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.
On April 27, 1,200 delegates of the powerful state teachers union, the Washington Education Association, gathered at a Representative Assembly meeting in Bellevue to elect new top executives. The new union leaders will serve two-year terms. The union president received a compensation package worth $186,000 in pay and benefits in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available.
Every public school principal is painfully familiar with being forced to send children to a classroom where she knows the teacher there is not the best fit, but the teacher's placement has been forced on the school by higher-ups at the central district. In an effort to improve classroom instruction, bad teachers are often shuffled from one school to another, an administrative tactic known among principals as "The Dance of the Lemons."
President Obama has declared the week of May 5-11 as National Charter Schools Week. He called on communities to support charter schools and the students they serve. He described charter schools as “incubators of innovation” and models of reform for other schools. He also said this:
Yesterday, the nine-member charter school commission met in Bellevue for its second meeting. The commission is still getting organized. It has the important job of approving some of Washington state’s first charter public schools.
In the wake of last fall's voter-approved Initiative 1240, parent-led groups interested in opening charter schools in their communities are starting to emerge. Debbie Cafazzo at The News Tribune reports on parents' intentions to pursue charter school applications in their local Tacoma and Peninsula school districts.
The new nine-member state Charter School Commission held its first meeting on April 4th in Olympia. The commission has set up a website, here. Their meeting focused on reviewing essential laws and procedures. The agenda for the April 4 meeting is available here.
Austin Jenkins reports that last Friday, public school mom Jennifer Harjehausen, from Kent, drove to Olympia to testify at a public hearing. She told lawmakers that parents have to buy school supplies:
“We gave Sharpies to my kids’ teacher for Christmas," she said. "I mean come on. The PTA buys disinfectant for the computer lab. We have to provide our own trash can liners when we hold an event. That is crazy.”
Last week I attended a fascinating presentation sponsored by the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the UW - a story about saving a Catholic school in Seattle and the lessons it holds for public education.
Next Friday, April 26th, Geoffrey Canada will be the keynote speaker for Stand for Children’s Changing the Odds luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle. Geoffrey Canada is the president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit that provides a variety of services to help low-income children and families in New York City.
Yesterday, SB 5496, “Authorizing Approval of Online School Programs in Private Schools,” passed the House of Representatives, 97-0. The Senate passed it last month, 47-0. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.
Education officials at the Yakima School District have signed the district up to become an authorizer of charter schools, making a total 13 districts, up from the 12 districts I reported on April 2. The State Board of Education has updated its website to include the Yakima School District.