Sunday, March 13, 2011

Legislative News

This looks to be a busy week for K-12 Education at the Legislature. 

It looks like Reuven Carlyle's bill, HB 1593, to provide a 3-year alternative waiver for people who want to be principals.  Basically, this is TFA for principals.  The candidates have to be able to present their qualifications (but they do not have to have them from working in a school setting) and be working towards a principal certification.  

(i) Strategic planning;
26 (ii) Supervision and evaluation of personnel;
27 (iii) Budgeting and allocation of resources; and
28 (iv) Employee professional development.
29 (b) The standards must also include a consistent record of
30 satisfactory performance in previous employment.

Just like TFA, it will expand the pool but you can be someone who just needs a job for a couple of years (with no intention of staying in education).
This is all fine and well if you are looking to extend the pool of people to be principals. Two things though:

- being good in one leadership position doesn’t mean those skills translate directly to running a school. Florida is having a horrible problem with a former CEO elected to be governor who does not seem to get that government has three branches of leadership and is trying to run the state like a business. Government is different from business.

-keep in mind the costs of doing this. Everyone has gone on and on about teacher evaluations, gotta make sure we assess the teachers and SPS, at least, recently signed a contract with new teacher assessments in it. The SPS principals just signed their contract, with raises, because of all the extra work because of the new teacher assessments.

I could see where teachers could get a little miffed if the person assessing them was someone who had NO education background and knew very little about what pedagogy looks like (not to mention classroom management skills). Districts (and I asked Michael and Susan about this) might have to use other (read, more qualified) people to come in and do those assessments. That’s an extra cost to districts.

That said, I know the importance of a good principal for EVERY school.  I just worry that it creates more problems than it solves and that, in the end, you'll get a couple of good people and the rest will be mediocre or unsatisfactory. 

Then we have the dueling "innovative" versus "innovation" bills.   HB 1521 the so-called "innovative schools" bill passed out of the House last week and was in the Senate Early Learning committee last Thursday.   This one calls out Thorton Creek as an example of this type of innovation.  I support this bill because it encourages innovation within the system we have already. 

Meaning, innovation CAN happen within a district but districts have to encourage and support it.  I honestly believe innovation is less about the teachers' union and more about districts either too busy/lazy to encourage it or afraid or maybe just have a sheer lack of imagination.  I have a thought about this issue I want to break out into another thread and I'll need your help. 

(Just an aside, the folks over at the Center for Reinventing Education recently had a study lamenting how many charter schools are not as innovative as they should be and - oh no - look more like regular schools.)

HB 1546 for "innovation" schools is regarded as something of a backdoor charter bill.  I don't support this because I'd rather try working within our districts than adding another layer of bureaucracy.   At the heart of this bill are waivers to allow these schools to break away from the teachers union in various ways from length of school day to pay. 

I think it would be something of a disaster if BOTH bills passed.  Very confusing. 


anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I heard testimony on this bill- Great arguments against this bill. Arguments focused on principal's inability to evaluate teaching effectiveness due to lack of educational experience.

Thought the arguments were compelling.

Wonder what back door deals were made to get this passed into the Senate. Call me cynical, but I think I'm on to something.

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

First, I doubt candidates who are working towards a principal certification would only want a job for two years, and have no intention of staying in education.

Second, some of these principal candidates may very well have some solid classroom experience.I'd guess (but have not done any research so it's just a guess) that a lot of the principals working toward certification were once teachers themselves, now looking to advance their careers. Many of our great SPS principals started out as teachers, such as John Minor, long time principal of Thornton Creek.

Third, Melissa said "being good in one leadership position doesn’t mean those skills translate directly to running a school." Very true, but how can this be avoided? It applies to ALL new principals, whether recently certified, or still working toward certification.

I will have to do more research on this bill before I pass judgement, but on the surface it feels like it could be a good thing. Unlike TFA, the district would not be under contract to hire any of these principal candidates. There is absolutely no obligation to hire them.

If the district had a shortage of qualified principal candidates they could use this "alternative" option. When there is no shortage there is no need to use it.

Someone help me here. What would the negatives be? Is there a fear that the district would hire these "alternative" candidates over experienced and qualified candidates? And if so, why?

anonymous said...

I just thought of another possible benefit of this bill.

If there was a long time, well respected, SPS teacher who was in the process of principal certification, and there was an opening for a principal in SPS, this bill would allow the district to consider that teacher for the position. That could be a good thing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Peon, if they were teachers who wanted to be principals, what was stopping them?

Also, two-thirds of TFA stopping teaching after they get their certification. It's possible that would happen here as well.

I gave the reasons why this is a bad idea including the fact that it will likely cost more money.

anonymous said...

"Peon, if they were teachers who wanted to be principals, what was stopping them? "

Huh? Nothing is stopping them. I was pointing out that they may have classroom experience.

Why do you think a Principal with no classroom experience and an "3 year alternative waiver" would cost the district any more than a newly certified principal with no classroom experience?

Sahila said...

Look to where this is coming from...

In the last appropriations bill, the US Senate snuck in and passed a small clause side-stepping 9th Circuit Court ruling that under NCLB, all kids needed 'highly qualified' teachers...and the court said TFA recruits were not highly qualified...

This very small clause, buried deep within a huge document, now allows TFAers and other 'alternatively certificated' people to be considered "highly qualified"...

The Bush Institute (creation of George and Laura Bush) wants to replace half of the nation's principal corp with graduates of its programme... 50,000 new principals placed in schools by 2020... and these 'principals' will come from business, military and sports backgrounds...

I have posted the relevant links 4 or 5 times now... feel free to google and check for yourself...

Its all part of the plan, people... on track, on time and on budget (especially when you have billions to buy and control the entire public education system)...

ConcernedTeacher said...

Right now, principals DO have to have teaching experience in order to be come a principal. This bill means the local store manager can now be a principal if they jump the hoops. There are already enough issues with principals who have limited teaching experience trying to be "instructional leaders" in schools, or with secondary teachers trying to be elementary principals and vice versa. This only exacerbates the problems. To be an instructional leader, you need to be able to recognize good instruction and model good instructional practices. You need to know what resources your staff may need in order to provide effective instruction - sometimes they may be able to tell you what they need, other times you may have to use professional judgment based on your own teaching experience and figure out what they may need. For someone who doesn't have that professional teaching experience to draw upon, they can only guess what teachers might need unless they are explicitly told.
I teach in a building with a new principal who had been a secondary teacher. This person has no clue how to deal with discipline at the elementary level, how to talk to parents whose kids are struggling, and absolutely NO clue what instruction should look at the elementary level. He is used to content delivery, not teaching. The comment on my last evaluation: "You move your desks frequently. Why don't you just keep them in rows?" How is that helping me to become a better teacher?
He's bad enough, but now we're going to let any old Joe become a principal? Sorry, but if anything, we should be increasing the rigor of the administrative credential programs and making the admission criteria even more selective.

While my principal leaves much to be desired, at least he can step in and cover a class when there is no sub coverage or any emergency arises, and at least he has some teaching experience and knows what it is like to write lessons and design units and deal with parents and students day in and day out. Sorry, I fail to see how the local CEO or middle level manager who now decides he's going to be a principal is going to help public education. This is yet another way to water down the quality of public school employees and let some Michelle Rhee-type come in, cause a couple of years of chaos, then get out before everything begins to crumble.

Anonymous said...

Scott Walker of Wisconsin is doing fabulously well blaming the underlings of public sector employment, and making them scapegoats of the problems caused by the thieves at the top stealing. Scott Walker is doing what he is supposed to do, as was Dick Cheney, and as was Ronnie Raygun.

How and Why are people like Walker, Cheney, and Raygun able to be so effective pushing the bottom 90%++ of us down to the benefit of the top 5% and 1%?

Because the "opponents" to Walker, Cheney and Raygun have been sell outs like Arne Duncan and Clinton and Obama and ... Rueven Carlyle.

Rueven should join the team he belongs on.


Go Team Go

seattle citizen said...

TFA for non-educator teachers. Bush principal program for non-0educator principals. Broad Academy for non-educator superintendents.

Common demoninator? The sales pitch that education is a business.

The sales tool? State test scores, and, increasingly, other formulaic "data" such as that generated by MAP.

The result? Public education turned into an assembly line, with a host of businesses and other profiteers lined up to get themselves a cut of that gummint money.

A corollary sales tool? "Our minority kids are suffering!" (as supposedly evidenced by the same crappy data, sans external influences such as poverty.)

Similarity to Pottergate? In that case, we saw gummint money being funneled to private pockets based on the idea that it was assisting minorities. In the privatization model, we see gummint money being funneled to private pockets (the CEO of NWEA, a "non-profit," makes hald a million per year) based on the idea that is is assisting minority children.

Sarah said...


This bill seeks to recruit military and business leaders as principals.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My point is that a teacher who wants to be a principal would be working towards that, they don't need a new law to do so.

A newly certificated principal WOULD have to have been in classrooms. You have to have a teaching credential to be a principal (in most states) and an advanced degree. But under this new law, no classroom experience, no advanced degree.

These new people could cost a district more (and I said this already) because a principal's number one job is to be the academic leaders for a school. If a person has never been in a classroom and is currently working towards a principal certification, it doesn't exactly qualify them to judge/assess teachers.

We just got through this big deal over teacher assessments and now teachers will be assessed by people who know little about pedagogy or classroom management? If I were a teacher, I'd ask for a mentor teacher to be the person to assess me. That or I'd sue.

The person assessing a teacher so the teacher can keep their job or get a raise better know what good teaching looks like.

Hopeful in Seattle said...

Though there may be some concerns, there are some schools in Seattle where the teachers are more competent than the principals. Unfortunately there are a number of weak principals that fast tracked it to administration and were hired under MGJ with no input from staff or parents on whether they wanted the principal. Some went from interim to principal with NO input. This might encourage some qualified educators who don't hold admin credentials because maybe they couldn't afford the cost of the degree to step forward.

another mom said...

The primary job of a principal is to be the educational leader of the building. That's it. It is not the job for a former military leader, or CEO of a company who have zero background in education. Keeping track of weaponry and other military hardware,war strategy, leading soldiers onto the battlefield are important, but not within the purview of a school principal. CEO's are usually product, profit, and bottom-line oriented based on a business model that kids do not tidily fit. While one might argue that both have management skills that tranfer to education, it is only in procurement,overall plant maintenance,and things that fall outside of the teaching. School leaders need a background in education BEFORE they assume control of a building.

I recognize that some principals in WA state are less than stellar, but this Bill is not the answer.

WenD said...

Carlyle wants higher office. He thinks that this is how he'll win it, carrying water for the Reform lobby. He's riding a trend. No matter how much he appears to care about education, this bill says otherwise.

Why are we expected to believe that unqualified teachers and now principals are going to do the work? This is a take over. The parties driving our economy into a tree are the same parties making money with online schools, charters, and private for-profit schools. They can't make money unless they get rid of their competition. Their allies are formidable and don't expect much resistance. At stake is an income stream that has to grow at every level, and this can't happen without legislation. That's where marks like Carlyle and Tomiko-Santos can "help."

TFA and Reform Inc. aren't about education or teaching. They're about policy, which guarantees money and manufactured outcomes. Why else would MGJ have been on the board for the company selling MAP, the test she used in Charleston, the one the developer warned last year isn't meant to evaluate teachers?

That's right. MAP isn't intended to evaluate teachers, but how many lawmakers are on board with it? The nakedness of this royalty is truly breathtaking.

Most of us have encountered a bad teachers or principal; we see unmet needs in our students. Given these realities, the idea of reform sounds reasonable at first, but reformers aren't about meeting unmet needs. They're just brazen enough to think we won't stop them from installing unqualified place holders in schools.

Cynical said...

"Carlyle wants higher office. He thinks that this is how he'll win it, carrying water for the Reform lobby. He's riding a trend. No matter how much he appears to care about education, this bill says otherwise. "

Carlyle is Harvard educated. Some where along the line, I'm sure he was taught critical analysis.

I'm having a hard time believing he buys into ineffective ed. reform. Yet, he is managing to dislmantle education as we know it- forcing a business model on us.

He couldn't force districts into RTT. Yet, he continues down the ed. reform road.

wseadawg said...

At some point, I have to say, Wake Up People. Seriously! Expedited principalships? Why not just cut to the chase and replace all the principals with ATM's and vending machines, 'cause that's where it's going.

When Wall Street wanted private pension money they financed hostile takeovers, stole the cash from the retirees, replaced the cash with worthless annuities and junk bond IOU's. This was the Milken era in the 80's, and both R's and D's were on Board, Big Time. And we paid the tab. Read "America: What Went Wrong" if you want the whole story.

In the 90's it was stock options used to fleece stockholders. Internet companies that didn't earn a penny created thousands of overnight millionaires. And where did they get it? Us suckers afraid that if we didn't get in, we'd be left out in the cold.

Then the bribery and corruption that lead to the sell off and takeover of public utilities, screwing the ratepayers of the West. Then the R.E. Bubble financed by wall street, bet against and gambled upon - again, with our money - enabled by accomplice politicians from both sides of the aisle.

And now it's public ed dollars. Liquidate the valuable assets from the system and replace them with IOUs, promises of what could be, and sell, sell, sell, those worthless promises in exchange for the cold hard cash from us tax and levy payers.

As yourselves this: What in the hell is a Business for? Something other than earning money for itself and major shareholders?

Then ask yourselves why the business lobby is pushing so hard to force our schools to be run like businesses. I'll give you a hint, it's not so they can spend more dollars in the classrooms or create better citizens. Duh! It's the consumables, stupid! It's the pre-packaged curricula our teachers will be required to have "fidelity to." It's to turn the science of education into a commodity to line the pockets of those "smartest guys in the room" who have figured out how to get you and I to give up something valuable and precious in exchange for something behind door number 3!

Newsflash: It's always going to be the vacuum cleaner, never, ever the Winnebago!

We see this twice a decade, folks. We have no excuse for embracing silly optimism anymore. If the biz folk are sniffing around, they smell dollars. I don't blame them; it's their job. I blame us, and people like Reuven, who ought to know better, and worse, do know better, but want a piece of the action too.

One man's scam is another man's deal. And there's a sucker born every minute.

Anonymous said...

Carlyle is a narcissist among narcissists. It's all about him. If you criticize his positions, it's still all about him.


Chris S. said...

This is fun but disturbing:
The Scorpion and the Democrat

Then the meanest wolf of them all, Karl Rove, was brought down by his own hubris. Rove bragged to New Yorker that he would use NCLB, as well as attacks on the collective bargaining rights of public service workers and social security, to destroy the Democratic Party. The moral of Rove's story was that Democrats could be lured into destroying each other in a civil war which pitted core Democratic constituencies -- people of color, parents of poor children, teachers, and unions -- against each other. Extending the war on teachers to a war against all public sector unions would then cut off the Democrats' money supply.