On July 1st, Spokane Public Schools was the only district in Washington state to submit an application to become a charter school authorizer for the 2014-15 school year. Responsible for the education of 28,738 students, Spokane Public Schools is the second-largest district in Washington. With this decision, Spokane has become the state’s most progressive, forward-looking district in the state.
Monday, July 1st was an important date in the implementation of Initiative 1240, the voter-approved measure that legalized charter schools for Washington school children. That was the deadline for interested school districts to submit an application to the State Board of Education to become a charter school authorizer.
The Washington Education Association launched its long-anticipated legal attack on charter schools today. Lawyers for the powerful public-sector union filed suit in King County Superior Court to overturn voter-approved Initiative 1240. If successful, the lawsuit would deny access to charter schools to Washington school children.
The bi-partisan education reform bill, SB 5946, sponsored by senators Dammeier (R-Puyallup) and Frockt (D-Seattle) would direct more funding to the classroom to educate children, with a specific focus on early reading, the Learning Assistance Program, training new teachers, online learning and keeping kids in school. Opponents of the bill, led by the powerful WEA union, do not like any limits on their control over where the money goes within the education bureaucracy.
Yesterday, Katherine Long of The Seattle Times writes an informative report on how college tuition hikes are putting the squeeze on middle-class students. She describes how state cuts hurt students seeking to attend a public college or university. She reports on the plight of Ruth Ferguson, Elizabeth Pring, Christina Xiao, Josh Grandinetti and other U.W. students who are finding it hard to finance their education.
The National Council on Teacher Quality released its first annual report, “Teacher Prep Review,” a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of the colleges and universities that train the nation’s teachers. Using a four-star rating system, the Review assesses the 1,130 institutions that train 99% of schoolteachers.
The study finds that three-quarters of teacher-training institutions in the U.S. earned only two stars. Researchers found that:
As I reported yesterday, the State Board of Education has postponed its vote to weaken Washington’s School Achievement Index. The fifteen-member Board, led by Chairman Jeff Vincent, has decided to take up less controversial topics during its meeting tomorrow in Olympia. Click here to see the meeting agenda.
This Wednesday, June 19th, the State Board of Education meets in Olympia to discuss revisions to the School Achievement Index to reduce the rigor of the performance criteria used to evaluate schools, as I’ve explained here. Originally, they planned to vote on the revisions after taking public testimony.
Over the weekend, the Senate Majority Coalition, in negotiations with the House Democrats over the budget, continued to push for ending the “Dance of the Lemons”; the practice of force-placing bad teachers from school to school, which I’ve written about here, here, and
This sunny afternoon House budget writers, led by Rep. Ross Hunter, (D-Bellevue), released a new budget proposal, significantly narrowing the distance between its budget and the Senate’s. The new House proposal would spend $33.7 billion, yet still depends upon passage of a new tax. The Senate budget would spend $33.3 billion without increasing taxes. Here is a comparison of education spending in these budgets:
House: $14.97 billion for K-12 Public Schools, $2.99 billion for Higher Ed.
Senate: $15.165 billion for K-12 Public Schools, $3.04 for Higher Ed.
Yesterday in The Seattle Times, Jonathan Martin writes that parents of second-grade students in Room 105 at Seattle’s West Woodland Elementary realized their teacher was incompetent. This teacher didn’t learn the names of the children, bungled attendance, didn’t assign math or reading work, didn’t grade homework, mumbled instead of teaching, didn’t return parents’ emails, and wrote inappropriate words on the blackboard.
Well, it was bound to happen. Chairman Jeff Vincent and the 15 other members of the State Board of Education are quietly working to weaken the state's well-established and effective Public School Achievement Index. The Index was created in 2010 at the direction of the legislature. For three years now the Index has been informing parents and the public about how well our public schools are educating children. The information on the Index goes back to the 2007-08 school year.
As part of Washington Policy Center's ongoing I-1240 Follow-Up Project, we have anticipated an effort by the WEA union to seek a lawsuit to block implementation of the voter-passed charter school measure. Earlier in the year the idea appeared to be dropped. Now it looks like it's back.
Today Washington's Charter School Commission holds its third meeting at the Bethaday Community Learning Space in southeast Seattle. See the agenda here.
The Commission will hear a presentation from the Gates Foundation about charter school management organizations and operators. The Commission will also be considering a proposal from the National Association of Charter School Organizers, proposed rules for the conduct of the Commission, and other business.
Today we released our new study: “Officials Use Race to Help Set Academic Achievement Goals,” available here.
Last fall, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction and education officials at the state’s 295 school districts used student race as a factor in setting state, district and school-level academic achievement goals for tests in math and reading for 2012 through 2017.