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League of Education Voters will stay out of Washington governors race between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Sep. 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm | No Comments »
September 6, 2012 4:22 pm

The decision stands in contrast to the state’s other major education reform group, Stand for Children, that endorsed Republican Rob McKenna.

But while the League of Education Voters said there are things to like about both candidates’ position on education, neither is strong enough to attract the group’s endorsement.

McKenna, for example, isn’t strong enough on funding, especially in light of this year’s Supreme Court decision in the McCleary case.

“… while McKenna offers a detailed plan for system reform, his education finance plan relies too much on overly optimistic estimates of growth in the state’s economy and a divisive, overly restrictive cap on non-education expenses, LEV concluded. His support for requiring two-thirds majorities to raise revenue and his refusal to consider raising taxes hamstring the state in meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund education — as laid out in the recent McCleary decision.”

And Democrat Jay Inslee, while getting points for becoming more specific on his education priorities, still isn’t specific enough.

“His support for the recent legislation to strengthen teacher evaluation is a positive sign. However, Inslee’s plan still lacks detail at this late stage and lacks an explicit focus on how to pay for it,”:the LEV statement said.

Here’s what they sent out this afternoon:

The League of Education Voters (LEV) is not endorsing either candidate for governor, the organization announced Thursday. “While both candidates offer promising ideas for improving education in Washington, neither rises to the standard necessary to receive our endorsement,“ said Bob Roseth, chair of the Board of Directors of LEV. “In particular, neither candidate offers a credible plan for ample, sustainable funding of a world-class public education system.”

LEV advocates for ample funding of education as well as the reforms to the system necessary to improve student outcomes. The organization was behind the recent efforts to strengthen the teacher and principal evaluation system. It is also lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging Initiative 1053, which requires legislative super-majorities to raise revenue.

“To LEV, revenue and reform are irrevocably linked. One without the other is not a truly serious education agenda,” said Roseth. “Neither candidate presented a plan that delivered on both halves of this equation.”

Rob McKenna’s reform plan is detailed, pro-active and places an emphasis on early learning, a proven strategy to close the achievement gap. He also clearly articulates the need for post-secondary degrees as a means to obtain family-sustaining jobs. However, while McKenna offers a detailed plan for system reform, his education finance plan relies too much on overly optimistic estimates of growth in the state’s economy and a divisive, overly restrictive cap on non-education expenses, LEV concluded. His support for requiring two-thirds majorities to raise revenue and his refusal to consider raising taxes hamstring the state in meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund education — as laid out in the recent McCleary decision.

Jay Inslee’s plan has grown more substantive since the start of his campaign, and he should be given credit for the continued refinement of his plan. Inslee, too, touts early learning and an emphasis on using what works — solid approaches to improving achievement for Washington’s kids. His support for the recent legislation to strengthen teacher evaluation is a positive sign. However, Inslee’s plan still lacks detail at this late stage and lacks an explicit focus on how to pay for it. Inslee’s support for innovation is clear in the many examples of current programs, schools and projects he includes. However, it makes his opposition to public charter schools that much more disappointing.

“LEV fights for more reform and more revenue,” Roseth said, “And we challenge the next governor to join that fight fully.”

LEV worked with each candidate as positions were refined and evolved and looks forward to working with the next governor to improve outcomes for Washington’s students.

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The League of Education Voters is an education advocacy organization focused on improving educational opportunities and outcomes for children in Washington — preschool through post-secondary. LEV shapes the debate, builds powerful coalitions and grows the grassroots to achieve meaningful reform and adequate resources for education.

Inslee’s campaign quickly found a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: League of Education Voters rejects McKenna’s education funding scheme

Today, Washington’s League of Education Voters issued a statement criticizing McKenna’s unrealistic education funding proposal.

“…while McKenna offers a detailed plan for system reform, his education finance plan relies too much on overly optimistic estimates of growth in the state’s economy and a divisive, overly restrictive cap on non-education expenses, LEV concluded. His support for requiring two-thirds majorities to raise revenue and his refusal to consider raising taxes hamstring the state in meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund education — as laid out in the recent McCleary decision.”

The statement made no mention of LEV’s critique of Inslee and the fact that he too failed to win the group’s support.

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