For the past couple weeks it seems that the Seattle Times editorial page has been given over to discussion of Education Reform. Lots of "guest columns" and editorials, most on the side of Reform (but without every saying how these reform-inspired changes will actually improve student outcomes), but some trying to bring the focus back to the real work.
Here's a recap:
Time for Seattle Public Schools and teachers to partner in steps toward reform
This is just dreadful. The District and the union had partnered on an evaluation - then the District threw it out. They are not good partners.
Seattle, speak up for children as Seattle Public Schools contract negotiations go on by Norm Rice. He doesn't say, however, to whom people should speak up. He is also really focused on the teachers' contract and pays no mind to how students are taught or even the principals' contract. Definitely pro-reform, and pretty thoughtless. Mr. Rice writes: "What's at stake in this year's talks are the policies at the heart of education reform in our country." I would agree. For some reason, the Education Reform proponents think that student outcomes can be improved through the teachers' contract instead of through teaching.
Want more school funding? Bring more transparency by Lynne Varner. I'm not entirely sure what Ms Varner is saying here. She seems to say that supplemental levies would get more votes if people knew what the districts are going to do with the money and what the districts did with the money they already have. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If people knew how districts spent their money and how districts intended to spend the supplemental levy, they would reject it, not approve it. The story of district spending is not a good story and it won't win votes. The districts are politically astute to keep their spending obscured from the public's eye and understanding.
Why teach in a system that rewards test scores rather than passion? by Wayne Grytting. A teacher's explanation that the best teachers are motivated by things other than student test scores and cash, so Education Reform has chosen measures and incentives that mean nothing to the best teachers.
Washington state sank to near the bottom in Race to The Top byt he Times Editorial Board. The Times says that the state's application for RttT cash was hobbled by "a ponderous application lacking credible and specific plans". Wow! That sounds EXACTLY like the Education Reform crowd here in Washington. They are the kings and queens of Edu-babble. The State didn't get the teachers' unions on board. Wow! That sounds EXACTLY like the Education Reform crowd here in Washington who only know how to push people and don't know how to pull them. "Goals around increasing the numbers of teachers in mathematics, science, special education and other hard-to-staff subjects were dismissed as weak because they included no steps for achieving them or benchmarks by which progress could be measured." Wow! That sounds EXACTLY like the Education Reform crowd here in Washington - goals without plans or metrics are what they do best. Let's remember that this failed application was written by the local Education Reform crowd. They alone are responsible for it.
I guess the Times suddenly caught Education Reform fever because the teachers' contract is being negotiated and teacher contracts, for some completely inexplicable reason, are at the heart of Education Reform efforts. It is all a tempest in a teapot, of course. The teachers' contract will not be negotiated in the newspaper or by any of the people who have written about it. The Times, like Norm Rice, wants to speak up, but no one who matters is listening.