By Jacob Vela, League of Education Voters Senior Policy Analyst
Governor Jay Inslee released his 2019-21 budget proposal today. The Governor’s proposal is a start to the budget conversation that will get underway in earnest on January 14, 2019 when the new legislature convenes to begin hearing legislative proposals for their 105 days of the scheduled regular legislative session that extends through mid-April.
The proposed budget includes around $1billion in funding increases across the education continuum from pre-school through higher education. The governor recommends $173 million more for early learning, including serving 2,385 more students through the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).
An increased focus is brought to student mental health with $155 million in additional investments for school nurses, psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors for elementary and middle schools. Funding will be rolled out over several years with a priority given to low-income districts. Read More
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 November: Patty Shastany. Read about her advocacy for early childhood education.
Patty Shastany serves as a coach in Spokane for the Early Achievers program, which improves the quality of early learning in Washington state. As an Early Achievers coach, she spends most of her time in the field at childcare programs to work with directors and teachers to improve the quality of care for children. Since 2012, she has facilitated a monthly meeting for childcare owners and directors to build relationships and support each other in improving program quality. As part of that work, early learning professionals have advocated for effective, realistic regulations, and better funding to support quality improvements. Patty’s organizing paved the way for the statewide Washington Childcare Centers Association (WCCA). “I am most proud of the relationships I have built,” she says, “especially with people who want to make the world better for kids.”
Patty has known League of Education Voters Spokane Regional Field Director Sandra Jarrard for years. Since Early Achievers rolled out in 2012, Patty has been facilitating monthly meetings with owners and directors of childcare programs. “Sandra came to a meeting in 2015 to help us understand advocacy,” she recalls. “A year after that, the minimum wage law passed and the unintended consequence was that childcare programs struggled to increase wages without raising tuition rates beyond what families can afford. Childcare programs have always worked on the very edge of being sustainable, especially programs that cared for significant numbers of children who received subsidies from the state. State reimbursement rates are far below the market rates. “It’s hard to maintain quality and keep teachers without adequate funding,” Patty says. “Programs need to cut corners wherever they can, which impacts the level of quality you can provide.” Read More
South 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