The field of Human Centered Design & Engineering is growing, and more than 80% of the program’s graduates are employed within 6 months of graduation. But Stephanie White, an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, says that even though the undergraduate program has been flooded with applications, a lot of the students who want to study engineering in her department can’t—they simply don’t have the prerequisites to qualify. “Many students find out their junior year of high school that they don’t have the prerequisites to study STEM in college—by then it’s too late to take the courses they need.”
Sadly, Stephanie’s experience isn’t unusual. Only 4 in 10 graduating seniors meet the basic admissions requirements to get into a public university in Washington. And nearly 60% of students who attend community or technical college must take remediation classes to get to those basic 4-year college admissions requirements. In other words, many students must pay tuition to learn what they should have been taught in public high school. Help us to change this for Washington students by signing a petition in support of a college and career ready diploma.
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: Betsy Cohen. Read more about Betsy’s experience as an education activist.
Betsy Cohen testified in Olympia for the first time two weeks ago in favor of the college and career ready diploma (HB 2181). That might come as a surprise to those who know her, since Betsy has been involved in education advocacy for years—since moving to Washington state when her children were young.
Betsy joined her children’s elementary school PTA and, with her background as a law professor, was quickly appointed as their legislative representative. Over the years, she has organized dozens of trips to Olympia and helped others testify (but she never had the opportunity to testify herself). Read More
By Andaiye Qaasim, Community Organizer at the League of Education Voters
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 January: Lynda Collie-Johnson. Read more about Lynda’s experience as an educator and at LEV’s Activist Training last year. Read More
Representatives from the League of Education Voters (LEV) and community-based organizations recently traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to learn more about the discipline reforms that have been implemented by Baltimore City Public Schools with great success. This is the ninth and last in the series, Lessons from Baltimore: Transforming School Discipline.
By Tre’ Maxie, Member, Washington State Board of Education
I come from a family of educators. My family always valued education, and they set an expectation that I would not only attend college, but that we would also assist others in doing the same. I have been working to improve public education for a long time, so when the League of Education Voters invited me to visit Baltimore to see how Baltimore City Public Schools has successfully implemented equitable discipline reforms, I jumped at the chance. Read More
Representatives from the League of Education Voters (LEV) and community-based organizations recently traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to learn more about the discipline reforms that have been implemented by Baltimore City Public Schools with great success. This is the eighth in the series, Transforming School Discipline: Lessons from Baltimore.
By Dr. Carey G. Anderson, Reverend, First African Methodist Episcopal Church
As a Pastor serving a local congregation in Seattle, Washington, I was greatly inspired to attend a trip sponsored by the League of Education Voters. This trip was an opportunity to interface with school administrators, teachers, and education partners in addressing school discipline and impacting the high school dropout rate in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
One key observation with the school administrators that spoke with us was the inherent interest that is shown to each student. The model of student management focused on keeping students in the classroom, which included methods such as cognitive reasoning with students, behavior modification, active parental interaction, and the power of making choices. Read More
Representatives from League of Education Voters (LEV) and community-based organizations recently traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to learn more about the discipline reforms that have been implemented by Baltimore City Public Schools with great success. This is the seventh in the series, Lessons from Baltimore: Transforming School Discipline.
By Beth Richer, Government Relations, League of Education Voters
There were a number of messages, strategies, and lessons that the Baltimore City Public Schools staff and administrators shared with us on the issue of school discipline. Three of these messages have remained with me:
First and foremost, take children as they are
Policies cannot replace positive school culture
What gets measured gets done
There is a critical step in revising school discipline policies that involves looking at the practical rather than the socio-emotional, and that involves data. Read More
The League of Education Voters invited leaders from all around Washington state to share their school district’s story on how money matters, and how they are using it to reduce the opportunity and achievement gaps. This post is the last school district perspective in our five-part blog series, “Money Matters. But so does how it’s spent.”
By Alison Meryweather, LEV Key Activist
Once the 2014 budget was approved, the Issaquah district moved quickly to strategically invest the additional funding. To be clear; our district has yet to be restored to pre-2008-2009 state funding levels, but with the “additional” $3 million allocation from the state, we could begin that process.
Below are some of the priorities where funding was spent:
Instructional Performance and Accountability: $1,000,000 for full implementation, district-wide, of the Teacher Principal Evaluation Pilot (TPEP) Program. These additional funds are required to ensure the program is implemented with equity and transparency. These new evaluations are much more time-consuming and therefore the district opted to increase Dean of Students staffing at both the elementary and middle schools and add another Assistant Principal at two of our comprehensive high schools who have enrollments of 2,000 students each. This staff increase will also serve to assist students who need additional support to address their challenges.
Instructional Time: $200,000 to fund a pilot 7th period at two high schools to expand core graduation and elective options for students. Due to state funding constraints, our district only provides a 6-period day. The district will pilot an on-demand academic option, as well as provide transportation.
Student Health: While $975,000 overall was allocated, the district is contracting for Mental Health Counseling at all three of our comprehensive high schools, at a cost of $275,000. To me, this is a very smart investment. Data from our annual Healthy Youth Survey indicates numerous areas of significant concern. Our teachers are on the front line with our students and both need the guidance and support to navigate the complexities of social/emotional health.
Just imagine the opportunities for our students should the state fully adhere to the court McCleary decision to restore the previous funding levels and make additional essential investments in education!
Alison Meryweather is a passionate advocate for public education and has been volunteering for over a decade so that our students can benefit from the best education possible.
Representatives from League of Education Voters (LEV) and community-based organizations recently traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to learn more about the discipline reforms that have been implemented by Baltimore City Public Schools with great success. This is the sixth in the series, Lessons from Baltimore: Transforming School Discipline.
By Reggie Witherspoon, Reverend, Mount Calvary Christian Church
Mount Calvary Christian Church has been working for years with members of our community who have been to prison, and we’ve been aware of the “school-to-prison pipeline” for some time. Working with the League of Education Voters (LEV) has allowed us to begin working with members of our community sooner—during the “school” portion of the aforementioned “pipeline”—with the goal of preventing the “prison” part of it altogether.
At Mount Calvary, we believe that education plays a major role in nurturing a strong community. Education is power, and it’s what liberates us. Without education, poverty always leads to crime. One of the things we’re doing through our youth ministry is developing relationships with Meany Middle School, Franklin High School, and Garfield High School so that we can implement mentorship and tutoring programs to help students study and prepare for college.
I ultimately decided to join LEV on their listening tour of Baltimore schools because of the plight of our community members—particularly that of African American males. I wanted to see what was going on in Baltimore and what had been implemented successfully that we could bring home. Read More
The League of Education Voters invited leaders from all around Washington state to share their school district’s story on how money matters, and how they are using it to reduce the opportunity and achievement gaps. This post is the third school district perspective in our five-part blog series, “Money Matters. But so does how it’s spent.”
By Agda Burchard, Legislative Representative, Kent School District Board
Thanks to the state legislature, nearly $500 per student in additional funding was available at the start of the 2013–2014 school year.
In the Kent School District, a portion of the additional resources support student learning by funding:
Full-Day Kindergarten. Research shows that students who attend full-day kindergarten are more likely to be independent learners, more productive, and less likely to be withdrawn or aggressive. Seven additional elementary schools in Kent received state funds for full-day kindergarten. In a full day, teachers have more time to concentrate on teaching the curriculum and students are able to focus longer on a subject. Students also have time to engage in a wider range of activities including the arts and physical education.
Increasing Student Success. KSD added or expanded these programs:
Dual-language programs at Scenic Hill and Carriage Crest elementary schools. Students will focus on learning two languages and develop high linguistic and academic proficiency.
Preschool classes at Meridian and Park Orchard elementary schools. To prepare students for success in school.
Parent Academy for Student Achievement. The Parent Academy teaches parents how to engage in their children’s education and is taught in nine different languages.
Career Medical Pathways program at Kentlake in partnership with Renton Technical College. Students can take low-cost college courses and work with businesses such as MultiCare Health System to receive practical instruction in the medical field. This type of experience gives students new opportunities and advantages in the modern job market.
The additional state funding was a good down-payment toward fully funding public education as required by the state supreme court’s McCleary decision. When you see your state legislators, please thank them on behalf of the students in your community. And ask them to keep working to fully fund basic education so that all our students can increase their academic achievement and graduate ready for success in college, career, and community life.
Agda Burchard and her husband Tom have lived in Kent for 20 years. Agda became active in the Kent School District when their daughter Sam entered kindergarten in 2002. In addition to serving on the Kent School District Board, Agda is a Girl Scout leader and PTA leader.
The League of Education Voters invited leaders from all around Washington state to share their school district’s story on how money matters, and how they are using it to reduce the opportunity and achievement gaps. This post is the second school district perspective in our five-part blog series, “Money Matters. But so does how it’s spent.”
By Bob Douthitt, President, Spokane Public Schools
Spokane Public Schools received approximately $18 million in net new state and federal revenue for the 2013–2014 school year to support basic and special education. This represents 5–6 percent of our operating budget, which is slightly over $300 million.
Of the $18 million, $10 million is being used to fund Basic Education obligations that had previously been backfilled by levy money. The remaining $8 million, which represents new revenue, is being used to reduce K–1 class sizes, particularly in high-poverty schools, increase reading intervention teachers to provide support in all elementary schools, and increase certificated staff in middle schools to support both at-risk and high-achieving students. Additional investments for professional development to implement the Teacher-Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP) and new curriculum for Common Core were added to the budget. Our Mentor Teacher Program was restored. Finally, investments in college and career completion initiatives are available in this year’s budget to help support the School District’s T-2-4 goal.
Washington’s students certainly need the additional $3+ billion delineated in HB 2261 And ESHB 2776, and required under the McCleary decision, if they are going to substantially improve their academic achievement and realistically expect to obtain the outcomes we want as a state, and need as a society.
Bob Douthitt was elected to the School Board for Spokane Public Schools in 2007, and has served as president since 2011. A former tax attorney and retail business owner, he has been active in civic affairs throughout his career.