Partners in Action – The Spokane Future Teachers of Color Consortium

By Maria Esther Zamora, English Language Development teacher at Spokane Virtual Academy
Guest Blogger

 

How can we reduce the disparity between the number of students of color in our community versus the educators of color across the K-12 and higher education systems? This has been the question that I have posted to colleagues, administrators, and community leaders when having courageous conversations.

I have been a proud educator of color in Spokane for 26 years. I am a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, who has worked in various educational systems, from being a professor at Graduate School and University level to now being in the K-12 public education system. I had to reinvent myself when I moved to this area, learn English, and go back to graduate school to get my Teaching Certification credential while raising my family and working full time. It was a difficult endeavor, but not as challenging as to survive in a predominantly white professional field. I have persevered through all kinds of barriers to achieve my most important professional goal, which has been to inspire my students to believe in the power of education to achieve freedom.

I have always felt that there is no better way to transcend than to teach what you know, which is how to maintain your cultural values and contribute to building a multicultural community that embraces minorities in this noble professional field. As a mother of bicultural children and an advocate for immigrants and refuge students and families, I have believed that it is imperative to have more role models and educators that look like us. Furthermore, I have seen the greatness that comes from demonstrating our excellent standards and work ethics to collaborate hand in hand to educate our community. Read More

Podcast – The Educators of Color Leadership Community

From Top Left: Brooke Brown, Stephanie Gallardo, Tamasha Emedi, Denise Daniels, Brad Brown, Eileen Yoshina

In our Putting Students First 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 hosts a panel discussion about the Puget Sound Educational Service District’s successful Educators of Color Leadership Community (ECLC), in which panelists address why educator diversity is so important, what the barriers are to recruitment and retention of teachers of color, how the Educators of Color Leadership Community supports teachers of color, and how we can scale the ECLC’s work to support teachers of color across Washington state.

We were honored to interview:

Brooke Brown, 2021 Washington state Teacher of the Year and Regional Teacher of the Year from Puget Sound Educational Service District 121, who teaches English and Ethnic Studies at Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce School District

Stephanie Gallardo, who teaches social studies at Foster High School in the Tukwila School District

Tamasha Emedi, Assistant Principal at Hazel Valley Elementary School in Highline Public Schools

Denise Daniels, Director of Recruitment, Retention and Workforce Development in the Auburn School District and President of the Kent School District Board of Directors

Brad Brown, Executive Director of Kindergarten through Post-Secondary at the Puget Sound Educational Service District

Eileen Yoshina, Director of Equity in Education at the Puget Sound Educational Service District, who facilitates the Educators of Color Leadership Community

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Spreaker

Listen:

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Podcast – The 2021 Washington state Teachers of the Year

From Top Left: Brooke Brown, Ben Ballew, Megan Anderson Reilly, Devin Bauer, Chenoa Meagher, David Buitenveld, Erin Lark, Jackie Hentges, David Tracewell

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 the 2021 Washington state Teachers of the Year about their teaching philosophy, their greatest accomplishment in the classroom, how they would make teaching better in Washington state, what advice they would give a new teacher, what motivation they still carry with them from their first day in the classroom, how the COVID pandemic has impacted their work, what school districts can do to better support teachers, and what advice they would give to parents and educators during this time. We were honored to interview:

Brooke Brown, 2021 Washington state Teacher of the Year and Regional Teacher of the Year from Puget Sound Educational Service District 121, who teaches English and Ethnic Studies at Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce School District

Ben Ballew, 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year from Northwest Educational Service District 189, who teaches English at Arlington High School in the Arlington School District

Megan Anderson Reilly, 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year from Educational Service District 105, who teaches Spanish at AC Davis High School in the Yakima School District

Devin Bauer, 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year from Northeast Educational Service District 101, who is a Special Education Department Head and Learning Center teacher at Lakeside High School in the Nine Mile Falls School District

Chenoa Meagher, 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year from Educational Service District 123, who teaches kindergarten at Sagecrest Elementary School in the Kennewick School District

David Buitenveld, 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year from Capital Region Educational Service District 113, who teaches mathematics and is a remote learning coach at Nisqually Middle School in the North Thurston School District

Erin Lark, 2021 Regional teacher of the Year from Educational Service District 112, who science and STEM at iTech Preparatory School in the Vancouver School District

Jackie Hentges, 2021 Regional teacher of the Year from North Central Educational Service District 171, who teaches science at Brewster Middle School in the Brewster School District

David Tracewell, 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year from Olympic Region Educational Service District 114, who teaches English and Media Communications at Klahowya Secondary School in the Central Kitsap School District

 

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Podcast – Tequilla Brownie of TNTP on The Opportunity Myth

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 Dr. Tequilla Brownie, Executive Vice President of Strategy, Policy & Community Coalitions at TNTP, about their groundbreaking report titled The Opportunity Myth, how she recommends that teachers and schools connect with students during this time of COVID, and what she would change about our education system if there were no budgetary constraints.

TNTP currently works with South Shore PreK-8 in South Seattle, a close partner of League of Education Voters.

 

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Podcast – The 2020 Washington state Teachers of the Year

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 the 2020 Washington state Teachers of the Year about their teaching philosophy, their greatest accomplishment in the classroom, how they would make teaching better in Washington state, what advice they would give a new teacher, and what motivation they still carry with them from their first day in the classroom. We were honored to interview:

Amy Campbell, 2020 Washington state Teacher of the Year and Educational Service District 112 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Camas School District

Analisa McCann, 2020 Northeast Educational Service District 101 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Central Valley School District

Lisa Summers, 2020 Capital Region Educational Service District 113 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Tumwater School District

Kathryn Lebuis Hartman, 2020 Olympic Region Educational Service District 114 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Port Angeles School District

Reid Sundblad, 2020 Puget Sound Educational Service District 121 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Highline School District

Rebecca Estock, 2020 Educational Service District 123 Regional Teacher of the Year from the North Franklin School District

Malia Renner-Singer, 2020 North Central Educational Service District 171 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Cascade School District

 

Listen:

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Podcast – The 2019 Washington Teachers of the Year

2019 Washington state Teacher of the Year Robert Hand - League of Education Voters
Robert Hand, 2019 Washington state Teacher of the Year

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 the 2019 Teachers of the Year about their teaching philosophy, their greatest accomplishment in the classroom, how they would make teaching better in Washington state, what advice they would give a new teacher, what motivation they still carry with them from their first day in the classroom, and what they would ask the Washington state Legislature to prioritize in the upcoming 2019 session. LEV was honored to interview:

Robert Hand, 2019 Washington state Teacher of the Year and Northwest ESD 189 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Mount Vernon School District

Tracy Castro-Gill, 2019 Puget Sound ESD 121 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Seattle School District

Ryan Healy, 2019 Capital Region ESD 113 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Yelm School District

Kristine Mars, 2019 ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Kennewick School District

Mathew Brown, 2019 North Central ESD 171 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Manson School District

Susan Douglas, 2019 Northeast ESD 101 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Almira School District

Karen Doran, 2019 Olympic ESD 114 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Port Angeles School District

Kimberly Miller, 2019 ESD 112 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Woodland School District

Michael Clinton, 2019 ESD 105 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Mt. Adams School District

 

Listen:

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Our State of Education: Superintendent Survey

By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst

When an educator earns a superintendent position, they know their job description does not just put them between a rock and a hard place – they will be between a rock, a hard place, and a fire. They hold responsibility for the current education and future educational prospects of the children in their school district. Simultaneously, parents, community members, and their staff expect their leadership in translating and implementing statewide directives and policy changes. And, of course, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) holds them accountable to agency and legislative directives and outcomes goals.

This is why most superintendents develop a refined skill set – the ability to collaborate with a wide range of community and education leaders, the passion to advocate for their students and communities on the state level, deep and broad engagement with education research, an engaging and thoughtful political persona, and long term project management and planning abilities. This is also why we knew we needed to gather as much feedback as possible from superintendents across the state, particularly on their understandings of current and emergent issues in our K-12 schools.

We sent a survey request in November 2017 to 295 superintendents in Washington; 57 (19%) returned our survey, giving these results an 80% confidence level with an 8% margin of error. Our survey over-represents districts with 500 to 4,999 students, and under-represents districts of 499 students and less. Respondents hail from all areas of the state, but disproportionately represent rural districts.

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 district?
  2. Is your district experiencing new or different educational issues?
  3. What should we work on in the next legislative session?

This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with superintendents and educators across Washington.

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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.

Read More

2017 LEV Annual Breakfast Highlights

Thank you for joining our seventh annual LEV Breakfast on Thursday, March 30, a celebration of Washington’s teachers and an engaging conversation on how we can advocate to put great teachers in front of our kids who need them most. We featured LEV President Chris Korsmo and an inspirational talk with 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year recipients Kendra Yamamoto and Elizabeth Loftus on how great teachers are the key to student success.

Special thanks to Workhouse Creative for this amazing film, featuring 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year Camille Jones, teachers Jamilla Norris and Donte Felder, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

Watch the keynote presentation featuring 2017 Washington state Regional Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto, moderated by Daniel Zavala, LEV Director of Policy and Government Relations:

Here are a few photos from the event:

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Daniel Zavala, Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto
LEV Director of Policy and Government Relations Daniel Zavala moderates the discussion with 2017 Washington Regional Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - CEO Chris Korsmo speaks
LEV President and CEO Chris Korsmo front and center

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Table mates
LEV Board Member and Teacher Cate Simmers (2nd from R) and her table mates

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Board Member Bob O'Hara and former Board Member Thelma Jackson
LEV Board Member Bob O’Hara (R) and former Board Member Thelma Jackson with guests Lyle Quasim (L) and Mark Jones

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Lobby interactive exhibit
The interactive exhibit in the Sheraton Seattle Lobby

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year Camille Jones (L) and Regional Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto
From left: 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year Camille Jones with 2017 Regional Teachers of the Year Kendra Yamamoto and Elizabeth Loftus

Thank You to Our 2017 Sponsors

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LEV FOUNDATION is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides strategic, accurate, and timely information to citizens, educators, policymakers, and the media; highlights research-driven educational practices that prepare all students to reach their full potential; and advocates for reforms and revenue to implement the research-based practices in Washington. Donations are tax-deductible.

OUR VISION is that every student in Washington state receives an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

Chris Korsmo: My Ed Path

Chris Korsmo

When I reflect back on my education, it becomes clear pretty quickly that there was not one big “aha” moment. I didn’t just wake up one morning and was suddenly enlightened about everything on the face of the earth. And we haven’t yet figured out how to download information directly into our brains, like Carrie Anne Moss suddenly learning how to fly that helicopter. Everything I learned built on what I had learned previously. Graduation requirements at my high school were aligned to college-going. While rigorous, those requirements allowed for the arts. Seven years of marching band made me who I am today. All the stories about band camp are true.

This is why our vision at the League of Education Voters is for every student in Washington state to have access to an excellent public education – from early learning through higher education – that provides the opportunity for success. And this is why LEV is a proud member of the Cradle Through College Coalition.

To that end, during the 2017 legislative session, LEV is advocating for:

  • Additional funding for increased access and participation in high-quality early learning programs across the state
  • A system that attracts, retains, and supports qualified and effective educators, which includes teachers, para-educators and principals, while addressing needs for equitable access to quality instruction
  • Programs and funding targeted toward students who need it most, providing both academic and non-academic supports for students to improve outcomes and make progress in closing the opportunity and achievement gaps
  • An accountability system that provides transparency for families on school budgets and student outcomes, measures student and school success meaningfully, and provides effective state- and district-level supports for struggling schools
  • Additional funding to serve all students eligible for the State Need Grant

Here’s what we know about our kids: They all have assets. Every one of them has talent. They are not widgets. They want to know that what they’re learning has meaning. And they want you to know their names. For all the difficulty we ascribe to changing education policy, it’s really pretty simple:

  • Foundational skills that transfer with them to careers
  • Access to information about possible career choices
  • Individualization
  • Applied learning or relevance
  • And adults who care about them

Speaking of caring adults, none of my success would have been possible without great teachers. Research consistently shows that a great teacher has the single biggest impact on whether a student will succeed. I know this from personal experience, and I thought you might appreciate these photos from my education path:

League of Education Voters CEO Chris Korsmo's education path

Spring Day at Beloit College was a huge day of fun. There were no classes, and air band contests were the order of the day. Guess which band we were and who I was? I believe the year was 1983. I’m holding a toilet brush, in case you’re curious. For the record, the brush was brand-new.

I couldn’t have made it to Beloit without support from my favorite teacher, Sue Remley. I had her twice for math in high school and she took me under her wing. I could tell she was paying attention, which is why I did not want to let her down.

Her expectation for me was a motivating factor in applying to and going to college, because she let me know when the SATs and ACTs were. She even asked me who I was sending them to. She had 150 kids a day, in six or seven classes. And she knew everybody. I wasn’t the only person she was talking to. I wasn’t the super special kid. Everybody was super special. And that was cool.

Wouldn’t it be great if every student had a story about a favorite teacher, and every student had access to great teachers from early learning through higher education to help them along their education path? Call your legislators and encourage them to support the full education continuum at 1-800-562-6000. If you need help finding your legislators, just click here.

 

#MyEdPath