Tuesday Open Thread

Happy Valentine's Day.

I have a happy memory of Valentine's Day in the first grade. We each cut out two big valentine hearts from pink and red construction paper, stapled them together along the straight edges to make heart-shaped pockets, and taped them to our desks as "mail boxes". Then the class walked up and down the rows of desks dropping off a valentine's card at every desk. When you got back to your desk you had a card from everyone else in the class.

What are you musing about today?


Jet City mom said…
I remember Valentine boxes.
My kids had that in private school, but when my youngest changed to public school, the teacher did not feel she could stress that Valentines were to be given to the whole class so they did not have any at all.
( although it could have also been because a student belonged to a religion which did not celebrate holidays including birthdays, so that year there was no acknowledgment of such in the classroom, which was disappointing because celebrations can be fun!)

Anonymous said…
Melissa - I'm really interested in your HCC theory - where you think SPS is going. Will that be a separate post?

QA Parent
Yes, I hope to get it up today.
Anonymous said…
Thank you!

QA Parent
alex said…
I'm so glad you're back to the blog...I was disoriented without your posts...

Anonymous said…
From Education Week

Washington State Lawmakers Attempt to Strip Powers From State Board

One of the big hurdles to pushing for education change in states is that, oftentimes, it's not exactly clear who's in charge. This has become a big issue as states craft their accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law dictates who has to be consulted, but doesn't specify who has the final say and state constitutions aren't always clear.

Enter Washington state, where an ongoing legal battle over school funding and the pending ESSA plan has collided in a way that could lead to fundamental changes to the Evergreen State's power structure for the coming years.

Currently, local school board members, the state's superintendent of public instruction, and seven of the state's 12 school board members are elected (the other five are appointed by local school board members). Local school board members report to the state superintendent, who reports to the state school board. But who crafts and approves policy has been pretty murky—and it could soon get murkier.

The legislature's House of Representatives heard a bill Monday that essentially would gut the state board of most of its powers and hand those powers to the state's superintendent.

House Bill 1886 takes from the state's board of education and places in the hands of the state superintendent the power to identify and take over low-performing schools and establish some standards for high school graduates, and appoint charter authorizers.

Most importantly, the bill would put the state's superintendent in charge of creation and execution of the state's accountability system and many of the state's federally funded programs.

In an interview with Education Week last week, the recently elected state superintendent of public instruction (the office is non-partisan), Chris Reykdal, (a former legislator himself) said that because legislators will soon be paying the majority of the state's education costs under a soon-to-be recalibrated funding formula, it should be the legislature that crafts the majority of the state's education policy.

(to be continued)

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
(continued from above)

"I'm very sincere about telling our legislature that if we're expected to set up a few billion dollars more for education, you should have an opinion about accountability," Reykdal said.

The state is under a 2012 state supreme court order, McCleary v. Washington, to take on more education costs, including teacher pay. The state is expected to pour up to $2 billion more into its funding formula this year, though party leaders can't come to an agreement over how to do it.

Since being elected, Reykdal said he has moved with "lightning speed" on the creation of the state's ESSA plan and taken much of the policymaking out of the department and state board meeting rooms and straight to the state's House and Senate education committees.

Ben Rarick, the state board's executive director, said board members are best suited to craft the details of the state's accountability policy, not legislators.

"We're entering an era, with the importance of ESSA, where most of the board's signature authoritiy in terms of state accountability systems is being stripped," Rarick said. "The board has been a significant player in improving the state's accountability system, and it's the main way that stakeholders see transparency in public deliberations on these topics."

Rarick pointed out that state boards meet year round and have the ability to respond to federal regulatory guidance.

"So much has changed in just the last two to three weeks," Rarick said, referring to the regulatory rulemaking process at the federal level where congress has moved to scrap its current accountability regulations. "My view is that the legislature has the authority and the right to set accountability policy. But there's a certain point at which ... state boards of education should be left to craft the nuances and the complete picture of our accountability system."

In past years, a bill was proposed to totally eliminate the state board of education, and in 2014 the legislature considered making the board solely appointed by the governor.

Washington's state school board is one of many that are struggling to hold onto their powers.

ESSA, which devolves significant policymaking power from the federal government to state governments, is being seen by state board members and their advocates as an opportunity to reassert their authority.

to be continued

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said…
the finish part 3 of 3

Kristen Amundson, the president and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told me last week that one of the biggest reasons state boards of education are best suited to craft education policy is that, increasingly, they are the most permanent fixture in state government, and state board members often have the longest tenures and most extensive education experience. As I point out in a story this week, a quarter of House and Senate education chairs this year are new to the job, and a quarter of state superintendents have been in the job for less than a year. (The average state superintendent has been in the job for just two and a half years, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.) Fewer than half the lawmakers who head up their chambers' education committees have K-12 education experience, such as teaching or serving on a local school board. Ten state superintendents have never taught in a classroom.

I wrote about the power dynamics between state government powers last year shortly after ESSA was passed, but as the deadline for submitting ESSA plans to the federal government approaches, battles between state superintendents, state board members, and legislators has intensified.

Examples abound.

Louisiana's state board and superintendent has an entirely different ESSA draft plan than its governor-appointed task force.

Arizona, where the governor-appointed board has legally sparred with the state's elected superintendent, rushed through an accountability plan that devolves most power to local school board members and superintendents.

And New Mexico last week rejected a bill that would have re-established a state board to oversee its state superintendent.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Here is the link to HB 1886

HB 1886 - 2017-18
Concerning the responsibilities of the superintendent of public instruction and the state board of education.
Sponsors: Harris, Santos, Pollet
Companion Bill: SB 5673

-- Dan Dempsey
Thank you, Dan.

"I'm very sincere about telling our legislature that if we're expected to set up a few billion dollars more for education, you should have an opinion about accountability," Reykdal said.

Well, so far, the Legislature has NOT found that money and the latest BS from the "moderate Dems" is finding some from a sales tax for online sales and making local ed levies permanent.

As well, it is my experience that those who serve on the Board of Education do tend to stay a lot longer and have more institutional knowledge than say, legislators.

I'll have to ask Reykdal about this.
Anonymous said…
"you should have an opinion about accountability," Reykdal said.

My question is what is accountability?
How is accountability connected to improvement?

Consider supposed increased accountability over the last decade in WA State and the measured achievement gaps for African-America students and low income students.

Accountability is little more than a mumbo jumbo word used to mislead the public.

There has been some improvement in student learning over time in the USA but to think accountability brought about improvement is absurd.

Speaking of accountability and funding consider this:
among the states, Washington ranks 49th in providing mental health services.

So let the legislators drone on about funding and accountability for apparently those folks are delusional experts.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Has anyone noticed that the Nova project is not listed as a high school option on the open enrollment forms? Doesn't affect us as my kids weren't going to enroll there, but it seems odd. What about incoming 9th graders (or other grades) that did want to go there next year - how would they let the school district know that?

Mom of 4
SPS Mom said…
It's my understanding that Nova moved from being an option school to being a "service" school, which will allow interested students to move there at any point during the year, rather than moves being restricted to the two week open enrollment period. It should increase access to Nova. Someone might want to confirm this, but I'm pretty sure that this is the shift.
That's my understanding as well, SPS Mom.
Old Timer said…
The state board of education is loaded with corporate reformers. It should be noted that the SBE sets SBAC sets standards related to passing state exams. Some SBE are appointed and, IMO, there is no opportunity to hold these individuals accountable to the public...this is a problem.

I watched the hearing and one individuals testified in favor of the bill. The individual claimed that the SBE has failed to meet the needs of students that do not seek college careers.

It also seems, to me, that the SBE has tooo much power.
Anonymous said…
Anybody else still waiting for HCC testing results? They were supposed to appear on the Source by Feb. 10th, but still nothing, and as usual no explanation on the AL website for the delay/projected new dates. With the extremely narrow window for submitting appeals, it would be nice if they could let families know what is going on. In our case it is not urgent that we know this information now (not planning a school change this year),but I can imagine some families are really stressed by this.

Also, I know they are telling people that if they want their child to be considered for an HCC option and they don't have test results yet, they should go ahead and put that down, but this adds an extra layer of uncertainty to the whole process. No wonder lots of families --especially those with fewer resources -just say forget it to the whole AL system.

LakeCity Mom, I queried the Board on this point. I'm sure something will appear today or tomorrow.

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