New Podcast – Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal - League of Education VotersIn our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this latest episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal to discuss his office’s statewide survey on funding priorities, how the survey informed his budget ask for the 2019 legislative session, and how we can get involved in making these priorities a reality.

 

Listen:

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The Work Ahead

By Julia Warth, Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations

South Shore PK-8 students - League of Education VotersThe recent investments and changes made to the K-12 funding system in response to the Washington State Supreme Court McCleary ruling will have long-lasting impacts on our education system. While progress has been made to adequately fund basic education, more work remains to ensure that we equitably fund basic education. League of Education Voters is committed to working with districts and partners to continue to move towards an education system that is funded to provide every student what they need to succeed.

We will be providing a number of resources and series of analyses that will highlight some of the remaining opportunities and work ahead looking towards the 2021 legislative session. These include:

  • A series of maps that illustrate the impact of House Bill 2242 (2017 legislative session) and Senate Bill 6362 (2018 legislative session) across the state, and the inequities that remain;
  • A brief on the choices facing districts and the new investments in teacher salaries;
  • An analysis of the continued challenges in special education funding in preparation for the 2019 session; and
  • A broader analysis of the impact of HB 2242 and SB 6362 and solutions to explore to address challenges created by regionalization factor and the two-tiered local levy structure, and how we can better target resources to students who have been systemically and historically underserved.

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Education Advocate of the Month: Jennifer Muroya Thomas

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 July: Jennifer Muroya Thomas. Read about her education journey and the need for more educator supports.

July Education Advocate of the Month Jennifer Muroya Thomas - League of Education Voters
July Education Advocate of the Month Jennifer Muroya Thomas

Jennifer Muroya Thomas has been part of our Vision Project, our journey to find Eastern Washington’s vision for what education could be, from the very beginning. She always brought students to our events. She is a member of the Spokane Human Rights Commission, where she runs the education committee. Jennifer cares about students, especially those from communities of color and underserved populations. In particular, she has a strong connection with students who attend Rogers High School, located in a low-income area of Spokane.

Jennifer ran for the Spokane School Board last year. Although she did not win, she learned that running is just as important as winning. She met Spokane Regional Field Director Sandra Jarrard during that time, in March 2017, when Sandra organized a community discussion about diversity in education.

Jennifer’s father served in the Air Force, which meant that she moved around a lot and experienced schools all over the country. “I had teachers I remember and loved, and I had teachers I remember and didn’t love,” she recalls. “Teachers who change the world and do incredible work invest in students’ lives every day – they made indelible marks on my life.” Read More

Early Childhood Education Honors East African Culture

East African Development Center - League of Education VotersSouth Seattle’s Voices of Tomorrow East African Development Center began in September of 2017 and hopes to become the country’s first certified dual language preschool in Somali. Five languages besides English are currently spoken: Somali, Amharic, Oromo, Arabic, and Vietnamese. English appears only on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Somali is spoken on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Honoring Somali culture and language is the center’s primary goal. Director Zam Zam Mohamed says, “There is plenty of opportunity to learn English, but not so many opportunities to learn Somali.” By focusing on Somali, family structures are maintained at home instead of succumbing to challenges faced by many immigrant communities, where children become translators for their parents and devalue their parents’ cultures. Read More

We Must Tell Our Students WHY

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Pasco Field Office

Pasco Student Roundtable - League of Education VotersSince there was no public school on May 25th, 2018, League of Education Voters hosted a student roundtable with legislators serving the greater Tri-Cities region. Senator Sharon Brown and Representative Larry Haler from the 8th district, and Representative Bill Jenkin from the 16th district joined 35 students from the Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland School Districts to have lunch and participate in community café-style conversations.

It was touch-and-go whether the luncheon would happen, because legislators are busy (and there’s always the possibility of a state emergency coming up) and because you never know if students will actually attend, even when good food is promised. Students are probably the busiest of us all – trying to juggle school, sports, jobs, homework, and family life. Some students are also dependent on others for transportation. That makes events even more difficult to plan!

So if everybody is so busy and the roundtable could wind up being a non-event, is it worth going through all that trouble? Yes, Yes, Yes, YES! Read More

Education Advocate of the Month: Xochilt Lopez

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 June: Xochilt Lopez. Read about her advocacy for children in her community.

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Pasco Field Office

June Education Advocate of the Month Xochilt Lopez - League of Education Voters
June Education Advocate of the Month Xochilt Lopez

We are all fortunate to know Xochilt. While she is working on her own success as a student at Yakima Valley Community College, she is also ensuring that others around her focus on their success. Xochilt is a parent ambassador for the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), as well.

Xochilt first became introduced to League of Education Voters when she was president of the board at her children’s school in Yakima. Earlier this year, she went to Olympia to support ECEAP and the Early Start Act, and needed some extra help for her children. She met Julia Warth, our Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations, who connected Xochilt with me, the League of Education Voters Community Organizer in the Tri-Cities region.

Upon meeting Xochilt, I discovered a mom who was not only concerned for her children but also for the community’s children as well. It was right after the school tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Xochilt recognized that if we do not tend to our children, the children who suffer in silence, they either hurt themselves or they lash out at their community. Read More

Will the Voice of Washington Parents, Students, and Voters on Charters Prevail?

(Why Washington’s May 17th Supreme Court Oral Arguments Matter)

By Bing Howell, Chief External Affairs Officer, Washington State Charter Schools Association
Guest Blogger

Bing Howell, Washington State Charter School Association - League of Education Voters
Bing Howell

I remember reading the disheartening news about the Washington’s state Supreme Court decision to overturn the legality of charter schools in 2015 from afar. I was aghast.  At the time, I was living and working in the K-12 education space in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I was closely following the developments in Washington for several reasons:

  1. Public opinion had spoken in favor of charter public schools: Washington voters had passed Initiative 1240, an initiative designed to establish a charter public school sector in Washington.
  2. Washington’s charter law was strong: Washington legislators had taken advantage of the 41 other states that had authorized charters to create best-in-class statutes and regulations to govern charter schools and their growth across the state.
  3. There was strong demand from parents, who were expressing the urgent need for high-quality public school options for their children: Over 1,000 students and families eagerly enrolled to attend new charters in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane.
  4. High quality school leaders were leading the movement: You would be hard pressed to find any state in the country starting off with a stronger group of pioneering leaders than in Washington. An army of educational leaders from across the state and country joined forces to make a bold vision for Washington’s new public school sector a reality.

These seemed like the right conditions for a strong charter sector that would respond to Washington’s educational inequities and provide struggling students with new, high-quality, and innovative school models… Read More

Rural Counselors Come Together

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, League of Education Voters Pasco Field Office

Jamey Jo Steele (R), Mansfield School District CTE/FFA/Shop/Agriculture Teacher, and students - League of Education Voters
Jamey Jo Steele (R), Mansfield School District CTE/FFA/Shop/Agriculture Teacher, and students

The Rural Counselor Network is a major milestone/deliverable of the Rural Alliance, which was first convened in July 2010 in Spokane with 35 founding rural school districts. In June 2016, several rural district superintendents and the Mary Walker School District initiated a strategic plan for the Rural Alliance. Together they have been able to attract new members and represent 79 districts, 46,000 students, 15 colleges/universities, and non-profit organizations.

The Rural Alliance mission is, “Partnering to increase options and opportunities for rural students, families and communities.” Their vision is. “Success for every rural student, family and community.” Their values are, “Student-Centered, Relationship-Based, Equitable, Innovative, and Inclusive.”

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Education Advocate of the Month: Maite Cruz

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 May: Maite Cruz. Read about her advocacy for increasing expectations of success for her community.

May Education Advocate of the Month Maite Cruz - League of Education Voters
May Education Advocate of the Month Maite Cruz

18-year-old Maite Cruz is a senior at Chiawana High School in Pasco, and plans to study political science this fall at Western Washington University. Already she has testified before the state legislature in Olympia, testified before the State Board of Education, and has been a tireless advocate for her community group, Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS).

Maite met League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez during her freshman year of high school, when she started attending Pasco Discovery Coalition meetings. Ruvine showed Maite how she could become a more active advocate for her community and her peers, and guided Maite through the process of organizing community forums. Maite recalls, “Ruvine came to Lakeview, and showed us statistics about my school and how it compares with other schools.”

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