McKenna Talks Education on The Conversation

At noon, KUOW's The Conversation will have Rob McKenna on to talk education.  Mr. McKenna has huge plans for public education if elected but hasn't quite explained how he would pay for it.  His website reflects four top issues: jobs, education, government reform and higher education.  Under "education":
  • Invest in expanded career skills opportunities for high school students across the state, keying on the high-demand for machinists, electrical workers, and other workers in the skilled trades.
  • Fund more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs like Aviation, Delta, and Marysville Arts & Technology High Schools, as well as International Baccalaureate and other AP/Honors programs.
  • Permit and encourage highly innovative charter schools, drawing on the most successful models from around America such as KIPP, Rocketship and Harlem Success Academy.
  • Provide incentives to state colleges of education to increase admissions standards and raise the average entering student's qualifications to the top one-third of her or his entering college class. We must also explore additional alternative certification routes to allow community members with in-demand skills to enter the profession.
  • Develop and launch the nation's top schools superintendent training academy, drawing applicants from education, academia, non-profit sectors, and the military, with particular emphasis on leadership potential and effectiveness.
  • Revamp training programs for and recruitment of school principals, emphasizing pedagogical expertise, leadership abilities and management skills.
  • Change state law to allow elected school boards in school districts with ten percent or more failing schools to be replaced with a school board appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or Governor.
Let's go through that list.

- the state is funding more STEM programs right now but okay, more then.
- again, the charter bill is flawed in the way it picks charter proposals that are supposed to support educationally disadvantaged students
- yes, alternative certification for more community members WOULD be good but they seem more interested in select groups like TFA.
- Washington state should develop a superintendent training academy?  Why?  A complete non-starter.
- again, a program for school principals sounds good but where's the money?
- the last one is a doozy - replace School Boards where the district has 10% or more failing schools and new ones are appointed by the State Superintendent or Governor.   Oh, so you would put all the blame on the School Board but not the superintendent.

He supports fully funding schools according to recommendations from the Quality Education Council.

One thing I don't quite know how it would work legally with CBAs:

Change the state salary schedule so effectiveness, not just seniority and credentialing, are factors in teacher pay.

Another point in his plank is this:

Train educators at underperforming schools with effective strategies for teaching struggling students, students of color and students from low-income families.

I would say okay if this was your first job teaching or teaching at a struggling school.  But I'm pretty sure most teachers at those schools DO know what to do but aren't given the supports.  Giving them training without supports isn't going to change much.

He says he would fund all-day kindergarten state-wide.

He would fund a longer school year.  

But...where would he get the money?  This is an unbelievable amount of money and what is he going to cut?  He does mention the issues of consolidating teachers' health care programs (an issue currently before the Legislature).

A lot of this sounds great and you can see how ed reformers might like him (like Nick Hanauer).

One interesting thing - vouchers have been taken out.  I know it was there the first time I went to his website and now it has been taken out.  It may not be there but I'm pretty sure if he is elected, we will hear voucher talk.


Eric B said…
Where does he find the money? If this were a rational discussion, we would be talking about ending tax breaks for some businesses, reducing corrections expenses, and adding an income tax. With the current state of the Republican Party, I have no hope that this will be a rational discussion, so it will all come out of fairies and unicorns or social programs for the poor. Oh, and Fraudwasteandabuse, where you can always find billions of dollars.

WA is ranked (among 50 states) in the mid-teens for per-capita income, in the mid-30s for per-capita taxation, #8 (or so) in corrections spending, and mid-40s in per-student education spending. There was a great paper a few years ago by a group of sheriffs that found that raising graduation rates 10% (no mean feat, but doable) would reduce violent crime rates by 20%. We really do need to choose between educating kids or locking them up.
Anonymous said…
Wow! Lots of great-sounding words. Words are cheap, Mr. McKenna. Don't you know that. But people will read and believe because they want simple answers.

Well, now we're not just blaming teachers but school boards as well. I wonder what DeBell thinks of that? Mr DeBell, did you know that you are the reason some of our schools are failing?

Oh, and Rob, please point me to that money tree growing in your backyard. I'd like to pinch some fruit myself.

But we all know where he can get the money: reduce teachers' salaries and their heathcare. Why should teachers get benefits anyway? We should have learned our lesson when Air Traffic Controllers were fired. We didn't. And so it continues. I know these people. The mantra of business: people don't matter; profits do.

The best way to get rid of problems is give them over to the private sector. Tax payer get screwed but, hey, not government's problem anymore. Look around. Isn't that what we are seeing?

I'm no Obama fan right now but God Bless Obama for saving the auto industry. He's still taking hits for that.

I just can't understand this love affair Americans have for business leaders.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, what is your evidence that teachers already know what do do at struggling schools and struggling students. Current levels of student achievement among special Ed students and students of color tell a different story. As a parent of a struggling student in the north end and someone who has taught in the south end, I can't agree with this statement.

"I would say okay if this was your first job teaching or teaching at a struggling school.  But I'm pretty sure most teachers at those schools DO know what to do but aren't given the supports.  Giving them training without supports isn't going to change much."

Not satisfied with the status quo
Anonymous said…
Not Satisfied - you say you are a teacher. What stragies do you recommend that you don't see being used? As a teacher myself, I'm curious.

I think we teachers need to put more specifics on the table. If you are a teacher and your son is struggling, what's going on? Are you unable to work with the teacher to help him? What have you targeted as the problem?

Truthfully, I'd really like to know because I have two struggling students myself for whom I continue to seek helpful strategies.

I don't believe any institution can be perfect. What should the District or the teachers be doing better in your son't case? What is your experience?

This could be an interesting discussion if you will answer. I'm not trying to blame but since you are a teacher yourself, you can shed a lot of light on what you observe to be problems.


Anonymous said…
I guess I'm also asking if it is possible that there are kids that schools simply can't help? Are you saying that public school educators should be able to serve every child regardless of the challenge?
Anonymous said…
Ed Schultz just talked to union president in Chicago and she said that Rahm Emanual said to her that 25% of the kids in Chicago aren't going to make it anyway. Listen to Ed on KTPK now.

Schultz rocks
Not satisfied, I, too, find your statement interesting.

My evidence is only from teachers I know in the south-end at various schools. Many of them have been at those schools and know their communities and from listening to them speak, it sounds like they are more frustrated with the system than confused what to do.

What is your experience? Did you need more training? More supports?
Anonymous said…
Seattle march to support fully funding public education/no to charters:

Anonymous said…
As a sped parent, I have had general ed teachers who have never heard of my child's disability.

I have had special ed teachers ask 'what it SDI'? Which is the basis of special ed instruction required by law.

I had a special ed teacher tell me that 'research shows that for kids with learning disabilities, direct instruction doesn't work.' Never produced the research , but wouldn't look at the piles I brought.

I had several teachers say they don't believe that kids can be both gifted and disabled.

If you have ever read 'the mislabeled child' you would see the myriad ways that little differences can make school impossible for some children. Teachers, including sped teachers do not have the knowledge to design instruction to meet those needs. More intensity of the same instruction is often not enough, no matter well intentioned.

2e parent
dan dempsey said…
More on teacher evaluation effectiveness .... Here is Bill Gates in the NY Times 2/22/2012

Shame Is Not the Solution

My concern about the following has nothing to do with existing CBAs

Change the state salary schedule so effectiveness, not just seniority and credentialing, are factors in teacher pay.

Another point in his plank is this:

Train educators at underperforming schools with effective strategies for teaching struggling students, students of color and students from low-income families.

Education Research quality is pathetic and SPS district leadership in the area of academics is equally poor.

Why does Mr. McKenna believe that there are effective strategies ... out there .... that would even be recognized as effective?

Certainly the best current research of high quality is regularly ignored.

Looks like more Top Down solutions from folks that have power to impose actions and programs but know close to ZERO about how to improve much.

Where is the pilot that demonstrates effectiveness?

This looks like more TFA crap and more Discovery/Inquiry math crap .... Where is the successful model that would be followed?

I am still waiting for the Central Administration Accountability Bill ........ Oh what a complete joke looking at the actions of the State Legislature and OSPI over the last decade.
Anonymous said…
I'm actually somewhat grateful for Gates comments. Apparently, New York City teachers are in a world of hurt. One link led to another: Ravitch Says New Evaluation System Is 'Madness'

and here City to Release Teacher Ratings After Union Loses Suit

IF you read the comments section, it sounds as if parents are perturbed as well. Once teachers have been exploited and blamed to the max and still little gains are shown, I suppose the final step will be to blame the children thenselves for being so dumb.

Anonymous said…
What are you talking about ..n? The first step is to blame the kids. Let's have standards, standard's based grades, CBAs (classroom based assesssments), CORE24 all designed to punish kids who can't/don't meet standard for many diverse reasons, and reward those who do. The next logical link in that chain, after we've punished the students - which we already do, is to punish the teachers. You can't mandate one set of consequences/punishments - and then not the other. That is, on the students (by graduation rates, ultimately) and next on teachers.

-parent reader
dan dempsey said…
Very perceptive Parent Reader,

There are no nations that I know of that are attempting to have 100% of the student population graduate from high school with something similar to Core24.

The Idea of having all students take Advanced Algebra or its equivalent is absurd.

The Education Leadership in WA State is simply pathetic.

We are wasting resources attempting to do the impossible and yet the WA State Supreme Court tells us it is OK to have the Constitutional Rights guaranteed by the State Constitution violated until 2018. (But the Supremes will be keep a close watch ... HUH??? ... this is justice for all in WA State)

In NY State a similar lawsuit had the following outcome.... (1) State was found to be violating the rights of students to an adequate education ... (2) Court determined the amount of funding needed to provide an adequate education ... (3) Court ordered State to raise those funds....

Message for WA ... (1) Education is important back east but not in WA ... (2) It is OK to continue violation of students constitutional rights but keep it to another 6 years maximum.

I will not be voting for any incumbents on the WA Supreme Court in the next elections ... these are not lifetime appointments. If the WA Supremes do not wish to guarantee the rights of the Constitution to all citizens why are they judges?

So whatever Inslee and McKenna do .... it can hardly top the Supremes failure to serve the children of the state.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Dan, let's say the Justices do as you say. How do they enforce it?


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