It was smallish, held right in the front lobby of the school, and crowded with reporters, staff and many education advocates including WEA's Mary Lindquist and Lisa Macfarlane of Democrats for Education Reform.
Also in attendance was Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel, Superintendent of Renton School District and 2011 Washington State Superintendent of the Year and someone I hope applied for Seattle's job. Steve Sundquist was there as well.
I was pretty happy with his plan. He starts with a simple two-pronged premise. The first is that 1 out of 5 kindergarteners will not graduate or not graduate on-time. The second is that there ARE innovations happening in Washington State and they must be expanded or duplicated.
Some of his ideas - students graduating with 21st century skills, closing the achievement gap, access for high school grads to post-secondary education or training for a career. So how to do that?
- create more innovation schools. He would create a competitive grant system called the Innovative Schools initiative for more work in science and arts programs. This will involve a strong outreach to the private sector and research institutions.
- improve performance through collaborative schools. Support the Collaborative Schools project (just passed by the Legislature) to help low-performing schools pair with a college or university.
- Learning through technology. Includes more public-private partnerships with Washington's businesses and research institutions, a taskforce of teachers, ed leaders, technology business leaders, students and citizens to look at ways to use technology in the classroom with training for educators, and more use of on-line tools
- Transition to Online Sources of Curricula that Meet State Standards. Picking up on a cue from Rep. Reuven Carlyle, less spending on hard-copy books and more use of online sources.
- Early-Learning. In-home visitations, RTTT Early Learning Challenge grant, serve more children, invest in all-day kindergarten and smaller class sizes for K-3rd grade.
- Recruit more teachers of color as well as teacher residencies in urban schools (pairing teachers with a university teaching program)
- Target chronically underperforming high schools in the state.
- Expand corps of dropout coaches, counselors and community outreach staff in the most high-need school districts.
- Expand after-school programs for schools with most at-risk students.
- Help students develop a career plan that may include internships, apprenticeships, college visits and enrichment programs.
- More Running Start and College in the High School programs.
- Put college within reach for more students
- Professional development for teachers, principals and superintendents.
- Giving a school report card for every school
- He believes that they couldn't do everything until the economy recovers. (At least he's honest.)
- Focusing on increasing the types of jobs that our state supports
- Reversing the trend of health care inflation (that he believes is eating into education spending)
- Sunset corporate tax loopholes that don't generate jobs (again, something that Reuven Carlyle sponsored and yet it died this session.
- More quality improvement and efficiencies in government
- An annual efficiency review to track progress and make corrections
It the hard, intimate working of educating every single student.
It's smaller class sizes when we know it will make the most difference. It's early childhood education that includes parent outreach. It's duplicating success. It's making sure that high school students get early intervention in several forms. It's a constant feedback loop of what is and isn't working.
I'll contrast his plan with Rob McKenna's next week. There is some overlap, some differing items but the biggest difference is that Inslee put forth some ideas of how to pay for his plan and McKenna doesn't offer much.