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Friday, February 24, 2012

What Was It That Yogi Berra Said?

He did say so many great things but several of them apply to the latest in "As the Charter School Bill Turns" show.

"This is like deja vu all over again."

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

But really, in this case, this one fits the best:

"It ain't over till it's over. "

I was unable to hear the discussion on The Conversion today on KUOW about charter schools. Luckily, you can hear the playback any time so I went to kuow.org and took a listen. It was a fairly scattershot kind of show with little bits of things thrown in here and there.

Ross Reynolds cited the Washington Policy Center poll that said 60% of voters in our state want charters (but noting that it would be quite the switch given that voters turned down charters three times at the polls and legislators turned down charter legislation even more times than that.)

Then they had Senator Tom, a sponsor of the Senate bill, stating in a recorded quote, that the bill is still alive but has changed.

Really? How?

He said instead of 50 charters over five years there would be 10. (But it wasn't clear over how long.)

He then said the bill could be more narrowly focused to serve educationally disadvantaged students by requiring the charters to be within several blocks of 57 schools in the state that have been failing over a long period of time (Senator Tom said "generations".)

As you can imagine, this caught my ear. It was interesting because, earlier on the Weekday program, Lynne Varner from the Times actually admitted the bill had issues and that a few amendments would help.

This was also startling because she has never said anything like this in any piece she has written.

So it would seem that either someone woke up and read the bill and/or had a come to Jesus moment. "You mean we might not have charter schools because we wrote an overly-long charter bill that doesn't really do what we say it will? Gee, we should do something about that."

What is also odd is that the locating of charters near the failing schools kind of flies in the face of what is already in the bill - Transformation Zone schools. As you may recall, those would be the lowest performing schools throughout the state being taken over by the State, their staffs fired and a Learning Management organization taking over for at least three years.

Confusing, no?

I called Senator Tom's office. I got a very nice young man who hadn't heard about this and later, called me back to say that was an old comment on KUOW (I checked, and no, it's a new comment that the Senator made today).

I went on and asked a Legislative desk officer who couldn't find any new amendments and he confirmed that any new legislation could be tucked into a budget proposal but that is not a common occurrence.

So either the charter bill is being heavily revamped in hopes it might be more palatable in the last 10 days of the session OR a revamped part is going to get tucked away into a budget bill OR it is DOA.

But, a bill that I had really liked is somehow back on the table. This would be House bill 2799, that would "authorize a five-year pilot project for up to six collaborative schools for innovation and success operated by districts in partnership with colleges of education."

This is the pilot project I can support. From the bill:

The college of education and the school district must develop an innovation and success plan for the school in collaboration with school staff, parents, and community members.

The innovation and success plan must include:
(a) The proposed program for instruction, wraparound support services, resource deployment, and professional development that has been developed based on the comprehensive needs assessment;
(b) A family and community engagement strategy that builds support among students and parents for high achievement for all students culturally appropriate ways;
(c) Professional learning communities among school staff and higher education faculty that are focused on identifying and responding to emergent student learning needs;
(d) Intensive preparation of teacher and principal candidates using research-based practices and a particular focus on skill development to improve learning for English language learners, highly mobile and homeless students, students with disabilities, and other students with special learning needs;
(e) Identification of the metrics that will be used to assess student achievement and skill development, both while the students are enrolled in elementary school and after they continue into middle school, and specific goals for improvement of these outcomes over the term of the pilot project, including but not limited to such metrics as attendance, grade-level retention, student growth, disciplinary incidents, course completion and grades, and performance on classroom-based assessments;

In another section:

Subject to funds appropriated specifically for this purpose, the office of the superintendent of public instruction shall contract with a northwest educational research organization to conduct an evaluation of the collaborative schools for innovation and success pilot project using quantitative and qualitative analysis to identify successful practices in improving student and educator outcomes. The organization shall submit a preliminary evaluation by December 1, 2015, and a final evaluation by September 1, 2018, to the superintendent of public instruction and the professional educator standards board.

Oh, you mean learn from the pilot schools and then disseminate best practices? Great idea.

I sincerely wish that Senator Tom would support this effort first. This is the way to go if you want to pilot this kind of innovation and seek best practices out of that pilot. This will not cost the state (or districts) the money or resources that a charter law would. And, money spent on this effort WOULD go into the classroom and not just for administrative costs.

28 comments:

Disgusted said...

This is part of reformists "Whack- a- mole" strategy.

dw said...

Disgusted, do you mean you think 2799 is another flawed bill like the charter school bill?

In general I like the looks of 2799, with some reservations. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Tom and his gang decide to bundle this with the charter bill. Who knows, but something fishy is going on behind the scenes right now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, but what?

Is Tomiko Santos determined to get her bill passed over Pettigrew (who has been strangely silent compared to Tom)? Is it that kind of bare-knuckled fight to see who can pass what kind of reform in the 11th hour? That's what I see happening.

Anonymous said...

well, the WEA sent about 100 teachers down to Oly on Wed. to have their pictures taken, and to repeat some finger wagging pap, and to whine and to beg.

my "union" dues at ... 'work'.

btw - the WEA has sent hordes and scores down several times already this year, which has accomplished ...

Right Wing Rodney getting the Senate to vote 46-3 to BLAME teachers and NOT managers!

Way to go WEA! Your efforts are NOT pathetic... laughable ... bounded by unbridled Bambi-ism.

WhatMeWorry?

dan dempsey said...

"authorize a five-year pilot project for up to six collaborative schools for innovation and success operated by districts in partnership with colleges of education."

Huh???

So what kind of track record do the College's of Education have? and District's PLEASE.

Take a look at Toppenish HS ... math scores and AYP.

THS was the first HS in the state to rocket right thru consecutively failing AYP and to be placed IN IMPROVEMENT ... Then came special assistance from OSPI ... whereupon Math Scores declined even further.

Why are those who have no idea what needs to be done .... being empowered?

THS current AYP.

================

In many successful nations Ed research is conducted at the School Level by actual faculty ... who have sufficient planning time to do so. In WA State we get top down direction that has been an utter fialure for over a decade. ..... the supposed solution is larger more authoritative top down edicts.

If Rodney Tom and Company want a better system ... how about using actual research in an unbiased way to decide on how to improve the system .... as so far everything he proposes is based on Nonsense.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

To propose and push an Ed Bill in WA State seems to require an alignment with Plutocrats, who are Ed Ignorant.

dw said...

Mel said:Is Tomiko Santos determined to get her bill passed over Pettigrew (who has been strangely silent compared to Tom)? Is it that kind of bare-knuckled fight to see who can pass what kind of reform in the 11th hour? That's what I see happening.

Here's another thought. These 2 bills are similar in that they are both looking for alternatives to traditional public schools in order to boost achievement, right? And in theory at least, low-achieving schools and populations. And much of what the charter school proponents seem to advocate is we just need more options!

Wouldn't it look extremely bad if Pettigrew (Tom and others as well, but Pettigrew stands out here, to me) voted for the charter bill, but against 2799?

I see 2799 as appealing to many of the same crowd as charters, but also to a wider audience, and therefore more palatable in general.

dw said...

What I meant by "palatable" is by lawmakers. i.e. more likely to pass.

Disgusted said...

dw,

I'm not sure where it will turn up.

Remember TfA? The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it unconstitutional to put inexperienced teachers (TfA) in high poverty areas with high need populations. In an Appropriation Bill..TfA was defined as "highly qualified". This overturned the Ninth Circuit ruling. I suspect something similar will happen with charters.

That's my guess.

Bob T. said...

The last time voters rejected charters was 2004. That was eight years ago. The system is worse today. Are you so afraid of democracy that you don't think the voters should have another chance? Or do you only like democracy when it produces the results you want? Given the thick layer of smug hovering over this blog, I suspect that's it.

Kathy said...

Bob T,

The 34th, 36th, 37th, 43rd, 36th and King County Democrats have passed anti-charter resolutions.
Voters are speaking.

R. Tom doesn't seem willing to put this to the voters. Paternalistic.

In my opinion, there seems to be a need for hovering. We've had organizations -such as WSPTSA -promoting propaganda.

Heck, even Lynne Varner is saying the bill has flaws. Yet, she never said that in her column.

Kathy said...

Sorry, I meant to say the 46th LD also voted to approve an anti-charter resolution.

Anonymous said...

Bob T. The system is worse today? Really?

I call baloney on that sweeping generalization. Specifics please or walk it back.

SavvyVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, Bob, first of all, if you had read my thread yesterday, I DID openly say - I'd be happy for a vote. I welcome a vote.

What is interesting is the sponsor of the charter bill in the Senate, Rodney Tom, does NOT want a vote. Said so on KUOW - too much to lose for education to "gamble" on it.

So you might direct your question to Senator Tom.. Given that we do gamble on a vote for, say, President of the United States.

So sure, let's vote. If charter legislation does pass, I'm sure it will go to a referendum. And I'm sure the final vote will look nothing like the Washington Policy Center poll.

I personally do not believe public education, either in the US or Seattle, has worsen since 2004. Has it gotten better? In some ways yes, some ways no. But we do need to do better.

One way in Washington would be to fully fund education.

Another way would be to do things we know work like direct interventions for struggling students, summer school and career and college counseling.

Melissa Westbrook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Bob, what evidence have you seen since 2004 that shows you that charters will help public education in Washington State?

Jan said...

Dan -- you have daylighted before the dreadful results of the collaboration between the UW COE's math folks and Cleveland/GHS. But I wonder -- I am also aware that Seattle U has been collaborating/assisting for some time with Central area schools, and my recollection is that they were going to expand their effort this year. It may be that there are some really good possibilities here for departments of education to work systematically and comprehensively with schools -- just not the UW's COE, which seems politically polluted to the point that no one would want it. MY guess is -- if you had communities involved in helping to pick which colleges to work with, and colleges like SU (with a track record of actually doing GOOD), you might get some really interesting results. I don't know what SPU's ed department is up to these days -- but many years ago, that was where at least one friend of mine ended up when she went looking for some place that would teach solutions that work, as opposed to the latest fad. Her big deal was reading, and she refused to go near the UW (then mired in all sorts of "whole language, anti-phonics stuff).

Unknown said...

Jan,

My problem centers around the deprofessionalization of teaching. The search for the new and innovative solutions .... seem like a quest for the Holy Grail, Needed Magic Bullet, but are more likely just the next fad.

Why cannot improvements be made right now without this legislation?

The fact that districts refuse to act on evidence preferring fads instead ... leads me to question the entire thrust of the current legislation under consideration in Oly.

There is a lot that needs improving ... but it seems that things which really need changing are not even considered.
=========

The fundamental issues are ignored and the posers continue posing.
=========

Nice to hear the positives about SU.

Anonymous said...

The above comment is mine.
--- Dan Dempsey

Charlie Mas said...

People think that crime is worse when in truth the crime rate is dropping because the media reports crime more actively.

People think that the quality of public education is worsening because the media reports failure more actively.

Since 2004, Seattle Public Schools has had three superintendents: Raj Manhas, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and Dr. Susan Enfield. The Seattle Times put a halo on each of them, sang their praises, and reported - in the op-ed pages - about how much the District improved under each of their leadership.

So, if the Seattle Times Editorial Board is to be trusted at all, the quality of public education has skyrocketed since 2004.

anonymous said...

I think Bob T. has a point in that much has changed in SPS in the last 8 years.

The first change, and probably the biggest, is that SPS no longer uses the choice assignment system. Under the choice system families had many options and could pick and choose which schools their children attended. That is much harder to to do now with the NSAP.

Another tragedy of the NSAP was the removal of Barnhard-Waldman algorithm. With the algorithm families used to be able to list all of the schools that they were interested in and get a fair shot at assignment to each one. Now with the algorithm gone families pretty much get one shot, at one school.

Adding to the lack of choice we closed schools a couple of years ago and now remaining schools are more crowded than ever - leaving less space available for families to get into a school outside of their neighborhood. Couple that with the 10% set aside seats at high schools that was promised, but not delivered, and I believe families may be getting very very frustrated with the current "system".

Adding insult to injury we now have standardization. Eight years ago schools had a lot more leeway and freedom to choose their own materials, books, class offerings. Not only did families have a choice of what school their children would attend, they could pick a school based on the type of math materials that the school used. That is mostly gone now that schools have been standardized. For families that do not like EDM/CMP/Discovery, NSF Science kits, and Writers Workshop, a charter may now look appealing, when it didn't 8 years ago.

Fifth, transportation has been cut WAY back. Limiting choice even further.

Sixth, our alt schools have been treated like unwanted stepchildren. Besides being watered down with standardization some have been closed (Summit), some threatened with closure repeatedly (AS1), some moved to crappy locations (NOVA), some threatened to be moved to crappy locations (Center). Their draws have also been greatly reduced, with no more all city draw elementary or middle schools.

These are just some changes that have come about in the last 8 years since we voted on charters last. I'm not sure what a vote would look like today??

momster

Melissa Westbrook said...

Momster, those are valid points.

But I would point out:
-charters that are overenrolled use lotteries so you aren't that better off on that point.
- most charters don't provide transportation

Anonymous said...

Charter won't provide better bus service, won't solve overcapacity issues (take a school away for charter, where are you going to put the other. Kids?),the standardization or hi stake testings (1st charter has a lot to prove so will have many "guidelines" to follow and "culture" to adhere to), and will be aimed at "disadvantaged kids"Iike mine who are unlucky enough to live in a " poor" neighborhood. My kids do quite well in school and need advancement and acceleration, not longer school days, massive remediation. We want good neighborhood schools from k-12. Don't need more gimmicks, more division,more distractions. The kids who are hardest to reach will still get left out because they are doing things that put them at risk of expulsion and incarceration. One charter school isn't going to deal with this problem. If anything, charters have more free reign at discipline and expelling these kids. Charter is not the answer for our school ills. Just a very divisive and expensive distraction that may or may not benefit a few kids. Let's get back to fixing all our schools for all our kids.

-no more distraction, please

anonymous said...

"But I would point out:
-charters that are overenrolled use lotteries so you aren't that better off on that point.
- most charters don't provide transportation"

True, about over subscribed charters using lotteries, but that "lottery" would be one more option for a south end family with few other options.

And, yes, I know charters don't always provide transportation (though many do). However, in SPS there is very limited transportation to option schools now and no transportation to traditional schools outside of your own neighborhood. Again a neighborhood charter school would be one more option for a family with few options.

Not saying a charter bill would pass...who knows?? Just saying that for families with low performing neighborhood schools and very few options to avoid them, charters may be appealing.

momster

dw said...

momster mentioned several recent changes for the worse:

... SPS no longer uses the choice assignment system.

the removal of Barnhard-Waldman algorithm.

we closed schools a couple of years ago and now remaining schools are more crowded than ever.

Adding insult to injury we now have standardization... EDM/CMP/Discovery, NSF Science kits, and Writers Workshop

transportation has been cut WAY back. Limiting choice even further.

Sixth, our alt schools have been treated like unwanted stepchildren... watered down with standardization ... closed ... threatened with closure repeatedly ... moved to crappy locations

For [some families] a charter may now look appealing, when it didn't 8 years ago.


If one isn't afraid of being labeled a conspiracy theorist, one might consider that the goal of these changes was to purposely push Seattle voters toward charters. Rather than fix the problems with creative Public School solutions, it's easier to make SPS more and more rigid until people on the fence start looking at the appealing side of charters (and yes, it's certainly appealing to have the freedom to innovate if your existing system is stifling).

I'm not necessarily saying I subscribe 100% across the board to this thinking (closures can easily be blamed on incompetence), but it gets more and more suspicious over time, don't you think? The charter school "coalition" is full of very smart, very determined people. They know they only need to change, what, 5-10% of the voters minds?

Melissa Westbrook said...

DW, I certainly believed what you bring up about Maria Goodloe-Johnson especially with how lame the failed plan for Aki, RBHS and Cleveland ended up.

Anonymous said...

Bob T., your post was irresponsible. This blog and the people who post present research, sourced information, and anecdotal information. Few people negatively paint with a broad brush which you did. I've often wondered why it is so one-sided.

Can it be that your side - the pro side - really doesn't have the facts, the research, the anecdotal to support an argument for charters?

I doubt you'll answer. Most often you guys are drive-bys leaving little to recommend anybody spending time on you.

It is disheartening to think that you have so few facts that all you can do is name call us and still you ave the power of the vote whether informed or not.

n

Anonymous said...

Just have to add I appreciate both momster's and DW's posts. Whether they are relevant to charters or not, they do reference a problem: families used to have choices and now they don't. No one likes to be limited especially in education. That's what makes teaching so hard: different styles fit different kids. The more choice the better.

We are in a prison of linear sequentials!

Oh, and a marketing system that influences people like Bob.

n

mirmac1 said...

Here's a good one. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled in favor of minority students and families in Tucson, requiring the TUSD to publicly report on its progress UNDOING its resegregation of schools and persistent underfunding of struggling schools.

TUSD Post-Unitary plan under a Special Master

So, heads up Reform crew. Everything MGJ started will just get undone again.