LEV applauds Ross Hunter’s appointment as Director of the Department of Early Learning

The League of Education Voters has worked with the Washington State Department of Early Learning to since its inception to improve access to, and quality of, early childhood education for all Washington kids. We have also worked with Rep. Ross Hunter for many years as a legislator in the House of Representatives, where he has been a steadfast champion for education.

As an organization that believes in a continuum of education for all Washington students, from early learning through postsecondary, we are pleased with Gov. Inslee’s appointment of Ross Hunter as director of the Department of Early Learning. We look forward to working with him to continue growing access to high-quality early learning and working to ensure the strong implementation of the Early Start Act.

Statement on the 2015-2017 Budget

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 2015 Legislative SessionThe 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

An early start to success

Access to high-quality early education has been life changing for our daughter, Eva Rose.

A teacher helps her young student with work.That’s how Seattle parent Jessica Colinares describes her daughter’s experience in preschool. Eva’s success—thanks to her access to high-quality early learning—isn’t extraordinary; rather, it’s the norm.

Support has been growing for quality early childhood education throughout Washington state—and across the country.

Many studies show that children in high-quality early learning programs are more prepared for kindergarten, more likely to graduate high school, healthier, more likely to be employed, and report higher income. They are also less likely to repeat grades, be placed in special education, be involved in the juvenile justice system, and commit crimes as adults. High-quality early learning is one of the best ways to close the opportunity and achievement gaps, which are already present by the beginning of kindergarten. Much of high-quality early learning focuses on the social and emotional learning that is so vital throughout a child’s life. Read More

A Way Forward: We can and must do better for Washington’s students

A child’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions from early learning through postsecondary education. The League of Education Voters (LEV) is pleased to release its vision for an expanded definition of basic education.

Washington’s policymakers have spent much time, money, and intellectual capital trying to overhaul our state’s education funding system—multiple task forces, studies, work groups, legislative efforts—and yet, we lack a plan for ample, equitable, and stable funding. In addition, our definition of “basic education”—what this funding system is supposed to pay for—doesn’t go far enough to prepare our kids for college or career.

A Way Forward: We can and must do better for Washington's students. January 2015
A Way Forward

The Washington State Supreme Court found that the state was violating its constitutional obligation to amply fund basic education in the McCleary v. State of Washington funding case. Lawmakers were given a 2018 deadline to fix how we fund basic education. The passage of Initiative 1351 to lower K–12 class sizes statewide magnifies the intense pressure on the Legislature to determine a viable funding plan for public education. Though the 2018 deadline looms, the Court found the Legislature in “contempt of court” last fall, giving them until the end of the 2015 legislative session to make significant progress on a funding plan. While the funding issues are paramount to the Court, this time frame provides a unique opportunity to reflect on what our kids really need from our public education system to succeed. Read More

A definition of basic education worth fighting for

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education VotersChris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters, submitted an op-ed to The Seattle Times‘ Education Lab yesterday. It was published in The Seattle Times print edition on June 20.

In her column, Chris argues that the definition of “basic education” in Washington is too narrow—it does not include early learning or higher education. Read below for an excerpt, or read the entire column online.

At the League of Education Voters, we support an ample, equitable, stable education funding plan. While we supported the re-definition of “basic education” developed in 2009 (it includes smaller class size, full-day kindergarten, transportation, materials and supplies) upon which McCleary is based, we advocated that the definition should also include early learning and higher education.

During the past two years, we have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the current definition of basic education. It is neither ample nor equitable. And thanks to our over-reliance on local levies, it certainly isn’t stable.

We need a definition of basic education that puts students and their learning at the center.

Read the entire op-ed on The Seattle Times website.

A multifaceted approach yields a strong step forward in closing the opportunity and achievement gaps

By Beth Richer, League of Education Voters Government Relations

Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI. Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI.
Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI.

Within any given legislative session there are victories, defeats, and measures left in a state of limbo. The 2014 session was no different. But amidst those victories, defeats, and states of limbo, there was an underlying theme for much of the education legislation related to the opportunity gap. Legislators, advocacy organizations, teachers, parents, students, and business leaders alike all said loud and clear: “We must take action to close the gaps and address our most underserved students.” Read More

The LEV Annual Breakfast Panelists

Meeghan Black
Meeghan Black will host our Annual Breakfast.

We hope you will join the League of Education Voters at our annual breakfast on March 11 at the Seattle Sheraton to learn how, through high-quality early learning, we not only change the beginning of the story, we change the WHOLE story.

Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Meeghan Black will host our event and Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee will moderate a panel of early learning advocates and experts.

Panelists include: Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess, Seattle Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Michelle Terry, South Shore PK–8 Principal Keisha Scarlett, and Trilogy International Partners Chair John Stanton. Read More

The 2013 legislative session: It’s a wrap

In what has become unfortunately common in Washington, the 2013 legislative session went into overtime. An agreement on a two-year budget was reached with less than 24 hours to spare to avoid a shutdown of state government. While significant hurdles remain as we strive to ensure our public education system is amply, equitably and sustainably funded, measurable progress was made during the extended 2013 session.

The legislature and the Governor were faced with competing requirements and political trends. Our state’s constitution required increased investment in K-12 education. And while I-1053 was ultimately ruled unconstitutional, the voters of Washington state have consistently sent a strong message that any tax increases must have 2/3 majority support in the legislature. The legislators were charged with increasing investment in K12, without broad based revenue increases, and avoiding cuts to other areas of education or essential social services.

On that score you have to say the session was a mild success. As a state, we expanded investment in early learning, brought a modicum of stability to the Working Connections Child Care program, increased investment in K-12 with an intense focus on the opportunity gap, and stopped the crippling cuts to higher education. We did all of this without cannibalizing essential social services. While it took longer than was needed, the outcome reflected the values of the voters who sent the legislators to Olympia to represent them.

In addition to the budget items, significant bipartisan efforts on education policy were passed (See LEV 2013 legislative accomplishments). Legislation related to addressing customer service issues in child care, supports for persistently failing schools, literacy, STEM education, gathering and reporting of discipline data, and assessment reforms all passed with significant bipartisan support.

As we move forward, LEV will continue to work with parents, members of both parties, and members of the education community to address the continuing challenge of providing ample, equitable and stable funding and ensuring those dollars are invested effectively to ensure that every student in Washington state receives an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

Governor Inslee signs two early learning bills

Great news for Washington’s littlest learners; Governor Inslee has signed HB 1723 and SB 5595 into law! Here are some of the changes you can expect:

Under HB 1723

Under SB 5595

  • DEL/The Department of Social and Health Services will provide improved consumer service, meaning they will return all phone calls within 2 business days, develop a process to submit forms online, notify parents and child care providers 10 days before loss of WCCC benefits, and provide consumers with a document that is easy to understand regarding what services they are eligibile for, etc.
  • Creates a task force comprised of legislators, representatives from various early learning stakeholder groups, and child care providers. The task force will develop recommendations for creating a tiered-reimbursement model for WCCC and a mixed delivery system for ECEAP.
  • DEL/DSHS must work to design a more flexible subsidy system that accounts for small fluctuations in family circumstances, ensure that minor changes in parent’s work schedule(s) don’t interfere with their WCCC authorization, enable parents who participate in 110 hours of work or related activities to be eligible for full-time child care services, and simplify the requirement to count child support as income.

* This is void if not funded by 6/1/13.

Governor Inslee signs House Bill No. 1723 Relating to expanding and streamlining early learning services and programs.
Governor Inslee signs House Bill No. 1723
Relating to expanding and streamlining early learning services and programs.
Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5595 Relating to child care reform.
Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5595 Relating to child care reform.

Seattle Public Schools honors LEV-South Shore partnership

At the school board meeting on February 6th, Seattle Public Schools honored the partnership between the League of Education Voters Foundation and South Shore School in south Seattle. South Shore Principal Keisha Scarlett, LEV CEO Chris Korsmo, and LEV Board Member Chris Larson were there to accept the honor.

While being recognized, LEV CEO Chris Korsmo said, “[South Shore] is a great lesson about investing in our earliest learners [and] prioritizing our scarce resources…we’ve accomplished a lot over our 3 years.” Many of the school board members agreed. Director Martin-Morris said that whenever he travels and meets with people in the education field he always brings up South Shore, stating, “Thank you for creating a model that I know a lot of people are looking at nationally.” Director Carr sees great potential in the South Shore model as well, stating, “We have a terrific opportunity [to take] what we’ve learned and leverage that and replicate. It’s a good opportunity for us to do more.” Director DeBell added, “[South Shore] demonstrates how all children can learn given the right circumstances.”

Read more about the LEV-South Shore partnership here.