Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Interesting Education Op-Eds in the PI

This op-ed is by Rep. Glenn Anderson about supporting (and funding?) a good public education system. I like his points:

  • Dedicating a "Fund Education First" budget that is agreed to and funded before any other state spending is authorized.
  • Reviewing our state's achievement-testing approach, and a recommitment to achievement testing that is rigorous, globally competitive and trusted by parents and teachers.
  • Eliminating the current seniority-based teacher compensation model and requiring a skills and knowledge compensation model to recruit and retain the best young people to be our highly qualified teachers.
  • Improving guidance-counseling services to ensure kids, parents and teachers know what our education expectations are and what their options and resources are to achieve them.
  • Requiring that career and technical education and college bound education pathways are equally encouraged and supported in our schools.
  • Reforming English language learning programs to ensure that no child is left behind.
  • Ensuring school transportation spending reform is a priority."

  • Someone did point out in the comments section that he used the term "best young people" to be teachers and that it is illegal under age discrimination laws.

    But where's the money for this? The governor says no education talk this session. The Times opined a week or so ago the same thing.

    "Spending for K-12 education ought to stay steady, with an eye toward making good on current priorities and promises. This is not the time for new ideas or spending to come bounding in from left field, or right.

    Improving mathematics instruction and ensuring struggling students have access to academic help, from tutoring to summer and evening school, are priorities from last session that ought to flow into this one.

    Education-related efforts that don't require new spending include improving data collection among school districts and mandatory recess for elementary students. Fresh air and exercise are free; literacy efforts have proven their value."

    I hate to break it to them but improving data collection and mandatory recess DO cost money and time. There is no easy out.

    Another op-ed on a different vein by parent, Greg Fritzberg. From his piece:

    "The relationship between democracy and schooling is part of our national history. "I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves," Thomas Jefferson argued. "And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control ... the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform [them] by education."

    He goes on:

    "How do parents' school choices specifically relate to democratic principles? A particular private school might seem to fit our child best, but there is a cost to educated and caring families divesting themselves from our city's school system. By choosing private over public schools, or public schools in more affluent areas simply because we assume the education is better there, we may limit our children's exposure to differences of appearance, culture and opinion.

    Every child and every school is unique. I can't moralize here because I don't know what I'll do myself if our first choice isn't granted, but addressing civic alongside more individualistic concerns feels important. King envisioned an authentic democracy that celebrated diversity because it strengthened character. Most of us aren't King's moral equals, but we can let his life and message shape our school deliberations in the coming weeks."


    Anonymous said...

    I read the piece Mr. Fritzberg wrote, and I agree with him and it is one of the main reasons we went public, but I will go a step further and argue that if we really want to strengthen our democracy we will go a step further and choose a school in our neighborhood that you can easily bike or walk to. On my street we have kids that attend 4 different schools. Two public and two private. My son has a five minute walk to and from his Seattle Public School elementary. Across the street the little boy is driven by a parent to a school three miles away. Two houses down from them the two children are taken across town (in a 45 minute drive) to a private school that offered their children "more freedom to learn what they choose". I wonder if they figured what free time their kids gave up, in the collective 4 hours of sitting in a car that they are doing per week.
    Last a "gifted" youngester gets on his almost empty bus at 8 am for Lowell to face a almost hour bus ride each way.
    If you look at Seattle houses there are big houses mixed in with small cottages. The rich tend to own the bigger bungalows while we live in a two bedroom cottage with our kids. But we all live in the same neighborhood. My neighbors are plumbers, grocery clerks, nurses, doctor and lawyers but none of our kids play together because they don’t know each other. They would know each other if we had a common interest in making our neighborhood school strong. Make the Green choice, and the democratic choice, and attend a neighborhood school that your child can walk to and you can be involved in.
    cs-whittier parent

    Charlie Mas said...

    I agree with the Times. Let's not take on any new education spending promises until we make good on current priorities and promises., such as "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex."
    - Washington State Constitution, Article IX, Preamble.

    dan dempsey said...

    Hey Charlie,

    What might ample provision be... ???

    I see that Alaska's Governor is seriously considering a longer school year. He said the US school year of 180 days is not competitive with other countries some with 220 day school years.

    If the world is flat..
    If education is important..
    If the US has a very short schoolyear..
    If education is the paramount duty of the state....

    Then why do we have a 180 day poorly funded school year in Washington?

    The answer is because
    The Paramount Duty of the state
    exists only on Paper not in Reality

    Anonymous said...

    I want to be able to have my kids walk or bike to school. However, Seattle parents seems to be moving away from this model and not living by our own "green" standards when it comes to picking a school. How many of you out there picked a school your child can walk to?
    I bet we are the same people who don't think the city, State and National leaders are doing enough to combat greenhouse gases.

    Anonymous said...

    Please don't confuse us. In this blog, you can only care deeply about one issue and you can't ever see the interconnectedness of the choice system with creating weaker neighborhood schools.

    Now, in addition to weaker schools, families who do not choose their neighborhood school are also contributing to more green house gas production, and as we know greater peril for the polar bears that our kids are trying to save at places like Pathfinder, Salmon Bay and Lowell. None of which have a neighborhood base of kids.

    Alternative is not the Green answer. Is this irony???

    Anonymous said...

    I absolutely chose an elementary school we could walk to. I also chose to live in a neighborhood where there are several great elementary schools. But honestly, not everyone has that choice. And that is what free school choice in Seattle is all about, to me. Yes, it would be wonderful if every neighborhood school was just as good as any other and all kids could walk to school with their neighborhood friends, but it just is not the case.