This morning the Senate passed SB 5328, which would create a pilot program to implement Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal by giving letter grades to schools in five school districts. School grades would be based on the State Achievement Index and on schools’ progress toward improvement. The bill passed 26 to 23.
As many of my readers know, I have been closely following the behind-the-scenes efforts by charter school opponents to undo voter-passed Initiative 1240 and stop charter schools from opening in our state. In the latest round, executives at the Washington Education Association union, League of Women Voters and El Centro de la Raza are seeking a lawsuit to overturn the Initiative and prevent any children in Washington from attending a charter school.
There’s a lot of buzz about Senator Litzow’s bill, SB 5328, to implement a state ranking system to give A through F letter grades to public schools, so families and taxpayers can know where their local school stands.
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):