2012 Policy Platform
A Call to Action in Challenging Times
Our Vision for Students
We believe ALL children deserve an equal opportunity to succeed in school, at work and in life. Education is the key that unlocks the door to success—but far too many children, through no fault of their own, aren’t getting the education they need to make it in life. We at Stand are passionately committed to righting this wrong, so that all children, regardless of their background, can graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education.
The need for transformational change in our education system is clear. Washington is one of the few states where the achievement gap keeps widening. Students and families are facing enormous inequities, and unequal opportunities lead to unequal results.
Nearly 1 in 4 Washington students does not graduate from high school on time, and the numbers are worse for low-income students and students of color.[i] Access to effective teachers and advanced learning opportunities varies widely within districts and between communities. More than half of our high school graduates need to take remedial math, reading or writing when they get to community college, costing our state $17 million each year on remediation.[ii], [iii] Only half of Washington’s high school graduates have the credits they need to enroll in a public, four-year university.[iv]
These imbalances hurt all of us. An economic recession is not an excuse for waiting, or worse, doing nothing to address our students’ needs. Education is a primary driver of economic growth. Making smart investments now will result in long term benefits for our families and our state.
Stand for Children believes that bold leaders, working together with families, teachers, principals and community members, can create a bright future for all our children.
Our Vision for Candidates
In an arena dominated by political parties and adult-focused special interest groups, we are non-partisan and student-focused. We fearlessly and unapologetically challenge the status quo in pursuit of solutions that help more children graduate high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education. We look for candidates that share our desire for bold change, who will make education their top priority, who can work strategically and effectively, and who want to work with us over the long term to improve outcomes for students across our state. These are our Education Champions.
Our Vision for Education in Washington
Stand for Children has a clear and thoughtful point-of-view about which policies and programs will have the biggest impact for students. Our policy priorities were developed through careful analysis of research and best practices from around the nation, in consultation with best-in-class practitioners and with our volunteer leaders, advisory board, partner organizations and other stakeholders. Our 2012 platform sets forth our aspirations and we look forward to working with elected officials to make them realities.
our 2012 Education Policy Platform
Build a 21st Century Data System
Washington State collects a lot of data on students and student outcomes, but we don’t do a good job of communicating that information to families, educators and communities. We don’t yet have a fair and reliable model of measuring increased student achievement that can be used statewide. Building the right tools to gather the right data will allow school leaders to make trustworthy data-driven decisions and allow parents and communities to hold schools accountable.
Education Champions can lead on the creation of effective data systems by:
- Supporting the development and statewide implementation of a fair and reliable way to measure student achievement, such as a student growth model.
- Expand parents and educators’ access to easily understandable, timely, and actionable data through the creation of data dashboards and report cards that give schools letter grades.
Expand Access to High-Quality Early Learning
Investing in early education yields huge returns. Children who participate in high-quality early learning programs do better in school, have fewer behavioral issues, are more likely to graduate from high school and college, and are less likely to end up in prison. Unfortunately, Washington ranks in the bottom half of all states when it comes to overall participation in pre-school and only 20 percent of our eligible children attend Head Start or similar early learning programs.[v]
Education Champions can lead on expanding access to high-quality early learning by:
- Funding and implementing voluntary affordable pre-kindergarten, beginning with at-risk children.
- Accelerating funding for full-day kindergarten.
- Improving the transition between pre-school and kindergarten by aligning curriculum, child assessments, teacher training and professional development.
Ensure ALL students have Excellent Teachers and Leaders
Effective teachers and leaders matter. A teacher’s influence on student achievement is twenty times greater than any other factor, including class size or poverty.[vi] Research also shows that principals account for a quarter of a school’s total impact on student learning.[vii] Teachers and principals deserve to work in a system that treats them like the professionals they are; a system that provides meaningful evaluations, fair compensation, useful professional development and recognition for excellence.
Education Champions can lead on providing all students with excellent teachers and leaders by:
- Supporting a performance evaluation system that includes multiple measures, including state and locally decided measures of student learning.
- Ensuring that evaluations are a significant factor in staffing decisions including school and classroom assignment, transfers, layoffs, tenure and dismissal.
- Supporting improved teacher preparation programs that are held accountable for results, emphasize content expertise, and increase the number of high-caliber teachers of color entering the profession.
- Providing individualized professional development for teachers and principals.
- Expanding access to high-quality mentoring and research-based induction for new teachers and principals in their first two years.
- Transitioning teacher and principal compensation to a model based on knowledge, skills and performance while supporting multiple career pathways.
- Providing principals the flexibility, authority and capacity needed to be instructional leaders.
Open the Door to More Flexible and Transformative Approaches
In Washington, students from low-income families and students of color have fewer academic and economic opportunities than the population as a whole. To address this disparity, educators should have the freedom to be innovative in the classroom and use the models that best fit their students’ needs. To create equal opportunity for all, we must learn from the many states that are already closing achievement gaps and we must consider more flexible approaches to education.
Education Champions can lead on creating flexible and transformative approaches by:
- Allowing high-performing nonprofit public charter schools to serve low-income students and students of color.
- Encouraging principals to make staffing decisions based on performance, school needs and district priorities.
- Expanding the state’s ability to intervene in chronically low-performing schools so that the state can provide those schools with the educators, flexibility and resources needed to dramatically improve.
- Using digital learning strategically in order to solve persistent challenges, such as expanding access to content and individualizing instruction.
- Encouraging schools to increase instructional time by restructuring the school day or year.
Prepare Students for College, Work and Life
Most good jobs require a college degree or credential – by 2018, two-thirds of all jobs in Washington will require some form of higher education or high-level skills training.[viii] Yet our students are not prepared for the rigors of college. In 2010, nearly 1 in 4 students did not graduate on time, and the numbers were worse for African-American, Hispanic, Native American and low-income students.[ix] Over half of the students entering our community colleges end up taking remedial courses.[x] We must do better.
Education Champions can lead on preparing students for college, work and life by:
- Aligning high school graduation requirements with college and university entrance requirements.
- Making college and career prep courses the default for middle and high school students.
- Moving forward on implementing Common Core standards and assessments.
- Supporting increased family engagement and community partnerships.
Fund Basic Education by Investing in What Works
In the McCleary decision, the Washington State Supreme Court found that we are not living up to our paramount duty to fund basic education. But our duty to fund education includes how we’re spending our education dollars, not just how much. Our state Supreme Court made it clear that education funding must be accountable and aligned to student achievement and outcomes.[xi]
Education Champions can lead on investing in what works by:
- Ensuring our education funding formula and expenditures align with student achievement results.
- Prioritizing full funding for an education budget that invests in programs that have the greatest impact on student achievement, especially for children with the greatest needs.