Monday, May 05, 2008

Missed Opportunity

This article appeared in today's Times. I had heard about this situation previous to the article; here's the problem in a nutshell from the article:

"Two Seattle high schools are among seven statewide that will lose a chance to add and strengthen Advanced Placement courses in math and science because a $13.2 million grant that Washington state won last year has been scrapped.

NMSI declined to give any specifics, but state Rep. Bill Fromhold, who resigned his legislative post as of next year so he could help administer Washington's grant, said it had to do with how teachers would be paid for the time they spent in training, and how they would receive incentives for how well students scored on AP exams.

NMSI wanted to pay teachers directly, he said, while Washington's collective bargaining laws require that teacher pay be negotiated between teachers unions and school districts.

"We worked hard to try to find middle ground," Fromhold said. But at the end of the day "we got caught in the middle of the grant requirements and the collective bargaining laws in the state of Washington that have to be followed."'

The two Seattle high schools involved were Franklin and West Seattle; each would have received about $114,000 the first year with more money from the grant in later years.

So even if Washington state has collective bargaining laws, couldn't the union and the district work this out for the good of the students? It's likely more complicated than I know but it seems sad to lose money for the infusion of rigor to our high schools as we move towards an assignment plan that will limit choice (and thus the need for equity among the high schools).


depthofspring said...
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Alex said...

That's so unfortunate that students whose families take the education that they can get (i.e. going to their local high school instead of shopping around) are going to be limited in their educational opportunities. Isn't this where the achievement gap begins, when schools in the same district are inequitable?

By the way, do you know much about the South End Initiative (SEI)? I want to return to Seattle and help, but I don't know what the program/initiative is about?

Charlie Mas said...

There will be an update on the Southeast Education Initiative at the Board meeting on Wednesday night.