Posts Tagged parents

Activist of the Month: Carol Solomon

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 May: Carol Solomon. Read more about her experience as an activist and advocate for her community and for Washington students.

Carol Solomon first became involved with LEV through LEV Field Organizer Andaiye Qaasim, who describes Carol as a “lifetime advocate” and the “backbone” of her community. (more…)

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

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Activist(s) of the Month: Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, Beth Sigall

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 Activists of the Month for April: Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, and Beth Sigall. Read more about their experiences as strong advocates for special education.

Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, and Beth Sigall are strong advocates for public education in Washington state. Sarah and Jennifer formed the Bellevue Special Needs PTA in 2012, where Jennifer serves as President and Sarah as co-Vice President. Beth serves as the Vice President of Advocacy for the Lake Washington PTSA Council. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Legislative session, LEV News, School Discipline

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Finding your voice

This post was written by LEV Organizer Brooke Valentine.

For the past six years Washington state has had a unique office of government supporting families with school age children, the Office of the Education Ombudsman. Founded during the 2006 legislative session, their mission is to promote equity in education and support the ability of public school students to fully participate and benefit from public education. This past year in a bold, proactive move, the OEO has decided to take their show on the road, and engage district staff, community organizations, and families in the communities they live and work in. It seems the OEO had a vision of families and schools working together in a stronger partnership in order to support student success. In order to support this vision, they created the Finding your Voice Parent Institute.

Last November I was able to attend the Finding Your Voice training hosted in the Yakima Valley. For two days I studied alongside school district staff and community leaders as we learned about the value of engaged parents and families. We learned how to strengthen families by providing ground level information on topics from discipline to bullying all while creating a basic understanding of Washington’s public school system. The presentations were rooted deeply in creating trusting and respectful relationships, emphasizing solid communication between communities, schools, and home. A huge piece of respecting families is valuing the family culture, their language, and heritage. We have to value, understand, and respect what each family can bring to the table.

The Finding Your Voice training really comes full circle on the third day, the trainer-led parent summit. At the summit, everyone who attended the two day training gets to practice what they have learned. The format and curriculum of the entire three day training is right on target. The OEO creates a space where success means effectively communicating with families and community members. It also gives the presenters the tools to teach families the system, and learn with them how to be better communicators.

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“Is it worth giving up a Saturday in my busy life to attend an education-advocacy training?”

This post was written by LEV’s State Field Director, Kelly Munn.

What: Access, Equity and Excellence: LEV’s 3rd Annual Advocacy Training
Where: Highline Community College
When: January 12th, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Register here.

You’re extremely busy and we know how valuable your time is. You know how we know? We’re busy too. We think it’s completely fair to ask:

“Is it worth giving up a Saturday in my busy life to attend an education-advocacy training?”

League of Education Voters might hold the answer to this very question.  You should attend our January 12th training if….

  • You want to meet people who think like you, but who also might challenge your assumptions
  • You want to hear stories from school districts who have stepped up to the plate and are improving outcomes for kids
  • You want to learn about the likely bills facing the legislature this session
  • You want to be surrounded by friends who also want to improve education  and are not afraid to ask tough questions
  • You want a few answers, even if you may not like them
  • You have heard about DFER, College Success Foundation, The Roadmap Project, Childrens Alliance, Office of the Education Ombudsman, TeamChild, Equity in Education and many more organizations, but haven’t had a chance to talk with someone from the organization
  • You need a little hope and truth to kick off the new year!

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you should seriously consider giving up your Saturday on January 12th to come to the training.

Workshops include:

The NEWS on McCleary

Three D’s: Discipline, Data Collection and Disproportionality

Why All Day-K Matters

Leveraging our Voice in the Collective Bargaining Process

The Ins and Outs of Teacher Evaluations in Washington

Community Strategies for Closing the Opportunity Gap

Learning from the rest of the Nation: How to Do Charters Right

Show Me the Money: Education Funding and Revenue in the 2013 Legislative Session

Parent Power! A Training with OEO

Reclaiming Students: The Educational and Economic Costs of Exclusionary Discipline

Prepare to be inspired by a keynote from LEV CEO Chris Korsmo, as well as a science-fair style learning event. We’ll wrap the day with a wine reception and student performances.

The all-day event only costs $25 and includes lunch.  This is a sweet deal.  LEV is not making money on this training, funds go towards paying the cost of facility rentals and food.  If you can’t afford the $25 fee, please contact Maggie Wilkens at  and she will give you a fee waiver, no questions asked.   However, if you CAN afford the fee, and would like to sponsor someone else, it would be MUCH appreciated.

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Why parents and the community should give their input on contract negotiations

This piece was written by Heidi Bennett, a parent-advocate with two students in Seattle Public Schools. It originally appeared on the Our Schools Coalition blog on October 25th. It was also published on ParentMap on October 26th.

What happens in our classrooms and school matters–it’s one of the most critical components of our children’s lives. More often than not, the school day and our children’s education are determined by the teacher and principal contracts – known as the “Collective Bargaining Agreement” or CBA. About every three years, representatives of Seattle Public Schools sit down with representatives of the Seattle Education Association—the teachers’ union–to negotiate their contract.

During the CBA negotiations, the schools and the union decide class size, the length of the school day, how teachers are hired and evaluated, how families can best interact with their school community, and much more.

At the beginning of the last round of negotiations, a group of community members came together to add their views. Made up of Seattle Public School parents, local employers, community volunteers and taxpayers, the Our Schools Coalition works to express the community’s voice in teacher contract negotiations, to advocate for our children, and to support teachers as professionals.

Together, we were able to share our priorities to district and union leadership and with other parents and people in our community. In September of 2010, the union and schools both agreed to a groundbreaking agreement which included nearly all of our proposals, and for the first time, connected student achievement to teacher performance in its evaluation process.

Read more here.

*Editor’s Note: The comment form mentioned in this piece is closed, but the need for parent and community input in contract negotiations is still an important and relevant message.

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Why early learning matters in this election

This piece, co-written by LEV Policy Analyst Tracy Sherman and LEV Early Learning Community Organizer April Ritter, originally appeared in ParentMap on October 25th, 2012.

We all know we should care about elections, and we’ve heard that this year is especially important for education. This election is important for education at all levels, but some of the most affected students will be our state’s youngest — those younger than five.

The next governor and legislature will make big decisions about services that help our state’s littlest learners get ready for school and life. Programs like free preschool for low-income children and all-day kindergarten for all students are so impactful because 85 percent of a baby’s brain develops before age five — and most of it before age three. Rich learning environments during these years, whether in preschools, childcare centers or a neighbor’s back yard, can make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Crystal Garvin, mother of three, knows first-hand the importance of these programs. Her family has worked hard to succeed, but last year, she had to quit her job in her field because her wage was not enough to pay for childcare. Fortunately, her children are able to qualify for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), the state’s preschool program for low-income children, and they could attend preschool, despite the cost.

Research tells us that high-quality early learning is important for all children, but it has an even greater impact on low-income children who often face a number of risk factors and start kindergarten behind their peers. While it is possible for children to catch up to where they should be academically, it is hard.

Continue reading here.

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Why you should care about the 2012 elections

This piece, written by LEV’s Director of Government Relations Frank Ordway, originally appeared in ParentMap on October 10th, 2012.

This time it really matters.

Cutting through the clatter of political campaigns can be difficult. For many, understandably, the noise and negativity are simply too much to digest. But for parents and kids, this election and the legislative session that follows really matter.

If you care about your kids, you should care about this election.

The people we elect this year will make momentous decisions that will impact every kid, from Pre–K through college. This why we, as parents, should pay close attention, vote, and follow how our new Washington legislature and governor handle the challenges that await them.

Continue reading here.

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The Latino Community Fund to hold summit, policy forum on discipline

The Latino Community Fund will be holding a summit on Friday, October 26th at the University of Washington-Tacoma. According to the summit website, “Latino Community Fund Statewide Summit offers an unprecedented opportunity for Latinos and allies from multiple sectors to get engaged in timely and solutions-oriented training and planning that improves the health and well-being of Washington State’s Latino communities.”

The summit will have workshops on a myriad of issues including youth leadership and education. There will also be a forum on school discipline. Hosted by the Latino Community Fund, Latino Progress and the Council on State Governments Justice Center, the forum will discuss the ways in which students and communities of color are negatively affected by disproportionality in school discipline policies and practices.

What: 2012 Latino Community Fund Summit
When: Friday, October 26th. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Where: University of Washington-Tacoma
Cost: $65.00 through today, or $75.00 after 10/1

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Events, School Discipline

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What makes a community college successful?

John Tulenko of the PBS program Learning Matters recently interviewed Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute, to talk about the growing importance of community colleges in U.S. education. The Aspen Institute awards $1 million grants to community colleges that have high on-time completion rates.

Wyner began the interview by discussing community college completion rates. Currently, only 30 percent of community college students earn a certificate or degree while 10 percent move on to a four year university. One of the colleges that the Aspen Institute highlights is Walla Walla Community College, which monitors students to make sure they remain on track. Wyner notes that monitoring students is very important because community college students are different from four year college students, and it’s easier for them to get off track. Colleges offer a lot of course choice, and the perception is that students will figure it out along the way. Wyner states, “The challenge is that most community college students are working. [It makes it harder for them to make] the right choices.”

Another community college that Wyner points to is Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota. Lake Area Tech offers 27 defined programs. This means that if a student selects a program, such as nursing, they already know all the classes they need to take in order to complete the program, leaving little room for straying. Wyner explains that when it comes to classes, “the idea is that students don’t have to guess when to take it, or what to take.” According to Wyner, the idea of students picking and choosing classes to “find themselves” is from a bygone era. Lake Area Tech has a 76 percent graduation rate.

Wyner also talks to John Tulenko about finding gainful employment after completing college. Wyner says that one of the advantages of community college is their nimbleness and flexibility. For example at Walla Walla Community College developed their wine program after looking at employment data and talking to employers and finding that the Walla Walla’s burgeoning wine industry hires more people than agriculture industry, which used to be the college’s focus.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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Education Department awards grants to fund information centers for parents of children with disabilities

The U.S. Education Department announced today that they have awarded 16 states $9.8 million in grants to operate 25 Parent Training and Information (PTI) Centers for parents of students with disabilities. The centers works with parents to help them ensure that their children have access to entitled services.

In a statement to the press, Arne Duncan said: “Parent Centers are critical in helping to empower parents and families who have children with disabilities. These centers help parents understand the services to which their children are entitled and deserve under the law. They also are powerful resources in communities across the country.”

With the addition of these grants, the Education Department now funds 101 parent information centers. Centers in Washington include Open Doors for Multi Cultural Centers, Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP), and Washington PAVE.

Find the full list of award grantees here.

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