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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: March Madness

Chris Korsmo

It’s that time – March Madness culminates in the crowning of a champ. Go Dawgs!

The Zags’ road to a championship notwithstanding, then there were three. State budgets that is. A week after the Senate put forward their $43 billion spending plan, the House has issued their $44.9 B budget. The plans differ in a couple of key ways: the obvious difference in size and how to pay for things. With many expecting legislative overtime, the path to agreement is almost always compromise, something that did not go unnoticed by OSPI chief Chris Reykdal. One thing is for sure, our kids need a resolution that helps them succeed. And that doesn’t mean cutting back on out of school programs and supports like the POTUS’ “skinny” budget does. I wonder if the skinny budget isn’t just “hangry.”

One thing not included in the House budget: alternatives to the state exams currently required to graduate. That’s because the House removes the requirement for the tests – and therefore their alternatives. I think you know how I feel. Others agree.

In other news:

  • Changes to the FAFSA – financial aid forms for college – are making life difficult for some.
  • Brookings breaks down the racial disparities in discipline.
  • What do college and preschool have in common? It’s the Benjamins.
  • I think this is kind of harsh. But then I’m not a psychologist.

Before we go, I want to send a huge thank you to all who joined us for the LEV breakfast yesterday. The messages of hope and love for their work came through loud and clear from Teachers of the Year Kendra Yamamoto and Elizabeth Loftus! Many thanks to them for their wonderful insights – and for their leadership in their regions.

And as always, many thanks to you for the work you do to support Washington’s kids!

Chris

 

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Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Early Learning, Funding, Higher Education, School Discipline, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: It’s Halftime

Chris Korsmo

Well Folks,

If the legislative session were the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga would be pretending to drop through a hole in the Capitol roof – it’s halftime! Sort of. Whatever time it is, you can always catch up on the action with our bill tracker. You might also check out our podcast series, including the newest one with Senator Hans Zeiger, Chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Let’s take a look at how things are going.

Progress: That wind storm that rocked the western half of Washington may have been caused by the collective exhale of school district officials upon the news that the legislature passed an extension of the so-called Levy Cliff. With expanded levy capacity set to expire at the end of the year and levies to drop, districts were scrambling to figure out how to avoid sending out pink slips to staff. Now the legislature can settle in to resolve the rest of the K-12 funding situation – including a reprisal of sorts of the McCleary task force, an 8-member group tasked with drawing up a final plan. While much of the discussion so far has focused on the State’s obligation under the McCleary ruling, there’s been good movement in thinking about how to get more resources to kids who need more – how to ensure that money allocated to close gaps and accelerate results for struggling students. We aren’t the only state trying to unleash the potential that this moment holds. However we go about it, we’d like to see more of this.  And this.

Regress: Even as the Legislature buckles down on the funding issues, we can feel the slow shifting of the ground – ground we thought we’d already covered – underneath us. Bills to reduce graduation requirements and undo the State Board of Education continue to be debated. In case you missed it, the Washington Round Table issued a report showing both the heightened expectations for our workforce of tomorrow and the underwhelming way in which we prepare our kids for those opportunities. Backward is how you get out of a driveway. Not how progress is made.

Recess:

  • Turns out parents really can be influential.
  • That hour of sleep you’re about to lose this weekend? It’s not good for you.
  • Principals, the oft ignored solution…
  • Purple goes the way of analog. Legislative and Congressional districts aren’t the only places where politics are undivided.
  • There’s an algorithm for that.

That’s all for now, kids! I’ve got to get my hands mani on before the PTA auction tonight. Can’t raise a paddle with claws like this, now can we? As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of our kids! And keep it up! Halfway isn’t all the way, but it’s a good start.

Chris

 

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps, Funding, Legislative session, Podcast, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: Betsy DeVos and the Super Bowl

Chris Korsmo

Friends,

When is a game more than just a game? I mean other than every time I ever play my brother in something. Did I mention baby brother? Well, he’s almost fifty, but still. Losing to your baby brother in anything is when games stop being games. Makes me feel like Venus Williams. But I digress. And right from the start, too…

Ok, here’s what Sunday’s festivities reinforced for us. Americans see things differently. First the Super Bowl that either was or wasn’t like the election. Halftime was all Gaga who either was or wasn’t political. Tom Brady either did or didn’t have his jersey stolen. The ads were great and the ads sucked.

Enough controversy. Let’s talk about Betsy DeVos. Hopefully your heart rate dropped enough after the Super Bowl that by the time DeVos’ confirmation vote came along you didn’t flat line and fall down like Lady Gaga on a tether. While DeVos is settling in, work on education policy goes on all around her. The House wasted no time in repealing key elements of the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA. And President Trump’s Counselor, Kellyanne Conway is saying Trump will repeal Common Core. (Even though he can’t.) How will a DeVos Department of Ed affect us here? TBD

Speaking of here, legislators are hard at work trying to sort through the many machinations of the current education finance system to create a new one. As was mentioned last week, the Senate, House and Governor’s office have all put forward proposals. You can check them out on our bill tracker, or compare and contrast. Here’s another thing we’d like to see: a pair of bills have dropped that would expand career and technical education and dual-credit programs in the state, as well as implement much needed interventions for struggling Washington students.

Misc:

  • Algorithms. Are they killing us softly?
  • Lady Gaga isn’t the only one using drones to great effect.
  • Today’s vocabulary words: bombogenesis and and schadenfreude. Used in a sentence: May we fight the feeling of schadenfreude while watching bombogenesis in the Northeast.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And as always, thanks for all you do for Washington’s kids.

Chris

 

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Posted in: Blog, Career Technical Education, Funding, Legislative session, Side-by-Side Comparisons, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: Funding Plans Aplenty

Chris Korsmo

A big hello dedicated readers, it’s that time again. On Sunday two teams will line up and go at it for a championship. Yes! It’s Puppy Bowl XIII!!! The annual festival of cuteness featuring puppies “playing football.” And as if your heart couldn’t take any more, not one single little drop, they’re all – ALL! – up for adoption. OMG Becky look at that pup! This year’s event will feature special needs puppies – quick, someone tell Betsy DeVos! – including the ironically named “Lucky,” who has three legs. So if you grow tired of Super Bowl ads, or looking at the Patriots Coach who shall not be named, you have alternatives.

And now, the news:

The aforementioned Secretary of Ed nominee, Betsy DeVos, lost two key republican votes this week when Senators Murkowski (AK) and Collins (ME) both announced they would vote against her confirmation – despite voting to pass the confirmation out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). Her support for vouchers and her lack of experience with public schools were of critical concern to both senators. She also displayed a surprising lack of knowledge about federal laws on special education. With Murkowski and Collins in the “no” column, the vote count currently stands at a tie – one that will undoubtedly be broken by Vice President Pence in what would be an unprecedented tie breaker for a cabinet position. It looks like the vote may take place on Monday.

Closer to home, both the House and Senate now have education proposals, as does Governor Inslee. You can find a comparison of the plans here. After a hearing on Monday, the Senate’s already voted theirs over to the House (albeit along party lines). The Senate’s plan that was made public just as we went to hit “send” last week includes changes to the way we budget money, based on students rather than staff, makes big changes to the levy system and tweaks the state’s accountability system.

The House proposal invests more resources in programs that provide supports and interventions for kids including the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), the Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (TBIP), and Career and Technical Education (CTE). The House also picks up the cost for compensation – a requirement of the Supreme Court ruling – and invests money in professional development for our educational workforce. The funds would flow in a manner similar to how they flow now, without the same guidelines that Senate Republicans put forward in their bill.

Superintendent Reykdal did double duty, issuing a statement and making an appearance at the Senate hearing. You can find him at the 50-minute mark of the hearing. You can also find Superintendent Reykdal here, in Podcast form. And just because I know everybody loves a treasure hunt, you can find all the education bill news here, on our bill tracker.

Other Ed News:

Other news that made the news this week:

  • I’ve lost socks. Once I even lost my car in the airport parking garage. But a Bobcat? Or an entire continent?
  • Here’s a question I’ve asked many time.
  • It’s not if, but what, the TOTUS will tweet about this Super Bowl ad.
  • Rejoice brain science nerds. Not one, but two pieces to nourish your soul. Er. Brain.

Well, kids, that’s it for this week. And heck, it should be more than enough to see you through. Next week we will see further action on the education plans introduced in both chambers, we’ll hear about the importance of fully funding the State Need Grant, and someone famous will undoubtedly show us their baby bump. Good times.

Have a great weekend! And as always, thanks for all you do for Washington’s kids.

Chris

 

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Posted in: Blog, Career Technical Education, Charter Schools, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Higher Education, Legislative session, Podcast, School Discipline, Side-by-Side Comparisons, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: We’ve Made Progress on Education Funding

Chris Korsmo

Well, that didn’t take long.

If you like your politics the same way you like your food – not to touch under any circumstances – then this was your week. Even as we’re going to press, the Senate Democrats are pursuing a floor takeover through parliamentary procedures. The podium grab is possible because the Senate Republicans are down a few men – you may have heard that the Senator Dansel has moved on to the Department of Agriculture and Senator Erickson is advising the EPA (apparently, he won’t be publishing studies on the website, or blogging about the effects of global warming). Dansel has left office, leaving an open seat, while Erickson is holding down two jobs for the time being and racking up frequent flyer miles. Should they prevail and are actually able to take action on the floor, the Senate Dems are looking to pass the levy cliff extension bill – a measure that passed the House earlier this week. The bill was also put on the Senate Ways and Means calendar for this coming Monday – a show of good faith or a pre-emptive maneuver to blunt the necessity of the take over? Oh, cynics. Stop it. (Little known fact about how I think about the word pre-emptive: think Carrie Underwood)

Meanwhile, progress is being made. Earlier this afternoon, Senate Republicans unveiled their education plan. The proposal could be heard early next week and includes a change to the way we allocate funds – from a focus on salaries and staffing to a student-centered approach – and doubles the resources into Career and Technical Education, among other things. There’s much to appreciate in this plan, which includes a bump in pay for starting teachers. You can find a side-by-side of the Senate proposal with Governor Inslee’s on our website here.  Which, by the way is where you can find our bill tracker.

Theme of the week: there are quite a few bills that either change, eliminate or de-link our assessment requirements for high school graduation. Coupled with moves to reduce the high school graduation requirements, it raises concerns that we’re watering down our preparation and expectation of our kids at exactly the wrong time.

In other news:

Have a wonderful weekend. And happy Lunar New Year. Thanks for all you do for Washington’s kids.

Chris

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Career Technical Education, Funding, Legislative session, Side-by-Side Comparisons, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: Olympia is Back in Business

Chris Korsmo

Ready or not: They’re baaaaacccckkk! Olympia is back in business. A lot has happened since last we were in session. There was that presidential election that you might have missed.  I mean if you were in a cave. Or a coma. After a nearly two year campaign season, America has a new TOTUS! Our Tweeter of the United States has been busy building out his cabinet including Secretary of Ed pick, Betsy DeVos whose confirmation process is being delayed to allow for her to complete disclosures to the Senate.  Expect a DeVos administration to support expanding school choice – including vouchers – and to turn the other cheek on most measures of accountability.

Closer to home, we have changes of our own, including new Committee Chairs and Ranking Members of Education for the House and Senate Republicans. And the loss of Andy Hill will be felt all over the place.

In addition, a new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, was sworn in this week. What’s not new? Oh, there’s lots of old familiar to be warmed by. Resolving the McCleary decision looms like that worn old recliner: to re-cover or replace, that’s the question. There’s a new rub to the story, though, as school districts are worried the state won’t address education funding quickly enough and school budgets will go over a “levy cliff” – expanded levy caps that will expire.

You can learn more about what we think by reading our latest blog series. And you can give some of your own input by visiting the Campaign for Student Success. In fact, it would be great if you’d join in the growing coalition to support more targeted resources for our kids.

While education funding is going to take up a lot of the oxygen in the room, there are a lot of other education issues that will be introduced and considered – you can find them all here on our bill tracker.

Thankfully, one thing we can always count on is you. Thanks for all you do for Washington’s kids – and all you’re going to do this session to ensure that our funding system helps our kids get the education and experiences they need to succeed.

Chris

 

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Posted in: Blog, Funding, Legislative session, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: The Home Stretch

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

Friends,

You know that I’m a fan of football and a huge fan of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. His post-game victory speech almost always begins thus: “Do we win the game in the first quarter? (NO!) Do we win it in the second quarter? Do we win the game in the third quarter? No. We win the game in the fourth quarter.” Well folks, as it relates to the legislative session, we are firmly in the throes of the fourth quarter and fast approaching the two-minute warning.

With less than a week to go, much remains to be done. That list includes a fix for our charter schools, wildfires, a supplemental budget and myriad education issues. The one thing that has made it past the finish line is the McCleary task force bill that the Governor signed on Monday – the hope being that the task force satisfies the Supreme Court’s ruling requiring a plan for full funding. You can get more detail about the role of the task force here.  All bill movement and descriptions can be found here.

Speaking of the budget, both budgets have passed their respective chambers (HB 2376 & SB 6246). Significant differences remain regarding the use of the Rainy Day Fund – the House is transferring $318 million from the Rainy Day Fund and the Senate is transferring $0. Required spending is eating up most of the additional revenue, leaving few resources to enhance or expand programs, which further complicates matters. The estimated additional required spending is expected to be approximately $360 million:

  • $235 million – Forest fires and related recovery efforts
  • $124 million – Court mandated healthcare spending and higher than expected healthcare costs

Session is set to expire at midnight Thursday and everyone wants to get out to start the campaign season. A special session isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but doesn’t fall into the realm of the desirable. What is desirable is final action on a handful of bills that made it out of the opposite chamber this week, including:

  • HB 1345 – Defining professional learning for educators
  • HB 1999 – Improving educational outcomes for foster youth
  • SB 6466 – Concerning student services for students with disabilities in higher education.

Here are bills that passed out of opposite chamber, but still have some differences to be worked out before getting to the Governor’s desk:

  • SB 6601 – Washington College Savings Program
  • HB 1682 – Increasing educational outcomes for homeless students

We are still in the thick of it on charter schools. Kids and parents have burned up the concrete turning out in Olympia and most mainstream media are in support of a fix. All attention is turned now to the House where the next action must be taken.

It’s looking less likely that we’ll get the funding fix we need for Career and Technical Education (CTE), unless a rabbit and a hat are part of the final budget negotiations. Which is a shame, because our kids need improved access to CTE – it is the bridge to the world after high school for many.

In other news:

  • The higher education bottleneck is one more indicator of disparity.
  • I’m going to eschew the standard adjectives that often attach themselves to the current front runners for the White House. And instead, give you their education platforms, ideology, and just musings.
  • Ok, RubioCruz, and Sanders, too.
  • It’s not too late to celebrate Seuss’ birthday.

Ok folks, that’s it for the week. But don’t turn away – next week will be past us in a heartbeat and there’s a LOT left to do. Enjoy your weekend, hug your children, and thanks for all you do for Washington’s kids.

Chris and Team LEV

Posted in: Blog, Career Technical Education, Charter Schools, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Higher Education, Legislative session, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: The First Bill Cutoff is Upon Us

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

It’s that time of year. Yes, there’s that football game. And the groundhog has done his thing. And the Iowa caucuses are thankfully in the rear view. But it’s the legislative calendar that has my attention. This week marks the first of many legislative deadlines. It’s the cut-off date for bills to be moved from the policy committee in their house of origin. In other words, let’s say you just told your kid to clean their room and they’re stalling. So you go to that all time parent favorite, the countdown. “You better get started on that room by the time I count to three or….” This cut off is roughly the equivalent of hitting “one” on the one to three countdown. They’re in the room assessing the damage. The real work hasn’t really started yet, but the wheels are turning and you can put your empty threat on hold.

Let’s check the progress:

  • On the charter school fix, the Senate has passed a bill over to the House where a group of legislators are working on a compromise they hope will move both sides to closure. Looks like a hearing on charters will take place in the House on February 19.
  • There’s all kinds of hot mess going on with assessments. Last year’s bill morphed into something unintelligible. And passed. The version that was originally introduced last year was also brought back under a new number and, just to make things interesting, a separate bill de-linking the statewide science exams from graduation requirements was also introduced. Take comfort, we’re not the only ones struggling with this issue.
  • Bills to close the achievement and opportunity gaps moved in both chambers. Representative Santos’ bill HB 1541  passed out of the House on a party line vote of 50 – 47, while Senator Litzow’s bill SB 6244 was exec’ed out of Committee. A side by side comparing these efforts can be found here.
  • Two of the Early Learning Action Alliance’s priority bills 6598 and 2716 passed out of their policy committees. Both expand Working Connections Child Care to provide continuity of care to vulnerable children.
  • SB 6408 focused on additional training to para-educators passed out of the Senate Ed Committee.
  • The “plan to plan” for McCleary SB 6195 and HB 2366 are both alive, with the Senate version getting out of committee and the House bill passing through the chamber. The sticking point remains the over-reliance on local levies – made stickier by the fact that it’s hard to know what local levies are used for.
  • On the higher ed front, folks are tripping all over themselves to provide free community college. The House version passed out of Committee with amendments.
  • There’s more, a whole lot of it, and you can find the aforementioned more in our bill tracker, here. Remember, dear ones, that just because a bill doesn’t make the deadline doesn’t mean the issue is absolutely, totally and completely dead. Bills turn into amendments, amendments turn into budget provisos, and rules become guidelines. So, stay tuned.

As lots of good (and some not so good) ideas are making their way through the legislature, newly released data out on homelessness reminds us that we need to continue to be creative and committed to ALL of our kids. With nearly 35,000 homeless kids in Washington, we’re going to need to double down on finding solutions for all our kids to be served. Still, there’s no dearth of folks getting in line to lead the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Other good reads:

  • What’s that degree worth? And for those of you with a statistics degree, trythis.
  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL) practice extends beyond the school day.
  • Even though we don’t want to count the state science tests, new views ofSaturn could inspire our re-thinking on the importance of science.

Ok, kids, that’s it for today. Have a wonderful weekend. Here’s hoping the Super Bowl ads live up to the hype.  And happy Lunar New Year.

 

Chris

Posted in: Blog, Charter Schools, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Higher Education, Legislative session, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: McCleary Edition

Over the past two biennia, the state of Washington has increased funding for K–12 education by nearly 3 billion dollars. In addition, local maintenance and operations levies provide an additional $2 billion each year. The state and local school districts have told the public that these additional dollars will be invested in increases in teacher pay; K–3 class-size reductions; full-day kindergarten; transportation; and material, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC).

With this level of investment, parents should expect significant new services.

They should expect their K–3 classes to be demonstrably smaller.

They should not be asked to provide basic supplies.

Schools should not have to shut down computer labs or libraries for testing.

And there should not be teacher strikes this fall.

Unfortunately, these reasonable expectations will not be met.

The reason for this is at the heart of the recent McCleary ruling, which is largely focused on compensation. While the ruling has issues and some legislators are not happy about it, the reality we are facing is this: well over 11 billion dollars is being invested in our public schools each year with far too little to show for it.

The current “system” for paying our K–12 employees is nonsensical, inequitable, and is not remotely reflective of the needs of our students. It creates inexcusable inequities between districts, limits educational opportunity for thousands of students, and creates annual labor strife.

Without addressing our K–12 compensation structure, investments will continue to follow adults rather than students.

Both political parties took credit for the investments in education, and they will share the blame if all the new money gets vaporized before benefiting any students. The fault is collective. It cuts across party lines and between the state and local districts.

As the new school year begins, the League of Education Voters will be vigilant in following the money that has been invested. We will help communities understand the truth behind local strikes. We hope our work will help more people understand the necessity of fixing the broken way we pay our most important state employees.

And lastly, we hope our Legislature applies the lessons learned from the last two budget cycles and works in a creative, bipartisan way to solve this problem. They have shown that they can do things of this scale that are great for the state of Washington. We hope they remember their responsibility, their duty, and their ability, to do the job.

Thanks for all you do on behalf of Washington’s students.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: June 12

Well, it wasn’t exactly “Dewey Defeats Truman,” but last week’s proclamation of a budget deal was—sadly—a bit premature. Not everyone bought into the hype that a deal was imminent; some remain optimistic, while others offer admonishment. For their part, the Supreme Court is taking a wait-and-see approach. They are due a report on progress and a plan to finish the necessary work of fully funding “basic education” shortly after the Legislature finally adjourns.

At which point, I hope that the Legislature is called back into another session. Because, well, they didn’t fully comply with the Court’s orders. A girl can dream, can’t she? (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session, Weekly Roundup

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