Thursday, February 12, 2009

PTA Focus Day in Olympia

This from the League of Education Voters:

PTA Focus Day 2009 – Thursday, February 26th
  • Activities begin at 9 AM
  • Rally on the Capitol Steps from Noon to 1 PM
  • Focus Day events conclude at 4 PM
  • Detailed Agenda
The time is now to fix our broken school finance system.

The stakes could not be any higher for the future of our children. Policymakers are considering legislation that would redefine basic education and fund what our children really need. It is time to raise our voices to show how much we care about our kids and schools so:
  • Every child is ready for kindergarten;
  • Every child is able to read by third grade;
  • Every child has an excellent teacher in the classroom; and
  • Every child graduates from high school ready for college, work and life.
We can change the outcome of children’s lives across our state by improving our education system. Let’s make sure our legislators hear how important it is to fulfill our state’s paramount duty.

Register online to participate in the PTA’s Focus Day 2009.

If you are unable to attend, send an e-mail to your legislators.

17 comments:

MathTeacher42 said...

This is another UNFUNDED mandate.

I've had over 1000 hours of 'training' since I started this math teacher thing in the Fall of 2003. Maybe 50 hours of the training was of any use for me in my class and with my kids today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

We already have PLENTY of unfunded untested powerpoint magic wand solutions from people trained by our colleges and universities to be a Big Man at the ... Yalta conference!

What we need are ideas which have been costed out in time and paid for in money, and, oh, by the way, will actually help our kids -- instead of helping the careers of wanna be Yalta consultants with their magic powerpoints.

Help me teach our kids math, NOT fill out more paperwork.

NO on HB1410.

Bob Murphy

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

The PTA thinks that these bills will "fund what our children really need"? Are you kidding?

These bills do not raise one dime for education. They change the formula for compensating teachers, change provisional contracts, and change licensing requirements, but they do not provide for new education revenue.

In other words, they do not address the one thing that would our help students. Not one thing in these bills will help my students to learn.

On the contrary, the cuts that are coming from the legislature--cuts that are partly the result of the legislature's past failures to fix the revenue problem--will impede my students' learning because support programs that help them will be disappearing. For example, all Pathways teachers were informed this week that they'll be displaced because the program is not "budgeted." How do these bills address that?

Melissa Westbrook said...

It is really good to hear from teachers on this issue. I-728 is an unfunded mandate that has come and gone at will AND was not always used for what parents thought they were voting for (lower class sizes).

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Pathways classes are smaller classes. When they are eliminated, regular classes will get bigger.

sp said...

I-728 funds have been used in many Seattle schools to fund all day kindergarten, and did NOT go to lowering class sizes at all!

At the high school level, these funds are used often to pay for teachers for the 6th period (unfunded by the state also). On our high school's budget, the I-728 fund line item is listed by the district as "Discretionary." Where is the accountability in the current system, and how does it directly lower class size?

Full-day K and 6-periods should be built into the "fully funded" education of our students, not as an add-on only "when funds are available". These things are built into the new Basic ED bill, guaranteed for our kids. There's a lot of misinformation being put out by the teacher's unions against the bill- Everyone should read the whole 150+ pages and don't trust what the SEA & WEA are posting.

Also, from my understanding, Pathways (help for kids at risk for not passing the WASL) was not funded by I-728, but was a "centrally funded program", just like this year's Career Specialist. That's why both of these programs are at risk with the budget cuts for next year. Word is that Pathways will be totally cut from all Seattle school budgets next year. Does any one have any information about this?

zb said...

I was completely unimpressed with the League of Education Voters "talking points" on the bills. They did not help me differentiate or understand between the plans at all. And, in fact, the public stance against the WEA position has me concerned about my involvement with the League at all.

I do not believe that the WEA is always right, but I think education plans that are strongly opposed by the WEA are unlikely to be successful. If the stakeholders don't work cooperatively, we'll never get anything positive.

(and, I am not a teacher, nor am I a public school parent).

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

Senate Bill 5444 and House Bill 1410 are based on the amazing, solid work on the Basic Education Funding Task Force. These bills re-define BASIC education to a REAL basic level -- as opposed to what the state calls "basic" now, which is not even minimal (25% of Seattle School's budget comes from the local levy).

It is important to support these bills because they focus on the needs of children instead of a formula based on number of bodies in seats. They also provide a more ample, straightforward and financing system (the current system is hopelessly complex).

The WEA (teacher's union) has been spreading many half-truths about 1410/5444. They say the bills "take away" I-728 money. But in reality the bills make I-728 money into part of BASIC ed -- so initiatives like 728 become obsolete.

The WEA and some frightened teachers are against the bills because the bills include a new way of compensating teachers. Starting salaries for new teachers would be substantially higher, and salary increases would be based on performance reviews. Also -- those teaching in high-skill areas like math and science would be paid higher wages so that talented math/science professionals could be attracted away from the private sector. Existing teachers can opt into the new system and receive higher pay if they are willing to play by the revised rules.

The union is having trouble seeing that what's in these bills is the way of the future. The WEA should come to the table and negotiate with our legislators to craft a bill they can live with instead of yelling and running scared.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that the State Legislature come up with a new -- 21st century -- definition of "basic" education for Washington State. That's why these bills are so important right now.

Parents and with-it teachers -- please click on the link in Melissa's orignial post to write your legislators in support of 1410and 5444!

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

re: SP

This year Pathways is funded by a combination of I-728 money and LAP (Learning Assistance Program) money. The LAP money was a one-year grant. Don Kennedy has expressly linked the cut in I-728 money to a cut in Pathways.

The current working plan is to cut all Pathways teachers and retain the Pathways deans. The deans will be funded as part of the WSS formula. Without classes for deans to place students in, the deans will effectively have no real function except tracking students. However, students aren't helped by tracking; they're helped by instruction.

Here is a little question that goes unanswered. The Strategic Plan calls for 95% of 10th graders passing the Reading WASL by 2012-2013. Okay, the WASL is going away, but it will be replaced by another graduation exam. The current population of high school students with "limited English proficiency" in Seattle is 10.8%. So how does the district propose to meet a 95% pass rate for any graduation exam, especially after they've eliminated reading support classes?

What do people really think is going to happen if Pathways is eliminated? Okay, so maybe you don't like I-728 money going to Pathways. What is a plausible alternative?

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

re: Isabel

The Washington Learns committee was supposed to define broad goals for education reform in Washington state and propose a stable funding structure for public education. However, the committee kicked the funding issue to the Basic Funding task force. The task force was supposed to restructure the compensation formula and propose a stable funding structure for public education. Again, it did the former, not the latter.

So here we are: we have a big budget crisis, programs for our most vulnerable students are getting cut, and there is no plan for raising revenue for education. And we're suppose to embrace these bills from the legislature?

How does changing my compensation formula help me teach my students? Look, we can talk all we want to about compensation packages. Show me the money. Show me the money for educating our most vulnerable students. Show it to me.

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

It makes sense to me that if you want to fund a new definition of "basic education", you should first provide the definition.

It's the state's paramount duty to amply fund education (see the Preamble to the State Constitution). But the state has lost sight of what "an education" means. The state only funds 75% of "an education" in Seattle!

The point of bills 1410 and 5444 is to re-focus state government on what "education" includes. This is a great time to address the DEFINITION and leave a money discussion for later.

WEA has been spreading the "hope-is-not-the-answer" rhetoric long enough. They need to get with the program. I, for one am hopeful that a new definition of basic education will put our state on the right road to providing a realistic amount of education to State students.

emeraldkity said...

At the high school level, these funds are used often to pay for teachers for the 6th period (unfunded by the state also). On our high school's budget, the I-728 fund line item is listed by the district as "Discretionary." Where is the accountability in the current system, and how does it directly lower class size?

I have been told by Carla Santorno, that this a 6th period) is funded by the district. ( however- senior year- my daughter had only 5 classes, including working as a TA, because ?-
( Ask me sometime what color I turned when I found out that two of her classes had been cut mid term-by the district she had been enrolled in the Global Technology Academy and also assisted in another period with younger students as T.A>

Site based management does allow for I-728 money to be used for things beside class size reduction. I don't always have a problem with it being used for teacher training- HOWEVER- I would like to see some followup on teacher training- and feedback on what is actually relevant and effective, rather than just something that looks adequate on paper.

Re: Pathways: My daughter participated in the Pathways program junior year. It was very well run.

As far as I could tell, this program did not reduce class size in other electives, but while she did have an IEP for 6 years- and the school received state and district funds to address her individualized education plan, there was no accountability and no followup from school/district/state. ( I had her removed from IEP in middle school- when I saw that this tracking wasn't helping her & possibly was harming her)

In Pathways- her individualized needs were addressed and she graduated from high school with honors. ( and was accepted to all the colleges to which she applied-)

I knew at one time how Garfield paid for the Pathways program-( but I only can retain so much info!)
The Garfield PTA is also well funded and provides support for students in many areas- however- not every school has such a successful PTA & those students need our help as well.

I have seen Pathways as a program that is accountable and has proven results- ( which is more than I can say for some of the programs schools spend money on)

emeraldkity said...

Every child is ready for kindergarten;

Every child is able to read by third grade;

Every child has an excellent teacher in the classroom; and

Every child graduates from high school ready for college, work and life.


Ok I dont belong to a PTA anymore- since my youngest has graduated- but I am still involved in the schools- I volunteer at both Garfield in Seattle, attend community forums and volunteer in the Edmonds district @ Cedar Valley community school.

Re: the first goal- all well and good, but what does that mean? More Headstart funding? Better outreach to identify children with needs? CAMPI preschools?

Since children in this state are not required to attend kindergarten ( my oldest never attended) and I haven't seen many public kindergartens that are appropriate developmentally- I have questions about this goal.

The second goal- well ,my first taught herself to read @ three- but my 2nd didn't know letter sounds in third grade which was a neurological issue-not lack of opportunity- and increased attention doesn't make kids develop faster ( ever heard the term " a watched pot never boils? ")
I haven't seen forcing children to do something before they are ready as being a very good use of time & can have negative repercussions.

( she did learn to read by the end of third grade however- by following along in Harry Potter, while the teacher read to the class after lunch- she now reads Hardy for fun) ?

Hard to argue with last two goals- but again what does that mean?
do states decide? voters? districts? Schools?

These are the requirements for graduation in Portland Oregon public schools

Credit Requirements:
4 English
3 Social Studies (Global/American Studies and Government/Economics)
3 Math (Including Algebra and Geometry Applications)
3 Science (Physical Science and Biology plus a Science credit that supports
the Student's Education Plan
2 Wellness
1 Pathway Focus
3 Credits or more aligned with Pathway Core
1 Senior Pathway Portfolio/Project
5 Elective Credits
25 Total Credits

Instead of 25 credits- Seattle asks for 20 & 5.5 are from electives

I want to see more money go directly into the classrooms. ( and accountability in the district)

But... I'd also like to see my property taxes go down, which one do you think will happen first?

MathTeacher42 said...

Ms. D'Ambrosia,

I'm almost 50. PLEASE show me WHERE in the American economy the management has really improved much of anything for anyone but themselves in the last 3 decades.

Has it happened it defense department procurement? Health 'care' delivery? The long gone steel industry? The auto industry? The transporation gurus who gave us Boston's Big Dig or Seattle's 150 million monorail project that consisted of hard drives filled with studies?

In education?

From the statistical abstract of the united states, here are some ballpark figures on money income:

about 185 million Americans have money income under $75,000 a year and about 22 million are over that amount,

about 80 million American families live on 75 grand or less and about 30 million live on more.

There is a great quote from Disraeli about two nations

"who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor"

Your comments about teachers in support of this bill, to me, reflect some kind of background around that well paid management class who've done well in the last 3 decades taking care of their place at the trough.

The justifications for this stuff are the kinds of justifications us bottom feeder 185 million working stiffs have been listening to for decades of re-orgs and leveraged buy outs and mergers and acquisitions and re-orgs and re-orgs ... yawn.

ANOTHER powerpoint!

We really don't need more fluffy high falutin latest greatest almost Marshall Plan Powerpoints -

we need ideas which are costed out and which are paid for, and, by the way

WHICH WORK.

Bob Murphy

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

Bob, Math Teacher,

I had to laugh at your comment:

"Your comments about teachers in support of this bill, to me, reflect some kind of background around that well paid management class who've done well in the last 3 decades taking care of their place at the trough."

Bob, I'm a reading tutor at an elementary school. But I guess you could say I've been in management because I was a PTA president for a couple of years. (I'm still laughing about my "place at the trough" -- you should know what I make!)

But also -- millions of working stiffs have been listening to decades of blah-blah-re-orgs, etc, etc, for one reason. They lack education. Give more people a relevant, world class education and you won't be able to keep them down.

Bills 1410 and 5444 go much further toward providing a REAL world-class education for Washington State students than anything in my memory.

Please re-consider support for these bills. Let's give kids an education so they can take their place at the "trough" instead of being uneducated victims!

Danny K said...

As I mentioned in one of the APP threads, I see a financial avalanche coming down on the state, and I don't think there will be much more money, if any, coming out the pipe any time soon. At least we're not in California, where the system seems to be totally busted.

That said, all the education experts I read seem to agree that the most important thing in a school is having high-quality teachers and letting do their jobs. I personally would be willing to sacrifice some of the money for smaller class sizes if it helps us recruit and keep better teachers. Of course, that's a big "if".

marry said...

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