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South Shore Stories – Takeaways from Roses in Concrete Community School

League of Education Voters works with Seattle’s South Shore PreK-8 on preschool, social emotional learning, and student supports. This blog series focuses on how South Shore engages students who come from a background of trauma.

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal - League of Education Voters

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal

By Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal
Guest Blogger

“Don’t reinvent the wheel” is often a mantra heard when discussing education. At South Shore, we believe that this often holds true across the educational spectrum. Many times there are other schools that have thought of, or at least explored, solutions to challenges that our school community faces. At the end of last year, our leadership team began to think about changes for the upcoming school year; it’s never too soon to start planning.

Through the connection of one of our teachers, in May we were offered a chance to visit Roses in Concrete Community School, located in East Oakland. A team of teachers, families and administrators traveled to Oakland to visit this school in order to gain a better understanding of what they are doing right. Roses in Concrete is known for a strong social justice lens and serves as a model of how staff genuinely reflect the community it serves through strong and ongoing communication. This school was founded by Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, a well-respected professor, teacher, and speaker focused on critical pedagogy in urban schools.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Education Advocate of the Month: David Cortinas

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

We are pleased to announce our Education Advocate of the Month for December: David Cortinas. Read about his education journey in Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities.

December Education Advocate of the Month David Cortinas - League of Education Voters

December Education Advocate of the Month David Cortinas

While many issues can divide a community, one thing that can bring us together is wanting what is best for our students. David Cortinas, Owner, Editor, and Publisher of award-winning La Voz Hispanic Newspaper in the Tri-Cities community, is a staunch supporter of students. David kept his community engaged in the Campaign for Student Success, which led to the McCleary school funding deal in the 2017 legislative session, and he has consistently shared information to make the community stronger. He was also one of the first Eastern Washington businessmen who took time out of his busy newspaper schedule to visit with representatives and legislative aides in Olympia to ask that education funding goes to the students who need it the most.

David became involved with League of Education Voters through Tri-Cities Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez, whom he has known for over 12 years. They served together on the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Business Association, and worked together on boards and community festivals in the Tri-Cities.

David’s parents always encouraged him to go to school. “As immigrants who worked on farms, they constantly told me that I’ll never get an education if I don’t go to school,” David recalls. He attended elementary, middle, and high school in Walla Walla, where he was born and raised, and worked in the fields, harvesting onions and other crops.

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Powerless to Powerful: Moving Washington State Schools Towards Excellence and Equity

Suzann Girtz, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Teacher Education, Gonzaga University - Powerless PowerfulBy Suzann Girtz, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Teacher Education, Gonzaga University
Guest Blogger

Imagine your school is in the bottom 5% of all Washington state schools for graduation. About one out of every two students will not graduate. And when people visit your school to question what’s happening, the students respond, “What do you expect?” They attribute the failures to themselves and maintain, “That’s just the way it is here.”

That is a quote from a student at Sunnyside High School several years ago. Its graduation rate hovered at 49%, students blamed themselves, teachers were exhausted, and everyone was working as hard as they could. It was difficult to envision this struggling school becoming a top performer in just a couple years – but it did. Significant change in a short time IS possible in our schools; we’ve experienced it.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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The Latest Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary Ruling

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Temple of Justice - League of Education Voters McCleary RulingThis morning the Washington State Supreme Court issued their latest order on the McCleary case detailing whether or not the state has met its responsibility to fully fund education. In a unanimous opinion the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s plan to fully fund education will provide enough resources to meet its constitutional responsibility to fund basic education, but the Court also stated that the timeline for full-funding put forward by the state takes too long. Basically – the policy and structure are good, but the state needs to pay for it faster.

In the order, the Court details each funding stream that constitutes the Washington State Legislature’s plan to fully fund education:  Materials, Supplies, & Operating Costs (MSOC), transportation, categorical programs such as the Learning Assistance Program (LAP) and the Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program, staff salaries, K-3 class size reduction, and full-day kindergarten. The Court concludes that when fully funded according to House Bill 2242, the funding amounts will be sufficient to provide for an amply funded basic education.

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Posted in: Funding

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The Supreme Court’s McCleary Check In

Daniel ZavalaBy Daniel Zavala, Director of Policy and Government Relations

96 days. That is how many days have passed since sine die (the official term for when the legislative session ends) back on July 20. Since that time, here at League of Education Voters, we’ve been sifting through the language of HB 2242 (the major education bill this past session) and the state budget (SB 5883) to determine the impact of new state money in K-12. All of this revolves around the context of the McCleary court order.

Importantly, today the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether the state fulfilled its duty to adequately fund basic education. Previously, the court ruled that the state overly relied on local levies to fill what the state wasn’t providing around compensation and K-3 class size reduction, among other areas. While both sides (the state and plaintiff’s attorney, Thomas Ahearne) made their case about whether the legislative action this year satisfies the court’s order, the direction around McCleary, adequacy, and equity still remains murky.

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Posted in: Funding

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South Shore Stories – Getting James Back in the Classroom

League of Education Voters works with Seattle’s South Shore PreK-8 on their preschool, social emotional learning, and student supports. This blog series focuses on how South Shore engages students who come from a background of trauma.

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal

By Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal
Guest Blogger

Attendance matters. That is a common saying in education these days, and research backs this up. Studies have shown again and again that students with fewer absences achieve at higher academic levels. In fact, a recent study looking at young children found that absenteeism in kindergarten was associated with negative first grade outcomes, such as greater absenteeism in subsequent years and lower achievement in reading, math, and general knowledge.*

At South Shore, we have been working hard to build systems that are able to quickly identify students with academic concerns by triangulating several sets of data including absences, tardies, and office referrals, as well as teacher concerns. We then begin building individual plans to address these concerns through a relationship stance; we build support rather than assume ill intent and move in a punitive direction. What we have found over and over is that there are many reasons that students are missing school. Some reasons include transportation, lack of childcare for siblings, illness in the family, or in some cases, severe anxiety in students.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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South Shore Stories – Providing Wraparound Support for Students

League of Education Voters works with Seattle’s South Shore PreK-8 on their preschool, social emotional learning, and student supports. This blog series focuses on how South Shore engages students who come from a background of trauma.

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PK-8 Assistant Principal - League of Education Voters

Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal

By Justin Hendrickson, South Shore PreK-8 Assistant Principal
Guest Blogger

School is an experience that most Americans can relate to. These school experiences, whether public or private, help shape our perception of what a school should be. As our country becomes more and more diverse, the need to diversify supports available at a school have increased as well. Schools have become so much more than places that focus solely on academics, although academics is often the only parameter of how schools are judged.

Many schools in under-served communities often provide meals to the majority of their students. They may also offer social and emotional supports in the form of a school counselor or a Family Support Worker. Here at South Shore, we have decided to prioritize the social and emotional supports of our most vulnerable students. We have done this by reallocating both district funds as well as outside resources to focus on building strong relationships within our school building.

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Education Advocate of the Month: Leo Perales

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

Meet our Education Advocate of the Month for October: Leo Perales. Read about his experience as a strong advocate for equity in the Tri-Cities and beyond.

Leo Perales - League of Education Voters

October Education Advocate of the Month Leo Perales

Leo Perales is vice chair of Consejo Latino, he is part of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and was one of the first community members to join the Campaign for Student Success, the coalition that advocated during the 2017 legislative session for education funding to go toward the students who need the most support. Since 2015, Leo has worked continuously with League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez. He is involved in forums and events encouraging community activism to improve the quality of life in the Tri-Cities. He currently manages The Perales Report Facebook page.

Leo was born and raised in Kennewick, Washington, the grandson of migrant workers, and the son of Jennifer and Lloyd Perales, who have family ties to the lower Columbia Valley. He graduated from Kamiakin High School in 2005, and later transferred to Columbia Basin College and eventually Heritage University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 2012.

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Education Advocate of the Month: Candace Harris

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

We are pleased to announce our Education Advocate of the Month for September: Candace Harris. Read about her experience as a strong advocate for early learning in rural Eastern Washington.

League of Education Voters September Education Advocate of the Month Candace Harris

September Education Advocate of the Month Candace Harris

Candace Harris is Director of the Valley Early Learning Center, part of the Valley School District about 45 miles north of Spokane. Because Valley is a rural school district, many of the families live in poverty. Representing rural Washington, Candace attended the Education Vision Project that League of Education Voters convened in March, where stakeholders from the Spokane region envisioned what our education system could look like. Candace has a passion for working with kids and understands the importance of teachers receiving the training they need to engage students with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and she would like to see Social Emotional Learning (SEL) incorporated into school practices.

Rural districts like Valley faces different challenges than their urban counterparts. Candace says, “There’s a lot of isolation out here – your school or early learning center can be 20 miles away, so schools end up becoming the hub of the community.” In rural areas, schools take the place of community centers. She adds, “In rural communities, we wear multiple hats, like a lot of people in education do, but it does end up looking a little different.” Candace is the Director of Valley’s Early Learning Program, is a family advocate and a family engagement coordinator for toddlers through 2nd grade, and she also does home visiting. “Resources are spread pretty thin,“ she says. “If you think about our area, there isn’t even a pediatrician. The closest one is 30 miles away in Riverside.”

Candace has lived in Stevens County her entire life. She started substituting as a para pro at Valley School District and worked to develop an early learning program. She explains, “We had childcare for employees, and the next year, we started doing the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), we then became licensed as a childcare center to serve as many people as we could. Besides us, there isn’t any other licensed childcare in our area.”

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Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Kids Co. Demonstrates Chopped Chops

Kids Co. students learn about cooking and nutrition during friendly competition

Kids Co. Chopped Competition, part 2 - League of Education VotersKids Co. is a Seattle-area quality childcare provider that has partnered with South Shore PK-8 since the school opened in 2002. Kids Co. has provided millions of dollars in scholarships with help from the New School Foundation and the League of Education Voters. Nearly 60 percent of all children who attend Kids Co. at South Shore qualify for free or reduced lunch (FRL), and receive these scholarships.

Every day, Kids Co. sees the parents of the kids served, so they get to know the families – their ups and downs and financial struggles – and it’s all about relationships. Their summer programs serve kids K-5, and the kids from different grades learn to work together and support each other.

Kids Co. supplements meals, and they teach kids how to create a nutritious meal on a budget, instilling these skills in children as young as 5 years old. At South Shore, the Kids Co. classroom features a full kitchen, and is able to prepare hot, fresh meals.

President and CEO Susan Brown says, “The school day begins when the kids wake up. Kids spend more time in childcare than in school.” During summer, that can be as many as 11 hours a day for working parents, and 5 each day during the school year. Susan adds, “Nobody is turned away because of lack of funds.”

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