Senate education reformers act to improve classroom instruction

June 11, 2013 in Blog

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

House's new budget proposal approaches Senate budget

June 5, 2013 in Blog

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.

SB 5242 would help school principals protect our kids from bad teachers

June 4, 2013 in Blog

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.

State Board of Education working to weaken Achievement Index to make low-performing schools look better

May 31, 2013 in Blog

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.

Lawsuit against charter schools may be back

May 30, 2013 in Blog

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. 

Washington Charter School Commission holds third meeting

May 28, 2013 in Blog

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.

Officials Use Race to Set Academic Achievement Goals for School Children

May 22, 2013 in Blog

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.

Powerful Teachers’ Union Elects New President

May 16, 2013 in Blog

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.  

SB 5242 would end "Dance of the Lemons" in teachers’ placements

May 16, 2013 in Blog

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 declares this week National Charter Schools week

May 8, 2013 in Blog

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:

Washington Charter School Commission holds second meeting

May 1, 2013 in Blog

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.

Tacoma-area parents seek to open charter school

May 1, 2013 in Blog

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.

Washington Charter School Commission holds first meeting

April 30, 2013 in Blog

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.

School managers short teachers on classroom supplies. Where does the money go?

April 25, 2013 in Blog

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.”

What public education can learn from the leaders who saved St. Therese Catholic Academy

April 19, 2013 in Blog

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.