Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Do We Want?

After Reuven Carlyle's pro-charter blog post over at his blog, Charlie posted to it, asking why Reuven wasn't engaging since it was he who opened the conversation and from his thread, a lively conversation ensued.

Here was his answer:

Charlie: I’ve been reflecting on the issues and ideas. I’d like to ask you and everyone for genuine and sincere suggestions: What legislation would you like to see introduced and supported in Olympia? Seriously, if you could introduce a real piece of legislation–in addition to all of the McClearly work we have going–what would it be that would unite folks? I value your insight, judgement(sic) and counsel.

So there you have it.  What would you like to see the Legislature do?  I'll throw out some ideas (not necessarily mine nor do they have my endorsement):

1) income tax just for K-12 education (iron-clad) to fund at least to the level of the national average
2) legislation to support counselors/career specialists in all high schools
3) legislation to support the kind of direct inventions that are happening in Everett and Tukwila where their graduation rates are going up and up
4) K-3 support for smaller class sizes for at-risk populations
5) grants to help districts provide more in-class help for teachers (rather than more administrators at headquarters)

While I am now wary of Rep. Carlyle (given his flip on charters), I have always said I believe he tries hard to engage than most legislators and he has provided an option forum for discourse.

What would you like to see?


StopTFA said...

Enforceable minimum requirements before any ole Joe Blow can get a limited permit to teach our children.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see funding and programs to help parents/guardians learn what their role in the education process is, and what they can do to help their children succeed in school. Personally, I'd like to see some sort of "parent orientation" be mandatory for the families of all children entering public school. Most would be at the K level, but an annual class for people new to a District would be great. Parents could get a "pass" out if they show they have already been through the orientation with a previous child.

I know this would be difficult—lots of languages and cultures to deal with, time constraints (when to offer it)—but to me it is the real missing piece. Teachers and school staff can only do so much if their efforts are not being supported at home.

I believe all parents new to a public school system could benefit from reminders about how to help a student study and be school-ready every day, what's expected of them as a part of the process,...you get the idea.

Dreaming? Probably...but he asked.

Anonymous said...

OOPS...hate that blogger makes it a pain for me to sign in for some reason:

Anonymous said...
I'd like to see funding and programs to help parents/guardians learn what their role in the education process is, and what they can do to help their children succeed in school. Personally, I'd like to see some sort of "parent orientation" be mandatory for the families of all children entering public school. Most would be at the K level, but an annual class for people new to a District would be great. Parents could get a "pass" out if they show they have already been through the orientation with a previous child.

I know this would be difficult—lots of languages and cultures to deal with, time constraints (when to offer it)—but to me it is the real missing piece. Teachers and school staff can only do so much if their efforts are not being supported at home.

I believe all parents new to a public school system could benefit from reminders about how to help a student study and be school-ready every day, what's expected of them as a part of the process,...you get the idea.

Dreaming? Probably...but he asked.

Solvay Girl

Eric B said...

Adequate state funding for career/technical training. Work with state employers to find what skills they want students to have on leaving high school/community college/4-year university.

Anonymous said...

Can someone provide some clarity on what is needed for a conversion charter?

With a Creative Approach school, you need an 80% super majority of teachers and the principal to sign on to the plan, but what about a conversion charter?

In Section 213(2)(f), the charter school initiative states you need "Evidence of need and parent and community support for the proposed charter school." Is there more specific wording to state a simple majority of parents or teachers? What is evidence of "need?" What exactly is needed for a conversion charter and what if you don't want to attend your neighborhood school once it's been converted?

Initiative linked here:


a reader

KG said...

Dollars at the elementary level to support counselors where counseling likely matters the most.

Jet City mom said...

Open enrollment
How open enrollment works
Ohio legislators created open enrollment as a pilot program in 1989. Here's how it works:
School districts can choose to accept students from adjacent districts or from anywhere in the state, or they can restrict enrollment to district residents. 
Districts offering open enrollment can set limits on how many students they accept, based on capacity. Districts also can turn down students with disabilities if they don't already offer the required services, and students who recently have been suspended or expelled for at least 10 consecutive days. 
No district can stop a resident student from going to an open-enrollment district.
Students using open enrollment can get whatever transportation is offered to students who live in the district. But the receiving district is required to make pickups and drop-offs only at its regular bus stops. 
When a student leaves, about $5,700 is deducted from the home district's budget and sent to the enrolling district. More is sent if the student is in special education.

Jet City mom said...

I admit that students with disabilities may have fewer options than other students. But students with disabilities have fewer options NOW!

They may find a school that gives them more support thantheir home school does without the label.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"..how to help a student study". No kidding. It is amazing to me how little instruction is given on how to study. To assume someone at home will know (or know using a computer) is crazy to me. I think kids need real and direct instruction on how to read for content, research, taking notes and, most of all, how to review for a test.

Reader, I'll be doing a detailed analysis of the charter initiative because this issue of conversion schools is coming up a lot.

The sentence about "evidence of need and parent and community support.." well, that can be whatever the charter proposal says it is and whatever the authorizing entity believes is worthy. There is NO definition given in the text of the initiative.

From the initiative on conversion:

"In the case of an application to establish a conversion charter school, the applicant must also demonstrate support for the proposed conversion by a petition signed by a majority of teachers assigned to the school or a petition signed by a majority of parents of students in the school."

Again, that's it.

Can you imagine how easy it would be to convince a majority of teachers (a much lower figure than a majority of parents of enrolled students) to say yes? Charlie is right; you could have many take overs that way.

Your child, if enrolled in the school, can stay if he/she wants but if not, then the district is left figuring how placement, redrawn boundaries, etc.

Anyone who says this wouldn't hurt the district - at least on conversion boundaries - is not being truthful.

Anonymous said...

I can not agree with Solvay Girl more.

I wish it was required that a parent/guardian come with each child for the first morning of kindergarten and first grade. These K/1 parents could have a separate meeting during that time and the point could be made over and over that the most important thing they can do is read with their kid for 15-20 minutes everyday, no excuses. There is plenty of data on the correlation between literacy in the early grades and success throughout the rest of school that could be disseminated. For parents who know they can't commit to daily reading (either due to work schedule or english literacy issues) they could apply to have another parent/volunteer/paidtutor read with their kid every day at school. It would make a HUGE difference in the academic outcomes of all children. General school readiness (good night of sleep, fed --either at home or at school, etc.) is also critical.

It would also be great to sign them up to volunteer at the school in some way that fits their schedule so they start participating from the start. It is clear to me that one of the big keys to a successful school is the support and participation of all the parents in a way that works for them.

SPS Volunteer

Jet City mom said...

I agree that parent participation is hugely important. Even if we only required ten hours a year of participation, the consicious action of putting effort into improving the school environment would improve morale for the teachers, show the kids that what they do all day is important to their parents, and show the parents that they are a invaluable piece of the community.

Maybe money could even be attached to it- For every ten hours a parent puts in, money from the state/Gates is sent directly to the school( not district)
It could even be tied just to schools that recieve Title one money, but in thAt case i want to see the % required to do so, go back down, so that schools who could benefit are given a chance to receive it.

Someone said...

It's funny - I had a sleepless night last night, and one thing that kept running thru my brain was the whole "school readiness" aspect - doesn't really matter what kind of school it is, if a kid does not have adequate food, sleep, security, support at home, then with very few exceptions, they are bound to fall behind.

Instead of siphoning millions for things like Charter schools or MAP testing - I love to see anyone/everyone with the power to make it happen start working on getting more people employed at decent wages - and if they can't do that, restore some of the safety nets so that NO kid has to come to school hungry - that NO kid had to sleep in a car, or a box, or worrying that their parents will lose a home to foreclosure or any of the myriad of other trials that beset kids today.

I know - it's a pipe dream - but it frustrates me to see the wasted millions spent on things like paid signature gatherers that could be doing sooo much good elsewhere.

TechyMom said...

Here's my wish list
1) Free preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds
2) Restore funding to running start, so that it really is free
3) Restore/increase funding for AP and SAT test fees, and make this funding available to any student who asks for it, without a means test.
4) Extended school hours so that there is time for art, PE, music, drama, technology, languages, and at least an hour for lunch and two 15 minute recesses, every single day for every student in pk-12
5) Funding for all the stuff there would be time for in an extended day.
6) Smaller class sizes in every grade.
7) A lot more vocational ed/CTE. Allow students to take both college prep and vocational ed classes, so they can work right out of high school and pay for college.
8) Lower college tuition to a level where a part-time minimum-wage job will pay for it.
9) Set up some magnet high schools, for STEM, performing arts, gifted students. You do not need charters for this. Allow specialized schools to have admissions standards.
10) Summer school available to any student who asks for it, for free, without a means test. Structure it like summer quarter at UW, where you can get ahead, catch up, or take something fun or outside your area of study.

Of course, all of this costs money, but that's not a bad thing. Think how many people we could employ if we did this. I can't think of anything I'd rather spend my taxes on.

TechyMom said...

and another...
Restore the funding from the class-size-reduction initiative. I would tighten it up so that it can only be used to hire teachers and IAs to reduce class size, not for "district supports," professional development, coaches, etc.

Anonymous said...

I like your list, TechyMom, though I would move #10 up on the list. There is good evidence that exciting and engaging summer classes (not just credit retrieval classes) may be one of the best ways to address the opportunity gap.

I would add IB to #3 on the list. Right now exam fees are only partially subsidized for students on free and reduced lunch. The cost of fees should not be an obstacle for anyone to participate in IB.


Anonymous said...

I am dismayed. I like most of the lists -- but this kind of financing is simply not happening in a state that killed even a bottled water and candy tax. It just isn't. I realize that no one suggested "what can we do that doesn't cost significantly more" -- but really, why would he waste time and political capital writing and trying to introduce bills that just flat are not going anywhere -- and that marginalize him as a "tax and spend Democrat" who "can't live within his means."

Charter proponents claim their "solution" is cost neutral. I don't happen to believe them -- and I think that the costs of layering charters on the current system needs to be discussed, but I think there ARE things -- like the Creative schools legislation -- that can be done without dismantling school districts or giving assets to private entities, in a cost neutral manner (or a manner no more expensive than charter schools) and that will produce better results. How is coming up with an "alternate to charter legislation" wish list of expensive stuff that will require new revenue not the functional equivalent of jumping down the emergency chute and then turning and walking straight into the propeller?


Anonymous said...

You bested me, techymom. I tried to write such a list and it became too wordy so took it aside to bullet it. Esp. #1. We all agree - even the reformers see fogarty-bailey(or bailey-fogorty?) on publicola. Any elementary teacher knows that is where it starts. No scrimping. Pick up every kid whose parent uses any social program at all from food stamps to whatever. Provide nourishment, social programs and stucture.

I like the rest as well. This isn't going to come cheap. But you get what you pay for. School are psychologists, OTs, behaviour specialist, speech therapists, counselors and teachers. If the good ol' boys in the legislature don't get that those services cost money, they'll never get it all.

And if we can't throw money at our kids esp. when their learning windows are open (0-5), the rest won't matter.

Now go post that list on Carlyle's blog. He could do the work himself to get the information by looking at other systems in other countries but he's listening to the immediate interest groups who want to make it all business all the time. He should know better. He really should.


Anonymous said...

Jan, the legislature if bipartisan can increase taxes. They can do it. It costs money but if they don't find the money, nothing will get better. The social contract has been broken. At one time the very rich helped pay for the common good. We need to tap into that revenue stream again. These guys need to make the case to the people of Washington in a bipartisan way and they need to get media to echo their message and get it done. If republicans and democrats come together to save education in this state, media will have no alternative but to give voice to their campaign.


Anonymous said...

One more thing: I listened to Van Jones on TVW and he said the US economy is twice that of Chine and we are by far the richest country in the world. There is no reason we cannot afford the best education for our kids. None. Washington can be a model of we can get our legislature to just do it. Every senator and representative needs to go into his home district and get it done.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, that's why I said an income tax. We need to bite the bullet and get there. I see no other way for education spending to increase and I am not willing to accept where we are.

But yes, let's talk about what they are doing in Everett and Tukwila that isn't that much money (one moved money around to do and the other had a grant).

alinsonpaul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kate Martin said...

I think that Personal Development Plans for each child and Success Coordinators that would work with families and their students to create and steward their PDPs would be very useful. You can't get back what is lost when a child is not cultivated from birth til kindergarten, so making sure that families and kids have their mentor coaching them at a very early stage of the child's development is essential. These plans would be for every child. Lots of high achieving students could achieve their fullest personal potential through a Personal Development Plan as well. Community Schools would also be on the top of my list for the changes we need to see in our schools.

Anonymous said...

Mr Caryle: I'm for the easy button in terms of what to do right now, not later on. For today I want:

1) Income tax for the over $250K earner, the same tax supported by Gates Sr but opposed by Bezos and Balmer.

2) Stop legislating school "reforms" when you and the rest of the leg - fail - to fund what's already WA law.

Context: I don't trust the leg in it's current incarnation to write great or effective legislation. Stop pretending you're doing the right thing when in reality you're doing less than nothing. It's not just you, Mr Carlyle, it's most of your peers in other state houses taking your cue from Congress and the Fed. Something doing nothing, under these circumstances, is the best action possible because it does not further harm.

Mr White

Jet City mom said...

I want to restore funding for higher education.
Our best students are going out of state and the ones that stay are paying a much higher percentage of costs than 15 yrs ago.
The students that go out of state, arent coming back.

When Seattle community colleges dont participate in the Stafford/Direct loan Program, this severely impacts the ability of area students to continue their education.

Anonymous said...

My idea is pay for the ideas.

School ideas, aka 'best practices', should be modeled with flow charts. How many steps to implement each idea? How much does each step cost in time, and in money? If you can't model, then you shouldn't be allowed near ANY policy or management job.

Finally, let's do some math, let's think, let's get real.

Some math:

How many grams of rubber or plastic or cotton or leather or whatever are in your 2 favorite pair of shoes? What is 7 billion people had that same number. Where will all those raw materials come from? Who will process them from raw to finished state? Who will transport them and distribute them? Who will recycle them?

Ask the same questions about your glasses, your 3 favorite shirts, you 3 favorite sets of pants, your car... cars, your roof, your toilet bowls, your toilet bowl handles, your roof shingles, your tooth brush, your ... everything.

Some thinking:

There is a LOT of work to do to support and nurture 7 billion people.

Some reality:

Unless you're working on a warp drive or a 747 made outta biodegradeable recycleable organic tofu - WHAT are you doing of value for the 7 billion? Are you just another pontificating white collar parasite, managing processes whose main importance is keeping a roof over YOUR head?

Let's get real about teaching and education - there is a LOT of grunt work involved in training and inspiring and molding 50,000,000 +++ kids. Let's treat it like the grunt work of making shoes or making roads or making trucks or making shingles - let's automate the hell out of it, so we focus on the cool stuff.

Let's fire the over $100,000 a year management / administrators / university people who aren't in buildings and who've clearly had success by dumb luck instead of design. Let's NEVER allow the SFC LEV A4E CPRE DFER TFA NCTQ KIPP string pulling honchos near anything education again - how's that for


RosieReader said...

I think That simply fully funding basic education is such a big and difficult thing to do that it's folly to discuss anything else. Solve that, then we can talk about why other changes we might want to Ed.

Reuven said...

Thanks Melissa for the post: This is a good list and the focus on funding is, of course, essential. Yet I think the public recognizes the fact that we are a blue state with strong anti-tax sentiment. The King County superior court ruling today on I-1053 is a very big deal toward having the state Supreme Court overturn this undemocratic restriction on representative democracy, but with a Legislature afraid of our shadow the future remains uncertain.

Aside from the broader ideas, I do like Kate Martin's idea about strengthening Personal Development Plans; the idea about improving 'how to study' concepts; TechyMom's list of details; Melissa's ideas. However, let me reiterate the importance of thinking through a few more specific ideas to help vet some concepts a bit more thoroughly. I very much want to challenge the community to think of specific, actionable, compelling ideas that the various advocates can get behind and we can have a real chance of passing in 2013.

If the readers of this blog can prioritize a few key policy ideas with some reasoning, and perhaps an idea or two for funding or a modest pilot project we could fund in Seattle, I will plan to introduce the legislation and attempt to secure resources from the state budget.

I know that some folks here are opposed to some of my policy positions. If you read the post cited by Melissa my real point was not about charters but actually that the Democratic Party has been having an illicit affair with the status quo and we've lost a sense of urgency to question the institutional infrastructure in education and many other areas. I was attempting to 'elevate the dialogue' about my political party's lack of enthusiasm for efforts to improve education and instead we hide behind low expectations. I think my party has lost a willingness to challenge parents to be more engaged. I am a lifelong, committed Democrat but in some areas I fear my treasured party has become the party of monopoly thinking, bureaucracy and the status quo. That was the point of the blog post.

More importantly, my sincere hope is that those of us who care so deeply about education in our city and state can unite around a series of issues, ideas and policies that we can all support.

Together we can do all those things we cannot do alone.

Your partner in service,

Reuven Carlyle
State Representative

Charlie Mas said...

Reuven, You're still not getting it.


You repeating a slander to say it. The Democratic Party does not support the status quo. The teachers' union does not support the status quo. No one supports the status quo.

Can you name one person who supports the status quo? I doubt it.

Just because people do no support the reforms promoted by the ERAO does not mean that they support the status quo. They support other reforms.

Please listen harder. Please don't adopt the language and frame of the people on the wrong side of this issue. Please stop spreading the libel that opponents of charter schools or TFA or other assaults on public education are supporting the status quo. Just because we don't have well-financed public relations companies managing our messaging doesn't mean that we don't have a message.

Maureen said...

I very much want to challenge the community to think of specific, actionable, compelling ideas that the various advocates can get behind and we can have a real chance of passing in 2013.

So, is this what some legislators' support for charters is about? That charters are seen as somehow specific, actionable, and compelling?

In my mind, charters, as proposed, are actually vague, difficult to implement and unconvincing. No source of funding has been identified for them (successful charters depend on private donors to supplement public funds) or for the increased public costs of overseeing them.

We need to fully fund basic education in this state. People are already paying for preschools and day care, for all day kindergarten, for private tutoring and summer camps. The state is paying for juvenile courts and for prisons. If you and your colleagues make a stand and insist on an income tax dedicated to education, that money will be an investment that will pay off over time in decreased private and public expenditure.

Universal preK, Free all day kindergarten, early interventions for struggling students, enriching summer programs, fully funded high school counselors and intervention specialists. These things are specific, actionable, compelling ideas. A targeted income tax is a specific, actionable, compelling idea. We need responsible, thoughtful, legislators with a will to work to make those ideas real in 2013.

Reuven said...

Charlie, I would appreciate if you would resist efforts to accuse people of slander. It's just not helpful to an engaged, civic dialogue about education policy. We are all just real people living real lives attempting to do our best for our kids.

It is my great sadness to report to you that when it comes to state government, you are wildly incorrect if you say no one supports the status quo. There is wide spread acceptance of a 73% on time graduation rate. There is widespread acceptance of inequity. There is widespread acceptance of inadequate funding and many other elements.

I am merely attempting to open the door and inviting readers into a public policy conversation about real, genuine, actual legislation we could craft for next year's legislative session. No more and no less. I can only assume (Charlie) from your refocus back to 'what you are against' that you are not interested in that invitation the way others have thoughtfully posted here. If you want to stand together and figure out some viable policy options that can be crafted into legislation that might be achievable, then you have my invitation to engage. I can write a bill, sign the document and introduce it into the Legislature for consideration. You cannot do that as a citizen other than through the initiative process. If you want to participate in the legislative process with me, then I'm all ears.

It was just an idea and an invitation that I thought readers of this blog would appreciate given our shared passion for high quality public education.

I welcome everyone's ideas.


Maureen said...

Mr. Carlyle, can you give us an example of an actionable item that you could support? Do we need to package any proposal with a funding source to make it real? I get the impression that you think we are just throwing out unrealistic wishlists and that you don't think asking for an income tax is doable. You do seem to think that asking for charters is realistic and doable (and somehow will solve problems) even though there is no funding source attached to the proposal.

Here's another idea (which I hesitate to propose because I think it's divisive): Get rid of levy equalization. Allow the west side of the state to tax itself and keep the money in their own Districts. Let the east side live with their values. Maybe just threatening to do that would make more legislators face up to raising the revenue we need to support education state wide.

If Seattle can hold on to more of our levy funds, we can supply counselors and intervention specialists for our struggling students in our existing schools. Then charters (if approved)and TFA can target rural Districts which will welcome them and the philanthropists who support them. Win win.

Dorothy Neville said...

What exactly are the practices of the status quo that are under discussion, that Mr Carlyle finds so reprehensible? Charters have been around for long enough to be part of the status quo in many states. So what exactly do people mean by the "status quo" and what needs to change?