2019 Washington Legislative Session Wrapup

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

The 2019 legislative session came to a fast and furious close on April 28, with rumors swirling about a special session right until the very end. There were a record number of bills introduced, and almost 500 passed by sine die.

League of Education Voters prioritized five areas this session: sufficient and effective special education funding, supportive and safe schools, fair local K-12 funding, high-quality early childhood education, and access to postsecondary opportunities. Ultimately, progress was made in all of our priority areas, some more than others, and we are grateful for all of the robust debate and work of the legislature over the past four months. We prioritize working in partnership with community-based organizations and enjoyed strategizing with partners to ensure that student and family voices and experiences were represented in Olympia. Read More

Podcast – House Education Chair Sharon Tomiko Santos

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-37 - 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 asks Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-Seattle), Chair of the House Education Committee, how she envisions the legislature responding to special education needs from the community, what the next steps are for House Bill 1541, better known as the Opportunity Gap Bill, and what her vision is for improving education in Washington state.

 

Listen:

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Washington State Revenue Forecast Update

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

On March 20, Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released their updated projections. The council expects the state to take in an additional $307 million in general fund revenue collections during the 2017-19 biennium than was projected when the biennial budget was adopted. Additionally, revenues are projected to be about $550 million higher for the general fund in the 2019-21 biennium than was previously projected. In total, an additional $850 million in expected to be available for the upcoming budget process than previously thought. Read More

2019 Legislative Priority: Access to Postsecondary Opportunities

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

PROBLEM

Postsecondary Education 2019 Legislative Priority Issue Brief - League of Education Voters18,000 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.

OPPORTUNITY

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 18,000 eligible low-income students unserved in each of the last seven years.

Over ten years ago, Washington established the College Bound Scholarship 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 (1).

Both programs cover a portion of the cost of attendance leaving students to cover the rest of the costs via family contributions, loans, or jobs. 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 through other types of aid or family and/or student-generated sources. Read More

2019 Legislative Priority: Expanded Learning Opportunities

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

WHY WE SUPPORT EXPANDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Students playing soccer - League of Education VotersExpanded learning opportunities – afterschool, weekend, or summer programming for school-age students – promote academic achievement, leadership skills, and involve youth in their communities. Unfortunately, youth from low income families get the least exposure to family reading time, weekend day trips, preschool, summer camp, and afterschool programming, compared to their peers from non-low income households (1). It adds up to a 6,000-hour learning gap by 6th grade – and only gets wider as they enter junior high and high school (2). This learning gap has an impact on school attendance and performance, as well as students’ opportunity to be fully prepared for college or career. Ability to access afterschool and summer school programs also impacts student safety, because the hours between 3 and 6pm are those in which youth are most susceptible to risky or adverse behaviors (3). Read More

2019 Legislative Priority: Supportive and Safe Schools

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

WHY STUDENT SUPPORTS AND SCHOOL CLIMATE ARE IMPORTANT

Middle school students - League of Education VotersStudents learn most effectively when their school feels safe, inclusive, supportive, and respectful (1). 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). It is instrumental in closing opportunity and achievement gaps in our system and improving student outcomes.

The creation of safe and supportive schools includes strategies such as Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), tiered systems of support, partnerships with families, partnerships with community-based organizations, and providing access to mental health services, among others. Between 50-80% of students in need of mental health services do not have access (5), and schools are likely the first point of access for many students that do seek services (6,7). School climate reform strategies have been shown to decrease school violence and bullying, increase academic achievement, and improve the school experience for students, staff, and families (8). The implementation of universal SEL programs have also been shown to result in significant academic gains (9,10) as well as a robust return on investment of $11 for every $1 spent (11). Read More

2019 Legislative Priority: Early Childhood Education – Home Visiting

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

WHY WE SUPPORT HOME VISITING

Preschool student - League of Education VotersIn 2018, our state had a 30-point kindergarten readiness gap between kindergarteners from low income families and their non-low income peers. Kindergarten readiness is one variable that supports kids to do well in elementary school and beyond, and the income-based opportunity gap means that children from low income households will have more work to reach grade level than their peers.

Home visiting – an early childhood education strategy in which a nurse or other professional coordinates services to families in their home – is an intervention proven by four decades of research to significantly improve kindergarten readiness for children born to low income families. Improved educational outcomes also include higher grade point averages (GPAs), higher language scores, higher achievement scores at age nine, and even higher high school graduation rates (1). Expanding high-quality home visiting programs in Washington state not only allows us to maximize our K-12 investments – it also helps parents provide the nurturing kids need at just the right point in their lives. Home visiting improves physical and mental health and development (2), and decreases the likelihood of abuse or neglect (3) while improving family economic self-sufficiency (4). Twenty years of academic research confirms that home visiting can change the trajectory of a child and their entire family. Read More

2019 Legislative Priority: Early Childhood Education – Reimbursement Rates

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

WHY REIMBURSEMENT RATES ARE IMPORTANT

Preschool students - League of Education VotersHigh-quality early childhood education can ensure that kids start school kindergarten ready, and increase test scores throughout their elementary and high school education (1). These benefits are particularly important for kids from low income families, who face more income-related stress and are more likely to have all parents working. Currently, only 33% of kindergarteners from low-income households enter school fully kindergarten ready – nearly half the rate of kindergarten readiness for their non-low income peers (2). Read More