In 2014, after eight long years of work, Washington state updated its high school graduation requirements. The League of Education Voters worked with partners and community members to pass this 24-credit College and Career Ready Diploma.
Now the work begins for many school districts in implementing the new diploma. However, a number of districts are ahead of the game, and some have been for many years.
One such school district is West Valley, in the Yakima area. West Valley began requiring 24 credits for high school graduation beginning in the 2001–2002 school year, when they increased their English language and social studies requirements. The second phase of the transition to a College and Career Ready Diploma happened in the 2006–2007 school year, when the district increased their math and science requirements. In 2013, more than 80 percent of their seniors graduated from high school, and of those who graduated, 67 percent continued onto college. Read More
After one long legislative session (followed by three special sessions), Governor Inslee signed Washington’s 2015–2017 state budget into law late in the evening on June 30, averting a government shutdown by less than an hour. An unprecedented series of events ultimately delayed sine die until today, but with the true end of our historically long 2015 legislative session at hand, we take a moment to reflect.
What we see in this budget is a more comprehensive investment in education than at any other time in the state’s history. Through their strong investments in public education across the spectrum, early learning through postsecondary, the Legislature has given all Washington’s students more hope for their future.
The League of Education Voters has long argued that a child’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions from early learning through higher education. We have worked with partners around the state in pursuit of that vision, including with the Cradle through College Coalition. It is gratifying to see the Legislature following through with strategies and investments that support students at all ages. Read More
Kelly Munn, State Field Director at the League of Education Voters, was recently recognized by the Issaquah Schools Foundation with the 2015 Golden Apple Award. The Issaquah Schools Foundation began presenting its annual Golden Apple Award in 1998 to recognize individuals in the community who made a difference for children.
Kelly began advocating the year her own children began school, through the PTA and then through Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, where she chaired multiple bond and levy campaigns and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Issaquah Schools. Kelly also served on the Issaquah Schools Foundation board for three years.
The Issaquah Schools Foundation describes Kelly as “someone who has been vigilant, tireless, unrelenting, and a passionate spokesperson for what’s in the best interest of children at all levels,” and we agree.
Congratulations, Kelly, and thank you for your work on behalf of all Washington students!
At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for May: Gabriel Portugal. Read more about Gabriel’s advocacy and activism in his community.
Gabriel Portugal has been involved in his community for his entire career. A retired educator, Gabriel served two terms on the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. As Commissioner, Gabriel founded Washington’s Latino Legislative Day (now known as the Latino Civic Alliance) to empower members of the Latino community to advocate for themselves and their families. Gabriel says he declined to serve as Latino Legislative Day Board member for more than four years because he believes that “when you’re in a position of power for too long, you lose your efficacy as a grassroots activist.” Read More
At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for April: Dakoda Foxx. Read more about Dakoda’s advocacy and activism in her community.
Dakoda Foxx’s advocacy work began close to home in 2011, after her daughter was suspended for 100 days. Dakoda knew this “wasn’t right,” so she went to TeamChild to talk to them about her daughter’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) and her options for reengagement. Through her conversations about school discipline, Dakoda learned that many parents in her Puyallup community had children facing the same issues.
From there, she began advocating in earnest. Dakoda advocated at all levels—from doorbelling to testifying about discipline. In 2012, Dakoda began looking for organizations who would work on legislation about school discipline, and that’s how she learned that the League of Education Voters was already working on Senate Bill 5946.
The rest, as they say, is history. Dakoda has continued testifying about school discipline and closing the gaps on a regular basis—most recently in support of Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos’ bill on closing the achievement gap (HB 1541). Shortly before that testimony, Dakoda also spoke at the March State Board of Education meeting in Tacoma about transforming school discipline. Read More
It was wonderful to see so many of you last Thursday at our breakfast! Thank you to those who made it—I hope you found the event as inspiring as I did. A huge thank you to our speakers, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, President of WSU; Dr. Jill Wakefield, Chancellor of Seattle Colleges; Frank Blethen, Publisher of The Seattle Times; and Kaysiana Hazelwood and Midheta Djuderija, two students with big dreams. Their stories were just amazing. And important reminders why we do this work.
Speaking of the work, now’s the time when it gets interesting. With just four weeks left in the (scheduled) session, conversation is turning to the state budget. The House Democrats’ budget was released Friday. The Senate Republican version should come out in the next few days. Neither budget will pass whole-cloth, but they’re both important in signaling the priorities of either chamber. The House budget, for example, proposes closing tax loopholes and creating new taxes, while remaining silent on the property tax issues that vexed the Supreme Court in their school funding decision. Read More
The College Bound Scholarship Program was established by our Legislature eight years ago. College Bound provides scholarships to low-income and foster care students who enroll in middle school, keep their grades up, and stay out of trouble.
More than 212,000 students have signed up, and the program has had a huge impact. Enrollment has shown to positively impact high school academic performance, graduation rates, as well as college going rates and persistence. Of students enrolling in higher education, College Bound students are almost 50 percent more likely to attend a four-year college than low-income students statewide.
We strongly support College Bound and were proud to serve on the state’s College Bound Task Force last year. During the past few years, we have worked with many partners, including the College Success Foundation, Washington State Student Achievement Council, and the Road Map Project, to amplify College Bound’s impact and success and advocate for ongoing state support.
This program changes lives.
We were fortunate to hear the stories of two College Bound students this morning at our annual breakfast. We heard from Kaysiana Hazelwood, a senior at West Seattle High School, and from Midheta Djuderija, a student at the University of Washington.
Below are their incredible stories, told in their own words. Read More
For nearly every occasion in life there is a metaphor, tortured or otherwise, that amplifies the circumstance. Whether mundane or horrifying, they roll from the tongue without much thought. For those of us engaged in Olympia on education, the offending phrase would have to be “no news is good news.” At a minimum there’s not been a lot to report in terms of education policy advancing—so if it is true that no news is good news, then education must be in fan-freaking-tastic shape.
Not that I’m throwing shade on our legislative friends, as this is the time of year when things typically go a bit off the rails, with policy bills traded or held close like baseball cards and state budget proposals still wrapped in mystery. To get a better idea of where things are, you can check our legislative bill tracker. But remember, even when you think something’s dead, until Sine Die (the Legislature’s equivalent of the closing bell) nothin’ is done, done. Read More
At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for March: Tony Vo. Read more about Tony’s work organizing and advocating for his community.
Tony Vo recently graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in public health and American ethnic studies.
While at the UW, Tony began working with underrepresented minorities as a Student Ambassador, and he noticed that Southeast Asians tended to get lumped into the “model minority” stereotype. Tony says, “I didn’t see myself in that stereotype. I grew up in White Center. Vietnamese was my first language. Many of my peers have similar stories—we come from low-income, refugee backgrounds.” So Tony started doing advocacy work on behalf of Southeast Asian American communities. Read More
Well, kids, it’s that time of year. The gnashing-of-teeth-while-twiddling-thumbs time of year. It’s too early to plant. The Grammies and Westminster are already over. And the rush to see all the Oscar nominees is out-weighed by the lack of desire to spend $35 on a movie and a box of popcorn. On the legislative front, it’s much the same. The first cut-off date for the Legislature just passed.
And no one is talking seriously, yet, about possible solutions to the state budget challenges. Namely, how to make public education whole, fund, or repeal the class-size initiative, and solve the transportation mess, all while not really changing the tax structure. (Note: I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t change the tax structure. Just that, well, they won’t.)
Gnash and twiddle. It feels sort of like watching my 9-year-old clean his room. Yes, sweetie, you really CAN throw away the broken Nerf darts. And the half- chewed gum. You can also re-purpose those too-small-shoes. And neaten those boxes of toys. Or not. So much promise amid the flawed execution.
Something else that my son and the Legislature share is that there is still time. Not infinity. But time. Enough lamenting. As always, you can track the movement—or lack thereof—on education policy here. On with the news. This week, let’s play the half-used-popular-phrase game. You’ll get it. Read More