There’s a significant disparity between the diversity of Washington students and educators. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) youth make up nearly half of our student population, while more than 90% of our teachers and education leaders are white. Studies show that BIPOC students who are exposed to teachers who reflect their race and ethnicity have higher graduation rates, and when more of the adults in schools reflect the communities they serve, deeper, more authentic school/community partnerships become well-positioned to transform schools in ways that dismantle racism and benefit from the wisdom and vision of families. In this moment of racial reckoning for our country, it is more important than ever to grow, sustain, and advance the priorities of BIPOC educators.
Dr. Warren Brown from the College Spark Foundation emphasized that advancing educator diversity in Washington state isn’t a new effort, rather a renewed one. It will lead to better student outcomes, close opportunity gaps, and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. With much work needed ahead, “it takes change… community… and collaboration,” he stated.
After one long legislative session (followed by three special sessions), Governor Inslee signed Washington’s 2015–2017 state budget into law late in the evening on June 30, averting a government shutdown by less than an hour. An unprecedented series of events ultimately delayed sine die until today, but with the true end of our historically long 2015 legislative session at hand, we take a moment to reflect.
What we see in this budget is a more comprehensive investment in education than at any other time in the state’s history. Through their strong investments in public education across the spectrum, early learning through postsecondary, the Legislature has given all Washington’s students more hope for their future.
The League of Education Voters has long argued that a child’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions from early learning through higher education. We have worked with partners around the state in pursuit of that vision, including with the Cradle through College Coalition. It is gratifying to see the Legislature following through with strategies and investments that support students at all ages. Read More
The College Bound Scholarship Program was established by our Legislature eight years ago. College Bound provides scholarships to low-income and foster care students who enroll in middle school, keep their grades up, and stay out of trouble.
More than 212,000 students have signed up, and the program has had a huge impact. Enrollment has shown to positively impact high school academic performance, graduation rates, as well as college going rates and persistence. Of students enrolling in higher education, College Bound students are almost 50 percent more likely to attend a four-year college than low-income students statewide.
We strongly support College Bound and were proud to serve on the state’s College Bound Task Force last year. During the past few years, we have worked with many partners, including the College Success Foundation, Washington State Student Achievement Council, and the Road Map Project, to amplify College Bound’s impact and success and advocate for ongoing state support.
This program changes lives.
We were fortunate to hear the stories of two College Bound students this morning at our annual breakfast. We heard from Kaysiana Hazelwood, a senior at West Seattle High School, and from Midheta Djuderija, a student at the University of Washington.
Below are their incredible stories, told in their own words. Read 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 Activist of the Month for March: Tony Vo. Read more about Tony’s work organizing and advocating for his community.
Tony Vo recently graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in public health and American ethnic studies.
While at the UW, Tony began working with underrepresented minorities as a Student Ambassador, and he noticed that Southeast Asians tended to get lumped into the “model minority” stereotype. Tony says, “I didn’t see myself in that stereotype. I grew up in White Center. Vietnamese was my first language. Many of my peers have similar stories—we come from low-income, refugee backgrounds.” So Tony started doing advocacy work on behalf of Southeast Asian American communities. Read 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 Activist of the Month for November: Adel Sefrioui. Read more about Adel’s work developing Excel Public Charter School, which will open in Kent in 2015.
Adel Sefrioui is the son of immigrant parents. His father emigrated from Morocco in the early ’70s and his mother from Iran shortly before the 1979 revolution. While his parents came to the United States for different reasons—his father, to pursue the “American dream,” and his mother, to escape tyranny in her home country—they both came from cultures that highly value education. Both Persian and Moroccan cultures share the belief that education can be the great equalizer in society. Read More
The League of Education Voters (LEV) benefits from the help, expertise, and hard work of summer interns. We recently interviewed one of our policy interns, Taylor Beach, who just completed a Master’s of Education Policy at the University of Washington. Read more about her background and her experience at LEV, in her own words.
What was the focus of your internship at LEV?
During my internship with LEV, I focused my efforts on two main topics: early learning and school discipline. My mentor, Policy Analyst Tracy Sherman, invited me to attend related meetings, and I was able to start assessing the early learning and discipline environments across the state.
My internship resulted in two deliverables: first, a directory of schools across the state that use discipline practices other than suspensions and expulsions; and second, a two-page briefing report that describes positive and preventative disciplinary practices succinctly. The intent of both of these instruments is to provide information to legislators and community members about a potential discipline bill that may be considered next session. Read More
Earlier this month, a study from the University of Washington examined ways that immigrant parents could become engaged in their child’s school when traditional methods are barriers to their involvement.
That study resonated with League of Education Voters (LEV) Community Organizer Micaela Razo, who has done much of the work mentioned in the study—both as a parent and as an organizer—by engaging parents in migrant families in eastern Washington.
We asked Micaela to tell us about her experience engaging parents in their child’s school, and she told the story of creating the first Spanish-speaking PTA in Washington state, formed two-and-a-half years ago in Grandview, and how she got there.
I became an advocate for my child when he was very young. We were living in one of the wealthiest school districts in the area and the PTA lived up to the stereotypes you hear about—that it’s just bake sales and fundraising.
But I was finding that I had to navigate the maze of school bureaucracy and learn to advocate for my child all on my own, so I decided to infiltrate the bake sales. I was the first parent of color to join the PTA. Read More
The field of Human Centered Design & Engineering is growing, and more than 80% of the program’s graduates are employed within 6 months of graduation. But Stephanie White, an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, says that even though the undergraduate program has been flooded with applications, a lot of the students who want to study engineering in her department can’t—they simply don’t have the prerequisites to qualify. “Many students find out their junior year of high school that they don’t have the prerequisites to study STEM in college—by then it’s too late to take the courses they need.”
Sadly, Stephanie’s experience isn’t unusual. Only 4 in 10 graduating seniors meet the basic admissions requirements to get into a public university in Washington. And nearly 60% of students who attend community or technical college must take remediation classes to get to those basic 4-year college admissions requirements. In other words, many students must pay tuition to learn what they should have been taught in public high school. Help us to change this for Washington students by signing a petition in support of a college and career ready diploma.