Archive for May, 2009

Join us tonight!

We hope you’ll join us tonight for a town hall meeting to hear Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, speak about the next steps for education advocates and participate in a robust conversation about the future of our public schools.

Tonight: Monday, May 18th, 7 – 9 PM
Seattle Public Library
Microsoft Auditorium
1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
View your invitation to this event.

Please send your RSVP to

Kati Haycock is one of the nation’s leading child advocates in the field of education.  As president of The Education Trust, Kati speaks up for what’s right for young people, especially those who are poor or members of communities of color.

We hope to see you tonight at this free public town hall for students, parents, and education advocates who are interested in building the movement for education reform.

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"Our teachers, our voice"

Um, wow.

Bonnie and I just got back from a student rally at Franklin High School, and it was awesome and inspiring and empowering.

Clayton, a Franklin senior, speaks to the crowd

Clayton, a Franklin senior, speaks to the crowd

More than 100 students gathered to protest teacher layoffs during their lunch period. Organized by passionate seniors Sunny Nguyen and Clayton Ruthruff, the students chanted “our teachers, our voice” in support of teachers who recently received layoff notices. Students are frustrated with the layoff policies weighing years in the classroom over demonstrated performance.

Clayton, who came running at the bell with megaphone in hand, opened the rally with, “We want quality teachers, not teachers who have been here longer.” He encouraged students the channel their anger into positive change. Sunny followed, encouraging attendance at the next Seattle School Board meeting. They then pulled Bonnie up, who offered additional words of encouragement.

Sunny asks other students to sign petition cards.

Sunny asks other students to sign petition cards.

The rally ended with students filling out petition cards against the “last hired, first fired” layoff policy and voting for the top school issue. Students overwhelmingly identified “termination of our teachers” as the most pressing issue facing Franklin.

We weren’t the only over-18s in the crowd. A small group of parents and educators joined the students in supporting quality teachers.

No matter how many events like this I attend, I am always inspired — especially when students are acting as their own advocates. So often we speak on behalf of students. It’s nice to hear things straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

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Consideration of Future Work Based on State Budget and Federal Fiscal Stimulus Package and Retreat Planning

>>Board members reflected on positives from the past year. Things mentioned include better run board meetings, collaborating with stakeholders, and enacting good policy. Big shout outs to LEV’s organizing students to testify in support of CORE 24 [whoop whoop].<<

Things to Remember about the Federal Stimulus Package — Jeff Vincent

-Four assurances of State Fiscal Stabilization Fund are very important

-There are different pots of money

>>Discussion about various foundations and private dollar possibilities. Members expressed disappointment over Washington’s rank in various reports. Then much discussion about the Gates Foundation. Followed by discussion of the Core Standards work.<<

Small group discussions about the SBE strategic plan

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Accountability Index, continued — Dr. Pete Bylsma

English Language Learners Recommendations

-Exclude results of ELLs in their first 3 years of public school enrollment, or until achieving Level 3 on WLPT

-Use performance on WLPT to provide feedback about wheter ELLs are on track to meeting standard

-Report detailed WLPT results on OSPI Report Card

Alternative Schools Recommendations

-Compare index as usual and use normal rules to determine AYP

-If alternative school does not make AYP in 2 consecutive years or “in improvement,” look at more complete set of data

Proposed Recognition System

-Use same accountability matrix, receive recognition when meeting specific benchmarks

-Applies to both schools and districts

-Two forms of recognition

1. Outstanding overall performance

*Recognition in 8 areas for very high levels of performance

*Must meet rigorous minimum conditions to ensure only truly outstanding performance is recognized

2. Noteworthy performance

*Recognition in each of the 20 cells when the 2-year average is at least 5.5 and when the index averages at least 5.0

*Less stringent minimum conditions

>>There was some concern over language used to describe/refer to alternative schools. Members were reminded of the diversity among alternative schools and the students they serve. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn appreciated the work of the SPA group and the creation of the Accountability Index, but felt that recognition should also be at the discretion of the superintendent’s office. Dr. Mayer said the group felt the systems (superintendent’s awards and Accountability Index recognition) could easily coexist.<<


Update on OSPI Math Plans and Proposed Changes to Math Rule for High School Students — Dr. Alan Burke, Dr. Kathe Taylor

OSPI Math Plans

-Superintendent’s recommendations for K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 instructional materials have all been issued

-Work continues on collecting and making available supplemental material supports for districts

-Core academic standards (CCSSO, NGA, College Board, ACT, and Achieve) movement may have an effect on current math standards [Washington is working with this group]

-Grade 3-8 Mathematics Measurements of Student Progress

*Begin online testing in 2010

*SBE sets cut scores in July/August 2010

-High School Mathematics High School Proficiency Exam

*Shorter, single-session tests in 2010

*Begin end-of-course tests in 2011

-Two “base” tests: Algebra I/Integrated I and Geometry/Integrated II

-Base tests augmented with course specific topics

-SBE sets cut scores in July/August 2011

*Re-take “common core” exam to graduate high school (for students taking math EOCs before high school)

>>Lot of discussion around national standards. OSPI seems to like the idea (and potential cost savings). Concerns and pushback from some board members. Questions raised about the fate of the publishing and testing companies.<<

Changes to Math Rule

-Students who takes high school courses before high school may choose to not have the course recorded on their transcript

-What to do with students who take Algebra or Geometry before 9th grade and don’t record course?

-Rule Revision Recommendation 1: students move on to receive at least 2 credits in a progressive sequence

-Rule Revision Recommendation 2: after students earn credit in Algebra II, they can choose math courses that meet their education and career goals (staff recommendation)

>>General board consensus is around Rule Revision Recommendation 2.<<


Public Comment

Julie Wright, Where’s the Math? — Concerns with certain math curricula; would like more parent participation in curriculum decisions

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Recommendations from System Performance Accountability Work on Accountability Index and Recognition System — Dr. Kris Mayer, Edie Harding, Dr. Pete Bylsma



*Now have 6 tiers in the Accountability Index: exemplary, very good, good, acceptable, struggling and priority

>>Some discussion over the tier labels. Chair Mary Jean Ryan thinks the “acceptable” tier isn’t acceptable and would like another name for the tier. Sheila Fox suggested “fair.” Members seemed to agree with that. Jeff Vincent suggested the SBE conduct some focus groups to find labels that make sense to stakeholders. Dr. Mayer shared that the SPA group has done some focus group work but didn’t ask if the labels matched the point range.<<

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Update on Legislative Session Issues — Edie Harding, Brad Burnham

*HB 2261


-Budget deficit is $9.3 million

-Use $3 billion in federal stimulus funds over the next three years to offset costs

*$362 million to supplement 2009 budget

*$376.6 million for K-12 in 2010-11

*$410 million for special education, remediation, school improvement and technology

-44% reduction in employer contributions for pension ($448.6 million)

-75% reduction in I-728 ($600 million)

*SB 5414 (assessments)

*HB 2132 (graduation requirements)

*HB 1292 (4-day school week pilot)

*SB 5410 (online learning)

*HB 1758 (community colleges granting high school diplomas)

*SB 5973 (achievement gap)

*HB 2003 (Professional Educator Standards Board)


Update on Federal Fiscal Stimulus Package and OSPI Plans — Dr. Alan Burke, OSPI

*State Fiscal Stabilization Fund—$760 million

-08-09 backfill: supplants salary dollars

-09-10 part of budget: continues to supplant

-Two goals: save jobs and do good

*Title I—$130 million

-09-10 and 10-11 additional monies, must be used per existing rules

-Can hire teachers, or shift highly qualified staff from Basic Education to Title I

-Can hire paraprofessionals to support programs like RTI

-Can support professional development, curriculum and instruction

-Can introduce or support existing early learning programs

-School Improvement Section 1003(g)

*08-09: $20 million

*09-10: $42 million

*Tiered intervention

*About 65 new districts in improvement based on 08-09 WASL scores

*IDEA—$221 million

-09-10: 50% Maintenance of Effort exception for districts that meet U.S. Dept. of Education “determinations” test

-Pass: 50% supplant for local funds for special education

-Fail: 0% supplant, all monies must be spent on special education services

-OSPI working with U.S. Dept. of Education on flexibility

*Race to the Top

-$4.35 billion for state-level competitive grants

-$650 million for district and/or private or non-profit innovation grants

-Round 1: October deadline, December disbursement (10%)

-Round 2: Deadline spring 2010 (90%)

-Grants will be large and not distributed by population

-Must be comprehensive and attack the four SFSF assurances

*Teacher effectiveness and ensuring all schools have highly qualified teachers

*Higher standards and rigorous assessments that improve teaching and learning

*Intensive support, effective interventions and improved achievement in the schools that need it most

*Better information to educators and the public to address individual needs of students and improve teacher performance

-Single programs will not be funded — comprehensive reform system encouraged

-Early learning and higher education can be part of the grant, but funding is limited to K-12

-50% of funding will go to districts

-Washington’s strengths

*Strong standards and good NAEP scores

*Solid support from private funders

*Passage of HB 2261

*New accountability system

*Transition to online assessment system

*Launch of new data system

*Summit Program

-Washington’s weaknesses

*School improvement assistance optional for non-Title I schools

*Existing teacher tenure rules

*No major effort to staff struggling schools with the strongest teachers

*Evaluation systems do not link teacher and principal effectiveness with student achievement

-Potential projects: STEM, Navigation 101, School Improvement, online formative assessment, achievement gap, dropout prevention

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Tell your Mom that she is Mother of the Year!

I <3 my Mom!

I <3 my Mom!

This is my Mom and she is the absolute best. She has always been there for me. As a single Mom, she did whatever she could (including thousands of hours of overtime) to make sure I received the education that she did not.This past legislative session I watched hundreds of Moms take action on behalf of their child’s education and every child’s education. It was amazing to watch.

Moms are just a powerhouse. It’s pretty simple. Sunday gives us an opportunity to do something special for the lady who has done everything for you.

You can start by sending your Mom a personalized video telling her that SHE is the 2009 Mother of the Year. It is a hilarious and heart warming video put together by our buddies at MomsRising.

Click here to create your Mom’s video!

Here is  the NY Times article that discussed the video:

I Am “Mother of the Year”

I have been named Mother of the Year!

I guess I should add the small detail that this is a plug-in-your-name-here type video that has been making the rounds in the past day or so, created by You can create one too, to honor your favorite Mom as Mother’s Day nears.

I am happy to share the honor. was founded three years ago by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbinder, with the goal of “creating a more family friendly America.” The group is an impressive work-in-progress, a test of the potential of the internet for grassroots organizing. The video, while a cute way to bring a smile, also has a message. The “news scrawl” is aimed at drawing attention to the fact that women with children earn less. It reads:

Moms in this country are way undervalued – Mothers make 73 cents to every dollar an equally qualified man makes at the same job – Single mothers make only about 60 cents to a man’s dollar – Those two facts, it should be noted, really suck – especially because men aren’t making much these days either – Over a lifetime mothers are paid anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million less than men doing the same work due to gender wage disparity. That’s a ridiculous “Mommy Tax.” A full quarter of US families with children less than 6 years old live in poverty – Well duh, all these other statistics would lead to this likely outcome – Motherhood is one of the hardest full-time jobs that does not come with Social Security or health benefits – It does however come with a lot of labor as well as love.

Have you paid a measurable economic price for being a mother? Is that society’s problem or a personal choice? And what can be done to change it?

Click here to create your Mom’s video!

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