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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Gregoire Wants to Consolidate State Education

This is interesting. In a story in the Seattle Times, the Governor says she wants to create a new state "Department of Education" that:

...would absorb responsibilities currently held by a wide array of officials, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who oversees public K-12 education in the state. The new Education Department would be headed by a secretary, reporting to the governor.

She says:

"Today in our state, we do not have an education system," Gregoire said. "We have a collection of agencies that deal with the subject of education."

The Democratic governor said consolidating Washington's education efforts — "from preschool to the Ph.D." — would save time, money, and improve outcomes for students.

How can this be done?

Gregoire's plan could require amending the state constitution, which establishes the state superintendent's office. Amending the constitution requires a difficult two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature and public approval by statewide vote.

Good luck with that. I think streamlining state education efforts is fine. But she's proposing taking an elected official out of the mix and substituting someone she picks. The State Superintendent is not a real political job so putting in an appointed person makes me a little uneasy.

What do you think?

23 comments:

Patrick said...

What other agencies and offices would be merged into the Dept. of Education? The Times article doesn't say...

dan dempsey said...

There is currently an enormous infrastructure in place to protect the insane status quo decision makers from any accountability. No surprise that the Gov's plan does nothing to change that.

Charlie Mas said...

There is so little detail in this story in the Times that there is just no telling what the governor is looking to do.

Generally speaking, I suppose it is a sound idea to bring all of the various education agencies under one roof (pre-school, K-12, community college, and university). But who will be in charge, what authority they will take and all of the other critical details about how it would work and how it would work better than the current system, is simply unknown.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One commenter at the Times' site was annoyed about the lack of detail. Was this the fault of the reporter? Don't know. Or, was it the fault of the Governor rushing out an announcement that lacked a thought-out process (and answers to questions sure to be asked).

What was her motive then in this announcement?

wseadawg said...

More "businessspeak" from the Gov.

Consolidate. Streamline operations. Be leaner and meaner. Run more like a business. Blah, blah, BLAH. Which money grubber wrote her speech this time? Spilling over with rhetoric, but ghostly on details.

Yes, Gov, let's just have our entire education system online and turn all the brick and mortar into condos, why don't we?

More road apple philosophy from a worn out, over-tired, retread politician.

How about actual leadership once in a awhile from an actual Leader? How about making the case FOR education, instead of AGAINST every aspect of it, save for the tuition and profit? How about supporting teachers & parents instead of reminding us daily how we are all "failing" and God forbid, scoring behind totalitarian regimes on Standardized Tests!!

Watch closely as we lose all that once was a public right and duty under the banner of "Reform." Gregoire is clearly on board and ready to put the reins in one Czar's hands in Washington. Just like Arne Duncan in Chicago and now at the Dept of Ed.

If you care about public education, speeches like these should petrify you.

Syd said...

From the governor: More information can be found here.

Eric B said...

A couple of years ago, I told a lawyer from another state that we elect Supreme Court justices in Washington. He asked me if we also elect brain surgeons.

I get the idea of separating the educational system from the political establishment. But I really think that the skills required to win statewide election aren't the same as the ones required to be a good leader of OSPI. In theory, moving the position to an appointed one makes it so you can select for the qualities of running an educational system.

Then again, in theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, would the governor's position work? I dunno--I haven't even read the Times article.

seattle citizen said...

From Syd's link, the Governor's more detailed announcement, the first sentence under the heading reads thusly: "Governor Gregoire asked a group of business, nonprofit and government leaders to help her transform
Washington government."

Please please please tell me that the group wasn't Gates business, Alliance nonprofit, and Broad superintendent government leaders...

Please please tell me that "transform" is different from "Reform."

Please tell me that Washington government is still the people's government.

Andrew Davidson said...

David Brewster of Crosscut weighs in here.

seattle citizen said...

Seriously, tho', does anyone know who was on the committee (the "business, nonprofit and government leaders)? that drive this new policy?

zb said...

Here's a link to the proposal, I think, that shows which offices would be merged.

http://www.kirotv.com/download/2011/0105/26377508.pdf

wseadawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wseadawg said...

Summary of the Governor's legislation:
Three steps are taken to make 12th grade the launch year, during which students begin to realize their careers:
>>Expect that high schools offer career and college course opportunities that advance student career readiness, preparation and skill development.
>>Consistently recognize advanced work done by high school students and award credit for that work in community and technical colleges and universities.
>>Ensure career guidance is provided
throughout a student's high school career. The purpose of high school has to be more than getting a diploma that represents courses completed, standards achieved and tests passed. That diploma must mean accomplishing what it
takes to begin the next chapter in the student's life. Twelfth grade will become that year.

So, there it is, chump! You're 18 now, so what's it gonna be? Plumber or Pediatrician! Choose! Now Maggot! We're sick of wasting valuable dollars on your worthless butt! And the clock is ticking!!

No more taking some time to figure out what you want to do, sissies! The grown up world is calling and its time for you to produce!!

Ten-Hut, Maggots! Corporate America Wants You! (Replace Uncle Sam's photo with your favorite CEO, and there you have it!)

Keep it up, morons, and watch teen suicide rates explode off the charts.

The Gov needs to watch Race to Nowhere, soon.

Melissa Westbrook said...

From the Governor's news release:

"All students will enter kindergarten prepared for success in school and life."

I'm sorry but to me nothing but BS. Look, she can't say stuff like that with nothing to back it up. It's all words and no substance.

Stand Up! said...

I wish her well,

The Governor's choice to centralize authority in a figure who answers directly to the State's chief executive officer is a controversial, but much needed effort towards the restructuring of an antiquated and broken education system.

Given the morass of faction laden District Boards and Service Districts, which seem to operate independently from OSPI in terms of management and accountability, the Governor's move is brave, timely and intelligent.

As the Governor said "We have no system". I applaud her efforts to change this.

Also, she is not suggesting that the current State Superintendent's Office will necessarily be disbanded. Before that would happen, I understand she would first create a position in the Governor's office to which OSPI would be held accountable.

The oversight of the system as a whole and the accountability to state agencies, such as the State Auditor's office, that this position would afford is critical. Especially given the current economic climate, the record of mismanagement at the district levels and, OSPI's inability to effectively address these issues.

Stand Up!

Unknown said...

I can tell you one thing that will save thousands of hours of labor: Consolidate teacher files in ONE location online. So that when a teacher applies to a job all the necessary paperwork like certification, education, resume ett, are already there and accessed by the school. Why do teachers have to submit over and over the same documents that a central state office also keeps on file?

Anonymous said...

wseadawg-I think you're seriously overreacting and misinderstanding the point of what the governor said. Isn't think the same blog that's been lamenting the loss of high school counselors for kids trying to plan for college and beyond? Aren't people here often saying that college is not the ONLY option (or shouldn't be) for kids?

My read of what you yourself reposted from the governor's plan is that she wants kids to leave high school with a plan (and I believe that's required in some states already), not a carved-in-stone rest-of-their-lives command as in some totalitarian countries. How can having a plan be a bad thing?

How many rootless, untrained, unprepared kids are there out there who just slipped away from school because they had no idea what they wanted to do in life-and how many of them are scraping by to eat (hint-not a rhetorical question-I know kids like this personally)? Conversely, how many kids are there in high school who know EXACTLY what they want in life but don't have a counselor they can go to in order to plan for it (hint-also no rhetorical, I know some of them too)?

I see nothing in what you took from the plan saying the kids cannot take time off-but that high schools will help them figure out HOW to get where they want to go-and if a gap year or three is necessary, it would STILL help to know "what they want to do when they grow up". Maybe in your world kids don't need to worry about that, but most of the young people I know want to either have a job they like or get some form of higher education. What on earth is wrong with seeing to it that they know how to get those things?

anonymous said...

I think that SPS could use some oversight. For instance, if it's a state requirement that high schools have career and college counselors, then MGJ wouldn't have been able to eliminate our counselors as she did.

From the proposal:

"Ensure career guidance is provided throughout a student’s high school career"

klh said...

Melissa, thanks for pointing out the silliness of the goal that kids will enter kindergarten "ready for school and life." There was an on-line survey (from OSPI?) a couple of months ago that had that line in it. I don't recall exactly what kind of response they asked for, but I wrote a long comment telling them that it was ridiculous to expect kindergarteners to be "ready for life," and suggesting they come up with something more reasonable. They're really shooting themselves in the foot with statements like that.

Charlie Mas said...

I think the idea was to put the person responsible for the work closer to the responsibility for the funding.

Moving the work into the governor's office is one way to do that. Creating dedicated revenue sources for education and putting them in the OSPI is another.

wseadawg said...

Agibean: We live in the same world.

The politicos and policy-makers are in a panic over who's going to repay the baby-boomers' debts. Every last kid in the country will need to work and pay heavy taxes to do that, and that's what all this "reform" is about. Greed and arrogance got us where we are, and now we are trying to dump the burden on our kids to dig us out of our own hole.

All about the kids? BS. It's all about foisting this generations burdens onto the shoulders of the next generation ASAP.

Come on kid! Pick something! Now! Get to work (so I don't have to)!

Central Mom said...

I have to think about the ultimate question of whither elected head or governor appointee as top dog of the department.

I theoretically like the streamlining and its ability to get rid of a lot of political crud, save $$ and to focus on a K-16 mindset.

BUT, this proposal will be hard to support without more detail in what postions will be rolled together and a firm baseline of $$ that will be saved. I would also like to propose that all $$ saved by a consolidation be earmarked for our state's classrooms.

ttln said...

The gap starts pre-K. There is a reason why kids in K don't have "print awareness." Pre School is a luxury and a darn expensive one. I pay $1000 for preschool/daycare. I know mine isn't the least expensive option, but I cannot afford to only put her in a two day a week program because I have to work (to teach your bigger kids!). If my husband and I don't both work full time, we cannot afford to live (a.k.a. eke by paycheck to paycheck) where we teach. We both work not so we can drive SUVs, own big TVs, go on fancy ski trips, etc. We both work so that we can make ends meet. I cannot imagine people in this city who make less than we make trying to put their kids into a pre-school that costs money they most likely don't have for such "luxuries."
Additionally, I don't know how many of you have tried to find space in a quality preschool/daycare in the last 6+ years. But it is darn near impossible. We were number four on SmallFaces' waitlist (which cost us more money!) for two years of preschool with our oldest daughter and never got a spot. Other public programs are only free to the very poor and cost the same as any other private program.
PreK is essential. It's high cost and lack of capacity is prohibitive to many middle/low middle/upper low income families and creates a large education gap between students that is evident K- college. It is where the poverty gap begins and widens from there.
Ready for K is KEY.
Doubt it? Have a kid and don't read to them or show them a book or let them see you read, don't put them into a preschool or daycare. And then see what happens.
I teach middle school. I see what happened everyday.