Thursday, June 17, 2010

UW School of Social Work honors Rep. Pettigrew with 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award

Since 1989, the University of Washington’s School of Social Work has recognized a Distinguished Alumnus or Alumna for their continued commitment to promoting social and economic justice. The award is presented to alumni who have shown distinction through outstanding service or innovation in clinical casework practice, social work administration, scholarship and research, education, professional leadership, community and public service, or advocacy.

This year, state Rep. Eric Pettigrew, a 1987 UW Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate, was honored for his excellence and achievement in advocacy.

As a child, thoughts of attending a four-year university were just as difficult to imagine as becoming a state representative. For Pettigrew, excelling beyond the challenging circumstances of his youth has been a product of family support, determination and education. Raised in South-Central Los Angeles, Pettigrew didn’t have to read the newspaper to find out about the latest muggings, shootings and other acts of gang violence – a significant amount of it took place in his own neighborhood.

In 1987, Pettigrew not only graduated with a MSW degree from the University of Washington, but also with a newfound hope for improving the lives of underprivileged and underrepresented individuals and communities. “At that moment, more opportunities than I had ever imagined were within reach,” Pettigrew said. “I knew it was time to get to work and show young people that where you start in life doesn’t have to determine where you’ll finish.”

Since receiving his MSW, Pettigrew has worked in a variety of jobs in government, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. He worked as Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety to Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, a recruiter to increase diversity in the UW School of Social Work, and the director of the Minority Youth Health Project, which reduced teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates in Seattle.

Among Pettigrew’s numerous legislative achievements, he has secured funds to prevent youth violence, as well as supported an in-depth look at inequities and disproportionality among minority youth in education. Pettigrew also serves as the Chair of the House Health & Human Services Appropriations Committee, and he has been selected to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform.

Revenue forecast shows we're down $207 million

Last week, our state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released a revenue update showing us that revenue is starting to pick up but we're still billions below where we were pre-recession. This is a problem for nearly every state in the nation with state legislatures nationwide about $52 billion below 2008 levels.

This morning the ERFC gathered to hear Chief Economist Arun Raha's predictions for what will happen moving forward. Raha's forecasts help legislators gauge how we're doing with both our current 2009-11 budget and gives them a sense of what we're up against for the next 2011-13 biennium.

For the current biennium, General Fund-State (GF-S) revenues are expected to decline by $206.8 million. (GF-S revenue does not include any federal money, which usually comes with plenty of strings and is dedicated to specific programs. GF-S is the pot of money over which the Legislature has the most control.)

For next biennium, forecasted GF-S revenues will increase by $197.4 million.

Dr. Arun Raha, the Executive Director of the council, attributes these changes to a number of factors.
  • Since the February 2010 revenue forecast, actual GF-S collections are $38.5 million lower than forecast.
  • The most recent announcement of job creation in the nation have been very bleak.
  • Washington state’s retail sales were actually lower last month than the month before – indicating a lack of consumer confidence.
  • Car sales have not been very optimistic – consumers are not replacing vehicles.
With this drop in revenue, the state’s current projected GF-S ending fund balance is $247.3 million. In addition, there will be $5.8 million in the Budget Stabilization Account (Rainy Day), bringing the total reserves to $253.1 million.

What is still unresolved is whether the U.S. Congress will approve the extension of enhanced Medicaid funding (called FMAP). The 2010 supplemental budget assumed Washington State would receive an additional $480 million beginning in January 2011. If this funding is not forthcoming, the state will face a budget shortfall in the current biennium. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today on a revised amendment to H.R. 4213 that retains the six months of additional FMAP assistance for states.

Resources: Council handouts:

Council press release:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seattle will be nation’s #2 city over next decade

In terms of “growth and growth potential” in the next 10 years, nobody outside of Austin, Texas will do better than Seattle.

That’s according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, which ranked Seattle second in their July 2010 report on the best cities in the nation. They believe innovation will be key, and in their summary, quote UW’s own Mark Emmert:
After researching and visiting our 2010 Best Cities, it became clear that the innovation factor has three elements. Mark Emmert, president of the University of Washington in Seattle, put his finger on two of them: smart people and great ideas. But we'd argue that it's the third element -- collaboration -- that really supercharges a city's economic engine. When governments, universities and business communities work together, the economic vitality is impressive.
House Democrats are well aware of the importance of innovation to our economy, and have pushed it with Innovation Partnership Zones, and work in the Community and Economic Development and Trade committee which oversees economic strategic planning.

Emmert asserts Seattle has "smart people and great ideas," then the article adds:
Those same attributes drive the Seattle economy, which is preparing for takeoff after hitting a few hard bumps over the past several years, especially in real estate, manufacturing, construction and retail. One shiny new prospect: Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a commercial airplane that the company says flies farther and uses 20% less fuel than similar-size aircraft.
It's not clear that we're out of the woods with this recession, but it is clear that House Democrats are working to create jobs and that our economy is something to be proud of.

Link to article: Kiplinger's Best Cities 2010: Seattle, Wash.

High school grad test scores hold steady

Randy Dorn, our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, just finished rolling out this year's statewide results for the High School Proficiency Exam.

Of the 69,142 12th grade students tested:
  • 94 percent passed the reading and writing sections
  • 69 percent passed math. The math scores have dropped a few percentage points in the past two years.
  • More than 20 percent of students met their math graduation requirement by earning two credits of math in 10th grade.
The class of 2013 will be the first required to pass reading, writing, math and science to graduate and won't have the option of graduating by earning extra math credits.

Dorn's opening remarks included a reminder that the scores only pertain to those students with enough credits to graduate. The results show relatively high passing rates for students who make it all the way through high school, but much work remains to reduce the drop-out rate and shrink the persistent achievement gap.

Dorn also expressed concern about the timing of the new end-of-course exams in algebra and geometry that next year's sophomores will have to complete. Most students complete Algebra I and Geometry in 8th and 9th grade, so next year's sophomores will be taking an end-of-course exam one or two years after completing the courses. Dorn is hoping the Legislature will adopt a fix for that. Passage of end-of-course exams in Algebra 1 and Geometry are graduation requirements for the classes of 2013 and beyond.

Dorn also remarked that while we're making gains in science scores, the fact is science is not taught on a daily basis in all grades the way reading, writing and math is. This is another issue the Legislature should address.

These slides provide more details. Scores for the Measurement of Student Progress (MSP), given to students in grades 3-8, will be available in late August.

Goings on in Olympia

Right now, the Governor's Government Management, Accountability and Performance group is discussing the state's use of federal Recovery Act stimulus dollars.

At 10, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will discuss the latest statewide High School Proficiency Exam (HPSE) scores. This is the test approved last year to replace the WASL.

Also meeting at 10 is the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC). Of ongoing interest will be their final report about school district cost and size. The committee will also discuss what looks to be an interesting preliminary report on the Department of Early Learning, a relatively new agency devoted entirely to increasing quality and access to early learning for all the children in our state.

Tune in to TVW to watch it all. We'll provide an update on Dorn's report later today.