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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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Attend the Annual Washington state PTA Convention this weekend

LEV State Field Director Kelly Munn, State Field Coordinator Maggie Wilkens, and Community Organizer Brooke Valentine, will all be presenting at the 100th Annual Washington state PTA Convention this weekend at the Bellevue Hyatt Hotel. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about education while interacting with hundreds of education advocates from across the state.

Kicking things off on Saturday at 3:15 p.m., Kelly will be hosting an hour long parent- to- parent class. The class will be divided in to six modules, allowing parents to give ten minute presentations focusing on an aspect of education funding.

The following day, Brooke and Maggie will be doing a joint presentation on discipline. During the class, attendees will learn about the failures of zero tolerance policies and their ill- prescribed punishments as well as solutions like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and culture competence awareness training. The pair will also discuss the importance of good, accessible, and disaggregated data and how it can help transform school discipline. The presentation is from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Registration information for the convention can be found here.

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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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