UPDATED – 2020 Washington Legislative Session Recap

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

The end of the 2020 legislative session saw the legislature and other state leaders working rapidly and tirelessly to address the spreading COVID-19 pandemic in our schools and communities. We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of our public officials and public servants in these uncertain times to ensure that our communities are safe, and our most impacted students and families get the support they need.

The 2020 legislative session was a short, 60-day session, where legislators worked on a supplemental budget to the 2019-2021 biennial budget passed in 2019. While there were many robust debates and promising proposals regarding education investments leading up to the end of session, the need to prioritize investing in the response to COVID-19 and prepare for potential impacts on our economy, families, and healthcare system took precedent in the final budget. You can read our summary of the final 2020 supplemental budget here. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 crisis and growing economic impacts by the time of budget signing, the Governor had to make the difficult decision to veto a number of budget items that were passed by the Legislature.

During the 2020 session, League of Education Voters pursued policy priorities in four issue areas: early childhood education, student supports, special education, and local K-12 funding. Read More

2020 Legislative Priority: Special Education

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

In the 2020 legislative session, League of Education Voters will prioritize policies to help lay the foundation of an equitable educational system that provides what students need, when and where they need it.

We believe students come first, and 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 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.

WHAT IS SPECIAL EDUCATION?

Students at Summit Atlas Public School - League of Education Voters
Students at Summit Atlas Public School

With the passage of federal legislation in the 1970s, students with disabilities were guaranteed legal rights to access a public education that would accommodate their specific learning needs. Prior to guaranteeing the right to access education, it was common practice for students with disabilities to be actively excluded from public education settings. Federal legislation was intended to ensure that all students have the ability to access the public education system through the program of special education. (1)

The program of special education serves over 150,000 students across 295 Washington school districts. Special education provides services and supports to students with disabilities to help students access a “free and appropriate education.” In order to qualify for special education services, students must have their school performance “adversely affected” by one of the following qualifying conditions: (2) 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 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:

Read More

Podcast – Highline College student Chalisa Thompson on the Umoja Black Scholars Program

Highline College student Chalisa Thompson - 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 episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Highline College student Chalisa Thompson how Highline’s Umoja Black Scholars Program has helped her, what went right and what went wrong in her educational journey, how she would change Washington’s education system, and how she envisions her future after she graduates.

 

Listen:

Visit our podcast page for more interviews

Read our 2019 Legislative Priority Issue Brief: Access to Postsecondary Opportunities 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: Special Education

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.

WHAT IS SPECIAL EDUCATION?

With the passage of federal legislation in the 1970s, students with disabilities were guaranteed legal rights to access a public education that would accommodate their specific learning needs. Prior to guaranteeing the right to access education, it was common practice for students with disabilities to be actively excluded from public education settings. Federal legislation was intended to ensure that all students have the ability to access the public education system through the program of special education. (1)

The program of special education serves over 130,000 students across 295 Washington school districts. Special education provides services and supports to students with disabilities to help students access a “free and appropriate education.” In order to qualify for special education services, students must have their school performance “adversely affected” by one of the following qualifying conditions: (2) Read More

Podcast – Governor Jay Inslee on his 2019-2021 budget proposal

Governor Jay Inslee - League of Education Voters
Governor Jay Inslee

In 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 episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Governor Jay Inslee what he sees as the biggest challenges and opportunities in education from pre-K through higher ed and how he addresses them in his 2019-2021 budget proposal, what he hopes to achieve with special education funding changes, why focusing on student well-being is important, and why he chose to dedicate funding toward student supports in higher education.

 

 

Listen:

Read More

Wins, Losses, and What Lies Ahead

By Chris Korsmo, League of Education Voters CEO

Chris Korsmo

Friends,

As I prepare to leave the League after nearly twelve years, I’ve had the chance to reflect on our work, our wins, losses, and what lies ahead. I’m incredibly proud of my service to LEV and the kids we work so hard for. This team is talented, compassionate, and committed to improving the lives of our students and families – in particular, those furthest from opportunity. These past dozen years or so have been a tutorial on the changing needs and assets of Washington’s students, a slow societal and organizational awakening to the inequities we’ve baked into our entire system including the education system, and coming to terms with the need to change strategies to match or stay ahead of changing realities. Like all good living things, we’ve grown and changed, and we think we’re more impactful because of that evolution.

We started out 18 years ago focused on K-12 education funding, with the thinking that if we just put enough resources into the system, everything would be all right. We soon learned that money, while important, isn’t the only resource we need to consider. And we learned that if we start in kindergarten, we’re too late, and that ending at high school doesn’t guarantee much in terms of success for kids and families. Read More

Education Advocate of the Month: Jennifer Muroya Thomas

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 July: Jennifer Muroya Thomas. Read about her education journey and the need for more educator supports.

July Education Advocate of the Month Jennifer Muroya Thomas - League of Education Voters
July Education Advocate of the Month Jennifer Muroya Thomas

Jennifer Muroya Thomas has been part of our Vision Project, our journey to find Eastern Washington’s vision for what education could be, from the very beginning. She always brought students to our events. She is a member of the Spokane Human Rights Commission, where she runs the education committee. Jennifer cares about students, especially those from communities of color and underserved populations. In particular, she has a strong connection with students who attend Rogers High School, located in a low-income area of Spokane.

Jennifer ran for the Spokane School Board last year. Although she did not win, she learned that running is just as important as winning. She met Spokane Regional Field Director Sandra Jarrard during that time, in March 2017, when Sandra organized a community discussion about diversity in education.

Jennifer’s father served in the Air Force, which meant that she moved around a lot and experienced schools all over the country. “I had teachers I remember and loved, and I had teachers I remember and didn’t love,” she recalls. “Teachers who change the world and do incredible work invest in students’ lives every day – they made indelible marks on my life.” Read More

Helping students who need it most benefits all

By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director

From The Olympian:

Last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced the new Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF). The WSIF comes out of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan and the recommendations of the Accountability workgroup, of which League of Education Voters was a part.

The new WSIF will provide schools and communities with new, rich data on school performance, with a focus on historically and systemically underserved students. The WSIF also focuses on the “now what” — labeling schools by the level of support they will receive from the state.

Read More