Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Washington State Ed News

First Place Scholars, Washington's first charter school, has gotten a one week reprieve for its need to show the Charter Commission that they are stable and on-track.  Multiple issues had been found by the Commission including services for Sped and ELL students.

Interestingly, former WA state legislator Dawn Mason, who now heads FPS' Board, has taken a tough stance against the Charter Commission, saying that the fault lies with the Commission, not FPS.  Her thought pattern is that the CC allowed FPS to open too soon when they were not ready.  (This, of course, is somewhat puzzling considering FS had been open for two decades as a school.)  She says FPS was concerned and the CC is a late-comer to the issues at the school. 

On April 5th she said this about the work to be done by FPS:

That will of course mean they have to give us time to raise funds, test the new systems, stress test the structures, train our teachers to the measurement systems.

That does seem like a lot of work to have done by next Tuesday.

She even said:

It baffles us that the WA Charter Commission has shown so much bravado, even suggesting that their concern for our brown, black and poor children trumps ours.

Those are tough words.  But the Charter Commission is calling this the last chance for FPS. So, by the end of the day next Tuesday, the Charter Commission will have to make a decision about FPS.

The Senate Dems in the Legislature released their idea on funding McCleary and it's a capital gains tax.  At the same time, they want to reform local tax levies.  The Times reports that their plan would raise $1.7B for K-12 public education. 

It's a multi-layered approach whereby about 98% of citizens would see a property-tax reduction by reducing local levies while the capital gains tax would pay for higher teacher pay. 

The plan does include phasing in of I-1551. 

The Republicans are to release their ed funding ideas sometime today.

I agree (amazingly so but I think there is usually some common ground) with LEV who said at their website (this before the Dems announcement):

We must end the use of local levies to pay for state obligations to our schools and fund a rational salary and benefit system for our public school employees.

I also note that the Washington Budget and Policy Center has a top ten list of why our state needs an income tax.

Number 2: Our poorest families also face a higher effective state and local tax rate than those living in any other state. (source: ITEP)

Number 9: Washington is one of only nine states that that doesn’t tax capital gains, or profits from the sale of high-end corporate stocks and other financial assets. (Source: "A Capital Reform" policy brief)


mirmac1 said...

I see the FPS Board will hold itself accountable for...nevermind.

Anonymous said...

Not sure capital gains proposal will fly. Not because of rich people's opposition. It also affects people like my retired neighbors who want to sell their home of 40 years and will have to pay capital gains to the Feds because their home is now worth more than 500K ( (>250 K for individual). I doubt they'll want another state tax on top. Ironically, they're moving because of the high cost of living in Seattle.

We do need to collect more tax dollars. That means go after the corporate pork too - all them tax breaks.
What happened to the lotto money? What about the
F&E levy money? Just don't see the best use of what money we do have. It makes me wonder and I'm the kind of voter who was idiotic enough to vote for the monorail x2. And voted for transit levy just to see my bus route almost eliminated, but now back on much reduced schedule (like this AM- one bus doesn't show up and next bus we are sitting 3 to a seat and leaving people behind and LATE for work. Grrrr).

Interesting said...

I am finding Dawn Mason's comments interesting. Here is her profile:

Director, Charter School Development
First Place
April 2013 – October 2013 (7 months)Seattle, WA
Direct the transition of First Place from a private non tuition school to a public charter School serving very poor children and providing wrap around services for their parents. Develop strategic partnerships for external and community support.

Interesting said...

I will also add that the pro-charter folks were in a big hurry to open charter schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, Dawn Mason had been scheduled to be on the Board for a Gulen charter school but that never made it past the Charter Commission.

Charlie Mas said...

It's kind of ironic that First Place, which existed for years as a private school, tried to make itself more financially secure by becoming a charter school, but the change to a charter school now looks like it will be the cause of the school's quick closure.

n said...

I believe in educational supports for all children. However, this sped and ELL situation never seems to end. Does anyone have a template for what a successful program looks like for these kids and is it up and running anywhere?

No judgment here. Just intellectual curiosity.

mirmac1 said...

There are schools in the district where Sped is working - in spite of JSCEE. it takes an extraordinary principal and willing teachers, both Sped and GenEd

n said...

Extraordinary principal? Where? Extraordinary is a tough requirement. I still have to ask what's the template? We can't expect extraordinary in every school and position. It's just not realistic. Nor can even extraordinary people be counted upon to be extraordinary all the time. That is just not reasonable, mirmac.

If there is a school that is working, how are they doing it? We need a reasonable template that is realistic for all schools.

mirmac1 said...

Extraordinary as in knowing and implementing the letter and spirit of IDEA. Unfortunately they are few and far between.

Anonymous said...

Maple Elementary School is a highly functioning, great south-end school.

- two cents

Anonymous said...

Yep there are clandestine SPED operations that are providing reasonable intervention for there current SPED population. They are most likely K-5. Our kids in poorly performing K-5 or middle and High school are not receiving anything close to reasonable intervention. I don't believe they ever will. Lets all just step over the imaginary line everyday and pretend the past never happened.

Sleazy evangelist

Anonymous said...

Yep. There you go again - with the grammatical mistakes and the crypticism. But, I disagree with Mirmac. There are no extraordinary principals. There are a few principals who should earn a B or B+, if they were students. Sped can't ever be better than the gen ed that it's a part of. And really. Are there any "extraordinary" programs?


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

No template. Nothing extraordinary.

Here are some pretty common sense approaches though. BTW, these strategies work in everday life, even on this blog. For those who work in trauma zone and emergency services, they need to be aware of these symptoms within themselves. I add teachers/staff working in these challenging conditions to that mix. Challenging conditions aren't just working in hi risk schools with vulnerable and at risk students, but having unsupportive bosses, unreasonable expectations given lack of meaningful tools/ support/training to do one's job well. Burnout, stress, and fear add to the volatility and affect behavior and judgement. That's why you see everything from neglect, indifference, carelessness to harmful actions and failing not just yourself, but the very people you serve.


Anonymous said...

Reader are you always so abrasive?


Anonymous said...

Relaxed: I am curious. What (well, other than the words "the grammatical errors and") was so abrasive in reader's comments. While I sometimes find reader abrupt (or maybe even tetchy), today's comments mostly just feel to me uncomfortably true.

I think reader is correct in saying -- really, we can't require (because we won't ever succeed in maintaining) a system where the only way our kids win is if some "extraordinary team" of teachers and principals materializes. That doesn't happen with regularity (if it did, it wouldn't be extraordinary), and if it IS extraordinary, it cannot be maintained (teachers/principals move, retire, have a "down year" due to family problems, etc.). It almost feels like the charter school/TFA pitch -- we will get these wunderkinds in, they will be extraordinary blazes of light, and then they will flame out -- but never mind, we will replace them with the next blazing hot temporary star. (Not a great example, I know, because the TfA kids often are not even extraordinary (in anything other than time commitment and cluelessness as to the task at hand) even while they are there). But if I understood right, reader's point was -- that is not a sustainable model. At BEST you get SPED programs "as good" as the rest of the programs (I think that in many cases, SPED is currently much WORSE -- but that is a result of lots of management, staffing, funding, and vision issues).

mirmac: I also have a question for you. Readers comments made me wonder if I haven't been so beaten down by a systems that consistently and chronically refuses to rise to the challenge of properly assessing my kid's needs, and then making reasonable accommodations so that he can learn -- that I have (without being aware of it) lowered my standards and come to see "B or B plus efforts" -- (what I would characterize as bringing one's A game most of the time, but not always -- and generally doing a good job) as "extraordinary." Not to bad mouth B or B plus. But what it maybe would mean is that I have shifted the entire scale, and thus am subconsciously allowing what are outright FAILING efforts to go by without challenge -- as low C or high D efforts -- when those teachers/administrators ought to be flat out fired. Do you see this as something that occurs? SPED parents so thrilled with competence that they see as "incredible" what they should have viewed as just reasonably good service?

Finally, reader, I also appreciated your comments with regard to what happens to those who deliver care or teaching in high stress situations where they "have unsupportive bosses, unreasonable expectations, . . .[a] lack of meaningful tools/ support/training. . . ." No one wants to give teachers and caregivers a "pass" to treat kids poorly -- but as we heap blame on teachers who fail to live up to standards, I think I at least too often don't fault myself for being part of the economic and political system that fails to give those teachers the assets they needed to perform better in those situations.

Too often, building and district leaders seem to think that "good management" consists of just getting tough and telling staff to somehow "deal with" stuff and to not bother them. This happens at all levels of government, and in large corporations as well. It is NEVER good management practice. At best, it leads to chronic bad delivery of services, cynicism, burnout and high turnover. At worst, you wind up with catastrophic failures that management never saw coming, because no one would risk (or thought it worthwhile) asking for help.


Anonymous said...

The "very best" SPED programs, are those in which the SPED students do as well as the other students in the same school, relative to their ability. Then, you have to consider - are the non-disabled students getting "extraordinary" service? (not usually) If not, then there's no way SPED can be extraordinary. And Jan is right, SPED service on par with other service - happens very infrequently. Usually SPED families endure countless compromises to their integrity and to the progress of their students. People think they have "extraordinary" - but only if they ignore compromises they have made over years, or that others have made. Often, families wish to forget about what they have endured and are thankful for the what they have been able to get.

I've been around a while, and I've never met any principal I would call "extraordinary", and certainly never one that is "extraordinary" for SPED. There are some "good" ones. We don't believe in grade inflation for students, so good principals will be earning a B+. But really, how can very many principals ever get to be "good", when they keep their job for 3 years, or so? Very few of us would be "good" at our job after 3 years.


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