Washington Game Changers Podcast – Olgy Diaz of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington

Washington Game Changers with Lauri Hennessey features leaders who give back to our community, drive innovative solutions, and inspire others in making our state more equitable and just. This podcast is a one-on-one conversation with these powerful leaders in a time when we need to hear about more good in the world.

In this episode, League of Education Voters CEO Lauri Hennessey interviews Olgy Diaz, a longtime lobbyist and advocate who is President of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington. Olgy talks about getting women of color trained and elected, working as a lobbyist during the pandemic, and how to still have hope in a challenging time.

 

Listen:

Listen on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or Spreaker.

Watch:

Read More

Washington Game Changers Podcast – Leah Griffin, Advocate for Victims of Sexual Assault

Washington Game Changers with Lauri Hennessey features leaders who give back to our community, drive innovative solutions, and inspire others in making our state more equitable and just. This podcast is a one-on-one conversation with these powerful leaders in a time when we need to hear about more good in the world.

Here at League of Education Voters, we talk a lot about advocacy. In this episode, League of Education Voters CEO Lauri Hennessey talks with Leah Griffin, who tells an inspiring story of advocacy. Leah took her own experience with sexual assault six years ago and turned it into a powerful story of advocacy, taking on the system, and making true and lasting change in protection for victims of sexual assault.

 

Listen:

Listen on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or Spreaker.

Watch:

Read More

Podcast – The Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council

Priyanka Mukhara (L) and Kellen Hoard (R)

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 connects with two students from the Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) about LYAC’s history, how LYAC operates, LYAC’s impact on education policy, and what they would change if they were in charge of the state’s education system. Priyanka Mukhara is a First-Year Councilmember and Kellen Hoard is a Second-Year Councilmember and the Chair of LYAC.

The Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) is codified in law as the official youth advisory body to the state legislature, and its activities are wide-ranging. Throughout the year, 14-to-18-year-old student members of the council actively lobby legislators, testify in committee, advise various government agencies, host events around the state, collaborate with nearly 200 community organizations, and much more.  LYAC also spends much time conversing with young people in every corner of Washington about their priorities in order to be a more effective advocate to the legislature.

Listen on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or Spreaker

Listen:

Read More

Mental Health from the Perspective of BIPOC Student Activists

By The Root of Our Youth Tara Duong, Diya Kumar, Diya Anoop, Phia Endicott, Marlo Duong, Malavika Santhosh, Zana Stewart, and Molly Reagan
Guest Bloggers

 

Clockwise from top left: Tara Duong, Diya Kumar, Diya Anoop, Molly Reagan, Zana Stewart, Malavika Santhosh, Marlo Duong, and Phia Endicott

Without tangible mental health support, students—especially BIPOC—have been left to fend for ourselves throughout remote learning. In an attempt to remedy the emotional damage caused by the abrupt closing of schools, the recent switch to hybrid learning has ironically been handled in the same haphazard manner, with the causes of these mental complications remaining unaddressed.

Our education system teaches students that academic success holds greater value than our health. We’re in a position where we must suppress our mental and emotional needs to survive. When the pandemic hit, we suddenly had the time and space to express ourselves freely, leading us to recognize the severity of our struggles and the damages imposed by the education system.

While the school environment has its faults, isolation has made the management of mental health and academic success increasingly difficult. Numerous elements of in-person school cannot be recreated online, such as connecting and collaborating with peers, and effective communication with teachers. There is little to no opportunity for teamwork, a skill we’ve been conditioned to depend on since primary school. We were taken out of an environment rich in support and dropped into seclusion. Read More

Advocacy Profile: Dr. Suzann Girtz of the Spokane Advisory Council

By Kenji Linane-Booey, Spokane Regional Field Director

 

Dr. Suzann Girtz, a professor in the School of Education at Gonzaga University and Spokane Advisory Council member, brought advocacy into the classroom this year with her class, “Policy and Advocacy.” Through the spring semester, her students spent time learning the ins and outs of the legislative process in Washington state and how to advocate for issues they feel passionate about.

This class harnesses the power of language and engagement with communities through the lenses of inquiry and advocacy with a focus on action to bend the arc of the universe to become more moral and just. In it, we learn the basis for types of advocacy, advocacy planning, and how to take action based on your plan. Dr. Girtz says, “Throughout we ask you to imagine the possible and consider your role in the world.” Read More

Recap: The Role of K-12 Schools in Addressing Racially Motivated Violence

By Lizzeth Mancilla
Engagement and Policy Intern

 

From police violence around the country to the marked increase in attacks on members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, we are continuing to see disturbing examples of racially motivated violence in the news. Over the past year, social movements have been thrust into the national spotlight, with youth at the forefront of the conversation. Recent incidents are impacting them in multiple ways, but how should K-12 schools respond? 

In this webinar, we assembled a statewide panel of students, educators, and a community organizer to discuss the impacts of racially motivated violence and how schools can best support students on a daily basis. They also answered your questions. 

Our panelists included: 

Read More

Education Advocate of the Month: Patty Shastany

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 November: Patty Shastany. Read about her advocacy for early childhood education.

November 2018 Education Advocate of the Month Patty Shastany - League of Education Voters
November Education Advocate of the Month Patty Shastany

Patty Shastany serves as a coach in Spokane for the Early Achievers program, which improves the quality of early learning in Washington state. As an Early Achievers coach, she spends most of her time in the field at childcare programs to work with directors and teachers to improve the quality of care for children. Since 2012, she has facilitated a monthly meeting for childcare owners and directors to build relationships and support each other in improving program quality. As part of that work, early learning professionals have advocated for effective, realistic regulations, and better funding to support quality improvements. Patty’s organizing paved the way for the statewide Washington Childcare Centers Association (WCCA). “I am most proud of the relationships I have built,” she says, “especially with people who want to make the world better for kids.”

Patty has known League of Education Voters Spokane Regional Field Director Sandra Jarrard for years. Since Early Achievers rolled out in 2012, Patty has been facilitating monthly meetings with owners and directors of childcare programs. “Sandra came to a meeting in 2015 to help us understand advocacy,” she recalls. “A year after that, the minimum wage law passed and the unintended consequence was that childcare programs struggled to increase wages without raising tuition rates beyond what families can afford. Childcare programs have always worked on the very edge of being sustainable, especially programs that cared for significant numbers of children who received subsidies from the state. State reimbursement rates are far below the market rates. “It’s hard to maintain quality and keep teachers without adequate funding,” Patty says. “Programs need to cut corners wherever they can, which impacts the level of quality you can provide.” 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

Education Advocate of the Month: Xochilt Lopez

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 June: Xochilt Lopez. Read about her advocacy for children in her community.

By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Pasco Field Office

June Education Advocate of the Month Xochilt Lopez - League of Education Voters
June Education Advocate of the Month Xochilt Lopez

We are all fortunate to know Xochilt. While she is working on her own success as a student at Yakima Valley Community College, she is also ensuring that others around her focus on their success. Xochilt is a parent ambassador for the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), as well.

Xochilt first became introduced to League of Education Voters when she was president of the board at her children’s school in Yakima. Earlier this year, she went to Olympia to support ECEAP and the Early Start Act, and needed some extra help for her children. She met Julia Warth, our Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations, who connected Xochilt with me, the League of Education Voters Community Organizer in the Tri-Cities region.

Upon meeting Xochilt, I discovered a mom who was not only concerned for her children but also for the community’s children as well. It was right after the school tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Xochilt recognized that if we do not tend to our children, the children who suffer in silence, they either hurt themselves or they lash out at their community. Read More

Education Advocate of the Month: Maite Cruz

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 May: Maite Cruz. Read about her advocacy for increasing expectations of success for her community.

May Education Advocate of the Month Maite Cruz - League of Education Voters
May Education Advocate of the Month Maite Cruz

18-year-old Maite Cruz is a senior at Chiawana High School in Pasco, and plans to study political science this fall at Western Washington University. Already she has testified before the state legislature in Olympia, testified before the State Board of Education, and has been a tireless advocate for her community group, Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS).

Maite met League of Education Voters Community Organizer Ruvine Jiménez during her freshman year of high school, when she started attending Pasco Discovery Coalition meetings. Ruvine showed Maite how she could become a more active advocate for her community and her peers, and guided Maite through the process of organizing community forums. Maite recalls, “Ruvine came to Lakeview, and showed us statistics about my school and how it compares with other schools.”

Read More