Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bergeson column in the Times

There is a column by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson in today's Seattle Times. It's titled "A critical juncture for education: Can our money match our vision?" and that seems to be the general topic of the piece.

Two things about this column really trouble me.

First, almost every word of it is fluff. The whole thing could be boiled down to this one paragraph:
The only way to maintain progress — to pursue our vision of a world-class education for all students, boost our competitiveness and reinvigorate our flagging economy — is to invest strategically and substantially in our education system.

And that's not really news, is it? Terry Bergeson wants the legislature to allocate more money to education. Wow. Stop the presses.

Second, although she says that we have a Vision for education in Washington State, she doesn't really describe it. I have to say that I'm not aware of any such Vision. Honestly, I don't think she has one. Lack of Vision should automatically disqualify her from this - or any - leadership position. More than that, if she expects people to rally round this Vision and open their checkbooks for it, I think she needs to put it out there over and over again.

This column would have been much better if she spent most of her words describing the Vision and promoting the Vision and then, at the end, asked for the money. As it was written, I read it through to the end and didn't remember a word of it. That hardly inspires spending.


Charlie Mas said...

I just thought of something else I don't like about this column. She says that this is a critical time, that we are at a crossroads. But is this time really any more or less critical than last year or the year before? Is it any more critical than next year? I don't think so. She's trying - pathetically - to whip up some sense of urgency when there is none. Those who care about education are worn out by the frenzied pitch of urgency that Ms Bergeson and others have tried to create for the past six years and those who don't care about education (the legislature) aren't feeling any more now than they ever did.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ms. Bergeson is on the ropes professionally. This column is a lotta nothing with two notable exceptions. One is this:

"This year and next, we face make-or-break decisions about public-school funding — decisions that will determine the strength of our work force, our economy and our quality of life for the next 20 years."

The problems with this sentence are that she talks about the work force and the economy and whatever quality of life means but she neglects to mention the strength of our citizenry. I want students to be well-education, not well trained. The business community wants trained people but our country needs well-educated people. The other problem is why 20 years? What is the magic in that number?

The other exception is the following:

"I believe the task force must address three key funding areas:

• Salaries and incentives to hire not only the best educators, but enough educators to reduce class sizes across the state;

• Programs to help struggling students and to keep them in school, challenge advanced students and prepare those students aiming to work in the trades and in technical fields;

• "Foundation" dollars for buying up-to-date books and online resources and technology that students need for the future; transportation; keeping the lights on; and student safety."

Class size? Interesting because I haven't heard a near peep from anyone in leadership on this issue for a long time.

Her second item for the taskforce amazes me because it actually covers most students and includes gasp! advanced learners and vocational education.

dan dempsey said...

I am tired of this failing direction and blatant manipulation of the law.

Leaders are often judged by results. .... but not in this State of do very little positive for kids. Actions are taken for the good of the adults not the kids

I would like to see legal actions taken to fix problems. The legislature passed HB 1906 which Dr Beregeson ignored in many ways.

The Math Standards were rejected by the Legislature and they wrote SB 6534.

Now Dr Bergerson is in the process of having both OSPI and the SBE ignore that law.

I took my $200 and filed a
complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief.


What a country where school boards and government agencies have little interest in following policies or laws.

I've written a letter to SBE

and HERE is the Complaint