Saturday, October 27, 2012

Results of WSPTA Legislative Assembly

WSPTA Legislative Assembly concluded on Saturday afternoon October 20th. We have some wonderful positions put together by some passionate PTA members, and we enjoyed a weekend of debate, education, food, and friendly conversation.

One of my favorite things about Legislative Assembly is meeting people from other parts of the state and learning about their experiences with the public school system. Most of us are at Leg. Assembly for the same reason; we care about our children's education deeply and want to see them succeed.

One of the questions I'm asked over and over again from my professors at Seattle University is: What does success look like? This is where I think our PTA members start to disagree. For some, success looks like an education system that completely funds special education and includes highly capable learners. Others think that success looks like an education system that embraces and supports students with emotional difficulties. Others may believe the only way to have a successful environment for kids to learn in is if we have education funded fully and made a priority when our State does its budget.

Our debates on what makes education successful are important to our legislators. This is our process in getting our children's voices heard. We had the pleasure of having long time PTA member, and Legislative Representative Ross Hunter  explain to us how our voices influence legislation and that hearing from our PTA on education is imperative. I love hearing Ross's story about how many people write to him about puppies in comparison to children. Guess how many more people write about puppies! You should ask him!

Thank you for being a voice for our children. Thank you for trusting me with your voice at Legislative Assembly. Come with me next year and share in the lively debate, or just sit and listen and cast your vote.

For information on the PTA's platform adopted on 10/20/2012 visit : http://wsptagrassroots.blogspot.com/


Have a wonderful safe Halloween!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Candidate Forum Canceled

The October 12th Candidate Forum has been cancelled due to the fact that many of the candidates cancelled in September.

Hopefully next election season we can partner with some education advocates and other PTAs in Region 2 to give us a great forum to help us make some better well informed voting decisions.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Speak Up! and Vote!


We have some exciting Legislative things upcoming in our IVE community. There are some very easy things you can do to SPEAK UP for your kids and be involved in the creation of a great learning environment for them. We are really lucky to live in a community that values education and we have wonderful teachers and principals. Affecting legislation that supports these things are vital to the community as a whole.

How can you help build this environment? 

Number one: Inform yourself! You can do this by coming to the October 12th Candidate's forum at IVE in the Multipurpose room from 7pm to 9pm. Legislative District 5 Candidates and a Candidate for the US Congress will be present.

Number two: Vote! If you are not registered to vote yet, you can follow this link:  https://wei.sos.wa.gov/agency/osos/en/Pages/myvote.aspx 

Number three: Fill out the WA State PTA Legislative Survey. This Survey will help PTA decide on which issues should be the focus in this legislative session. Follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wspta2012

 The 18 issues will be worked down to 5 Key issues with your help. PTA puts the most resources toward to pass. PTA does not write legislation, they lobby for legislation in line with PTA platforms. That "platform" is guidelines PTA has for supporting legislation. If its not on the "platform" PTA probably won't support it. PTA gains this platform with your input. On Oct. 19th and 20th three delegates will attend the WA State PTA Legislative Forum and represent IVE PTA.

Number four: Tell your Legislative Chair what you think. Attend the October 16th General PTA meeting and learn about the 18 issues. You will meet your delegates, and help choose which five issues are most important to the IVE PTA family.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Primary/General Election

For the purposes of being concise, I'm providing a link to King County Elections for questions on caucusing, and primary and general elections. This website is full of valuable information to explain the process of electing delegates for presidential elections, and how the parties develop their platforms. There is also an explanation on the website for why Washington State is not holding a primary election this year. In short: the governor and legislature decided to suspend the 2012 presidential primary election to save WA 10 million dollars. The primary presidential election will resume in 2016.

The Washington State Primary election is Aug. 7, 2012. Ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 7. There is also a Ballot Drop Box at City Hall in Issaquah.

Nov.6th 2012 is the General Election date for State Legislature,  Congressional, Senatorial, Gubernatorial (governor's race), and Presidential races. Ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 7th.


If you are a mail in voter, its beneficial to vote, and send in or drop your ballot as soon as possible. It puts less stress on election staff. 


For more information on voting in King County click Here.






Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What District Am I In? What's a District Anyway...

Please do not feel foolish if you hear about districts and are completely lost. When I took Political Science it took us a while to understand what goes on here too. I'll try to make it simpler than my professor did :)

If you are confused by all the political yard signs you see around Issaquah right now and wonder why in the world there are so many different ones just a few miles away--you are not alone. It is because we have been redistricted. Every 10 years Washington State "redistricts". A district is an area of a population.There are a certain number of districts that are each represented by a person who sits in the State Senate and House of Representatives of the Washington Legislature. There is also a much larger district that is represented by the House and Senate in Congress. Your ballot in November will have both. Both districts have been redrawn. The reason why there are so many districts is because of the growing population...hey WA is a great place to live. To be properly represented and insure legislation by the people, we have to have the proper number of representatives. "No taxation without representation." Your representative is the person you complain to...or compliment.

You will also vote on Senators this year and Governor, but I won't go into detail here because those races affect our whole State and are covered thoroughly by various media.

The redrawing of the districts is done by a committee of four commissioners and a non-voting chair. They are appointed by the Legislature. The commissioners consist of two Democrats and two Republicans. Here is a link to find out more about the redistricting commission.

Now here is the fun part! You can look at this map to find out what Legislative district you live in and then you can find out more about the person running for office for that district. Issaquah is in two Legislative (Washington State) districts: 41 and 5. Issaquah Valley Elementary is in District 5.  If you live in Issaquah you are in Congressional District 8. When looking up Legislature and Congress make sure you mark the bubble for which map you want to see.

The primary elections held in August will determine the two contenders for the seats. In November we will vote again to see who wins! For the purposes of our PTA, I'm only listing the folks running for office. To eliminate any bias I'm listing them alphabetically. This will give you a chance to know who the candidates are and inform yourself about them in the way you see fit.

LD= Legislative District (State Legislature)
CD= Congressional District (US Congress)

LD 5 Senate: Mark Mullet, Brad Toft
LD First Seat House: Jay Rodne 
LD Second Seat House: Ryan Burkett, Chad Magendanz, David Spring

CD 8 House of Representatives: Kieth Arnold, Earnest Huber, Karen Porterfield, Dave Reichert, Kieth Swank, James Windle

On October 12th, our PTA at IVE will be hosting a Candidates Forum where we will allow the winners of the primary election to answer our questions and let us know how they intend to uphold the education system of our state and our country. We have held this before in years past and this time we are opening it to our new 8th district Congressional Candidates. Mark your calendars, and you will hear more about this after school starts. The event is not a debate, but rather an opportunity for us to hear what these candidates have to say about education. The forum will be focused only on the topic of education.

Thanks for reading and enjoy learning about the candidates and your district.


Sources:

http://www.redistricting.wa.gov/commission.asp. Information about redistricting commission taken from the About, and The Commission section. Retrieved 7/10/12.

http://www.redistricting.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/. Map retrieved 7/10/12. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What are all these Acronyms???...OMG!

If you live in Issaquah you often hear words like ISF, VIS, LEV, and PTA. These are acronyms (a word formed from the first letters of each of words it represents) for different organizations which help our kids in the Issaquah School District. I have made each acronym a link. It may be hard for you to see depending on what kind of screen you have, but all red words in this blog are links to useful websites.

So, what do these acronyms mean? What are these organizations? What are they doing?
  • ISF stands for Issaquah Schools Foundation. ISF is a nonprofit organization which does fundraising to offer grants to our kid's schools. Their two major fundraising events are the Nourish Every Mind Luncheon and the All in for Kids Annual Fund Campaign. You can visit their website to see what types of grants our kids get from ISF. 
  • VIS stands for Volunteers for Issaquah Schools. This is a non-profit, citizen organization which works to pass bonds and levies to support funding for Issaquah public schools. Levies are local taxes which go to operational costs of public schools such as teacher's salaries, textbooks, library materials, extra curricular activities etc. Bonds go to the building, and maintenance costs of our schools, and can be used for some technology. These are the only things Bonds can be used for. Levies and Bonds expire, which is why the school district runs them every few years. If you would like more information on bonds and levies, the Woodland Public Schools has a great explanation on their website.  
                    Kelly Munn, Co-Director of VIS and State Field Director of LEV explains VIS: "Volunteer for Issaquah Schools is a community based, non profit organization that runs the campaigns to pass the Issaquah School District bonds and levies."

  •  LEV stands for League of Education Voters. "The League of Education Voters Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to engaging ordinary citizens, educators, policymakers, and the media in the effort to provide a quality education for all students in Washington State – from preschool through college.
    Through its activities and publications, including an annual Citizen’s Report Card, LEV Foundation serves as a source of credible, timely information about the state’s education system. LEV Foundation helps highlight best practices, measure progress, and motivate people across Washington State to be a part of the solution." (http://www.educationvoters.org/lev-foundation/ Retrieved 6/19/12.  
  •  PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association. You may also see certain schools use the acronym; PTSA. In this case it stands for the Parent Teacher and Student Association and has a seat for a student body representative or accepts input from student governments. PTA is a large organization and has many pieces. 
                              Your School ~ Local Council ~ Region ~ State National
                 
                    One of the big things that PTA does for our kids is advocate! That is what I do for the Issaquah Valley Elementary School. I attend the Legislative Forum for the Washington State PTA and represent the PTA of our school (IVE) there. The former Legislative Advocate for IVE was City Councilman Tola Marts, who served for several years. Thank you Tola!
                    At this forum we decide on what kind of "platforms" we have. That means we have identified a problem or we have an idea for policy change or support/oppose something the legislature is doing. The platform is where PTA stands on issues and contains the details of how it, as an organization stands on the issues. This platform is then presented to the WA State Legislature. Forming a platform is a lot of work, and involves a lot of discussion. This year's is October 19th-20th, and I look forward to going. I will be updating you on the issues and results of the forum in this blog as we go.

Sources:
http://www.issaquahschoolsfoundation.org/.  information on fundraising and grants from "about" section,    Retrieved 6/19/12.

http://www.educationvoters.org/lev-foundation/. Copied from "about" section and "mission," Retrieved 6/19/12.

 http://www.wastatepta.org/advocacy/index.html. information on advocacy and platforms,  Retrieveed 6/20/12.

Kelly Munn, State Field Director LEV, VIS Co-Director, quote taken: 6/21/12 from email.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Why do Politics Matter to my Family?

Why should you get involved in politics? What does it mean to be 'involved' anyway?

I can answer the first question with one word: 'kids'. Kids are growing up in a world that is changing by leaps and bounds with technology year by year. We live in a world that passes information, ideas, and technology at astounding rates. Issues affecting our community are decided on by people who hold elected office, and those politicians represent us. They represent our opinions and values. They make decisions on the type of community we live and raise our kids in. Who those people are should be a great concern to us because they are forming the policy which shapes the community our kids grow up in.

Answering the question of what it means to be involved is simpler than you might think. Politics can be a confusing, painfully boring, aggravating subject. Recently I had a conversation with a mother of a young child. I wanted to introduce a local candidate to her preschool group of 50+ moms. She decided to cancel the meeting because it seemed to her, "Moms of preschoolers really are not that interested in Politics--especially local Politics." This statement concerned me greatly. We are missing the boat if we don't utilize the tools we have to elect people who will make good decisions for our communities. We need to know who they are, if they represent us, and how they are going to legislate. We need to be responsible as parents of people who have no public voice or ability to vote, and insure they live in a healthy community which reflects our values. Our local representatives are important because they make decisions literally in our backyards--directly affecting our lives.

Being 'involved' can mean you inform yourself on candidates for election, (there are some local and of course presidential in November 2012) and vote. Involvement can mean that you write emails, or phone  politicians holding office to let them know your opinion. Locally, you can show up for meetings for the City Council, City Planning and Development, School Board Meetings, or read summaries of meetings provided by the City of Issaquah website.   You may even give testimony to the WA State Legislature on subjects you're passionate about. Any of these things are becoming 'involved'--from simply voting to becoming an advocate. Even if you can't or choose not to vote, informing yourself and letting your opinion be heard to politicians is a way to be involved.  You may ask, "Do they really listen?" I can say they (politicians) do for the most part. Hey, if they don't --work to replace them! One politician said to me, "If a constituent (that's someone in their district) shows up in my office, I stop what I'm doing and listen to them. If they write me a letter, I write them one back myself." His reasoning was simple. "I was elected to serve. How would I be doing my job if I didn't listen to the people who put me here?" Politicians may not do what one or two of us want, but when more of us speak and say predominately the same thing, it makes a difference. 

It is my intention in offering this blog, to provide tools for involvement, give factual, unbiased, understandable information on political activity in Issaquah districts, tell you who is running for election, and inform you on PTA issues.

Even if I'm not your Legislative Advocate, I hope that the information contained in this blog can inspire you to become more politically aware and at the very least, register to vote and vote in each election. 



If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.
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Maya Angelou