State education issues
For the fourth time in 16 years, Washington state voters will decide whether to allow charter schools.
Initiative 1240 has qualified for the November ballot, the Washington Secretary of State announced Wednesday, July 25.
Sponsors submitted more than 357,000 signatures in a 21-day signature gathering drive, which was financed by powerful backers that included Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Click here to read more about this and five other measures going before state voters in November.
The Washington Education Association opposes the measure. Read about its stance here.
If you missed the panels about key issues facing Washington state that were put on in June by Western Washington University’s Ralph Munro Institute, you can catch them on TVW this month.
The broadcast times and topics are:
- Monday, July 16: ”Budgeting in Challenging Times,” noon; ”Political Influence: Inside the Process,” 8:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 17: “Higher Education: Legislative Challenges” at 7:30 p.m. ; Rob McKenna on higher education issues at 9:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 18: ”Political Influence: Inside the Process” at noon; ”Initiatives and Referenda: Good for Washington?” at 8:30 p.m.
- Thursday, July 19: “Political Reporting: A Challenging Landscape” at noon; ”Budgeting in Challenging Times” at 8 p.m.
- Friday, July 20: “Lobbying: Influence and Access” at noon; “Political Reporting: A Challenging Landscape” at 7 p.m.
Or watch them any time on TVW’s website by entering “Munro” in the page’s search window.
TVW is Washington state’s public TV network.
The Washington State Board of Education will meet in Bellingham for two days beginning Wednesday, July 11.
The meetings are open to the public. They begin at 8:30 a.m. in SMATE (Science, Mathematics and Technology Education) Hall at Western Washington University on Wednesday and Thursday.
Topics on the agenda include an overview of the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to excuse Washington state from some provisions of the federal “No Child Left Behind” law, clarifying new rules for some districts requesting waivers to shorten the school year, and a different way of measuring school performance.
For more on the agenda and meeting materials, go online to sbe.wa.gov/# and click on “Meeting Materials” on the top menu bar.
The board oversees the public K-12 system in Washington state.
The Washington Secretary of State says supporters of public charter schools are trying to gather enough signatures to put a statewide initiative before voters in 2012.
Tania de Sa Campos of Seattle on Tuesday, May 22, filed an initiative to authorize formation of up to 40 public charter schools over five years, operated by “qualified nonprofit organizations approved by the state,” David Ammons wrote on the Secretary of State’s blog.
Supporters must gather 241,153 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to land the measure on the ballot.
The Legislature considered charter schools this session, but the bills didn’t make it out of committee.
Voters already have twice rejected charter school measures.
Click here to read more, including the initiative language.
How will you vote if this measure qualifies for the ballot?
Filmed during the 2009-2010 school year, “Bully” focuses on the painful lives of bullied children, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders, according to the filmmaker.
The film is directed by Lee Hirsch, a Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker.
Don’t wait too long to see the 98-minute documentary. For now, it looks like it’s running just through Thursday, May 24, at the Pickford.
Hopefully, “Bully” will attract a wider audience — specifically kids — since its initial R rating has been dropped to PG-13.
The trailer is below.
Bruce Shepard, president for Western Washington University, says the state budget passed early this morning, April 11, doesn’t contain cuts for Western.
“That there are no additional cuts is a remarkable outcome given where we started: In December we were looking at devastating additional cuts of $7M,” Shepard wrote in a message he sent to the Bellingham campus.
The budget was sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.
Shepard isn’t the only relieved educator.
For the first time in recent years, the budget didn’t make cuts to K-12 or higher education in the state, according to Sen. Ed Murray, the Senate Democrats’ lead budget writer.
Here’s Shepard’s message to the Western campus:
Earlier this morning, the House and the Senate agreed upon a supplemental budget for the biennium we are currently in. Numbering several hundred pages, this budget document always takes us several days to fully digest. But, I want to get word out to you as soon as possible and so, with that caveat in place, it is our current understanding that there are no additional cuts for Western.
That there are no additional cuts is a remarkable outcome given where we started: In December we were looking at devastating additional cuts of $7M. And, if you go back several years – when public higher education was prominent on everybody’s cut list – the turnaround is all the more remarkable.
Absolutely critical has been the consistent and consistently aggressive advocacy of so many: alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, unions, Trustees, local community members, Foundation and advisory Board members, and leaders in the private sector. I am particularly proud of Western – and all who are Western – for you have been prominently in the lead as this turnaround was accomplished.
On behalf of all of us working toward brighter futures for Washington, a big and sincere “thank you.” A “thank you” to all who are Western. And, all of us owe Ms. Sherry Burkey a special thanks for her leadership in coordinating the many efforts and her relentless dedication to effectively representing us in Olympia.
Also, although it is not always popular to say so, I have been in the midst of the political processes, and I want to share this observation: Our elected officials are bright, hardworking, dedicated public servants who are grappling with enormously complex problems that have very serious consequences.
They come from several different political orientations and do not have the privilege of dealing with complex challenges at the simplistic level of the cliché. Consequently, their efforts take time. Their shared dedication to doing what is best for Washington, though, should never be doubted. With no additional cuts to public higher education, they did very well for Washington and deserve our gratitude.
Your involvement has made a real difference. Please do not stop now. Saying “thank you” is more than just good manners — it is politically wise. Please let our public officials know how much you appreciate a “no additional cuts to public higher education” outcome if those are your sentiments. Western Advocates remains one mechanism for so doing.
As there are no additional cuts to a budget that was developed and adopted through last spring`s transparent, bottom up budget and planning processes, there is no need to revisit the 2011-13 budget.
High school seniors and college students in Washington state have until 5 p.m. April 16 to apply for a new scholarship program that aims to help low- and middle-income families grappling with sharp tuition increases.
Students may apply online for the Opportunity Scholarship, which will expand college financial aid beyond the current state need grant.
That grant reaches families with 70 percent of the median family income, which is about $57,000 for a family of four.
The Opportunity Scholarship is open to students in families who earn up to 125 percent of the median family income, or about $102,200 for a family of four.
Created by the state Legislature in 2011, the scholarship program is a public-private partnership seeded with $5 million from the state of Washington. Boeing and Microsoft have committed a combined $50 million.
The program will award 3,000 scholarships of $1,000 per year to students working toward a bachelor’s degree in high-demand fields such as science, math, engineering, health care and technology.
Scholarships are renewable for up to five years.
What do you think? Will the Opportunity Scholarship help your family — much?
Some good news — and hope — came out of Olympia today for education from the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
See the news release below:
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, chairman of the budget-writing Senate Ways & Means Committee, today proposed a supplemental operating budget that would avoid cuts to K-12 and higher education seen in other proposals.
“This is a modest budget based on modest improvements we’ve seen in our economy and the demand for state services,” said Sen. Murray. “We wrote a budget that protects our schools, colleges and universities first.”
Since passing a balanced budget last year, projected revenues for the state have declined by $2 billion. The balanced budget proposed in the Senate today, represented in Senate Bill 5967, builds on work done by the Legislature in a special session in December, makes policy and budget changes, cuts some services, and leaves a reserve of $370 million.
The higher education piece pleased Bruce Shepard, president of Western Washington University.
“The budget proposes no additional cuts to Western beyond those substantial reductions already made for the current biennium. There are no cuts to the State Need Grant. And funding for work study would be restored,” Shepard wrote in a message on his website.
He added: “Do consider the history. For Western, we started this session with the Governor’s proposal of a potentially catastrophic cut of $7M to Western and elimination of work study statewide. The House proposal reduced that cut to a still very serious $2M and made a reduction in the State Need Grant. Today’s Senate proposal moves substantially further in a positive direction: $0 cut, protect State Need Grant, restore work study.”
Read the rest of his message by clicking here.
It’s not a done deal, of course. The House and the Senate still must agree on a budget, which would be sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.
The League of Education Voters also applauded the committee’s proposed supplemental budget.
Read their news release below.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee released its supplemental budget proposal today, which included preserving K-12 and higher education funding, maintaining State Need Grants for students and funding smaller K-3 classes by ending some tax exemptions for Wall Street banks.
“This budget is a clear indication that we are moving away from three years of deep and painful cuts to education and toward investing in our children and our future. It is clear the Senate is taking the McCleary decision into account and investing in K-12 education,” said Chris Korsmo, chief executive officer of the League of Education Voters.
“Since the February revenue forecast, there have been three budget proposals and each seems better than the previous. With this budget, senators, along with their House peers, acknowledged that to succeed, our state’s kids need more education, not less. We know that investments in education are investments in our economic growth, and our state’s future. I applaud legislators for making education at all levels an area of chief investment.
“Ensuring that Washington’s children have the best start should be one of the highest priorities of this state. I am glad to see that this budget asks the Legislature to support a balanced approach to funding education. It makes sense to ask out-of-state businesses to pay a fair share on the income they earn in Washington, and focusing on the early grades increases our students’ opportunity to succeed.”
Key differences between the Senate and House proposals:
•Senate fully funds National Board bonuses, teacher/principal evaluations, math and science professional development, and the Beginning Educator Support Team program, while the House reduced or cut these programs.
•Senate spares colleges and universities and State Need Grant from cuts, while the House made reductions to these programs.
•House funds the expansion of WaKIDS, a key component in Washington’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge award, while the Senate does not. This would delay critical services for our youngest learners and put our Race to the Top award at risk.
Bruce Shepard, president of Western Washington University, was among the school leaders who spoke at a Town Hall in Seattle about the long-term repercussions of deep cuts in state funding to higher education to Washington state.
All six of Washington state’s public university presidents talked about the risks of continued cuts to higher education. Business leaders also were at the Town Hall.
Click here to read about Shepard’s concerns and those of other university presidents in the state.
And here’s a TVW webcast of that Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Washington state Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Vashon, wants to impose a 2 percent tax on the income of millionaires who live in the state to pay for education, with the priority of reducing class sizes in grades K-4.
The legislation, Senate Bill 6482, has been referred to the Ways & Means Committee.
What do you think of this idea?