Archive for December, 2008

A note from a Seattle teacher and resident…

You may have recently received our email explaining Gov. Gregoire’s over $1 billion dollar proposed cuts to education. In that email we asked you to tell us how this will change your life and the lives of the children in your local school. We’ve had a great response. Thank you for replying (and keep it coming).

I was personally struck by one note in particular and asked if we could post it to our blog. This anonymous teacher and Seattle resident challenges all of us to stand up and speak loudly about the importance of leadership in education. The challenge to hope is a critical reminder as we head into what will be a very difficult legislative session.

Thank you everyone for all you do for Washington’s children. Have a very happy holiday season!

Good afternoon,

I currently teach in Seattle Public Schools, providing music education to K-5 students.  Through 56 years as a Seattle resident, taxpayer, SPS & UW Alum, and now teacher, I have learned the value of those individuals among us courageous enough to speak out intelligently and persistently.

We are at a critical time.  Those in leadership positions must act boldly – NOW – we cannot afford to consider politics before people.  We stand at the threshold of change requiring tremendous courage of leadership.  Also required is energetic action in support of those leaders willing to rethink our commitment to human need (aka “the common good.”)

I learned long ago that human need is subsumed by the ever-present pressures of capitalism to drive the economy on a macro level; correspondingly, pressures of “what one wants” have been prevalent on the individual level.  These are practices that ultimately end in neglect of our needs and eventually prevent any benefit of our biological and social interdependence.  We need to band together to redefine and recommit to a balance of tensions between individual liberty – and –  responsibility TO each other!

I beg Chris Gregoire to:
reach down through layers of government to mayors & superintendents of schools,
reach across barriers to all state legislators and governors of other states,
reach out to business leaders (not lobbyists,)
reach up through the federal government.

Please – provide leadership modeled after the new Obama Administration.  Surround yourself with people of intelligence, creativity, and diplomacy to shift the paradigm back to service on behalf of the common good.

Please – boldly address the NEED for more progressive taxes & return to caring for one another.

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Final meeting of HB2722 Advisory Committee

Today is the final meeting of the HB2722 Advisory Committee, more commonly referred to as the African American Achievement Gap Committee. The committee is meeting in Olympia to finalize its report and implementation plan.

The committee set four key goals:

  1. Early learning: By 2014, provide all African-American children, birth to five, with high quality and academically focused early education to prepare them for success in school.
  2. Graduation rates: Increase the on-time and extended graduation rates for African-American students to reach parity with the highest-performing demographic group by 2014, and to achieve a 100 percent graduation rate by 2018. All graduates should be work and college ready without the need for remediation.
  3. Success in post-secondary education and job training: By 2018, increase the number of African-American students entering and completing post-secondary education and/or job training to be at or above parity with the highest-performing demographic group, and to achieve 100 percent participation by 2022.
  4. Teacher quality: By 2014, all school districts ensure that teachers and administrators in schools with 20 percent or more African-American students are qualified, trained and effectively meeting th eacademic, cultural and social needs of these students.

Check back for updates on the meeting, and the committee’s final recommendations.

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TIMSS 2007 report now available


Highlights from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2007 were released yesterday by the National Center for Education Statistics. TIMSS is an international comparison of 4th and 8th grade students in mathematics and science, and administered every four years.

While math scores of U.S. 4th and 8th graders have increased since 1995, we still lag behind Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore, among others.

Mark Schneider, vice president for new educational initiatives at the American Institutes for Research, wrote an editorial in Education Week detailing his concerns with the 2007 TIMSS results. One big point is the variance within the U.S. is greater than the variance between the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Chad Aldeman, policy associate at Education Sector, highlights the gap between white and non-white students in the U.S.

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Amendments to Draft Proposal, (page numbers below refer to this draft proposal, votes in italics)

Levy authority, insert on page 17 – Rep. Jarrett (withdrawn)

  • Excess levies will be limited to 30 percent based on a statewide per-pupil base funding amount
  • Until the new finance model is fully implemented, districts can raise local levies up to the higher of
    • 30 percent of the projected per-pupil amount for the new Program of Basic Education for that school year, or
    • 24 percent of the projected per-pupil amount of the new Program of Basic Education at full implementation

>>There were concerns from some TF members that the amendment would cut local levy dollars. Reps. Jarrett and Hunter said the intent was that the base for levies would be larger, and even at a reduced rate districts would be able to raise more levy dollars than they can today.<<

Local levy authority and equalization, insert on page 17 – Rep. Hunter (Amendment adopted)

  • “Local levies, along with local effort assistance for property-poor districts should continue to be a feature of overall funding for public schools. A technical team should develop a new local levy and equalization system that equalizes to a per-student figure rather than a percent of a district’s levy base with a rational basis for both excess levies and equalization.”

>>Sup. Kowalkowski offered a friendly amendment that the base for levies and equalization be “rational.”<<

(Members present, FYI – Anderson, Kowalkowski, Bergeson, Grimm, Jarrett [voting for Sen. Tom], Hunter, Sullivan, Priest, Haigh, Hartmann)

Discussion on the Final Proposal, as amended (Adopted as amended)

>>Dr. Bergeson advocated for the inclusion of assessments, EALRs, etc. in the accountability narrative of the report.<<

Final housekeeping and acknowledgements

– Dissenting opinions on the text will be due by December 19, 2008
– Task Force members will have opportunities to review narrative text

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Amendments to Draft Proposal, (page numbers below refer to this draft proposal, votes in italics)

Phase-in of new funding formula, new section – Reps. Priest and Hunter (Amendment adopted)

  • “Development of the funding formulas for the new Program of Education and the supporting compensation, personnel, and accountability systems should begin immediately and then phased-in over a six-year period, starting in the 2011-12 school year. The phase-in plan should be flexible to ensure that the Legislature is committed to full and timely implementation.”
  • Within six-year phase-in, the funding priorities should be:
  1. Cover the fundamental costs of operating a district with enhanced allocations for maintenance, supplies and operating costs, and adequate salary allocations for staff
  2. Expand enhanced learning opportunities for underachieving and ELL students, as well as full-day kindergarten
  3. As soon as a quality program can be defined and delivery system developed, early learning expansion should occur
  4. Class size reduction should start in the early grades
  5. Core 24 will be implemented per the SBE’s detailed implementation plan [amended]
  • Inclusion of six-year phase-in timetable “obligates the Legislature to demonstrate an educational, rather than purely financial, rationale for future modifications”

>>Dr. Bergeson asked about how CORE 24 fits into this. Rep. Priest said he didn’t care and would accept language specifically referencing CORE 24. Sup. Kowalkowski shared his enthusiasm for the language of the amendment. Dr. Bergeson asked about the role of assessments, EALRs and standards, and the lack of language on these topics.<<

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(Members present, FYI – Anderson, Kowalkowski, Hyde, Bergeson, Grimm, Jarrett [voting for Sen. Tom], Hunter, Sullivan, Priest, Haigh, Hartmann)

Amendments to Draft Proposal, (page numbers below refer to this draft proposal, votes in italics)

Middle school instructional hours, page 7 – Dr. Hyde (Amendment adopted)

  • Model schools are K-6 for elementary and 7-8 for middle schools, however districts can configure middle schools per local preference
  • Allocation model will adjust to accommodate 1,000 or 1,080 hours instructional hours per year to sixth grade students

Central office administration, insert on page 9 – Rep. Jarrett (deferred to allow language revision)

  • Staffing allocation for central office administration based on 6 percent XX percent [to be calculated by Ms. Priddy and Mr. Rarick] of core allocation for compensation in the Basic Education Instructional Program
  • Allocations are meant to be sufficient for districts to maintain current classified and administrator staffing in the General Apportionment program from all sources

>>Continued confusion among some TF members on what this language is saying and whether it adequately meets districts’ needs. Ben Rarick, Office of Program Research, offered further explanation of the amendment. Rep. Hunter said the amendment attempts to respond to the concerns of Dr. Bergeson, Dr. Hyde and Ms. Priddy that the 6 percent does not provide enough funding for current central office staffing.

>>Chair Grimm cautioned that central office administration may currently be underfunded, and this amendment may maintain that underfunding. Dr. Bergeson said this would not provide funding for central office staff funded by local dollars. Rep. Hunter said he agrees those staff members should be included, and the current language does not reflect that.<<

[Rep. Anderson asked about what lies ahead. Chair Grimm’s answer: three amendments and final vote.]

180 day school year, page 7 – Rep. Hunter, redux (Amendment adopted)

  • 180 day minimum school year in all grades; 180 half-day minimum school year for kindergarten
  • SBE may authorize waivers if:
    • Necessary to provide specialized instructional program
    • Total number of waivers statewide may not impact more than 2 percent of the overall student population
    • Not for the purposes of professional development or teacher-parent/guardian conferences

>>TF members were conflicted on the 2 percent cap on waivers, and not allowing teacher-parent/guardian conferences be counted in the 180 days. Rep. Hunter pushed back that conferences can come out of LIDs. Dr. Hyde said LIDs are for staff development. Rep. Hunter said the TF needs to decide whether conferences come out of kid time or staff time. Rep. Haigh asked if the days were for students or for teachers.<<

NERCs (technical change), page A-4 – Dr. Bergeson (Amendment adopted)

  • “$310 per student for central office administration,” instead of “$210”

Fiscal accounting and budgeting data system, page 17 – Rep. Jarrett (Amendment adopted)

  • State system does not mandate a single software; the state will provide funding for necessary software (system is at no cost to districts)

>>Dr. Bergeson shared her concerns that the language of the amendment does not explicitly allow for multiple software programs. Rep. Anderson offered another explanation of the intent of the language — to not prescribe one, universal software program to all districts, but require all districts to report specific data. Then we had more back and forth among TF members over the value of inserting language specifically prohibiting a singular software program.<<

(Members present, FYI – Anderson, Kowalkowski, Bergeson, Grimm, Jarrett [voting for Sen. Tom], Hunter, Sullivan, Priest, Haigh, Hartmann)

Central office administration, insert on page 9 -redux (2) (Amendment adopted)

  • Provide a staffing allocation for central office administration, based on a percentage of the core allocation for compensation in the Basic Education Instructional Program, not including the Categorical Programs
  • Applies to classified staff and certificated administrators

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