Friday, September 04, 2015

Washington State Charter Law Struck Down

Today the Washington Supreme Court struck down the charter school law.


The portions of the I-1240 designating charter schools as common schools violate article IX, section 2 of the Washington Constitution and are invalid.  For the same reason, the portions of I-1240 providing access to restricted common school funding are also invlaid.  These provisions are not severable and render entire Act unconstitutional.

Told you so.

What is Being Said about Possible SPS Teachers' Strike

Update: City's statement about all-day camps at community centers with before/after school care for September 9, 10, 11.

End of update.

Parent Petition in support of teachers.

I want to start with the ever-smart Kellie LaRue who is a long-time watcher of this district and knows minutiae I couldn't even comprehend.

Now that there is a little extra money, it should go directly to the teachers. That should be a no-brainer.

In the case of SPS building staff, teachers and administrative staff, to say that they have been asked to do more for less, is very much an understatement. 

Teacher salaries have fallen behind as a result of six years of no COLA. At a bare minimum, a catch-up COLA should be a top priority.

Under the old Weighted STUDENT Formula (WSF), schools were funded based on every single student in the building. Under the current Weighted Staffing Formula, buildings are just allocated a certain amount of staff.

That change may not appear like much on the surface. However, when most of the SPS buildings are stuffed to the gills and then some, this budget change means that many schools have 10% fewer staff than if staffing were allocated by the number of students in the building.

I ran the numbers a few years ago and it was truly shocking. At my students' elementary school, I had calculated under the old formula, there would have been 5 additional adults in the building.

A comment from the Times' editorial that appeared today said this about those exhorting a judge to threaten to jail the teachers basically said, 
"Well, if a judge says he will jail striking teachers, then a union lawyer has the right to ask why members of the Legislature are not being jailing for refusing to do as the Supreme Court has said about McCleary."

SAT Scores Drop Nationally as WA State Participation Goes Up

Despite the lowest reported SAT scores nationally in 10 years, participation rates - across all groups in Washington State - continues to go up.

The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven’t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say. That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college.
Why is education reform hitting a wall in high school?” asked Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank. “You see this in all kinds of evidence. Kids don’t make a whole lot of gains once they’re in high school. It certainly should raise an alarm.
It is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline in SAT scores, but educators cite a host of enduring challenges in the quest to lift high school achievement. Among them are poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills that plague many urban neighborhoods.

Friday Open Thread

Well, there's a pending showdown over a strike in Seattle Schools.

An investigation into the shooting at the high school in Marysville has come out, this via the Seattle Times.  The 15-year old former girlfriend of the gunman and her lawyer had sought to block the texts and other messages between them leading up to the shooting.  It's sad reading.  While I know this is probably tough for her, justice requires that all involved, including the public, know not just what happened but why.  But it might be worth a discussion with your child about text messages that worry them and when to go to you or another adult.  Kids say a lot of wild things under duress - when should a kid take a friend (or significant other's) anguish seriously?

What's on your mind?

Thursday, September 03, 2015

SEA Likely to take a Strike Vote

From Twitter:

SEA has 5,000 members, hasn't gone to strike since 1985. "I think we know where the vote's going tonight," Phyllis Campano, union VP, says.

District statement released tonight:

Why I Believe in Teachers

Teachers working without pay because... education.  From the Christian Science Monitor:

The Chester Upland School District (CUSD) has struggled with economic and academic problems for years, but now a budget impasse in the state capital, combined with the explosive growth of public charter schools in the district, have conspired to put it on the brink of insolvency.

CUSD officials informed teachers and support staff last Thursday that they wouldn’t be able to make payroll for the start of the school year. That day, the roughly 200 members of the local teachers union voted unanimously to work without pay. Secretaries, school bus drivers, janitors, and administrators will also be working without pay. 

We all have decided to work without pay,” she continues. She starts to say “until” but then corrects herself. “As long as we can,” she says. “There is no ‘until.’ ”

A West Virginia high school teacher - alone and without anyone on the outside of her class knowing - saves entire class when teen gunman took over.  I'd like to think her decades of teaching - and knowing something about the teen mind - were what saved those kids.  Kind of like a Sully for the teaching profession (sorry, no TFA newbie could have done this).  From the Associated Press:

Common Core Cracking like an egg in NY State

Cracks in the Common Core push starting to get bigger.  Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State (bold mine):

Seattle Schools and the Teachers Contract: Where Are We?

Update: District Communications says "there are no negotiations today (Thursday), the union suspended them.  We are willing to meeting with them anytime."

End of update.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Update On Candidate Pinkham

I was notified that Scott Pinkham - a School Board candidate in District 1 - found that his e-mail has been incorrectly reported at the public disclosure website.  It is incorrectly listed  in the main area as:

But on his C1 form, the correct address is shown (and this is it): (updated and confirmed by Pinkham - you have to watch those "s" in the email address).

If you had been trying to contact Pinkham and received no answer, that may be why.

Rallies for Teachers TODAY

SEA Leadership - Please stop saying the School Board has anything to do with the contract negotiations.  You know they don't and yet your website persists in saying it.  The District's negotiating team is working with your team and the Board has zero input.