State Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate Forums

Olympia - LEV OSPI Superintendent Meeting

Candidates who want to lead Washington’s school system as its next superintendent will speak at forums around the state.  If you know of any other scheduled OSPI candidate forums, please email info to LEV Communications Director Arik Korman

OSPI candidates advancing to the general election November 8:

  • Erin Jones, a Tacoma Public Schools administrator. Listen to her interview with LEV HERE
  • State Representative Chris Reykdal (D-22). Listen to his interview with LEV HERE
Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones (L) and Chris Reykdal
Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones (L) and Chris Reykdal
Date Location Time Address

If you are unable to attend a live candidate forum, TVW will carry them. Info HERE

Watch the October 5th Woodinville candidate forum HERE

Note: The League of Education Voters is not promoting or endorsing either candidate.

Activist of the Month: Darcelina Soloria

March 2016 Activist of the Month Darcelina Soloria
March 2016 Activist of the Month Darcelina Soloria

Darcelina Soloria met LEV Policy Director Amy Liu in October 2015 after Amy sent out public charter school information to parents.  Darcelina was moved to take action and led a phone bank effort in December, organizing 15 people who each made 10 calls in a single night.

Since then, Darcelina has led 5 more phone bank events where she encouraged fellow volunteers to make 15 calls each time, urging legislators to support a fix for public charter schools.

Darcelina’s own public school education went without a hitch until high school, where she was able to pass algebra only because of help from a classmate.  Her math teacher was emotionally unavailable and did not offer any extra support.  She also did not know how to write a paper.

As you can imagine, Darcelina was paralyzed when she started community college.  But thanks to instructors that were a better fit, she surprised herself by earning an A in English.  She transferred to 4-year institution right out of community college and continued her upward learning trajectory with an A in English 101 out of the gate.

Darcelina realized her troubles in high school weren’t her fault – she just didn’t have the right teachers to match her learning style.  Now she has an accounting degree.

Darcelina and her husband hadn’t planned on having children.  When she found out she was pregnant with her son, it was a big surprise.  She started thinking about educational options but lived in Hillyard, a Spokane neighborhood not associated with good public schools.  And she couldn’t afford private school.

When looking at kindergarten prospects, Darcelina thought about Montessori but found Spokane International Academy, a public charter school that opened in Hillyard last year to help that historically underserved community.  Darcelina applied and was thrilled when her son got in.

Darcelina appreciates the school’s focus in on kids and how they learn.  She also is impressed by SIA Head of School Travis Franklin’s goal of helping students become community-minded and globally-oriented.

In kindergarten, her son is now speaking Spanish and writing papers.  When he started, he was at pre-K level.  By the time he gets to 8th grade, Darcelina believes he will have a clear understanding of how he can become a great citizen locally, statewide and globally.

Darcelina and her son don’t want to see their school taken away.  Darcelina says, “If we look at charters as a learning environment, why don’t we roll them out in other places?  These are pockets of where we can learn how to better teach our kids.”

Activist of the Month: Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success

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 September: a student group called the Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success, or ALAS. Read more about ALAS’ work to engage their community.

Students from Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS)

Students from Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS)

Maite Cruz testified for the first time ever this summer at the State Board of Education meeting in July. A rising tenth grader, Maite says she was “unbelievably nervous” but was determined to speak up about the importance of setting graduation requirements at a college-ready level (a level ‘3’ cut score) for Smarter Balanced assessments. She learned about the opportunity to testify after meeting League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez at aPasco Discovery Coalition meeting.

In her testimony, Maite asked the board: “If our own state doesn’t have confidence that we can achieve a ‘3,’ how will we ever have confidence in ourselves that we can succeed?” The State Board ultimately voted to set the cut score mid-way between a ‘2’ and a ‘3,’ but Maite’s testimony moved them. Later that same evening, Maite had the opportunity to sit next to Board Chair Isabel Muñoz-Colón at dinner, who expressed her gratitude for Maite’s testimony.

Along with Maite, her friend Diana Alonso also testified. Both Maite and Diana are members of a student organization, Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS). ALAS formed about four years ago, and Maite says her older brother was one of the founding members when he was in high school. The goal of the group is to grow community engagement in education and cultural events.

When they initially formed the group, ALAS members didn’t want to have any leadership roles—they wanted all of the members to have an equal voice. That turned into one of their “biggest challenges,” says Maite, because it made it much more difficult to stay organized. They ultimately changed their mind and created various roles within the group, with Maite taking on the role of president.

ALAS holds multiple events throughout the year, and one of their biggest events is a week-long summer camp for students in grade K–6. The camp is offered in English and Spanish and is organized entirely by the fifteen teenagers comprising ALAS. This year, ALAS enlisted the help of student teachers from Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, and they provided curriculum for the week.

Each day of the summer camp had a theme. One day, for example, was “Volcano Day,” and the students learned about, and made their own, volcanoes. Students attended the camp, which included lunch and snacks throughout the day, at no cost. This year was the third year of offering a camp; last year’s camp was covered in the Tri-City Herald.

Going forward, Maite says ALAS wants to make a more concerted effort to engage all members of the community, in addition to students. They recently held a community “café event” for 16 families that both parents and students attended. The parents loved the event and enjoyed discussing community-wide concerns and issues. The Pasco School Board President attended the event, as well, and responded positively to the community voice.

ALAS is also planning an event in September in honor of Mexican Independence Day, and they are partnering with a health organization in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

And Maite? She says she’s not sure what she wants to do after high school yet, but she does know that she really wants to help out her community and give back to them in the same way that they have supported her.

Thank you to our advocates and activists

Thank youThe work that we do to improve public education is only possible thanks to the support of our activists and advocates—the parents, community members, students, and teachers who stand up and speak up. In order to recognize the difficult work that so many of our supporters do on behalf of all Washington students, the League of Education Voters began spotlighting the work of our “activists of the month” in late 2013.

Our activists of the month were selected for going above and beyond in their work for Washington students—in organizing, in testimony, in advocacy, and more. Before we break for the summer, we wanted to draw your attention to these activists once more. Read More

Activist of the Month: Gabriel Portugal

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.

Representative Dan Newhouse with the travelers from Washington. From left: Gabriel Portugal, Rep. Newhouse, Quontica Sparks, and Ruvine Jiménez.
Representative Dan Newhouse with the travelers from Washington. From left: Gabriel Portugal, Rep. Newhouse, Quontica Sparks, and Ruvine Jiménez.

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

Activist of the Month: Dakoda Foxx

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 FoxxDakoda 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

Activist of the Month: Tony Vo

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 VoTony 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

Activist of the Month: Emma Margraf

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 February: Emma Margraf. Read more about Emma’s experience as a foster parent who advocated for her foster daughter even when told by everyone around her to simply expect less.

Emma MargrafEmma Margraf became a foster parent nearly seven years ago. You may have read her guest blog posts on our website over the years about her foster daughter Jane and their experiences through the school system. As you might imagine, Jane and Emma both had an uphill battle to success. As Emma writes in her most recent blog, “Fewer than two out of five foster kids graduate from high school in Washington—let alone go to college.”

Jane had her work cut out for her, but so did Emma. Emma says that dealing with the education system was much more complicated than expected. She was new to the world of foster care and “didn’t speak the language of the system.” While she had help from a case manager to help “translate,” Emma says that new issues with the system constantly cropped up and every issue had cascading consequences that were new to her.

And Jane was suspended weekly—or even more frequently—in her first year with Emma. Although the school didn’t notice, it didn’t take long for Emma to realize what was happening. Jane, who loved to read but struggled with math, would act out in her math class, get sent to the suspension room, and be allowed to read whatever book she happened to have with her—usually Harry Potter.

After years of working on political campaigns, Emma says that her response to obstacles has never been “Ok.” So, she set out looking for alternatives to the school Jane was attending. Read More

Democracy in Action

League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez traveled to Washington, DC, to attend a US Senate Education Committee hearing and speak with her legislators with two eastern Washington education advocates, Quontica Sparks and Gabriel Portugal. Below is Ruvine’s account of her trip.

Senator Patty Murray with the travelers from Washington. From left: Quontica Sparks, Ruvine Jiménez, Sen. Murray, and Gabriel Portugal.
Senator Patty Murray with the travelers from Washington. From left: Quontica Sparks, Ruvine Jiménez, Sen. Murray, and Gabriel Portugal.

I am so appreciative for the opportunity to visit Washington, DC, and attend a U.S. Senate Education Committee hearing on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization, as well as speak to our senators, representatives, and their legislative aides. I enjoyed hearing from Senator Murray about her hopes for all Washington kids and speaking with Representative Newhouse, who hails from Sunnyside, Washington.

In addition, I was grateful to have been accompanied by such great community leaders from eastern Washington. We were given the opportunity to stand up and testify on behalf of all children. But most importantly, I was grateful for the opportunity to explain why accountability, fair and reliable assessments, and equal access to high-quality public education is important for all kids. Read More

Activist of the Month: Sharon Taubel

Sharon TaubelAt 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 January: Sharon Taubel. Read more about Sharon’s work advocating for public education—especially when it comes to equity in education.

Sharon Taubel began volunteering in her daughter’s elementary school PTA years ago, and her volunteerism and advocacy continued from there.

Sharon is pretty straightforward about why she advocates for others: “I was not well-served by the education system.” But more than that, when Sharon observes what is simply “not right,” she can’t help but do something about it. Read More