Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), spoke eloquently today on education reform and presented encouraging ideas for change. After noting that the large increases in education spending over the last eight years have resulted in flat graduation rates and a widening opportunity gap, Senator Tom said:
"We don't want to come back to parents, students, and others saying, 'We failed you for another eight years because all we did was put more money into the system.' It is not about money..."
Peter Callaghan has an insightful article in the Tacoma News Tribune on the state of education reform today. Interestingly, Callaghan notes that at first Democratic governors led efforts to challenge the status quo of mediocre public schools back in the 1980s. Yet today, as reactionary unions remain the primary obstacle to reform, the most exciting education ideas are now coming from coalitions of concerned people from the center and the center right.
A single data chart caused a big stir last week when Professor Marguerite Roza of the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the U.W. presented her findings to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Professor Roza's presentation only happened because the Committee is under new leadership. Senator Steve Litzow (R–Mercer Island) is allowing committee members to see briefing materials and consider bills that were previously blocked under the chairmanship of Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell).
The education policy world is abuzz with news that teachers at four Seattle schools are refusing to give their students the mandatory Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. See Linda Shaw’s latest here.
Wednesday afternoon a blast of cold, fresh air blew through a Senate hearing room in Olympia. New ideas for improving public schools were allowed a hearing. Under the leadership of Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee convened its first meeting. Former Chair of the Committee, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell), looked on as ideas she had blocked for years were openly discussed.
Well-connected Melissa Westbrook breaks the story that teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle have unanimously refused to comply with the Seattle School District’s mandate to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.
Kris McBride, The Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield, explains:
Yesterday the Seattle Times posted a well-reasoned, well-written editorial about the state teachers union (WEA) plan to file a lawsuit to prevent Washington school children from attending charter schools.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn today announced he wants the legislature to amend newly-enacted Initiative 1240 to place state-level administrative authority over charter schools within his office. He says this will remove the constitutional objections he has to the Initiative. Washington State Wire breaks the story here.
On Friday morning, Steve Scher of KUOW Radio (NPR-Seattle) interviewed Mary Lindquist, president of the state teachers union (WEA), about the union’s lawsuit to block children’s access to voter-approved charter schools. Here is a part of their conversation (at 12:15):
Over the holidays, Washington Education Association executives decided to sue voters over Initiative 1240, the people’s charter school initiative, according to a posting on Facebook. I-1240 gives priority to new charter schools that serve at-risk students from low-performing traditional public schools. Here is the union’s statement:
Today Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association, posted a cranky attack on legislative leaders Senators Tom, Litzow and Sheldon. She claims they have been “slashing school funding by $2.5 billion.”
The election results are barely certified for voter-approved Initiative 1240, the most hopeful education reform passed in Washington in decades. Opponents have formed a group to prevent children in need from attending a charter school. A new group called Protect Our Public Schools (POPS) has announced its creation as an affiliate of a national group that works against education reform in the states (see announcement below).
KOMO News and Q13 Fox are reporting that schools in Washington are using padded cells to isolate special needs children who misbehave. Responding to public outrage, the Longview School District just announced it will discontinue the practice. The Burlington School District defends use of this practice.