By League of Education Voters Policy Team
Students learn most effectively when their school feels safe, inclusive, supportive, and respectful. (1)
Closing opportunity and achievement gaps and improving student outcomes relies on our ability to create positive school climates for every student.
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). Washington state has embarked upon some critical work to create positive school climates. The Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC) spearheaded a number of reforms, most recently with the passage of HB 1541 that continued student discipline reform and created the Washington Integrated Student Supports Protocol (5). The state also convened a workgroup to develop benchmarks for Social-Emotional Learning (6) for district use. We can enhance these and other efforts to deliver services to students and enable districts and schools to create welcoming and supportive environments for every student.
Today Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1541, which addresses the Opportunity Gap. Here are highlights from the ceremony at Aki Kurose Middle School library.
Governor Jay Inslee signs Opportunity Gap House Bill 1541 into law, with (l-r) Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Rep. Tina Orwall
League of Education Voters board treasurer Kevin Washington kicked things off as the MC
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, chair of the House Education Committee, talks about the significance of her opportunity gap bill becoming law
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self shares her experiences seeing the opportunity gap firsthand as a middle school counselor
Washington state Middle School Principal of the Year Mia Williams of Aki Kurose Middle School talks about the importance of closing gaps
Governor Jay Inslee addresses the crowd at Aki Kurose Middle School before signing Opportunity Gap House Bill 1541
Governor Jay Inslee congratulates Aki Kurose Middle School students after he signed Opportunity Gap HB 1541
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 April: Dakoda Foxx. Read more about Dakoda’s advocacy and activism in her community.
Dakoda Foxx’s advocacy work began close to home in 2011, after her daughter was suspended for 100 days. Dakoda knew this “wasn’t right,” so she went to TeamChild to talk to them about her daughter’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) and her options for reengagement. Through her conversations about school discipline, Dakoda learned that many parents in her Puyallup community had children facing the same issues.
From there, she began advocating in earnest. Dakoda advocated at all levels—from doorbelling to testifying about discipline. In 2012, Dakoda began looking for organizations who would work on legislation about school discipline, and that’s how she learned that the League of Education Voters was already working on Senate Bill 5946.
The rest, as they say, is history. Dakoda has continued testifying about school discipline and closing the gaps on a regular basis—most recently in support of Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos’ bill on closing the achievement gap (HB 1541). Shortly before that testimony, Dakoda also spoke at the March State Board of Education meeting in Tacoma about transforming school discipline. (more…)
Highline Public Schools has been in the news over the last few years regarding its work on school discipline, and for good reason. The district’s out-of-school suspensions and expulsions have dropped precipitously since 2006, when the district began implementing positive behavioral interventions and supports, known as PBIS, in its schools.
And Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield has a bold goal—zero out-of-school suspensions (except those necessary for safety reasons) for her entire district by 2015. (more…)
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 Activists of the Month for October: Quontica and Marlando Sparks. Read more about their experience advocating for parent engagement and their plans to open a public charter school for at-risk youth in Pasco.
Quontica and Marlando Sparks first testified about education in Washington state this past April, when they spoke about the impact of school discipline on families they worked with. But their involvement in education advocacy started much earlier. (more…)
During the 2013 legislative session, many of you helped us pass a law (SB 5946) that makes school discipline data public and limits the number of days that students can be removed from class.
That was the first step in transforming school discipline policies. Now it’s time to take another.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is inviting public comment on its implementation of the new law.
There are a few ways you can get involved. (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. (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. (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. (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 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. (more…)