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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ed Reform Talk

This summer, Rep. Eric Pettigrew went to a talk by Jeb Bush, a champion of the worst of ed reform (just look at Florida).  Now, in yet another disturbing trend, Pettigrew (who says he's a Dem), is going to accept an award from the Washington Policy Center for his "courage" in standing up for charters.  If I were in the 37th, I'd be suspicious of someone who is so cozy with partisans from the other party.

The WPC, which calls itself non-partisan, is nothing of the sort.

Here's WPC's idea for what would be good for Washington State - Eight Ways to Improve Public Schools:

-Put the principal in charge
-Give parents choice among public schools
-Let teachers teach
-Double teacher pay
-Replace current state tests with the Iowa Test of Basic Skills
-Create no-excuses schools
-Transparency: Put school budgets and teacher qualifications online, and rate schools based on their ability to educate children
-Make the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed office 

 But if putting teacher qualifications online is good, why not elected officials?  Why just teachers?

 And, who would "rate" schools and how?

And, what is a "no excuse" school?

 In their bigger brief they say things that ARE true but pretend aren't true:
Principals should also be allowed to remove teachers who are unwilling or unfit to do the important work of educating children. 

Principals absolutely CAN remove teachers - but it's a process and it takes some work.  Many principals don't want to but there are a number in SPS who have proven themselves willing to do so.


 If a principal feels longer school days, home visits or Saturday sessions are needed to help educate children, state mandates and union work rules should not be allowed to prevent students from learning. Principals should be able to pay teachers more for working longer hours to help struggling students. Principals should also be allowed to hire one-on-one tutors to help students at risk of falling behind. 

Agreed but see WPC, the state of Washington doesn't even fund to a national AVERAGE.  We're in the bottom quarter - consistently - for K-12 funding and even the Washington State Supreme Court recognizes this.  Rearranging the small funding is not going to change the basic problem of ...small funding.  Where would you find the money for these ideas?

About principals:
The position of principal should not be limited to applicants who hold a teaching certificate. Principals must be skilled at leading and motivating adults and students. Anyone with demonstrated skills in managing gained from business, nonprofit or military experience should be allowed to enter a principal training program. For example, former Army general John Stanford had no background in education when he was hired to head the largest school district in the state. 

Principals do have to be able to manage and motivate staff but ANY principal can tell you their number one job is being the educational leader.  Look it up.  Ask a principal.  Ask Banda.  Now if you want a school manager, find the funds and hire whoever you want.  But most parents want someone who knows how to lead a teaching corps.  That means understanding teaching. And, FYI, John Stanford was a superintendent, not a principal.

 Now to "choice":

New public school parents often discover their opinions are not really respected by school district administrators. 

No kidding.

In choosing a school, parents should be assisted by a range of new information tools, particularly the Internet.

Unless you are poor and have no computer and/or don't know how to use the Internet.
Parents should evaluate the performance of their children’s classroom teachers and provide this information  to the school principal. Parents should also evaluate the principal, and provide this information to the district superintendent. 

In your free time, of course.

State government posts all public spending online. Local public schools should do the same.

 I hate to break to WPC but yes, every school's budget is available to view as is every district's.

 But here it really is for WPC:
-Increase parent choice 
-Allow charter public schools 
-Allow tax credit scholarships so low-income parents can choose a private school 
-Create a student educational grant or voucher to give parents the money the state provides to use in a public school or in a private school 
-Provide competition to traditional public schools and they will improve 

OH, you mean vouchers for all. Why didn't you just say so? It's sort of like the Ryan plan for old folks - we'll hand you some money and you figure it out. Not enough money for your situation? Oh well.

That last line about competition? It hasn't worked with charters in existence and that's probably because charters are mostly not any more innovative than traditionals and clearly, don't perform better.

 But really if we want vouchers and ed reform, here's a couple of things to keep in mind. Here's what lies ahead for the children of Louisiana - education of the lowest form. (It's almost as if Jindal really doesn't care.)

For one, of the 119 (mostly Christian) participating schools, Zack Kopplin, a gutsy college sophomore who's taken toto stonewall the program, has identifiedat least 19 that teach or champion creationist nonscience and will rake in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations. 
Many of these schools, Kopplin notes, rely on Pensacola-based Bob Jones University Press textbooks to teach their pupils Bible-based "facts," such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully so the rest of world doesn't have to. 

And here's a hard cold fact - despite this wave of ed reform, people still like local control of education.

From Ed Week:

Education scholars from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. found that Americans support local control of their schools—even as some have tried to portray school boards as "dinosaurs" of governance.
The public believes that all three levels of government—local, state and federal—should be involved in education policy, and that local officials should be in charge of day-to-day operations of the schools, Rebecca Jacobsen, lead researcher on the project, is quoted as saying in a Michigan State release about the paper.
"A lot of policymakers today think they can just go around the local boards; that the federal government can create a policy that goes directly to the schools or works around the existing institutions," Jacobsen said in the release. "But that's not going to work in the long run, because local control is not dead. People still feel it plays an important role."
You can't be teaching your favored science "theory" without local control.  This ed reform wave is going to run smack into that problem and soon.  People are not going to want to give up local control to either the state or the feds.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

In partial support of one idea: Using the ITBS would save the state money and would provide a nationally normed comparison. Didn't the district use ITBS in the past?

parent

mirmac1 said...

Eric Pettigrew epitomizes the quintessential "roadkill" Dem.

The 37th would do well to reject his porkbarrel politics and kick his a*** out.

Unknown said...

Yes, they did Parent and there's one thing I would agree with the WPC that could be done (ITBS is waay cheaper than anything else and had been the gold standard).

seattle citizen said...

But using the ITBS doesn't create billions more in profit for the companies selling state tests and curriculum designed around the new Common Core.

Anonymous said...

I just skimmed through the 1240 website - they list a post office box in Oly, and, no list of humans in charge, and, no list of the monthly cost per human of those humans involved.

'Lying despicable scum' is a phrase used by

SomeoneIKnow

southiemom said...

I vote in the 37th district and wrote in'anyone but Eric Pettigrew' on my ballot.