Stand for Children recently redesigned our website and the blogs for each of the 10 states in which we are active. As a result, we will no longer be updating this site.
Please visit our new blog at http://stand.org/washington
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And follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/washingtonstand
There has been a lot of talk lately about who Stand for Children is and who is driving our priorities and goals for Washington. We thought we’d take just a couple minutes to set the record straight on who we are and what we do.
First and foremost, Stand for Children is an organization dedicated to ensuring that all children get the education they deserve, especially those who are most affected by the opportunity gap.
Stand is made up of volunteers in the community; parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, concerned citizens – real people who care about our students, our public schools and our communities. These dedicated individuals are the driving force behind the work we do and the priorities we set. In a survey of our supporters aimed at helping us learn more about what our community wants to prioritize in our work:
- 28% of respondents are current or former educators
- 62% are a parent or grandparent of a public school student
- 20% are members of a union or have a family member who is
- 50% are active in other community organizations such as: PTA, NAACP, church groups etc.
All are residents of Washington who care deeply about making a difference for students in our state.
What does Stand for Children do?
Stand for Children works to improve outcomes for kids in three ways:
- We work with parents, teachers, community members and partner organizations to educate and empower real people to become community advocates on behalf of our students for the changes needed in their community. These community advocates help set our priorities and goals for the work we do on behalf of Washington students.
- We work to influence policies at the state and local level to support the changes to our system needed to implement the goals set in partnership with our local community advocates, to ensure all our students have a chance to succeed.
- We work to support and elect education champions to public office, chosen by our community advocates, who will be strong voices for our students and our communities.
Who are our funders?
In Washington, Stand receives about 30% of its leadership center funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which provides billions of dollars in grants for non-profit organizations around the world) to support our work in local chapters around community engagement. While we are very grateful for this generous support, 70% of our 501c3 revenue (community engagement funding) and 100% of our 501c4 revenue (state and local policy advocacy funding) comes from individual donors and the support of our members all across the state.
That means that ALL of our work on policy advocacy and our legislative priorities is funded by the contributions of individual members and supporters in the community.
This is just a quick snap shot, but it’s our leaders and community advocates who really make up Stand for Children and define who we are. Check out Stand stories and learn more about Stand for Children.
Communications Director, Stand for Children
When the Governor released her new proposed budget she talked about making painful cuts to education. However, what was not discussed is even more important, and that is the fact that these statements about what to do with education funding are not addressing the choices necessary to really change our education system for the better. Over and over again the conversation is about the same things: the budget is tight, we need to make cuts to weather the storm.
What’s missing is the bigger picture. We need to change the conversation in Olympia and reset our priorities as a state to focus on how much better we need to do for students now, not when the economy gets better, now.
Expecting a broken system to do more with less is simply not a solution. Instead of merely cutting back the system in its current configuration, we need to look at this crisis as a unique opportunity to rethink school finance and education policy in a way that better delivers the services needed and the outcomes desired. Because this economic crisis is not going to resolve overnight, and this budget is not an exception but the new normal we can expect for the foreseeable future. We need to adjust accordingly and reinvent our system to work more efficiently and effectively today.
Instead of talking about filling the budget gap by cutting school days , we need to talk about prioritizing programs that cut the opportunity gap like full day kindergarten, high expectations for all students, and ensuring every child has an effective teacher in their classroom. The persistence of opportunity gaps has resulted in the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession, representing both the largest loss to our economy related to our education system, and the greatest opportunity for economic growth. Yet Washington is one of only 9 states where the opportunity gap continues to grow, and at the rate we’re going it will take more than 100 years to close that gap. The only solution to our long term economic stability is to reverse that trend, and we cannot continue to do what we have been doing if we expect to get there.
Cutting school days is the absolute wrong direction.
Instead we need to focus on prioritizing funding supports to improve under-performing schools and close opportunity gaps, prioritizing funding with the greatest impact on student learning, and prioritizing funding for our youngest students to cut expensive remediation costs down the line directly.
That is why Stand for Children is supporting programs like full day kindergarten and WaKIDS to help get our youngest student started on the right foot and avoid expensive remediation costs later on. Recognizing that effective teaching is the single greatest in-school factor impacting student achievement, we support new teacher and principal evaluations to help educators improve instruction and teacher mentoring programs to improve and retain new teachers. We also need to set higher standards, through stronger math and science graduation requirements, so that all students graduate college and career ready.
If we really want to solve our budget problems, we need to stop talking about how students can weather the storm. We need to talk about making real changes that put student outcomes at the forefront of our public education system. Strategies to get there, like the ones Stand supports, are what the conversation must be about. Because our students cannot afford to wait.
Executive Director, Stand for Children – Washington
We have about a $2 billion gap to fill in this year’s state budget. The Senate Ways and Means committee recently released a list of possible cuts to fill this gap. On this list was a 66% cut to Levy Equalization. Last week, the Governor’s proposed budget also included a 50% cut to Levy Equalization. The State of Washington uses Levy Equalization to ensure that there is funding equality throughout the state by matching levy funds raised by districts that do not have the property values to raise enough themselves. In Clark County alone, we receive over $30 million in Levy Equalization funds. That means a 66% cut would be over $20 million lost by the end of the year. Evergreen School District would lose over $8 million and Vancouver Public Schools would lose over $5.5 million. A 50% cut as the Governor has proposed would still be $11 million for Clark County schools.
Last Spring, Stand for Children fought hard with your support to fully protect Levy Equalization. And after making two trips to Olympia, hand-delivering over 900 letters, and making hundreds of phone calls and emails, we were able to help fully protect these funds. But this year’s budget shortfall will make it even more difficult to protect, and the Washington Legislature will be convening for a special session on November 28th to decide the fate of these funds.
We’ll be keeping an eye on where this debate goes, but one thing is clear; these cuts will be painful for our schools and our students. We need to re-prioritize our funding to ensure that all our schools have the tools they need to help students succeed no matter where they live.
Clark County Organizer, Stand for Children – Washington
As many in Seattle know, over the weekend the 46th legislative district lost a leader and education champion due to the sad and unexpected passing of Senator Scott White.
Senator White was committed to working for quality education for all children as a key part of his efforts on behalf of his constituents. His colleagues in the 46th district put it best when they expressed their feelings of loss for a leader whose motivating desire was to “create a better place for our families and our children to prosper.”
We send our condolences to Senator White’s family and friends who were an inspiration to him and the guiding force behind his efforts as a public servant. Our thoughts are with you all during these difficult times.
Executive Director, Stand for Children – Washington
A big thank you goes out to everyone who was a part of our “Changing the Odds, Changing Lives” event with Marian Wright Edelman on Friday. The event was inspiring and energizing for all of us who are part of the ongoing effort to ensure all kids have access to a great public education and have the chance to succeed.
A quick note of thanks to all our sponsors and a shout out to Nametag.com for their donation to our event and for posting about us on their blog.
Communications Director, Stand for Children – Washington
Washington state is applying for “Race to the Top” funding to support early learning programs for our students; and Stand for Children Washington submitted a letter of support with that application. Now, we’re joining our partners to send a message to Congress to urge funding support for these essential programs. From now through Halloween we’re asking supporters to send congress a message to support early learning.
Leading economists agree that prioritizing funding to early childhood education will provide taxpayers with returns of 7-10% per year for every dollar invested, based on future reduced costs in remedial education, health, criminal justice system expenditures, and the tax revenues generated by increase earnings. That is a huge return on investment!
Early learning is a win-win-win.
We all know that kids need more than costumes this Halloween: They need a strong education foundation to help them achieve their dreams. With quality, affordable child care and preschool we can make sure our kids are ready for school and life.
And please pass this Congressional-Halloween-Costume-Creation-Station along to your friends and family by forwarding this email now–and by posting the Congressional-Halloween-Costume-Creation-Station link above on Facebook–so we can work together to make sure the U.S. budget does not get any spookier for families!
Organizing Director, Stand for Children Washington