Posts Tagged 2012 legislative session

19 WA State Legislators honored with early learning awards

Over the next two months, 19 state legislators across Washington will receive Crayon Awards from the Early Learning Action Alliance in recognition of their outstanding work in helping more children access early learning opportunities. The work these legislators did over the past two years has made a real difference in the lives of young children.

These legislators were awarded for their efforts from protecting state investments in programs, to advocating for policy changes that increase the continuity of care for children. According to ELAA, “all 19 legislators share a common understanding of the role of the first five years of a child’s life, influencing their experiences in school, at work, with their families and in their communities.”

The coalition gave a Lifetime Achievement Award to retiring Senator Lisa Brown, of Spokane, for her long commitment to early learning. As the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Brown consistently and strongly prioritized early learning as a foundation for building strong communities across the state. The coalition commended her for being a staunch protector of child care assistance for working families.

The awardees are:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Senator Lisa Brown
Gold Crayon Recipients: Senator David Frockt; Representative Roger Goodman; Representative Kathy Haigh; Senator Nick Harper; Representative Ruth Kagi; Senator Derek Kilmer; Representative Tina Orwall; Representative Pat Sullivan
Silver Crayon Recipients: Representative Frank Chopp; Representative Bruce Dammeier; Senator Jim Hargrove; Representative Ross Hunter; Senator Steve Litzow; Senator Ed Murray; Senator Debbie Regala; Representative Maureen Walsh
Bronze Crayon Recipients: Senator Mike Carrell; Representative Cathy Dahlquist

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Why we're in favor of the HB 2824

Today our own George Scarola testified in support of a new bill before the House that creates a joint taskforce on fully funding education programs. The bill also proposes to remove the class size initiative that started LEV in 2000, Initiative 728.

Voters approved the measure by nearly 72 percent, one of the highest majorities for a ballot initiative in the history of the state. I-728 was supported by a vast majority of Washington Voters to increase quality outcomes for kids by investing additional resources wisely and strategically. I-728 has provided over 2 billion dollars of additional funding for public schools since 2001.

We think all stakeholders must be prepared to compromise for the greater good, and we hope this helps set the table for a rational and robust discussion about funding.

We’re comfortable with this approach because of a combination of factors. Legislation that has passed in recent years sets the table for defining how the state should prioritize funding for public schools. In particular, 2261 and 2776, bills that redefine basic education and education funding formulas, are a solid start. Many of the values of LEV’s original initiative are reflected in that legislation. Additionally, the recent McCleary ruling demands a fully funded solution based on those pieces of legislation by 2018.

The Supreme Court ruling was clear that it is not just funding, but outcomes that matter. We believe the best way to ensure the State fulfills its paramount duty is to have stable and secure funding for our schools, but it is not just about money. We must fund a system that increases positive outcomes for kids.

You can see George’s testimony on TVW

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Wrapping up the session by the numbers

This post was written by LEV Organizer Betsy Cohen.

One of the hallmarks of LEV is our passion for helping people find their voice. We love empowering people to become informed about issues, and we encourage them to make their opinions known to policy makers, whether at the local, state or national levels. This year’s state legislative session presented a smorgasbord of education-related issues, from WAKids and early learning to teacher evaluations and charter schools. Here’s a look at what we did . . . by the numbers.

We kicked off the session with a full day of advocacy training, attended by 120 people, including eight legislators. Forty-five different speakers presented 16 breakout sessions plus a “speed dating” mash-up of “schools that work.” With a fun day of training under our collective belt, we were ready to tackle the legislative session.

We accompanied a total of 109 Key Activists and supporters as they traveled to Olympia this session, to speak with legislators or attend press conferences or hearings on issues that mattered to them. That number includes 35 Key Activists who presented testimony at hearings. Among the activities we engaged in: the Teacher/Principal Evaluation bill and the Public Charter School bill press conference, with 16 activists and six LEV staff in attendance; delivering starfish and the starfish story to every legislator, to illustrate how charter schools could make a difference in the lives of some students as early as next year (three volunteers plus LEV staff); delivering packs of Charter trading cards to every legislator (four volunteers plus LEV staff); and on Feb. 14, delivering hundreds of handwritten valentines – plus singing valentine telegrams! – to targeted legislators (four volunteers plus LEV staff).

Back at home, we were also busy! During the session, 15 volunteers picked up the phone to talk to legislators about the issues, and countless more sent e-mails. Our Key Activists also produced 13 blog posts or letters to the editor on issues they cared about. And when the legislators came home for town hall meetings, we turned out big-time, with 45 people attending eight different town halls.

This session saw some important legislative victories, but even on issues where we weren’t successful, we succeeded in raising awareness and advancing the discussion on topics that can have a positive impact on our children’s education. We at League of Education Voters are proud of the work we do and proud of all the hard work our friends and fellow activists do to improve education in Washington State. Thanks for a great session!

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The Teacher/Principal Evaluation bill is signed into law

Surrounded by supporters, Governor Gregoire signed ESSB 5895, the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Bill, into law just minute ago.

When discussing the bill, which was passed with support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Governor stated, “For success — you have to do the hard work, bring together competing interests, and do what’s best for our students!”

The new law will allow for more quality professional development; provide time for quality implementation of new evaluations; establishe more comprehensive, thorough and consistent educator evaluations; and tie educator evaluation outcomes to human resources decisions.

Regarding the major educational milestone, LEV CEO Chris Korsmo had this to say, “This bill moves the state forward in building a meaningful and accountable evaluation system for teachers and principals. Students deserve to be in schools led by effective principals and teachers, and educators deserve continuous feedback and support to improve their practice. Through this, parents can hold districts accountable for placing and keeping great teachers and principals in every school. This is a big step in the right direction.”

ESSB 5895 was approved on a 46-3 vote in the Senate and an 82-16 vote in the House of Representatives. The bill takes effect 90 days after the adjournment of the 2012 legislative session.

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Tell legislators: Protect students and families from deep budget cuts

It is the eve of the end of the regular Legislative session, and our kids need your help.

Can you take two minutes to urge your legislators to redouble their efforts to break the budget impasse that threatens to stop progress for children and education?

This must be the session that ends the years of cuts to education. This is the right response to the McCleary decision. This is the state’s smartest long-term investment.

For less than one percent of the total budget ($275 million), this Legislature can:

  • Protect early learning, and our public schools, and our public colleges and universities from the deepest cuts proposed in either the House or Senate budgets; and
  • Protect thousands of struggling working families and ensure their kids arrive ready to succeed in school.

Here are the programs that must be priorities in the final budget and what it would cost to “buy back” each proposed cut. Some are relatively small expenditures, but each makes a huge impact in the lives of many kids. They are among the state’s best tools for eliminating our achievement gap.

Start early so kids come into school ready to succeed

  • Working Connections Child Care — $148 million (difference between Senate passed and Senate Ways & Means budgets)
    Continues to provide child care subsidy to working families
  • WaKIDS — $1.5 million (House proposed addition)
    Expands kindergarten readiness transition program
  • State Food Assistance — $13.9 million (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues to provide food assistance to 12,000 families

Help students thrive and stay in school

  • School-Based Medical Services — $3.4 million (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues to provide funding for medical services in schools, predominantly for students in special education
  • Reading Corps — $950,000 (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues research-based tutoring and reading support for over 6,600 K-6th grade students
  • Readiness to Learn — $3.2 million (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues wraparound services (e.g. counseling, parent support, clothing) and early intervention dropout reduction for 275,000 at-risk PreK-8th grade students
  • Urban School Turnaround Initiative — $3 million (House proposed addition)
    Provides turnaround grant funding for three Seattle schools
  • Navigation 101 — $2.8 million (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues college- and career-readiness guidance and counseling program at 149 schools
  • Building Bridges — $337,000 (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues dropout prevention and retrieval system serving over 550 students
  • PASS Program — $1.5 million (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues incentive funding for schools successfully reducing dropout rates, serving over 3,600 students

 Ensure great teachers in every classroom

  • Beginning Educator Support Team — $1 million (House and Senate proposed cut)
    Continues mentoring support to beginning teachers
  • National Board Bonuses — $9.4 million (difference between House and Senate budgets)
    Continues to award incentive bonuses for teachers earning National Board certification
  • Teacher/Principal Evaluation System — $5.8 million (Senate proposed addition)
    Funds training, professional development and expansion for new evaluation system

Provide every student the opportunity to continue his or her education

  • Running Start — $8.1 million (Senate proposed cut)
    Continues opportunity for 17,400 high school students to earn college credit without paying tuition
  • State Need Grant — $10 million (House proposed cut)
    Protects financial aid to 68,000 students annually; roughly 22,000 eligible students are currently unserved
  • Colleges and universities — $65 million (House proposed cut)
    Reverses declining state support for public colleges and universities

We can appreciate that the Legislature is between a rock and hard place. I-1053 makes it all but impossible to raise revenue. But balancing the budget on the backs of working families, children and students is neither fair nor wise. The budgets that passed the House and Senate both included delayed payments, which is the best available option to fund these high priority programs. Further cuts to programs for kids, families and students are a far worse alternative.

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Hurray! WaKIDS passes the Legislature

Great news for education advocates – WaKIDS (ESHB 2586) passed the Legislature! Once it becomes law, Washington will be able to expand WaKIDS to more classrooms.

This means:

– More teacher and parent collaboration
– Giving kindergarten teachers more information on individual students
– Aligning practices between early learning facilities and kindergarten classrooms to support
a transition for children
– Enabling policymakers to make more data-driven decisions regarding Washington’s youngest students.

WaKIDS was a major part of Washington’s successful Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge application and it’s expansion is a big step for our littlest learners.

Thank you to the legislators who have made education a priority. Thank you to the activists, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens for taking action and all of your hard work toward ensuring a high quality education for all students.

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We compare the budgets

Data compiled by LEV Policy Analyst Jake Vela and Policy Director Heather Cope. All mathematical errors are ours.

We have created charts comparing the Governor’s proposed budget, the House Republican budget, the passed House budget, the Senate Democrat budget, and the passed Senate budget (which passed on Friday night). Scroll below to see the funding differences for early learning, K-12, and higher education.

Early Learning
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Higher Education
(Click to Expand)

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Proposed senate budget preserves important ed funding

Proposed senate budget preserves important ed funding

calculator with pen and paperThe Senate Ways and Means Committee released its supplemental budget proposal on Wednesday, which included preserving K-12 and higher education funding, maintaining State Need Grants for students and funding smaller K-3 classes by ending some tax exemptions for Wall Street banks.

This budget is a clear indication that we are moving away from three years of deep and painful cuts to education and toward investing in our children and our future. It is clear the Senate is taking the McCleary decision into account and investing in K-12 education.

Since the February revenue forecast, there have been three budget proposals and each seems better than the previous. With this budget, senators, along with their House peers, acknowledged that to succeed, our state’s kids need more education, not less. We know that investments in education are investments in our economic growth, and our state’s future. I applaud legislators for making education at all levels an area of chief investment.

Ensuring that Washington’s children have the best start should be one of the highest priorities of this state. I am glad to see that this budget asks the Legislature to support a balanced approach to funding education. It makes sense to ask out-of-state businesses to pay a fair share on the income they earn in Washington, and focusing on the early grades increases our students’ opportunity to succeed.

Key differences between the Senate and House proposals:

  • Senate fully funds National Board bonuses, teacher/principal evaluations, math and science professional development, and the Beginning Educator Support Team program, while the House reduced or cut these programs.
  • Senate spares colleges and universities and State Need Grant from cuts, while the House made reductions to these programs.
  • House funds the expansion of WaKIDS, a key component in Washington’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge award, while the Senate does not. This would delay critical services for our youngest learners and put our Race to the Top award at risk.

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Teacher/principal evaluation bill passes the House

Teacher/principal evaluation bill passes the House

Last night, the House gave a big win to kids by passing the teacher/principal evaluation bill (SB5895). The bill has already passed the Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s office for signing. (Read more about the bill.)

The bill – which was a bipartisan effort – will:

1) Make student growth data a substantial factor in determining evaluation results for teachers and principals.

2) Give evaluation results meaning by including them as a factor in personnel decisions (including placement and layoff).

There will be a three-year transition to the new evaluation system. Teachers, principals, and superintendents will be trained prior to implementation.

We know the importance of having a great teacher in every classroom, and this is good step in the right direction toward ensuring a high-quality education for all of Washington’s students.

Thank you to all of the teachers and principals who have put time and effort into the evaluation pilots. And thank you to the legislators and activists who continue to work hard to ensure a great education for kids. This is significant progress and would not have happened without your support.

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Comparing the education budgets

With the release of the House Ways and Means Committee budget proposal yesterday, LEV has created a comparison chart between the Governor’s initial education budget proposal, the House Republican proposal, and the House Ways and Means Committee proposal.

Scroll down to see the early learning, K-12, and Higher education budget comparisons.

2012 Early Learning Supplemental Budget

(Click chart to expand)



2012 K-12 Supplemental Budget

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2012 Higher Education Supplemental Budget
(Click chart to expand)



*Any math errors are LEVS.

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