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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seattle Times editorial on innovation - in a bad way

The Seattle Times ran an editorial today, Foster innovation in the public schools, which was pure bull.

The editorial is in support of three bills in the legislature that will purportedly foster innovation in our schools. Setting aside for the moment the absurdity of legislating innovation, what kind of innovation are these bills looking to foster? Innovative instructional strategies? No. Innovative instructional materials? No. Innovative curricula? No. These bills are designed to allow innovative violations of labor agreements.

No wonder the Seattle Times loves them.

No wonder the Seattle Times doesn't dare to write about them in concrete terms.

The Times says that the bills include "protections for teachers", but why would teachers have to be protected from innovation unless the innovation was harmful to them?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

HB 1447 School Innovation Program

It’s appears to be a RTTT on the State level. Up to 10 schools will get grants to pilot “innovative” projects in schools. Would this allow charter-like schools, without charter schools? Here are some highlights:

-Schools may be granted waivers of certain state statutes and rules (including length of the school year, student-teacher ratios, and calculations of course credits for high school)

-At the request of the school district, may even petition for waiver of federal regulations

-Allows comingling of funds for the programs (including highly capable and transitional bilingual)

-Allows performance-based system of staff compensation

-Does not expire until June 30, 2020

Google it

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is that 25 Representatives are sponsoring HB 1521 Recognizing Washington innovation schools (Thornton Creek elementary and Aviation High get mentioned), but only 5 of those are sponsoring HB 1447 (it has a total of 9 sponsors).

Google it

Chris S. said...

We should be very clear that Seattle's alternative schools have been innovative, and successfully innovative, without waivers from union contracts.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, sounds like:

year-round school (probably just for the poor)

increased class size

disregard IDEA and all that federal civil rights crap

use MAP to set teacher salaries

That's not innovation, that's Eli Broad's wet dream.

grumpy

Charlie Mas said...

HB 1447 specifically says that "innovation" schools can apply for waivers from:

"Current laws that authorize the SBE or the SPI to grant waivers from laws and rules pertaining to Basic Education requirements, student-to-teacher ratios, and length of the school year are amended to include schools under the Program. In addition, Program schools may apply for waivers of laws pertaining to limits on salaries for certificated instructional staff, comingling of state funds for categorical programs, and flexibility in calculating course credits for high school courses."

So schools will be allowed to exceed the student:teacher ratios set in the Basic Education law. How is it innovative to put 40 students in a classroom?

Schools will be allowed to teach a shorter school year or be exempt from the 150 hours of instruction rule for high school credit. How is that any different from what already happens? What's so innovative about having less school?

Innovative schools will be allowed to comingle state funds for categorical programs. Ah! So the money specifically earmarked for ELL students, SpEd students, Highly Capable students or low-income students can be spent on anybody and everybody. Doesn't that already happen?

Finally, and this is the real focus of the bill: the law would allow changes to salaries for certificated instructional staff. Ah! Once again we see that Ed Reformers believe they can do all of their work through the teachers' contract.

Charlie Mas said...

Consider the law on Alternative Learning Environments. HB 1447 doesn't allow anything that the ALE law doesn't allow - except for the teacher salary thing.

Without the teacher salary thing there would be no need for HB 1447 at all. People who wanted to innovate could just form an ALE.

Charlie Mas said...

HB 1521 is just a dumb "attaboy" for innovative schools. It appears to be something of a waste of paper and print.

Charlie Mas said...

The third bill, not named by the Seattle Times, is HB 1546.

This one is a real stinker. It is, essentially, a charter school bill.

Anonymous said...

From the House Bill Analysis:

Current laws that authorize the SBE or the SPI to grant waivers from laws and rules pertaining to basic Education requirements, student-to-teacher ratios, and length of the school year are amended to include schools under the Program. Currently 83 school districts have a waiver of the 180-day school year under this law.

So the above is already allowed under current law. What's new about HB 1447 (different from what can be done under existing laws) is this:

In addition, Program schools may apply for waivers of laws pertaining to limits on salaries for certificated instructional staff, comingling of state funds for categorical programs, and flexibility in calculating course credits for high school classes.

Google it

Melissa Westbrook said...

Google It, thanks for this info. I could go for 1521. Let's help districts recognize that innovation can happen and here are good examples. It could be just "good job" but it could be more for districts who just don't know where to start.

HB 1447, though, sounds like "charter-lite" and a foot in the door without a vote. I saw that "co-mingling" and my radar went up.

1556 is charters without calling it that. I think someone thought he/she was being very clever.

hschinske said...

The third bill, not named by the Seattle Times, is HB 1546.

This one is a real stinker. It is, essentially, a charter school bill.


Trish Millines Dziko's reaction, from "Notes from Trish's Desk":

"Two recent developments give me hope. I urge you to pay attention to two moves at the state level that might actually get the job done:


1. Governor Gregoire's decision to consolidate education policy into a single cabinet-level
Department of Education [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=w5yfxubab&et=1104461185636&s=11387&e=001YU1QL4dg1m9nfBicWx8sRfrSr3YcE_rmdgX6UqrVdoNO9oQXvPrnIne8ii_kf1f882AnJGUIeSEI1ua87U6q82ruWpyYDEiHcLbNALWd_z1zynM8sbh91r0fgflxaBffjFEhssRcizZ96iWzYRxsKsRQrbyelSW1UNwEvmT2dr-9kw2xhjOL72t34SHAscBd].
The current education system is too fragmented. There is no clear line of accountability.
As Lisa MacFarlane of the League of Education Voters [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=w5yfxubab&et=1104461185636&s=11387&e=001YU1QL4dg1m-ZL45zoEaNfGBzxZRE51zu-ysO6o2UJ-Tg7-BDOi-jVJzzfBLMhpxjy72lpo7xrffgwEc0XYuzud8pY35vckCNzvsp0JExRANipQQ1Eo40jXY1YuP7zNiR]
says, "Washington has the strongest constitutional language in the country regarding
education; the person running the state should have authority over his or her paramount
duty."

2. House Bill 1546 [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=w5yfxubab&et=1104461185636&s=11387&e=001YU1QL4dg1m_7pJ59KHncQFyhIi7GJ7-Wp1tXMYXzgp2EsBOOpqXLg0Nw1R-HkyN7ugSpC9dmIYoh2wH4HZD1vtyLjgWZ90o4f6DLD9oOOSEFHKw2MEgvALAfyOFIQJoeaisiyRgxWw9vHL40QeO6z7YRKwZBn5FlyQTdXVuskMLMZRYT13wZNw==].
Just this week, I attended a hearing to get more details and offer my input, but I think this is the strongest move yet to inject real innovation into the public school system."

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Helen,

Please read The Governor’s Education Restructuring Bill: Bad Idea.

hschinske said...

I was mentioning Trish's opinion as data, not endorsing it -- she's an influential person (as she has won the right to be) and her take on it matters.

Helen Schinske