Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Governor Press Release - Inslee proposes boldest new efforts in improving full continuum of education in 2 decades

Gov. Jay Inslee declared tonight that education must be the top priority for the 2015 Legislature, saying it’s past time for the state to meet its moral and constitutional obligations to Washington students. The governor said his plan would strengthen the school system from preschool to higher education so Washington students can attain diplomas, degrees and job training.

The governor previewed his plan in an online town hall meeting with parents, educators and students in Bellevue, Moses Lake, Spokane and Tacoma. Inslee said he intends to aggressively pursue improvements at all levels of education, from a significant expansion in early learning and all-day kindergarten to a freeze on public college tuition and additional financial aid to help keep college affordable.

Friday, December 12, 2014

National PTA Pledges Support to White House Invest in US Initiative

New initiative brings together corporations, foundations and nonprofits to increase investments in, and expand access to, high-quality early childhood education

Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced the launch of Invest in US, a national campaign and challenge to business leaders, philanthropists, advocates and public officials to increase investments in high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The initiative builds on President Obama’s call in his 2014 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early education for all children.

“The education of our nation’s children must begin long before they enter school as research shows that providing effective, targeted supports and interventions to children and parents starting at birth will better prepare them for academic and career success,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “For decades, National PTA has called for the prioritization of early childhood education, and the association is pleased to support the Invest in US initiative to ensure that every child has access to high-quality early learning programs.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

National PTA Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 11, 2014) Today, a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was introduced in the Senate as a means to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.

Since the passage of the JJDPA, thousands of children and youth have been provided with family and community-based alternatives to incarceration and kept separate from adults in detention. While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes left in the JJDPA as well as amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses such as skipping school. Additionally, research shows that minority youth are overrepresented in the system.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

National PTA President Otha Thornton Shares Efforts and Resources to Support Parents and Students with the Common Core

National PTA was featured in a story on the Common Core that aired on NBC4 in Washington, DC. In the story, President Otha Thornton shares National PTA’s efforts and resources to help parents understand the standards and new assessments as well as empower them to support their children with their learning. The story can be viewed by visiting: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video/#!/news/local/Common-Core-Presents-Parents-With-New-Challenges/283280431.

Additionally, President Thornton was invited to record a podcast as part of Learning First Alliance’s Get It Right campaign on the Common Core. In the podcast, President Thornton shares efforts undertaken at the local, state and national levels to ensure parents have an understanding of the standards, including what they are, how they came about and how they will help children graduate ready for college and today’s workforce. Visit http://www.learningfirst.org/get-it-right-podcasts-otha-thornton to listen to the podcast.

Source: National PTA

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stand Up, Speak Up and Show Up

2015 Legislative Focus Day 
PTA advocates from across the state gathered in Olympia for WSPTA’s annual Legislative Focus Day on Monday, January 19, 2015.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Professional Training: Social & Emotional Learning (Top 5 Issue)

Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in the Classroom
taught by Molly Lawlor, MA, PhD Candidate

Saturday December 6, 2014
9:00am - 12:00pm
UW Center for Child & Family Well-being

Monday, November 17, 2014

Free Public Lectures on Social & Emotional Learning (Top 5 Issue)

Cultivating Kindness and Compassion in Children
presented by Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Ph.D., University of British Columbia

Friday, December 5, 2014
University of Washington, Kane Hall 220

Friday, November 14, 2014

Get Involved – Get Engaged!

Sign up for our legislative updates for the 2015 Legislative Session in Olympia and in Washington, D.C. Follow the link here to be part of the movement to fully fund basic education and update, improve,  and reauthorize the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Currently called No Child Left Behind).

Be part of the advocacy team today!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Early Care and Education Providers and Families Should Know About Enterovirus D68

The Administration for Children and Families has received questions from Head Start and child care programs about recent news reports of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) spreading across the country. Infecting about 10 to 15 million Americans each year, enteroviruses are very common, especially during the summer and fall months. Infants and children are more susceptible to infection due to developing immune systems and the lack of prior exposure to viruses. Pregnant women also have a greater chance of being infected but will only develop mild or no symptoms. In fact, most people who acquire enteroviruses do not get sick. However, EV-D68 can cause mild-to-severe respiratory illness. Children with asthma could have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Washington State Parent Teacher Association Sets Legislative Agenda

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association held its’ 36th Annual Legislative Assembly this weekend, in Vancouver, Washington.  There, delegates met to set a new platform of legislative priorities for the 2015 -2016 legislative session in support of the organizational vision of “Making every child’s potential a reality.”    The legislative platform supports the delivery of our mission:
  • PTA is a powerful voice for all children.
  • PTA is a relevant resource for families, schools and communities.
  • PTA is a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.

In all, 13 issues made the short-term platform.  As a whole child advocacy association, our priority issues represent health, well-being and educational needs of the children of Washington State.
WSPTA’s priorities for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions:
  1. Funding McCleary
  2. Create Positive School Climates Through Social Emotional Learning
  3. Increasing Capital Funding
  4. Increased Access to Higher Education
  5. Breakfast After the Bell

Also supported (listed alphabetically):

If you have any questions or request a media availability with our Legislative Director, Sherry Krainick, or our President, Heather Gillette, please contact us at legconsultant@wastatepta.org or by phone at (253) 292-3318. 

About Washington State PTA: Founded in 1905, the association is a powerful voice for the well-being and education of all children and a resource for parents. It provides leadership training and support to more than 900 local PTAs across the state. With over 132,000 members, the WSPTA is the largest advocacy and volunteer organization in the state. Learn more at www.wastatepta.org.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Washington Students Take SAT, PSAT and AP

Participation rates increase across all racial subgroups

More Washington students than ever are enrolling in college-level courses and taking college entrance exams, according to results released today by the College Board. Every racial subgroup saw increased SAT, PSAT and AP test-taking rates in 2014.

The state’s student performance remained relatively strong. SAT and PSAT saw a slight downturn in overall scores, but the number of AP scores of at least “3” — the score needed to earn college credit — increased 5.7 percent.

“I am proud of our student performance,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “And the fact that so many students are taking steps to prepare themselves for college is encouraging. I hope this trend continues.” 

Full story, including state-level participation rates and links to school- and district-level results: http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2014/CollegeEntranceExams.aspx

Monday, October 13, 2014

Community and technical colleges and public four-year universities join forces on Smarter Balanced Assessment

OLYMPIA – Washington 11th graders who score at a college-ready level on new assessments this spring will automatically place into college-level math and English language classes when they enroll in college, thanks to a statewide agreement announced today by Washington’s community and technical colleges and public four-year universities.

The agreement applies to students who score at the top two levels – levels four and three – on the new “Smarter Balanced Assessments” that will be given to all Washington 11th-graders this spring. Those students will be able to skip the standard placement tests – such as Accuplacer – that are typically given when students enroll in college.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 Legislative Assembly - Outside Speakers

The Legislative Assembly and Advocacy Training event provides opportunities for PTA leadership training, advocacy training and is the venue for voting delegates to examine issues submitted by members. Voting delegates will debate and vote on the issues that will make up our 2015-2016 legislative priorities. 
  • Click here for more information on the WSPTA Legislative Assembly.
  • Click here to download the 2014 Issue Guide

  • Keynote Presentations

    • Friday Luncheon Lecture:  Department of Education Region X Director Linda Pauley and Dr. Kareen Borders  “Shoot for the Stars:  Family Involvement in STEM Education”     
    • Saturday Morning Continental Breakfast:  Mario Villanueva, Regional Director USDA - Discussion on Federal Agriculture issues that affect children                               

    Program Discussions on Closing the Opportunity Gap

    • Defining the Opportunity Gap and Mining the Data:  Rep. Chad Magendanz; Melissa Beard, OFM -A discussion on state and federal data policy.  This class will review data trends, discuss ethics issues, and the ever changing role of testing in education.  This class will also address current State and National Legislation devoted to this issue. 
    • A View Outside the Classroom - Learning Readiness:  Nick Federici; David Scott Beard, Schools Out WA - Exploring the challenges facing children who are in the gap and how these challenges affect their ability to go to school "learning ready."  Discussion will range from poverty,  developmental, health, and social challenges.

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    FY2015 Appropriations

    FY2015 officially begins October 1, 2014, with the FY2014 budget set to expire on September 30. Last week, to prevent another government shutdown, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that extends funding levels through December 11.  The Senate roll call vote can be found here and the House vote here.

    The CR extends the current funding levels from the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act, under all terms and conditions, through December 11, 2014. However, due to the annualized rate of spending in FY2015, the CR included an across-the-board cut of 0.0554% in order to conform with the FY2014 spending cap. For Department of Education programs, that would be a cut of $37.3 million. However, since almost all ED programs are forward funded, that cut will only affect a small number of programs during the period of the CR. Because the CR was an extension, very few changes were made to the bill itself and National PTA did not take an official position (an earlier letter sent by our coalition partners expressing our support for the FY2014 Omnibus Approps Act is available athttp://www.wastatepta.org/files/Consolidated_Appropriations_House.pdf). 

    Congress is now adjourned until after the November elections and right now both the Senate and House are scheduled to return on Tuesday, November 12 for a lame duck session.  When they return, these cuts in the current CR could be replaced by FY2015 spending bill. We will keep you posted on FY2015 developments, as there are several different paths Congress could take including another CR through the end of the year/spring or passing a full or partial FY2015 spending bill. 

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    SBE Adopts Resolution on the McCleary School Funding Decision and School Funding Proposals Entertained During the 2015 Legislative Session

    On September 10, 2014, the Washington State Board of Education, in view of its statutory responsibility to provide strategic oversight of the public education system, voted to adopt a resolution suggesting guiding principles to the Legislature in the performance of its duties to ensure that ample provision is made for all students residing within its borders, in a general and uniform system of public schools.

    1. Any consideration of delaying the timeline for compliance with McCleary orders should be weighed against the consequences those delays will have on entering cohorts of kindergarten students and their opportunity to ultimately realize the goals of the program of basic education.
    1. The Board affirms that there can be no credible plan to make ample provision for public schools that does not include new revenue to the state budget.
    1. Proposals to increase funding for public schools by decreasing funding in other state programs should be viewed not merely through the lens of Court compliance, but also in view of the ultimate impact on students and their families.  Scaling back social service programs, or early and higher education programs, may help narrowly satisfy Court compliance requirements but may also compromise progress towards the goals of the program of basic education.
    1. A comprehensive school funding solution should include a substantial increase in the state funding share accompanied by some additional clarity on the intended limits of local levy authority or spending.  However, proposals that seek to merely exchange taxing authority between the state and local governments in a revenue neutral way, such that overall funding to public schools remains roughly constant while only the source of revenues changes, are highly unlikely to materially improve outcomes for students and families.  What is needed is not different dollars; what is needed is more dollars.
    1. The Board further affirms that a comprehensive statewide accountability program continues to be an essential element to any significant McCleary investment in public schools.  In addition to school-level accountability, such a system should include explicit goals for student outcomes at a system-wide level, as well as self-imposed, reciprocal elements of accountability for the Legislature in the event that it cannot fulfill its duties under law, even as schools and students are expected to fulfill theirs.
    1. The Board affirms that Washington’s system of public schools has the potential to be the best in the world, and could serve as a case study of best practice public education for other states and nations.  The Board urges the Legislature to embrace this challenge, and to process all school funding decisions with the success of each student in mind. 
    Source: Washington State Board of Education

    Friday, September 12, 2014


    Applications now are available to recognize the WSPTA’s Outstanding Advocate to be awarded at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly on October 24-25 in Vancouver, Washington. Applications are due September 15, 2014. The WSPTA Outstanding Advocate award recognizes and honors an individual for continued and dedicated service to ALL children, and a demonstrated commitment to helping create strong policies relating to the health, welfare, safety, and education of children and youth. For the application form, click here.

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Information From the Governor's Office of the Education Ombudsman

    Over the past week, you have probably read in the newspaper or received a letter from your school district explaining Washington state’s loss of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver.  This waiver is also referred to as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver.  As a result of the waiver loss, the majority of school districts were required to issue letters to parents explaining the options they may have if their child attends a school that has not made “adequate yearly progress” or AYP.  Parents whose children are assigned to a school that has not met AYP will be offered the option of:  1)  staying at their assigned school and receiving Supplemental Education Services, or  2) the option to transfer to a public school of their choice that has met AYP within their district.

    The application process for SES or a public school transfer request is very short and requires completion of a written application with a deadline associated with it.  In some school districts, this deadline occurs on or before the first day of school.  It is very important that parents understand they will not get SES services or be able to request a transfer after the deadline set by their district.  For limited-English speaking parents, it is important that they understand they can ask for the instructions and application in a language understood by the parents or guardians.  In addition, limited-English speaking parents can and should ask for an interpreter at their child’s school meeting to determine the SES Student Learning Plan if they need language access and assistance.

    In an effort to assist parents, students and advocates to understand what some of the changes are, the Office of the Education Ombudsman has developed a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).   For more information, please call (206) 748-5613 or 866-297-2597.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    WSPTA gives Board Endorsement of Initiative 594

    WSPTA is saddened by the number of recent shootings that have taken place at schools across our country. Our mission states that PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families, schools and communities, and a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.

    During the October 2013 WSPTA Legislative Assembly in Seatac, the following policy was adopted by members:  The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that extend criminal background checks to the purchase of guns from non-licensed sellers.

    On April 24, 2014, the WSPTA board of directors discussed the upcoming initiatives 594 and 591 that will be on the November ballot. Our legislative director, Sherry Krainick brought forth information from her state legislative committee members. After discussion and debate the board voted to endorse and support initiative 594 on extending background checks on gun purchases from non-licensed dealers.  Support at this time will not include financial resources but may include very limited use of our grassroots network, action alerts and other communications that may be timely.

    At that time the board also voted to oppose initiative 591 (an Act relating to protecting gun and other firearm rights; adding new sections to chapter 9.41 RCW; and creating new sections.)

    WSPTA keeps kids at the focus of everything we do. While we understand this is not a solution for children’s safety, we do recognize that this is one small step in that direction. 

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    SBE adopted rules to implement 24 credit career and college ready diploma

    Because of you, Washington State PTA was successful in working to promote key aspects of Senate Bill 6552 during the 2014 legislative session to make it better legislation for ALL kids.  On July 9 - 10, 2014, at the State Board of Education meeting in Spokane, public testimony was heard and rules were considered on the credit waiver and family engagement and the high school and beyond plan.  Below is the letter announcing the State Board of Education’s determination on these issues.

    Dear stakeholders: 
    Yesterday, at its meeting in Spokane, the State Board of Education adopted a set of rules to implement the 24 credit career and college ready diploma, as well as the other provisions of Senate Bill 6552 passed during the 2014 legislative session.
    The Board would like to thank stakeholder groups for the unprecedented levels of stakeholder input, both in terms of the number of individuals testifying at our public hearing and community forums – many of whom traveled long distances to do so -- but also those that submitted written input. 
    There are a few key issues presented in these rules.   I discuss three major issues discussed below, but the full text of the rules and the accompanying materials can be accessed on our website at: www.sbe.wa.gov/materials.php#july

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Educators, Administrators Break Down Common Core Standards For Parents

    National PTA recently released a Common Core video series to educate parents on the standards and empower them to support the transition at school and home.
    The series features 14 videos—developed in partnership with the Hunt Institute—to dispel the myths and provide accurate information about Common Core. The videos also provide various perspectives from educators, administrators, PTA leaders and others on the positive changes they've seen with the standards.
    The series begins with "The Need for Improved Student Outcomes," a brief overview of the Common Core State Standards. Watch Now
    The Need for Improved Student Outcomes

    PTAs can use this video series to learn the steps they should take to effectively advocate for the Common Core standards in their communities and states.
    Watch the videos and share them with PTAs and families. It's critical that we raise the bar in all schools and remain committed to ensuring all students graduate prepared to succeed.