washington gained the distinction of losing the waiver that exempted our schools from the draconian requirements of No Child Left Behind, some legislators set out this session to get it back. SB 5748, sponsored by Steve Litzow, squeaked past the Senate on a 26–23 vote and has a hearing in the House Education Committee on March 31—the last possible day. Getting the waiver back would return to Title I schools control over $40 million in federal funds that were designated to help the students who need it most. We at LEV wrote to our House leadership and House Ed Committee members and asked them to pass SB 5748. I invite you to do the same.

Early learning: In order to implement and fund the new Early Start initiative, ideally, the Senate budget would allocate the $120 million that reflects the chamber’s fiscal note for the bill. The House version is $150 million.

Higher education supports: Whatever the Legislature does regarding tuition—holding it steady, or even rolling it back—they need to consider commensurate supports to the institutions so as not to perpetuate the cuts to higher education exacerbated by the recession. Flat tuition is good for students, but is essentially a cut to an institution’s bottom line.

On the access front, we’d like to see the College Bound Scholarship Program and State Need Grant fully funded with additional investments of $74 million and $246 million, respectively.

Where it’s coming from: While the recession gave us several years’ worth of fund balance deficits, the fiscal ship has been righted. This spring, there will be a surplus to work with. In addition, the conversations in the past have included levy reform, which could move about a billion dollars from local levies to the state coffers. The Legislature could also raise revenue through capital gains, carbon tax, and loophole closing. While additional revenue has an obvious upside, some legislators will see the political downside and these funds are much less of a sure thing to add to the mix.

In other news,

Mind the gaps: We’re seeing more and more evidence that the opportunity and achievement gaps aren’t shrinking much, aren’t shrinking fast enough,and in Washington’s case, aren’t shrinking at all. This sobering news is a good reminder of the importance of education data, which highlights some of the horrors, but also shines a light on some of the success stories.

We should have draft budgets from both the House and the Senate soon. I’ll see you next Friday (unless you’re attending our Annual Breakfast next Thursday!).

Until then, thanks for all you do for 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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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: March 13 http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/13/korsmos-weekly-roundup-march-13/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/13/korsmos-weekly-roundup-march-13/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 23:00:02 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24122 Here’s some of our latest take on the session in Oly.

Well, we’re at the midway point. More or less. IF this legislative session were a high school football game, the marching band would be warming up their instruments and getting ready to hit the field. Ah, the things we do to support the team. My high school years were marked by marching to the tune of television theme songs, moving into some formation or other that provided the visual cue of what we were up to. When it wasn’t “Baretta,” back in the day it was the Captain and Tenille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” punctuated by 150 high school bandsies forming the word “love.”

What sweet irony it would be to have a 1,500 member band forming the word McCleary out on the capitol lawn at some point during the second half of the session. A visual and auditory reminder to fund education—and music education to boot. Perhaps while playing Meghan Trainor’s “Lips are Moving.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’re still confused about McCleary, check out this short video.

For those of you following the session at home, this week marked an important cut-off date—policy bills had to be voted out of their house of origin. Bills that didn’t see movement in either house are dead, though not positively, absolutely, reliably, or undeniably dead. While individual bills can’t be resurrected, concepts within the bills can. This is often how amendments are conceived. You can find the halftime stats here, at our legislative tracker. You’ll notice that one of our signature bills, the Early Start Act, has passed out of both chambers—great progress, but not the finish line, as it now goes through the budget process.

Show me the money: The big ticket item—the budget—is just a gleam in some legislator’s eye right now. No movement yet, which is not unexpected, but that doesn’t mean folks aren’t talking about elements of the education budget. On the higher ed front, flat tuition is the new grey, but that alone won’t make postsecondary education whole. In K–12, one of the biggest cost centers is the human capital it takes to educate our children. Our State Supreme Court has been keenly interested in the state picking up its full share of this obligation. Which has at least a few legislators asking whether what we’re paying in compensation makes sense.

While folks wrangle over how to invest, some are trying to re-claim funds (or control over funds) lost when the state lost its waiver to “No Child Left Behind,” the only state in the country with this dubious “honor.” Because Washington won’t address the requirement to tie at least some element of teacher’s evaluation to the results of state testing (an issue locally bargained and already implemented in several districts), we lost control over $40 million of Title I dollars, funds intended to assist low-income kids. This week, the State Senate took action to remedy this problem—one that exacerbates the inequity in the resources we invest in our low-income learners. Which brings me to this week’s question:

How do you solve a problem like inequity?

Mind the gaps. They’re traps: Take a look-see at these graphs, one showing the persistent (like decades-long kind of persistent) gaps in postsecondary attainment depending on income. Or this one, showing the disparities in rigorous course-taking. Or peruse this report from our state’s education officials highlighting where Washington stands nationally in educational achievement by race. And ask yourself, where in the world did the train go so wildly off the tracks for low-income kids and kids of color? Is it low expectations and excuse-making? Is it the way we ignore, push out, and demean parents? How much do we exacerbate the problem when we put kids out of school over incredibly subjective, often prejudicial, discipline policies? Does family structure play a role?

Common Core, assessments, and more: While Washington hasn’t seen the full-out assault on the new state learning standards, referred to as Common Core, some states are under siege. Could it just be the name? While the standards themselves have so far escaped regress, the assessments that help us understand kids’ learning of these standards are under increased scrutiny both here and across the nation—though you hear less when things go well. Opting out has become the new non-vaccination. While we debate the relative merits of testing, let’s not forget that without assessment data, we wouldn’t have a clue about the gaps—see above—that exist and persist for low-income kids and kids of color. And I’m not sure about you, but I don’t recall us ever being able to solve a problem we can’t see.

Speaking of problems, we’re not too far away from one really big one. A nationwide teacher shortage. While the data aren’t clear about why fewer people want to go into the field, one thing seems clear to me; we don’t exactly hold the profession in the same regard as we do professional athletes. Paying based on position and performance might be a start.

In STEM news, some believe that if more women taught math and science, more girls might be interested. And a growing number of folks—including us—want more computer science. Is it the new cursive?

That ought to hold you over for a week or so. Until then. Thanks for all you do on behalf of Washington’s students.

Chris (and Team LEV)

P.S. I hope to see you at our breakfast on March 26!


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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Local bond and levy elections raise $1.9B for schools http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/04/local-bond-and-levy-elections-raise-1-9b-for-schools/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/04/local-bond-and-levy-elections-raise-1-9b-for-schools/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:10:35 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=23978 This February, in nearly 60 local bond and levy elections across the state, Washington voters sent a strong message of support to their local schools by approving 55 school levies, raising more than $817 million dollars for schools.

Sixteen of the 27 bonds passed, raising $1.11 billion for districts across the state. Unlike levies, the passing threshold for bonds is 60 percent. If a simple majority were the threshold, nine other bonds would have passed, raising an additional $694 million for school districts. A bill was introduced this session by Rep. Mia Gregorson to change the passing threshold for bonds to 50 percent, but it did not make it out of the House Education committee.
Of the 55 levies that passed, 44 were for maintenance and operations and raised $804 million total for districts across the state. Eleven of the 55 passed levies are capital levies, which raised more than $12 million for schools.

Eight of the levies passed thanks to simple majority, a 2007 voter-approved constitutional amendment supported by the League of Education Voters. Between 2008 and 2015, nearly $5 billion was raised for schools through local levies.

In many districts, local levies make up 25 percent or more of the total operating costs of their schools. These local dollars often pay for necessary school costs like staff salaries, textbooks, or a sixth period in school—a far cry from the “extras” they were originally intended to provide.

In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in McCleary v. Washington that the state was not meeting its constitutionally mandated duty to fully fund basic education. The court ordered the legislature to overhaul how education is funded in the state by 2018. In 2013, the Legislature added nearly $1 billion to support K–12 basic education funding and gap closing strategies and programs.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled the Legislature in contempt for its lack of progress in funding McCleary. The Legislature must make significant progress toward funding McCleary this legislative session or face possible sanctions or penalties. Keep up with what’s happening during the session by signing up for our CEO Chris Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup emails.

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Activist of the Month: Tony Vo http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/03/activist-of-the-month-tony-vo/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/03/activist-of-the-month-tony-vo/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:30:21 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24023 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 March: Tony Vo. Read more about Tony’s work organizing and advocating for his community.

Tony VoTony Vo recently graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in public health and American ethnic studies.

While at the UW, Tony began working with underrepresented minorities as a Student Ambassador, and he noticed that Southeast Asians tended to get lumped into the “model minority” stereotype. Tony says, “I didn’t see myself in that stereotype. I grew up in White Center. Vietnamese was my first language. Many of my peers have similar stories—we come from low-income, refugee backgrounds.” So Tony started doing advocacy work on behalf of Southeast Asian American communities.

In an editorial for the International Examiner, Tony writes: “High school dropout rates are as high as 40 percent for Hmong, 38 percent for Laotian, and 35 percent for Cambodian students. A cycle of poverty forms for Southeast Asians when there is not a clear path to higher education.”

Tony is currently working on the “All students count” campaign, which seeks better disaggregation of student educational data for all ethnic groups, so that programs and services can be better targeted toward the students who need them most. Tony is an “amazing activist” according to League of Education Voters Community Organizer Joyce Yee.

Tony testified at the recent hearing for Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos’ bill on closing the achievement and opportunity gaps (HB 1541), and he mobilized six others to attend and testify. He and the others testified about their experiences as English Language Learners, the importance of data disaggregation, cultural competency, and more. Tony also worked with five student interns to collect 300 cards signed by community members from across the state in support of recommendations by the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC), specifically regarding the use of better data disaggregation, which they then delivered to legislators after the hearing.

Tony is also a council member of the Southeast Asian Education (SEAeD) coalition, which formed in 2011 to raise awareness of how the opportunity and achievement gaps affect Southeast Asian American students.

What’s next for Tony? Well, Tony says he wants to continue his advocacy work and mobilize others to advocate, as well. He is considering graduate school in either social work or education. But, wherever Tony ends up, he says that he will always be involved and active in the Southeast Asian American community.

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Join Joyce Yee for coffee! http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/02/join-joyce-yee-for-coffee/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/03/02/join-joyce-yee-for-coffee/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:00:50 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=24020 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 March.

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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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: February 20 http://educationvoters.org/2015/02/20/korsmos-weekly-roundup-february-20/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/02/20/korsmos-weekly-roundup-february-20/#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 00:00:36 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=23937 Well, kids, it’s that time of year. The gnashing-of-teeth-while-twiddling-thumbs time of year. It’s too early to plant. The Grammies and Westminster are already over. And the rush to see all the Oscar nominees is out-weighed by the lack of desire to spend $35 on a movie and a box of popcorn. On the legislative front, it’s much the same. The first cut-off date for the Legislature just passed.

And no one is talking seriously, yet, about possible solutions to the state budget challenges. Namely, how to make public education whole, fund, or repeal the class-size initiative, and solve the transportation mess, all while not really changing the tax structure. (Note: I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t change the tax structure. Just that, well, they won’t.)

Gnash and twiddle. It feels sort of like watching my 9-year-old clean his room. Yes, sweetie, you really CAN throw away the broken Nerf darts. And the half- chewed gum. You can also re-purpose those too-small-shoes. And neaten those boxes of toys. Or not. So much promise amid the flawed execution.

Something else that my son and the Legislature share is that there is still time. Not infinity. But time. Enough lamenting. As always, you can track the movement—or lack thereof—on education policy here. On with the news. This week, let’s play the half-used-popular-phrase game. You’ll get it.

The Elephant…: This is not a thinly veiled reference to the new Congressional majorities; but is the essential part of the phrase that describes that thing that no one will talk about. Education funding. While the glacial movement in Olympia is painful, it has allowed time to consider other states that’ve faced similar challenges. It also got Rep. Reuven Carlyle thinking. Sadly, it would seem that the one funding issue that had some traction, changing the requirements for passing school bonds to a simple majority, is DOA.

Why, you might ask, would a bill with 45 sponsors, including the chair and ranking members of the House Education Committee, not even make it out of said committee? It’s a good question.

The Messenger….: Don’t like the message? Shoot it. Folks who see the new college and career ready state standards (often referred to as Common Core State Standards) as too challenging are itching to eliminate them. It’s creating something of an unholy alliance between otherwise “liberal” parents and tea party conservatives. No new system is perfect, but eliminating one before it’s really implemented because it’s “too hard?” Seriously.

And let’s not stop there. Why not get rid of the whole system while we’re at it?

The Few…: The bills that made the cut were varied, and many in Oly, this week. Cut-off day was kind to early learning, college access, teacher training, and gap-closing strategies. And that’s just a few of the House bills. For full Senate and House progress, check here. Bills now have a week to make their way through the “money committees,” in order to stay alive. The budget discussions should start in earnest any week now.

No Rest…:

  • Say what? Sometimes it’s how you say it.
  • In the aftermath of President Obama’s call for free college, much has been written about the potential of community college. Meanwhile, his DOE gives a shout-out to a local program to double the number of college grads in South King County. Additional good news—for students, if not the institutions—here, lawmakers are looking to keep tuition flat.
  • Hopefully, ketchup won’t count.

Well, folks, that’s your update for this week. Next stop on the legislative express is funding the bills that passed out of committee—deadlines loom large next week. Stay tuned. As always, thanks for all you do to support Washington’s kids.

Chris (and Team LEV)

P.S. Please join us at our upcoming breakfast on March 26!


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: February 6 http://educationvoters.org/2015/02/06/korsmos-weekly-roundup-february-6/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/02/06/korsmos-weekly-roundup-february-6/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 00:00:51 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=23872 Well campers, that was quite a finish! No, not that. I’m talking about the eighty points put up by Team Ruff in Puppy Bowl Xl! Oh, come on. What’s a girl to do? The Super Bowl pre-game felt like it was three hundred and thirty-seven hours long—or roughly the same length of a Hobbit movie, both of which make me want to watch commercials thinly veiled as puppy shows. Plus, I’m a sucker for a Clumber Spaniel. (By now, you’ve noticed the very soft treatment of the Super Bowl. I’ve lived in the Northwest for nearly eight years now, and the one lesson I’ve learned is that if you want a decent table in this town, or a holiday card or sarcasm-free latte, you don’t rub ‘Hawks devastating Super Bowl loss in their fans’ faces. So I didn’t. Until just then. And even then, gently.)

Enough of the kerfuffery! Lots of action going on in policy-land, and for a just-the-facts-ma’am look at it, check out our legislative tracker. So far, there’s been a fair amount of attention paid to underserved kids, including foster youth, special education students, and low-income kids. This is laudable as the state explores system change to bring more equity to our schools and beyond. In addition to bill action, there is a lot of speculation about resolving McCleary, the Supreme Court decision finding the State to be out of compliance in education funding.

Speaking of the Hobbit, and I just was, did you see this piece wherein someone “in charge” thinks a kid with a Hobbit ring talking about making someone invisible is the equivalent of a terrorist? It’s no wonder teachers want clear guidance on discipline. Onward, ho.

Crowd Sourcing: The past few years have seen steady and significant growth in public school enrollment, from Spokane to Olympia to Seattle, and beyond. Districts are scrambling to find room for everyone—a bit of math made more difficult by the passage of the class-size initiative (I-1351)—and some districts are taking the case for more space to the voters. And that’s where the trouble starts.

It still takes a 60 percent vote to pass bonds necessary to replace or repair aging buildings. A supermajority much felt and understood in the Highline School District, where they saw their election Super Bowl slip from their fingers in November when their school bond lost with 59.27 percent of the vote. If you think Pete Carroll isn’t sleeping after the Super Bowl debacle, imagine being less than 1 percent away from kids getting better schools and failing because the rules make it insanely difficult to win. Highline is re-running their bond measure, and we folks in the community wish them Godspeed, but we also wish they didn’t have to. Apparently 45 members of the House feel the same way. They introduced a bill that will lower the voter threshold for school bonds to a simple majority—just like the levies. It requires a supermajority of the Legislature to vote it out and then a majority of the people to support it, with the former being the bigger hurdle. This one’s just out of the chute, so stay tuned.

Mo Mentum: House Bill 1491, the “Early Start” bill, passed through the House Education Committee this week. The bill focuses on quality in early learning—the key to getting kids ready for the K–12 system, closing gaps, and getting kids off to a great start. New studies show an additional benefit to high-quality early learning—reduced need for special education.

Possimism: What do you call an optimist with a tinge of pessimism? Apparently, a high school student. Worried about the jobs market, high school students would do well to become college students. Or rather, college graduates. They can get some help along the way—and some have to find their way back to high school first—but the rewards are clear.

The Rest:

  • As Boomers age out of teaching, will there be a new pathway to the profession?
  • Texas. That’s all.
  • As the assessment debate expands, it puts a new twist on an old problem
  • Our annual breakfast is coming! This year we focus on higher education with guests WSU President Elson Floyd, Seattle Community Colleges Chancellor Jill Wakefield, and Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen.

Finally, please welcome our newest board members. We are thrilled and proud to work alongside them—and you—in pursuit of better outcomes for all of Washington’s kids. Thanks for all you do.

Chris (and Team LEV)

P.S. There will be no Roundup next week. We’re trying not to jinx the legislative session on Friday the 13th! I’ll be back in two weeks, on February 20.


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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League of Education Voters and LEV Foundation welcome new board members http://educationvoters.org/2015/02/05/league-of-education-voters-and-lev-foundation-welcome-new-board-members/ http://educationvoters.org/2015/02/05/league-of-education-voters-and-lev-foundation-welcome-new-board-members/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 18:00:34 +0000 http://educationvoters.org/?p=23786 The League of Education Voters and LEV Foundation, two non-partisan Washington organizations working to improve public education, are pleased to announce our newest board members.

The League of Education Voters, a 501(c)4 organization, engages in the political process through lobbying; partners with candidates and elected officials who support our vision for students; and sponsors voter statewide initiatives or litigation as a last resort. New board members are:

  • Vange Ocasio Hochheimer, Assistant Professor of Economics at Whitworth University
  • Betsy Johnson, former Microsoft executive and Bellevue School Board Member
  • Bill Shaw, Partner at K&L Gates

LEV Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, provides strategic, accurate, and timely information to citizens, educators, policymakers, and the media; highlights research-driven educational practices that prepare all students to reach their full potential; and advocates for reforms and revenue to implement the research-based practices in Washington. New board members are:

  • Former State Rep. Renee Radcliff Sinclair, recently led strategic initiatives for Apple, Inc.
  • Larry Wright, Chief Operating Officer, College Success Foundation

More information about all LEV board members can be found at educationvoters.org.

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