New Podcast – Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau

Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau - 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 episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau to discuss her listening tour around the district, her Student Advisory Board, her strategy for closing achievement gaps, and her personal education journey.

 

Listen:

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Students Educate Educators on Implicit Bias

By Arik Korman, League of Education Voters Commnications Director

 

Inspirational Workshops has partnered with King County Best Starts for Kids to expand trauma-informed and restorative practices in schools, beginning with Garfield High School and Washington Middle School in Seattle to offer the Trailblazers Program: youth of color blazing the trail for others.

The Trailblazers Program, created by Inspirational Workshops founder Theresa Hardy, is designed to empower underrepresented students to gain confidence that will support them with navigating institutionalized racism. Trailblazers introduces youth to social justice awareness and elevates student voice.

Trailblazers Implicit Bias Professional Development Presentation part 1 - League of Education VotersLast week, Trailblazers presented a professional development (PD) workshop on implicit bias for the entire educator staff at Washington Middle School, which was the first PD in the Seattle School District ever led by students. The session was led by Washington Middle School students Sona, an 8th-grader, and Kimilo (a.k.a. Bubbles), a 7th-grader. Sona and Kimilo told their personal stories and led discussions on what implicit bias is, which biases were in the room, why people have implicit bias, negative impacts of implicit bias, and solutions. Read More

Project-Based Learning Through Partnership

Tilth Alliance facilitates project-based learning with South Shore Students. Six children crowd around a blue tarp with dirt and critters on it. The children are in winter clothes.
Second grade students explore critters in the soil

Thanks in part to an incredible partnership with Tilth Alliance, League of Education Voters has continued to promote project-based learning. Since 2002 League of Education Voters has been partnering with South Shore, a Seattle Public Schools PreK-8 school serving around 700 students in Rainier Valley, to fund innovation and create proof points in hopes of spreading effective practices across the state.

Through our partnership with South Shore, since 2009 we have also helped support what has become the Rainier Beach Learning Garden, located behind South Shore, providing project-based learning for several nearby schools, community centers, and daycare programs. While land management and site coordination is now provide by Seattle Parks, the garden’s educational programming is managed by Tilth Alliance, a statewide nonprofit organization focused on organic gardening and urban ecology.

Tilth Alliance specifically utilizes the Rainier Beach Learning Garden as a facet of their mission “to increase access to fresh healthy food for folks in Rainier Valley.”  By working with Tilth Alliance, League of Education Voters has continued to impact each South Shore student’s education. Read More

Helping students who need it most benefits all

By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director

From The Olympian:

Last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced the new Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF). The WSIF comes out of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan and the recommendations of the Accountability workgroup, of which League of Education Voters was a part.

The new WSIF will provide schools and communities with new, rich data on school performance, with a focus on historically and systemically underserved students. The WSIF also focuses on the “now what” — labeling schools by the level of support they will receive from the state.

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Our State of Education: Superintendent Survey

By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst

When an educator earns a superintendent position, they know their job description does not just put them between a rock and a hard place – they will be between a rock, a hard place, and a fire. They hold responsibility for the current education and future educational prospects of the children in their school district. Simultaneously, parents, community members, and their staff expect their leadership in translating and implementing statewide directives and policy changes. And, of course, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) holds them accountable to agency and legislative directives and outcomes goals.

This is why most superintendents develop a refined skill set – the ability to collaborate with a wide range of community and education leaders, the passion to advocate for their students and communities on the state level, deep and broad engagement with education research, an engaging and thoughtful political persona, and long term project management and planning abilities. This is also why we knew we needed to gather as much feedback as possible from superintendents across the state, particularly on their understandings of current and emergent issues in our K-12 schools.

We sent a survey request in November 2017 to 295 superintendents in Washington; 57 (19%) returned our survey, giving these results an 80% confidence level with an 8% margin of error. Our survey over-represents districts with 500 to 4,999 students, and under-represents districts of 499 students and less. Respondents hail from all areas of the state, but disproportionately represent rural districts.

Aside from demographic details, our survey was limited to three main questions:

  1. How urgent are issues such as achievement/opportunity gaps, student supports, teacher supply, college readiness, etc., in your district?
  2. Is your district experiencing new or different educational issues?
  3. What should we work on in the next legislative session?

This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with superintendents and educators across Washington.

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Our State of Education: Principal Survey

By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst

Principals are some of the busiest people in a school building. Rarely out of range of their walkie talkies, principals take responsibility for in-the-minute decisions about crises both large and small. At the same time, they must also craft long term strategic plans in the context of a rapidly changing school ecosystem. As principals often serve as one of the key lynchpins of policy implementation, we knew we needed to get a better sense of how they understand the current and emergent needs within Washington’s K-12 system.

We surveyed principals in Washington state to better understand what new and emerging issues their schools and communities are facing. In December, we sent a survey request to 2,034 principals in Washington; 180 returned our survey, giving these results a 95% confidence level with a 7% margin of error. Although elementary principals are slightly underrepresented in our survey, the overall proportions are not widely divergent from statewide proportions. Our survey also over represents smaller schools, those with 100 to 499 students, and larger districts, but does represent strong geographic diversity.

Aside from demographic details, our survey was limited to three main questions:

  1. How urgent are issues such as achievement/opportunity gaps, student supports, teacher supply, college readiness, etc. in your school?
  2. What new or different educational issues is your school experiencing?
  3. What should we be working on in the next legislative session?

This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with principals and educators across Washington.

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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.

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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.

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2018 Legislative Priority: Student Supports

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Student Supports - League of Education VotersStudents learn most effectively when their school feels safe, inclusive, supportive, and respectful. (1)

Closing opportunity and achievement gaps and improving student outcomes relies on our ability to create positive school climates for every student.

Opportunity:

Creating positive school climates and providing student supports can mitigate the impact of trauma (2), mental health needs (3), and other non-academic factors that affect a student’s ability to engage in learning (4). Washington state has embarked upon some critical work to create positive school climates. The Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC) spearheaded a number of reforms, most recently with the passage of HB 1541 that continued student discipline reform and created the Washington Integrated Student Supports Protocol (5). The state also convened a workgroup to develop benchmarks for Social-Emotional Learning (6) for district use. We can enhance these and other efforts to deliver services to students and enable districts and schools to create welcoming and supportive environments for every student.

Solution:

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Afterschool Is Essential for Millions of Students Nationwide Each Year

By Ruben Balderas
Guest Blogger

Ruben Balderas - League of Education VotersRuben is a senior at Walla Walla High School, and recently secured a job as a Walla Walla Public Schools afterschool tutor. Throughout his afterschool journey, Ruben has acquired a number of real-world skills, and has made many friends and professional contacts along the way.

Afterschool is very important to me for many different reasons. It has taught me many different things, including computer programs, videography and cinematography skills, communicating with other people. My program has also helped me develop different strategies around critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, planning, brainstorming, time and stress management, and leadership. All of these skills learned in afterschool can also be used in a real-world work environment; for me, that would be something in the field of animation or concept art. In both of these fields, it is essential to be able to work and communicate within a team structure in order to produce the best content for the job.

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