Author Archive

Tools for Teachers to Help Our Kids with Trauma

By Arik Korman, League of Education Voters Communications Director

Last month’s Resiliency Conference brought together about 500 teachers, administrators, and parents at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett to learn how to better support children who have experienced trauma.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris - League of Education Voters

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a national expert on the health effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), kicked off day one of the two-day gathering with a moving keynote presentation. Dr. Burke Harris pointed out the sobering fact that that one in eight individuals have experienced four or more ACEs, and 35 million children have ACEs right now.

ACEs are related to our flight-or-flight response. When we experience trauma, our body releases adrenaline and cortisol, which inhibits our brain’s pre-frontal cortex (the area responsible for thinking) and gets us amped up. This stress response can help us avoid immediate danger, like running into a grizzly bear in the woods, but becomes problematic when the threat happens over and over again, like in an abusive home or if there are multiple changes in caregivers.


Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: New Education Investments and Green Beer


Chris Korsmo

Chris Korsmo

It’s not just the promise of green beer that has policy makers and advocates alike skipping through the almost-poked-up tulips; it’s that session ended on time and with an agreement many policymakers believe will satisfy the Supreme Court’s mandate in the McCleary decision. To get a sense for how it went, you can peek at our blog and our progress trackers. You might also get a feel from how the school district leaders are looking at things or check out our analysis from our last “LEVinar.” If you love context, you’ll love this national overview of education funding.


Posted in: Weekly Roundup

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2018 Washington Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Daniel ZavalaBy Daniel Zavala, League of Education Voters Director of Policy and Government Relations

Remember that time last year when I went over everything “You Need to Know about the McCleary School Funding Agreement?” Well, it’s time for a refresh. The 2018 legislative session was all about McCleary 2.0, or what we can call, what to do when the Supreme Court says you’re still not quite there yet.

Many of us were expecting a quiet session where little would be addressed in education due to budget constraints. Two major events occurred: The Supreme Court’s November Order saying the legislature was still out of compliance and a Revenue Forecast that far exceeded most predictions regarding unanticipated future revenue collections. The end result: Another year of legislators in the 11th hour hanging ornaments (i.e. piecemeal policies) on an omnibus policy tree (i.e. Senate Bill 6362) that likely created more questions than answers. My prediction: we will be back next year sweeping up the broken ornaments. And while we may fixate on the 11th hour scrambling, it is important to reflect on the successes we saw this year in expanded eligibility with early learning and college financial aid, increased funds for special education and the State Need Grant, and raised awareness of social emotional and mental health needs.


Posted in: Legislative session

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State Bond and Levy Elections by the Numbers

By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director, and Jake Vela, League of Education Voters Senior Policy Analyst

League of Education Voters - Passed Bonds and Levies in Washington 2018 GraphLast month, communities across Washington state voted on local levies to continue funding for enrichment programs and capital projects at district schools. Here are the election results and my analysis.

154 out of the 295 school districts in Washington state ran an Enrichment levy, and 150 passed. 42 levies passed because of simple majority, which is a 50-59.9% yes vote. Those districts that passed in the 50-55% range were mostly in the Puget Sound area.

24 school districts ran a bond, and 11 passed. 11 of the failed bonds would have passed with simple majority for bonds. Bonds currently pass only with a yes vote of 60% or greater.

60 school districts ran capital levies, and 51 passed.

6 school districts ran transportation levies, and 5 passed.

150 school districts passed an Enrichment levy.  It does not yet appear that the confusion around the new McCleary funding is effecting the overall passage rate across the state. 150 out of 154 school districts passed. Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski explains what passage of the levy means for his Davenport School District: “We are excited that many of the programs we offer for students (College in the High School, Satellite Skills Center, Knowledge Bowl, All-day Preschool, Project Lead the Way (STEM) courses, Choir and Drama Programs, etc., will continue to be a part of our educational offerings. We are so grateful to have such a supportive community!” (more…)

Posted in: Funding

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Changes to Education Finance in Washington state

South Shore PK-8 students - League of Education VotersThe Legislature made significant changes to the K-12 education funding structures in 2017—infusing more than $7 billion in state money into the system over four years through House Bill 2242. As the fiscal impacts of the changes became clearer, legislators proposed a range of changes to address the concerns that districts have voiced around HB 2242.

As the legislature made changes in 2018 to their plan to fully fund education, League of Education Voters feels it is important that the changes should be focused on:

Direct investments based on student need. Any changes to the funding system should drive resources to districts based on the needs of their student populations.

Eliminate disparities between districts. Modifications made to the structures put in place in HB 2242 should address unintended impacts that created (and recreated) inequities between high-property value/low-poverty districts and low-property value/high-poverty districts.

Attracting & retaining educators. State funding formulas should ensure that districts across the state are provided enough resources to attract and retain a diverse educator workforce.

Increase transparency in funding system. Increased access to data on spending and student outcomes is essential to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the new systems and structures put into place.

Read our side-by-side of the 2018 funding changes compared to current law

Register for our Lunchtime LEVinar Tuesday, March 13 at 12:30pm

Follow all the legislative action on our Bill Tracker


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Posted in: Funding

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Summary of the 2018 Washington Legislature’s Supplemental Budget

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Washington State LegislatureThe Washington state Legislature passed a state budget agreement (Senate Bill 6032) that adds court-ordered K-12-school funding and also gives a one-time property-tax cut. The 2017-19 supplemental operating budget plan aimed at satisfying the long-running state Supreme Court school-funding order known as the McCleary decision. Below is a summary of how the budget impacts Early Childhood Education, K-12, and Higher Education.

Early Childhood Education

Legislators prioritized increasing home visitation capacity, and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) provision to homeless families in this budget. Funds are also provided to improve overall early childhood education (ECE) system capacity, including Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) implementation, with $700K for a degree program to produce more educators, and $403K to strategize ways to engage the Washington business community and to educate ECE providers. Additional allocations will go toward supporting nurse consultations, mental health interventions, and trauma informed service provision.

  • $2.3M—Home visiting expansion +275 families & to equalize rates
  • $1.6M—Working Connections Childcare 4-month grace period for homeless families
  • $1M—Implementation of the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families
  • $74,000—Implement House Bill 2861 (trauma-informed child care)
  • $150K—Home visit Medicaid facilitator – maximize federal dollars collected for home visiting
  • $700K—ECE degree program at Western on the Peninsula, will produce 75 BAs/year
  • $240K—“Childcare Collaboration Task Force” created by House Bill 2367: Dept. of Commerce to convene a task force to study the impact of child care affordability and accessibility on the workforce & businesses, to report findings & recommendations by the end of 2019



Posted in: Funding

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How the State Need Grant Helped Me

By Nicole Portillo
Guest Blogger

State Need Grant recipient Nicole Portillo - League of Education VotersNicole Portillo is a junior at the University of Washington Tacoma Campus. A College Success Foundation alumna, she now works as a CSF Navigator, peer mentoring incoming CSF scholars. She also works as a sales advisor for Costco in Tacoma. In addition to the State Need Grant, Nicole receives financial aid through the UW Tacoma Undergrad Tuition Exemption and the College Bound Scholarship.

The State Need Grant has helped me overcome many obstacles in my life. Without the grant, I wouldn’t have been able to attend school, let alone be able to manage to pay for school.

I am a DACA recipient, which already creates many barriers when searching for scholarships because you must be a U.S. citizen to even be eligible, so I really don’t get much access to scholarships due to my status. My parents and loved ones have been my support to push through anything that comes up in my life, because every problem has a solution. The State Need Grant gives me the advantage to pursue my dreams, and provides a boost in life that everyone needs.


Posted in: Higher Education

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Positive School Climate in Action at New Horizons High School

By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director

New Horizons Group Photo - League of Education VotersThere are schools all across this state that are making dreams come true for their students.

I had the opportunity to visit one of these schools.

New Horizons is an alternative school in Pasco. They serve juniors and seniors who are on a different journey towards graduation, perhaps a slower journey, perhaps a more thoughtful journey, perhaps more zig and zag, alternative.

The students come from all kinds of backgrounds, but what they have in common is resilience, life experiences that have matured them, and despite so many obstacles, they are determined to meet their life goals. This school is helping to get them there.

The staff surrounds the students with a sense of belonging, a sense that they contribute to their education community, that each of them matters.


Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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2018 Legislative Priority: Postsecondary

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

More than 20,000 State Need Grant eligible students attending Washington higher education institutions are not currently receiving a State Need Grant because the program has not been
fully funded by the legislature.


The legislature established the State Need Grant (SNG) fifty years ago to increase access to higher education for low-income students. Although the SNG annually funds almost 70,000 students, the underfunding of SNG left over 20,000 eligible low-income students unserved in each of the last seven years. (1)

Over ten years ago Washington established the College Bound Scholarship (2) that provides financial aid to students from income eligible families who sign a pledge in middle school that they will earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher in high school and have no felony convictions. (3)

Both programs cover a portion of the cost of attendance leaving students cover the rest of the costs via family contributions, loans, or jobs. (4) As of 2012, the average SNG award covered 12% to 35% of the cost of attendance. On average, students cover between 14% and 28% of the cost through loans with the rest of the costs of attendance being paid though other types of aid or family and/or student generated sources.



Posted in: Higher Education

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Career Connected Learning in NEWTECH Skill Center’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program

By Suzanne Gretch, Pre-Apprenticeship Coordinator, NEWTECH Skill Center
Kathleen Proud, Administrative Intern, NEWTECH Skill Center
Tricia Talbot, Counselor, NEWTECH Skill Center
Guest Bloggers

NEWTECH Skill Center student Jacob Caputo - League of Education Voters

NEWTECH Skill Center student Jacob Caputo, working at Wagstaff, Inc.

I have been working in Career and Technical Education for the better part of a decade. Until recently, I have never seen the well-deserved attention heeded to the trades by businesses, school administrators, or our lawmakers. At the end 2017, Governor Inslee awarded $6.4 million to Career Connect Washington grant funding, which will create close to 30,000 career connected learning experiences through 2019. Students, educators, and employers will now have the funding and resources to create and run internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships. Governor Inslee and Career Connect are rightfully recognizing the immediate and future demand for skilled labor in our state, and are preparing to equip our students with the skills and on-the-job learning opportunities that will fill that demand and grow Washington state’s economy.


Posted in: Higher Education

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