Wednesday, March 23, 2016

SPS This and That

Hillary Clinton's event at Rainier Beach High was a bit odd. There were hundreds of people waiting outside when I got there about ten to six. (I was press so I got in early.)  They had the event in the gym and had cordoned it off so much as to dilute the capacity by at least half.  Then, they allowed people in so slowly - over the course of 2+ hours - that they didn't even fill it .  There was room for at least 100 more people.

But the crowd was enthused and certainly included a fair number of young people (which is somewhat contrary to whom she seems to gather in other areas of the country.)  She did mentioned Rainier Beach and its IB program saying, "It makes me so proud to see what this school is doing with the IB program." I certainly think there is pride in the turnaround at RBHS but the fact that they have lost the principal who was the leader AND the district doesn't fully support the program financially makes those words ring a bit hollow.

She also said she "wants to be a partner with principals and teachers and students."

That was the extent of her talk about K-12 public education.  She did speak about student debt and wondered out loud why interest rates on loans for housing are so low compared to those for student loans.  She said she would work to refinance all student loans.

During the time I had to wait for Secretary Clinton, I did see my state senator, Jamie Pedersen, and his family waiting to see her.  Senator Pedersen and his husband, Eric, had their four young sons in tow (all SPS students) and we chatted about their experience.  I'll have to write a separate thread about issues at Stevens Elementary but it was a mixed bag from them.  They certainly do like their teachers, though.

I also heard on the radio that the legislature may just get finished by Friday.  That means that all those bills piling up on the Governor's desk might see some action.

Addressing that issue is the Times' Danny Westneat who I think does a good job in expressing the frustration that many of us feel.  (For some reason, I cannot get the link to attach.)

He references the Times' two-part series on what Massachusetts does for public education and how their outcomes are better.  He calls what is happening there "low-hanging fruit" but not to minimize what is happening but to point out the obvious - fully-funding schools as well as "preschool, more teacher training, more enrichment and special vocational classes." 

His suggestion? Shaming the legislature. I concur.


He goes on:

Maybe this can be the turning point of sorts, a moment that some reporter will look back on 20 years from now, as one of ours just did for another state, as the period Washington finally got its collective act together about supporting and improving its schools.

Barring that miracle, though, can we please just copy Massachusetts? 

Amen, brother.

Is the legislature "working?" Sure.  Are they getting enough done to really justify that term? I'd say no (with some notable exceptions like Rep. Gerry Pollet.)  And, are they getting their paramount duty done? Absolutely not and the next session is going to be one for the record-books in my judgment because they will finally - finally! - have to get McCleary done.

Also, the Mayor is having people RSVP for his Education Summit on April 30th - no cost but I think it is to gauge turnout and childcare/interpretation services.

Also to note, the City announced three more Seattle Schools will receive innovation grants for 2016-2017 via the Families and Education Levy - Muir Elementary, Leschi Elementary and Viewlands Elementary.

2 comments:

ciedie aech said...

"Innovative grants" Ooh, I've been through that scary euphemism for School Takeover myself. It is in fact, due to the theory that this type of "innovation" is necessary that old-school, highly-experienced teachers like me can no longer find work in our reform-money-greedy district....

mirmac1 said...

These grants introduce more hoops to jump thru, for expenditures the City decides have merit. City staff made clear to the board that "the ordinance states levy funds shall not 'supplant' district funds". So no help with textbooks or PD to support instruction; just City experiments, initiatives and data collection.