Wednesday, November 20, 2013

State Education News

I attended the 43rd Dems meeting last night; it's my district.  As you may be aware, the election of Ed Murray as mayor means he leaves the State Legislature as senator.  So his post needs to be filled and, so far, the only person to step forward is the one of the 43rd's representatives, Jamie Pedersen.  (The other is Frank Chopp, the Speaker of the House.)  Senator Murray is to resign on December 31st and the seat must be filled within 60 days of that date.

Naturally, that means Pedersen's seat will be open and there are - so far - three candidates vying for the appointed position.  (It seems a complicated process who gets the appointment.  It was explained that the PCOs for the 43rd will vote, their rank order votes for all three are then sent to the King County Council who will make the final decision.

Pedersen and Chopp spoke to the crowd about coming legislative issues.  Their overriding message was that the Dems need to regain control of the Senate in order to move key issues forward including fully-funding education (and they both believe some kind of new revenue source must be found to fulfill the McCleary ruling mandate).  

On education:

  • the feds are not happy with our state's teacher evaluation (save Seattle) because it does not measure student growth.  They could limit Title One funding based on this issue.
  • McCleary is supposed to be enacted to the tune of $4B by 2017
  • I asked about Senator Tom's desire for public schools to be rated from A-F (and I added, "If you support this, would you want to be ranked from A-F for your work?"  Both laughed.)  Speaker Chopp snorted dismissively and said it was a dumb idea.  Pedersen related that his son (one of four children he has so SPS will be still growing) just started kindergarten at Stevens and that he and his husband are very happy there.  His son's teacher has been a teacher for 27 years, 17 at Stevens and the last 10 as a kindergarten teacher. 
          But he also said that his son was one of 90 kindergarteners in three classrooms.  He said that is not the parents fault nor the district's.  He said it was the Legislature's fault.  He said that teachers were not being paid what they should be paid and that was the Legislature's fault.  He then said the idea of grading schools on an A-F scale was "crap."
  •  They were also asked about charter schools and visibly stiffened.  Pedersen said, for the record, that he had been against the measure but it barely passed and now was law.  He said that it was a "pilot" for charters and that "we have to protect the public school system that serves the vast majority of our students."
Update:  I neglected to mention that Director DeBell lost his race to be a PCO for the 43rd to Marcy Bowers.  If he had won, he would have been part of the group voting on the candidates to fill Pedersen's position.


mirmac1 said...

Pedersen thinks the law is a "pilot"?! Does he think all laws are just pilots, that can be deemed ago, or losers and shut down? Bizarre!

Anonymous said...

The senior member and former president of the school board and longtime 36th District stalwart couldn't get a lowly PCO seat? That's painful!


Good Day said...

DeBell lost his bid to become a PCO. Doesn't appear DeBell has a lot of support in the 43rd. Therefore, looks VERY unlikely we'll see him move up the ranks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DeBell probably did not do well because he had been a long-time 36th member (and probably a PCO) but his district got redrawn and his address drawn out of it. He just isn't a known quantity to members of the 43rd (even as Board director). I think that's the issue.

mirmac1 said...

Ask them why they think the Common Core is so great. Other states are hitting the pause button.

Florida Superintendents say go slow on CC

And the Fla Supts want to suspend the asinine A-F grading system their benighted legislature put in place.

Anonymous said...

mirmac, of the 45 states who originally adopted the Common Core State Standards, none of them have since reverted back to their old state content standards. Some of the states that were members of the one or both of the testing consortia have decided not to use their tests --- one state in particular, Alabama is still going to use the Common Core State Standards but they're going to use ACT tests instead of Smarter Balanced tests.

Are you suggesting that Washington drop the Common Core State Standards and revert back to the old Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs)?

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

My understanding is the EALRs were as rigorous, if not more so, than the CC. And they're freeeeeeeee (you would have to have seen Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler).

Common Core comes with standardized tests and massive data collection so that we can compare a 4th grader in Podunk Arkansas with a 4th grader in Cambridge Mass.

WA can ill-afford to expend limited funds on a proprietary set of standards, when they have not been shown to be demonstrably better.

Anonymous said...

I can't say for certain whether or not the EALRs are more rigorous than the CCSS, but I do know that are quite comparable.

The EALRs are not free. The state paid teachers and consultants to revise the EALRs every four years or so and they paid for professional development for teachers each time they were revised.

The state currently pays millions to contractors to develop and administer the MSP, HSPE, and EOCs. My understanding is that the Smarter Balanced tests are cheaper --- at least OSPI reported to the legislature that the Smarter Balanced tests are cheaper. Finally, the state does not have to use the Smarter Balanced tests. However, the state would have to expend significant funds to pay the current contractors to align the MSP, HSPE, and EOC to the Common Core State Standards.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

I am still not comfortable with how Washington State adopted Common Core Standards, nor am convinced that the driving force was cost savings and not to try to compete for Race to the Top funds -- which we did not receive at the state level.

Have you ever reviewed the adoption timeline and wondered how we went from provisional adoption to full adoption with little public notice and almost no public review? How come OSPI didn't come present in Seattle during its review phase?

WA State and the Common Core State Standards -- Official Commitments and Involvement
Timeline and References

Ann D

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll have a large CC thread soon.

Yes, this was pushed thru. No, it was not created with enough input from real educators. No, there has not been enough public engagement.

Wait till you see how they want to teach the Gettysburg Address. With no context and reference to history.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I have been eagerly anticipating your thread on the Common Core. I say that without any sarcasm. I really would like your read your comprehensive take.

But, I hope you are differentiating between the standards themselves and curriculum and instruction. The Common Core DOES NOT dictate instruction. The Common Core may communicate learning expectations around the Gettysburg Address but the Common Core State Standards themselves DO NOT direct how teachers should teach.

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

I have heard a scary number of teachers say CC IS a curriculum!