Posts Tagged parent engagement

Ask a Teacher on the WA Teacher Advisory Council

2015 Washington state Teacher of the Year Lyon Terry - League of Education VotersBy Lyon Terry, 2015 Teacher of the Year
Guest Blogger

As the 2015 Washington state Teacher of the Year, I am often called to be a speaker, panelist, story-teller, spokesperson and more. But I am far from the only teacher who understands what works in education. To improve our schools, we must involve the people doing the work—the teachers.

I remember speaking in front of six hundred education advocates in a windowless room at the Seatac DoubleTree. The people there wanted to support kids and improve education, and I was glad to be called. But I was the only teacher in the room. How was this audience going to make change to schools without talking to the people who teach the kids?

Education is at a crossroads in our state right now. We must ask teachers for solutions. Teachers should be in every education conversation. Yet, we are often not consulted.

Washington state must increase funding for education by billions over the next two years to satisfy the McCleary Decision. What is needed? Why is it needed? Ask teachers. They will tell you.

Sure, we must increase salaries, particularly for beginning teachers, but teachers are not in the profession for the money. Teachers know there are many other needs. The following teachers are all award-winning educators in the WA Teacher Advisory Council Network. You can search for any education issue there and even use it to gain access to classrooms. We want you to see what is needed. Here are some of the issues that match our teachers’ expertise:

Michael Werner in Granite Falls or Spencer Martin in Sunnyside can tell about the funding needed for their amazing Career and Technical Education Programs.

Ask Katie Brown in Bellingham, Alisa Louie in Kent, or Jose Corona in Yakima about the needs of students who are learning English for the first time.

Have questions about special education? Ask Elizabeth Loftus in Oak Harbor or Theodore Mack in Moses Lake.

Do you want to know solutions for funding our massive teacher shortage? Ask Bethany Rivard in Vancouver, Dave Gammon in Spokane, or Nathan Bowling in Tacoma.

What about the importance of social and emotional learning? Ask Theresa Holland-Schmid on the Kitsap Peninsula or Lynne Olmos in Mossyrock. They can also bend your ear about the importance of arts integration.

Teachers Kendra Yamamoto in Vancouver and Tim Larson in Odessa can articulate the incredible importance of early learning.

Many teachers know what is needed to support science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).  Ask Barney Peterson in Everett, Jeff Wehr in Odessa, Jeff Charboneau in Zillah, John Gallagher in Port Angeles, or Camille Jones in Quincy if you are interested.

How can we improve parent engagement? Ask Kimberly Witte in Bremerton or Brian Sites in Richland.

Do you care about dual credit, advanced placement, and access for all? Ask Nathan Bowling in Tacoma or Shari Conditt in Woodland.

I could go on and on. I love knowing these teachers. They are all Teachers of the Year, recognized by their districts, ESDs, and the state as experts in the field; they know what our students and schools need to be successful, to thrive. They are members of the WA Teacher Advisory Council with the mission to inform education decisions and influence policy, promoting equity and excellence for all.

Let them rise to their mission. If you have an education question, then please, talk to an accomplished educator. And listen. #askateacher


Lyon Terry teaches 4th grade at Lawton Elementary School in the Seattle Public Schools. He is a National Board Certified teacher with 20 years of experience. Every day he plays guitar and sings with his students. You can find him on Twitter @lyonterry or email:




Posted in: Blog, Career Technical Education, Early Learning, Funding, STEM, Teacher Prep

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Education Advocate February 2016

ED Advocate, League of Education Voters Newsletter, February 2016


Chris Korsmo
Chris Korsmo, CEO

It’s that time of year. Yes, there was that football game. The groundhog has done his thing. And a good chunk of the nation is fixated on the New Hampshire primary. But it’s the legislative calendar that has my attention. Last Friday marked the first of many legislative deadlines. It was the cut-off date for bills to be moved from the policy committee in their house of origin.

To keep you in the loop, we have two great ways to help you stay up on what’s happening in Olympia: our education bill tracker, and my Weekly Roundup Friday emails. You can also read our legislative priorities.

Registration for our annual breakfast is in full swing. We’d love to see you Thursday, March 31st at the Seattle Sheraton for an inspirational conversation about the skills gap and ensuring that Washington students are college and career ready with Mike Sotelo, founder of Consolidar and Plaza Bank, Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and Will Sarrett, Director of NewTech Skill Center in Spokane, moderated by Colleen McAleer, President of the Washington Business Alliance.

Special props to our sponsors: Anonymous (platinum level), the Nick and Leslie Hanuaer Foundation (platinum level), Boeing (silver level), the Manufacturing Industrial Council (bronze level) and the Washington Business Alliance (bronze level).   

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



Chris Korsmo

Register today for our Annual Breakfast

Register today for our 2016 Annual Breakfast: March 31, 2016, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.Our 2016 Annual Breakfast, to support the LEV Foundation, will be held Thursday, March 31, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

Join us for an inspirational conversation about the skills gap and preparing Washington students for post-secondary success with Mike Sotelo, founder of Consolidar and Plaza Bank, Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, President of Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and Will Sarrett, Director of NewTech Skill Center in Spokane, moderated byColleen McAleer, President of the Washington Business Alliance. Learn more

Parent & Community Training Highlights

Parent Organizing Groups panel featuring LEV Field Director Kelly Munn with parent organizers Margarita, BJ and FatimaLEV’s Sixth Annual Parent & Community Training January 23rd at Highline College was a great success! Thank you to everyone who participated. Panel discussions covered important topics such as Career and Technical Education, public charter schools, education funding, how to advocate for your special needs child, organizing parent groups, how to find financial aid for college, the truth behind Common Core and much more.

See photos from the event and check out presentation slides. Read more

2016 Education Bill Comparisons

2016 bill comparisonsThere has been plenty of talk this legislative session about public charter schools, closing the opportunity gap, the Washington Promise Program and the Levy Cliff.  See how the lawmakers’ proposals compare in our LEV blogRead more

Get Involved


March 31, 2016 | 2016 Annual Breakfast, Sheraton Hotel, Seattle


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Posted in: Education Advocate, LEV News

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Parent engagement is key

Maria EstradaThe League of Education Voters’ September Activist of the Month, Maria Estrada, submitted a guest op-ed to the Seattle Times that was published this morning: “New graduation rules will help all parents get more involved.”

An excerpt from the op-ed is below:

Parent engagement is key to helping students make good decisions about their future and successfully achieve their dreams, particularly during students’ high school experiences.

But for me, parent engagement isn’t just about what I can do for my daughter. It’s also about what I can do to benefit all children.

My daughter Paulina and I moved to Washington from Mexico a few years ago. The language barrier made it difficult for me to understand how the school system worked or what classes my daughter was enrolled in.

Parents need to be engaged, but they also need accessible information about their child’s education. From personal experience, I can tell you that remaining engaged in your child’s education isn’t possible when you’re struggling to understand complex, bureaucratic information in a foreign language.

Read the entire article on the Seattle Times website.

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, LEV News

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Activist of the Month: Maria Estrada

Maria Estrada testifies in Olympia on the new discipline law in April 2014.

Maria Estrada testifies in Olympia on the new discipline law in April 2014.

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 September: Maria Estrada. Read more about her experience as an advocate for all kids, including her daughter, Paulina Zepeda (our March 2014 Activist of the Month).

Maria Estrada believes in parent engagement. She believes in it so strongly that she’s worked with Donald Bender, Migrant Academic Service Coordinator for ESD 105, to write a series of curricula on parent engagement. But it’s one thing to write curricula and another entirely to take action on it. Maria testified at the public hearing at the State Board of Education meeting in Spokane in July on that very topic.

Maria says that parent engagement is key to student success. “When parents are engaged, they can help their children make decisions about their future and successfully achieve their dreams. Parents should trust their children and love them, of course, but they also need to stay engaged. In doing that, they not only help their own children, they help all children.” (more…)

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

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First step: Engagement. Second step: Change the world.

Micaela RazoEarlier this month, a study from the University of Washington examined ways that immigrant parents could become engaged in their child’s school when traditional methods are barriers to their involvement.

That study resonated with League of Education Voters (LEV) Community Organizer Micaela Razo, who has done much of the work mentioned in the study—both as a parent and as an organizer—by engaging parents in migrant families in eastern Washington.

We asked Micaela to tell us about her experience engaging parents in their child’s school, and she told the story of creating the first Spanish-speaking PTA in Washington state, formed two-and-a-half years ago in Grandview, and how she got there.

I became an advocate for my child when he was very young. We were living in one of the wealthiest school districts in the area and the PTA lived up to the stereotypes you hear about—that it’s just bake sales and fundraising.

But I was finding that I had to navigate the maze of school bureaucracy and learn to advocate for my child all on my own, so I decided to infiltrate the bake sales. I was the first parent of color to join the PTA. (more…)

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, LEV News

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