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Posts Tagged 2013 legislative session

Activist of the Month: Dakoda Foxx

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 April: Dakoda Foxx. Read more about Dakoda’s advocacy and activism in her community.

Dakoda FoxxDakoda Foxx’s advocacy work began close to home in 2011, after her daughter was suspended for 100 days. Dakoda knew this “wasn’t right,” so she went to TeamChild to talk to them about her daughter’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) and her options for reengagement. Through her conversations about school discipline, Dakoda learned that many parents in her Puyallup community had children facing the same issues.

From there, she began advocating in earnest. Dakoda advocated at all levels—from doorbelling to testifying about discipline. In 2012, Dakoda began looking for organizations who would work on legislation about school discipline, and that’s how she learned that the League of Education Voters was already working on Senate Bill 5946.

The rest, as they say, is history. Dakoda has continued testifying about school discipline and closing the gaps on a regular basis—most recently in support of Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos’ bill on closing the achievement gap (HB 1541). Shortly before that testimony, Dakoda also spoke at the March State Board of Education meeting in Tacoma about transforming school discipline. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Closing the Gaps, LEV News, School Discipline

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Making sure the new discipline law works

Katie MosehauerKatie Mosehauer, Executive Director of Washington Appleseed, recently spoke with Steve Scher at KUOW about the new Washington state school discipline law, and how the changes affect schools, students, and parents.

Every year, thousands of Washington students are excluded from school. Students of color, low-income students, and special education students are disciplined at higher rates than other students, which contribute to Washington’s opportunity and achievement gaps. Higher rates of suspensions and expulsions lead to higher dropout rates, increases in grade repetition, and a rise in incarceration rates.

(more…)

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, School Discipline

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Transforming School Discipline: The Next Step

Transforming School Discipline: The Next Step [image of children running]During the 2013 legislative session, many of you helped us pass a law (SB 5946) that makes school discipline data public and limits the number of days that students can be removed from class.

That was the first step in transforming school discipline policies. Now it’s time to take another.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is inviting public comment on its implementation of the new law.

There are a few ways you can get involved. (more…)

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Legislation boosts early reading and tightens rules for school discipline

By Fiona Cohen

In the dramatic end to the Washington state legislature’s special session last week, a bill (5946), was signed into law that will be a step forward for public school students.

It includes measures to bolster reading programs for kids in the early part of elementary school. How well kids read in those years makes a big difference to their future success. One study found that kids who are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely not to graduate from high school.

Under the new law, whenever a child in grades K through 4 is below grade-level in reading, the teacher will have to inform the parents or guardians of the child’s progress, and what strategies the school is using to strengthen the child’s reading.

Another component will start in the 2014-2015 school year.  The timing is important because it should coincide with the state switching to a test that will give teachers results before the end of the school year. The current MSP gives out the results the following August.

If a third grader scores below “basic” on the language arts tests, the school has to schedule a meeting with the parents or guardians and discuss what to do to improve the child’s skills. One possible solution: enroll the student in a summer program.

The legislation also provides significant progress on how schools implement discipline policies

Washington used to have no time limit on how long students could be suspended or expelled. Now it does.

Students cannot be suspended or expelled for longer than one calendar year, though a school can petition the district superintendent to exceed one year if staff have health or safety concerns. Emergency expulsions must also be converted into a definite disciplinary action within 10 days of being imposed, thus removing students from a state of limbo.

Also, schools must make public their data on suspensions and expulsions, including information about the race and gender of those suspended, the status of petitions to re-enroll in school , and information about educational services the student received while suspended or expelled.

Tracy Sherman, policy analyst for the League of Education Voters said this is an important step towards getting students who have been removed from school back into the classroom. 

“This is a big win for students, and we’ll continue to work on this issue.”

Editor’s Note: This post originally ran on the Our Schools Coalition blog.

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The 2013 legislative session: It’s a wrap

In what has become unfortunately common in Washington, the 2013 legislative session went into overtime. An agreement on a two-year budget was reached with less than 24 hours to spare to avoid a shutdown of state government. While significant hurdles remain as we strive to ensure our public education system is amply, equitably and sustainably funded, measurable progress was made during the extended 2013 session.

The legislature and the Governor were faced with competing requirements and political trends. Our state’s constitution required increased investment in K-12 education. And while I-1053 was ultimately ruled unconstitutional, the voters of Washington state have consistently sent a strong message that any tax increases must have 2/3 majority support in the legislature. The legislators were charged with increasing investment in K12, without broad based revenue increases, and avoiding cuts to other areas of education or essential social services.

On that score you have to say the session was a mild success. As a state, we expanded investment in early learning, brought a modicum of stability to the Working Connections Child Care program, increased investment in K-12 with an intense focus on the opportunity gap, and stopped the crippling cuts to higher education. We did all of this without cannibalizing essential social services. While it took longer than was needed, the outcome reflected the values of the voters who sent the legislators to Olympia to represent them.

In addition to the budget items, significant bipartisan efforts on education policy were passed (See LEV 2013 legislative accomplishments). Legislation related to addressing customer service issues in child care, supports for persistently failing schools, literacy, STEM education, gathering and reporting of discipline data, and assessment reforms all passed with significant bipartisan support.

As we move forward, LEV will continue to work with parents, members of both parties, and members of the education community to address the continuing challenge of providing ample, equitable and stable funding and ensuring those dollars are invested effectively to ensure that every student in Washington state receives an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

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Governor Inslee signs two early learning bills

Great news for Washington’s littlest learners; Governor Inslee has signed HB 1723 and SB 5595 into law! Here are some of the changes you can expect:

Under HB 1723

Under SB 5595

  • DEL/The Department of Social and Health Services will provide improved consumer service, meaning they will return all phone calls within 2 business days, develop a process to submit forms online, notify parents and child care providers 10 days before loss of WCCC benefits, and provide consumers with a document that is easy to understand regarding what services they are eligibile for, etc.
  • Creates a task force comprised of legislators, representatives from various early learning stakeholder groups, and child care providers. The task force will develop recommendations for creating a tiered-reimbursement model for WCCC and a mixed delivery system for ECEAP.
  • DEL/DSHS must work to design a more flexible subsidy system that accounts for small fluctuations in family circumstances, ensure that minor changes in parent’s work schedule(s) don’t interfere with their WCCC authorization, enable parents who participate in 110 hours of work or related activities to be eligible for full-time child care services, and simplify the requirement to count child support as income.

* This is void if not funded by 6/1/13.

Governor Inslee signs House Bill No. 1723 Relating to expanding and streamlining early learning services and programs.

Governor Inslee signs House Bill No. 1723
Relating to expanding and streamlining early learning services and programs.

Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5595 Relating to child care reform.

Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5595 Relating to child care reform.

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Governor signs bill to help turnaround schools

“Our kids can’t wait for schools to improve. They need high-quality schools now.”

This is a favorite mantra of LEV’s CEO Chris Korsmo, who is known for her impatient optimism.

Community leaders and legislators agreed that it was time for our state to do something about persistently low-achieving schools. The time for hoping the problem would get better was over.

Today Governor Inslee signed SB 5329, which gives the state a larger role in school accountability and turnaround efforts. The legislation calls on the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to design, a statewide system of support, assistance, and intervention for persistently low-achieving schools.

The legislation implements the second level of an accountability system created in 2010 to assist the ten most persistently lowest-achieving schools in Washington to become more accountable. School performance is based on the Achievement Index, a State Board of Education-developed accountability framework.

Thanks to SB 5329, persistently low achieving schools will receive additional support from OSPI to implement a three-year required action plan. OSPI will develop the action plan criteria and the corresponding system of supports for each level of challenged schools. If schools do not improve in three years, OSPI, working with local districts, will require additional actions to increase student achievement.

LEV worked with our partners Stand for Children and Partnership for Learning and a bi-partisan team of legislators in both chambers to develop the legislation.

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Sine Die 2013

On Sunday, April 28th around 6:00 p.m. the gavel fell and the 105 day regular session was brought to a close. Almost as swiftly as the 2013 regular session ended, Gov. Inslee called for a special session to begin on Monday, May 13th in order to focus on three main issues:
1. An operating budget that makes a substantial down payment on education, but not on the backs of seniors or the poor;
2. A transportation plan that preserves funding for existing infrastructure projects and funds new projects; and
3. Important education policy measures to ensure that new education funding will achieve results.

LEV walked into the 2013 session with three priorities:

Work with the legislature to ensure the McCleary decision to fund basic education is upheld and utilized well.

LEV has advocated before and during the 2013 session that it is time to amply fund education and look towards new avenues for revenue in this state. As the operating budget continues to be crafted and debated we will be steadfast in our support of a system that fully pays for education, but not by cannibalizing vulnerable populations.

Prioritize the investments and funding in education that have been made to Washington’s students and have been proven effective.

LEV, along with our coalition partners, brought to the table vital legislation addressing accountability and access from early learning through higher education. So far we have had significant progress in:

  •         Early learning through SB 5595 and HB 1723
  •         Assisting persistently low achieving schools to be more accountable through SB 5329
  •         Alternative assessments for teacher certification HB1178
  •         Support for programs that close the opportunity gap, such as academic acceleration through HB 1642

Minimize the negative impact of discipline policies on students.

As a brand new issue, brought forward from the community, discussions around the discipline policies in our schools have come leaps and bounds. From an issue that was barely spoken of last session to now a rallying point for many legislators eager to end racial disparities and close the opportunity gap, there is still much work to be done this year and in future years. The bills tied to this issue have been labeled NTIB (necessary to implement the budget) and will be negotiated out during the special session.

The mini-interim between now and May 13th will send legislators back to their home districts for a few weeks. As LEV continues to advocate for the policy bills and budgets still in the works, this is your opportunity to connect with your individual legislators to remind them the impacts their choices make on you, your children, and your community. Look for more updates on budget progress and key policy bills, as well as how you can stay involved as the 30-day special session kicks off.

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House budget gives us something to cheer about

Today the Democratic-led Washington House released its proposed 2013-15 budget. This budget gives us something to cheer about — it meets the McCleary funding obligation, provides additional support for early learning and higher education, and keeps the state’s safety net intact.

This responsible, sustainable budget is good for kids and schools.

Want to know how the House, Senate, and Governor’s budget compare?

The proposed House budget follows the recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Education Funding and invests $1.3 billion in new funding for K-12 education, with additional investments in early learning and higher education.

The House budget includes a reasonable $986 million down payment on McCleary, including:

  • $461 million maintenance and supplies (MSOC)
  • $225 million for K-3 class size reduction
  • $144 million for transportation
  • $63 million for increased instructional hours tied to the 24-credit high school diploma

NOTE:  The 24-credit diploma will not become a graduation requirement until full-funding is achieved, as required by state law.

  • $92 million for full-day Kindergarten

In addition, the House budget includes$75 million for college- and career-ready, which encompasses the Learning Assistance Program, Transitional Bilingual Program, as well as guidance counselors and family engagement coordinators.

It also includes $34 million for professional development to support the implementation for TPEP (Teacher Principal Evaluation Program) passed by the legislature last session.

There are no resources in the House budget for Common Core implementation.

Early Learning

The House budget includes an additional $40.7 million for ECEAP. This funding will serve an additional 1,882 children each year and allow more low-income 3- and 4-year olds to receive preschool.

The House budget includes an additional $30.8 million for WCCC. This program is critical in assisting low-income children by providing safe environments for them to grow and learn while their parents work or go to school.  The money to improve the system will help improve the child care system which is desperately needed.

Higher Education

The House budget increases funding by $94 million above maintenance for higher education and includes:

  • $50.1 million for College Bound Scholarship
  • $36.5 million for State Need Grant
  • $24 million to increase high demand degree production

LEV continues to believe we need to address the overall regressive nature of our tax system and that doing so will truly put our education funding on a sustainable path. However, in the near term, the tax reforms proposed today are reasonable, targeted and worthy of strong consideration.

LEV’s 2013 legislative priorities include fully funding basic education, ensuring our high school students graduate college- and career-ready, and expanding early learning and higher education access.

 

 

 

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Senate budget has highs and lows

Today the Republican-led Washington Senate released its proposed 2013-15 budget. A genuine bi-partisan effort has been pursued in the Senate in creating the proposal. We are impressed by the intense effort by both Republicans and Democrats to work together on behalf of all Washingtonians.

Initial budgets are just that, initial. This is the beginning of the conversation in Olympia that will determine how public funds are invested in education over the next two years. The House will release their budget next week.

The Senate proposal includes a total of $1.5 billion for education, with investments in early learning, K-12 and higher education.

However, there are a number of significant omissions in the Senate budget, including:

  • limited funding for full-day kindergarten (details below);
  • no funding for K-3 class size reduction;
  • no increases in instructional hours or support for a college- and career-ready diploma–components of the 2009 legislation (HB2261) referred to in the McCleary v. Washington decision ordering the legislature to fully fund basic education by 2018;
  • no support for Common Core implementation; and

The Senate budget includes a $760 million modest down payment on McCleary including:

  • fully funding “books and buses”–maintenance, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC) at $521 million and transportation at $198 million; and
  • limited funding to phase-in full-day kindergarten (FDK), with priority given to schools in low-income communities at $41 million. In 2013-14, 30 percent of the state’s kindergarten population would be served (up from 22 percent) and in 2014-15 it would increase to 35 percent.

NOTE: This level of investment falls short of what is needed to meet the needs of our state’s youngest learners. At this level, full funding would not be attained until 2028, a full 10 years after current law, and the Supreme Court, require.

The Senate proposal also includes nearly $200,000 to support the implementation of common sense school discipline which will require schools and districts to collect and report data and end long-term discipline.

Lastly, the Senate also calls out a combination of cuts and additional support for early-learning and higher education:

Early Learning

  • Working Connections Child Care – Senate proposes a $143 million cut to TANF/WCCC and an additional cut of $17.4 million which will reduce the number of families that can access the program from 33,000 to 29,000 families.

Higher Education

  • The Senate proposal increases funding by $107 million, a nearly 4 percent increase over the projected expenditures for 2013-15. This includes nearly $34 million for the College Bound Scholarship program.
  • Coupled with the proposed tuition decrease, this proposal would result in a net loss for higher education.

LEV’s 2013 legislative priorities include fully funding basic education, ensuring our high school students graduate college- and career-ready, and expanding early learning and higher education access. This budget proposal makes some progress compared to where we have been over the past few years, but still falls short of what our students need and our constitution demands.

 

 

 

 

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