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The 2014 Legislative Session

The 2014 legislative session may have been short, but there were significant policy accomplishments in improving public education in Washington state. These accomplishments expand access to financial aid for higher education for all Washington students, pave the way for all students to graduate from high school ready for college or career, and make steps toward reducing the opportunity and achievement gaps. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Higher Education, Legislative session, LEV News

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup, Week of 3/10-3/14

Edu-Buddies,

Greetings! That giant sucking sound you heard on Friday was not the rush of legislators exiting Olympia—though they mostly did get out of Dodge. NO, that was me, racing to my son’s elementary school auction, where I crusaded against unbid-for items in the silent auction and sober school secretaries. You’d have thought it was my first time to the charity auction rodeo. Thankfully, my paddle number drowned in a table-mate’s spilled chardonnay and my floppy instrument of mass expenditure was finally decommissioned.

However, I am the proud new owner of one second-grade art project and several of the aforementioned unbid-for (other than my bid) items of varying use. The real prize eluded me as my raffle numbers were not called for the Merry Maids visits. Because this event was “for the children,” I won’t dwell on the number of Merry Maids visits I could have purchased with the money spent. That notwithstanding, why does it take a school auction to buy science lab equipment? I’m grateful to the parents who “raised the paddle,” and baffled as to why they have to.

It might interest you to know that my son’s school has a free and reduced lunch rate (FRL) that hovers in the mid to high 40s, percentage-wise. So, these events are small miracles in and of themselves. And every one of the dollars raised is much needed. And then some. Now, you may be saying to yourself, but Chris, a high FRL means federal assistance in the form of Title I money. Not so fast. Distributing those dollars is a district-by-district thing. And the thing where my son goes to school is that if the school doesn’t meet a certain threshold, say 50 percent FRL, the school receives no Title I dollars. It wouldn’t take much to get there. About 15 more kids eligible for FRL…. It’s some strange system that leaves nearly 200 kids behind.

And, this leads me to our last update from this session: (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session, LEV News, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup, Week of 3/3-3/7

Edsters!

Happy Friday to you all. As you’ve likely heard by now, this Sunday is “turn-your-clock-forward” day. While I’ve always wondered about this whole turn-the-clock-forward-and-back thing, one thing that is very obvious is its impact on my kiddo and elderly dog on the following Monday morning. This is a mixed bag, because the elderly dog, who normally rises at five, will now arise at six, owing to the clock manipulation. The 8-year-old, who normally gets up at seven, will have to be nudged, cajoled, called out, and more because eight is the new seven. Or is seven the new eight? In either case, I’ll have a cranky second grader. On the good side, I’ll actually be able to stay up to watch “The Blacklist.”

Enough about losing time, on to the little bit of time left in the legislative session:

Waivering: Will Washington beat the clock and maintain its waiver from requirements of  “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB)? I dunno. But right now I give it the same odds as Liza Minelli inviting Ellen DeGeneres to her holiday party. Recall that in order for schools to be exempt from calling themselves “failing” and writing letters to parents saying as much because the school hasn’t reached the 100% threshold for students testing at proficiency on state tests, the state needs to make changes to its teacher/principal evaluation program. (If you liked that run-on sentence, hang on for a bit.) State law currently allows for the use of state test data to be used in teacher evaluations—there is no mandate to do so and no threshold for how much it would count—but the Feds require the inclusion of said state test data in order to get and maintain a waiver. (See, I told ya. This stuff just doesn’t lend itself to short, crisp description. More William Carlos Williams than e.e. cummings.) This past week, teachers rallied against making the changes while the Governor reiterated his desire to require the use of state test data. At stake is control over some $40 million in funds targeted to support low-income kids. With the clock ticking, and at least one hour being lost to daylight savings, the pressure mounts.

Winding Down: Less than a week remains for the state legislature to wrap up its business. Both chambers have passed state supplemental budgets, sides have chosen negotiators, and it looks like we may see budget votes early next week. Meanwhile, we await further action on the “Meaningful High School Diploma,” SB 6552, and a small bucketful of other bills before the sine die. In addition, legislators owe the Supreme Court a plan for fully funding basic education as laid out in the McCleary decision by April 30. Looks more like the state will be asking for an extension to file the plan as of right now. Speaking of right now, we expect legislation to move between now and the end of the weekend—so stay tuned.

Winners: We saw a lot of local recognition being given to schools, organizations, and programs that work. First, the Roadmap Project held its first-ever awards ceremonies for the partners working in a nine-district area of South King County. Their aim to double the number of college certificates or degrees in this area by 2020 is a high bar. But folks are really pulling together to make it happen. iGrad, a dropout recovery program in Kent, received a national award for its efforts to improve education in the district. The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction recognized 23 schools for implementing college and career readiness programs. Though no official recognition ensued, a major shout-out to Puyallup and Sequim school districts for planned expansions to their full-day kindergarten programs.

What Else:

  • An interesting lawsuit in California over teacher protections. You can follow the trial here.
  • Big changes to the SAT—looking to make it more equitable. Will it work? Lots of food for thought.
  • President Obama released his federal budget earlier this week. On the education front, Obama’s administration requested about $69 billion in discretionary funds for education. While that’s almost a 2 percent increase over last year, including funds for college financial aid, special education, early learning, and school safety, the NSBA says more funds are needed for Title I and special education. Another focus of his budget is improving the availability of workforce training.
  • All in for early learning! Well, most in. Some aren’t convinced. But the President is, and so are we.

Happy Friday! Enjoy this glorious, one-hour-shorter weekend. And thanks for all you do on behalf of our kids.

Chris (and Team LEV)

Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup is emailed to subscribers weekly and posted on our blog on Fridays during the 2014 legislative session. Sign up to receive Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup via email.

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