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

Education Funding Priorities Across Washington

By Emma Elise Hodges, League of Education Voters Communications Specialist

To help direct our work with our community to create positive change in Washington’s education system, we sent out a survey via email and social media channels in May to learn how Washington community members would like state education funding prioritized. We thank the 737 people, from 71 school districts across the state, who submitted responses. While we received responses proportionate to the population of middle to high socioeconomic status school districts, there was a disproportionality for lower socioeconomic school districts. Therefore, we looked at the priorities overall amongst all survey respondents and then parsed out the data based on school districts’ percentage of students on Free and Reduced Priced Lunch (FRPL), a common marker for socioeconomic status, to make sure we were understanding the priorities of our entire state. Read More

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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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: New Education Investments and Green Beer

Friends,

Chris Korsmo
Chris Korsmo

It’s not just the promise of green beer that has policy makers and advocates alike skipping through the almost-poked-up tulips; it’s that session ended on time and with an agreement many policymakers believe will satisfy the Supreme Court’s mandate in the McCleary decision. To get a sense for how it went, you can peek at our blog and our progress trackers. You might also get a feel from how the school district leaders are looking at things or check out our analysis from our last “LEVinar.” If you love context, you’ll love this national overview of education funding.

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