A couple of NW education stories of interest.
First up, look who is leaving after one whole year as head of Oregon's public education system - Rudy Crew. No real surprise there. From Ed Week:
So, how have things turned out? There are a few answers to that, and
good variety among them. First, there's Rudy Crew. He's no longer on the
job, having resigned July 1 to take over as president of Medgar Evers
College in New York City. One of his biggest legacies seems to be a sour one:
the expenses he racked up while serving as the state's K-12 czar,
including a $1,118 taxpayer-funded trip to California to honor a former
colleague, and a four-hour course he taught at the University of
Southern California that resulted in a $552 bill to the Oregon public.
On the policy front, Crew sought $150 million for four key
initiatives, including preschool reading and regional centers for
teacher professional development, Betsy Hammond at The Oregonian notes, but lawmakers were unimpressed and gave him only a fraction of the cash he wanted.
What about school funding in general? It's a major headache—as Betsy
Miller-Jones, executive director of the Oregon School Boards
Association, told me in an interview last week, up to 40 percent of
districts have been on four-day weeks
to cope with budget cuts, with "huge class sizes" persisting to boot.
Lawmakers this year tried to resolve both K-12 finance and pension
issues at the same time, with a mixed result. They boosted education
funding over the 2013-15 biennium by $1 billion, with a twist. Of that
amount, $800 million is purely new revenue for public schools, but
changes to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), including
less-generous cost-of-living adjustments for both current and past
employees and an elimination of certain tax breaks, gives districts
fiscal relief amounting to an additional $200 million.
And about those class-size numbers: Lawmakers also approved a bill that would require a new study of student-to-teacher ratios, in response to concerns about class sizes reaching the mid-30s.
Oregon has issues getting its school fully funded and concerns over rising class sizes? Sounds very familiar. As well, bringing in a big name who is supposed to have the magic touch and turn things around? In the end, they all leave.
And guess who's in trouble with the feds over the NCLB waiver? Among several, Washington State and serves as a heads up for at least one thing the Legislature will be tackling in January. Again from Ed Week:
Kansas, Oregon, and Washington have been placed on "high-risk" status
and given one more year to get their teacher-evaluation systems on
track. Specifically, each of these states is struggling with
incorporating student growth into teacher ratings.
This is the first enforcement action federal officials have taken
since the initial waivers were issued early last year. Forty states plus
the District of Columbia (and a group of eight California districts)
have waivers from provisions of the NCLB law, including that 100
percent of students be proficient in reading and math by the end of the
2013-14 school year.
In letters sent to the states yesterday, the Education Department
spelled out more conditions they must meet during the coming school year
to keep their waivers. Mostly, federal officials want to see evidence
that these states are trying to meet their teacher-evaluation deadlines.
If these conditions are not met, then the ultimate penalty for each
state is losing its waiver and being forced back under NCLB as written.
The Obama administration's NCLB waivers—an answer to the failure of
Congress to rewrite the law—require that states implement
teacher-evaluation systems that incorporate student growth as a
significant factor, all on an aggressive federal timeline. States must
get their systems approved by the department during the first year of
Though each of the three states has failed to meet these
requirements, Education Department letters show each state is in a
Washington State is likely facing the heaviest lift. While its
teacher-evaluation system is in state law, that law also leaves it up to
individual districts to decide whether to include test scores in
teacher ratings. Federal requirements don't allow school districts to
have such discretion, so Washington will have to secure a change in
state law—which likely won't be an easy task given how controversial
teacher-evaluation debates are in statehouses across the country.
Nevertheless, the Education Department's letter says the state has "committed" to changing the law.
Nathan Olson, a spokesman for the Washington Department of Education,
noted that schools' chief Randy Dorn is an elected official, and a
former legislator. He has "great relationships with current legislators,
but there are 147 in our state. So we honestly don't know how tough it
will be to change the law." Olson said they're committed to changing the
law when the legislature meets again in January.