Happy Father’s Day, friends.
I heard a rumor that it’s summer. I’m having a hard time trying to convince my tomato plants. Onward.
Good Night and Good Luck: The news of the week in Washington; Chris Gregoire won’t seek a third term. After nearly 40 years in government, Gregoire’s hanging up the gloves to spend more time with family. Her departure clears the way for Congressman Jay Inslee to enter the race – state Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) announced his entry into the race last week. What role education will play in the race remains to be seen, but if McKenna’s opening salvo is anything to build on, we can expect a thorough education discussion over the next sixteen months. (Score sheet templates welcome!)
The Bold and the Brave: Speaking of education speak and politics, gubernatorial candidates (and others) will have to weigh the impact their education proposals play in the minds of voters. A new Education Week piece suggests that education reform has hurt the popularity of three republican governors. Quick, run to the status quo! But before you lace up the Reeboks consider that the three governors discussed in the piece went full tilt at collective bargaining in the process. Their all or nothing approach wasn’t so much about leadership as it was having it their way. If you look to Illinois where major reforms were passed, the governor’s popularity grew. (albeit from a negative number to a positive number). The approach there was one of collaboration. Unlike here in Washington, where collaboration is king, they actually managed to craft and move a “landmark” bill that tackles difficult education issues with the support of the teacher’s union, business, community stakeholders and policy makers. When the goal is policy and not politics you can actually get what you want.
School Daze: A panel this week sponsored by Education Testing Services (ETS) and the Children’s Defense Fund suggested that much more attention is needed in the early years for African American boys. The focus was on how to improve outcomes for the 3.5 million black boys under nine years old. “We want to consider ways to position this vulnerable population for education success as early as possible in their lives…kindergarten and first grade have to be more like preschool,” to address children more holistically, to include social and emotional development, said Michael Nettles, a Senior Vice President at ETS. Data suggests that as young as 24 months, African American boys already lag behind their peers by half a year in cognitive development. Some solutions: better training and pay for preschool teachers, stronger training of elementary school principals to support more social, emotional development, flip the money currently used for incarceration to invest in early learning. As the saying goes, pay now, or pay later.
School Daze II: New data out this week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) was discouraging, to say the least. American students are dreadfully lacking in history proficiency. Only 20% of fourth graders and 17% of 8th graders ranked “proficient” or “advanced,” while 12% of high schoolers met this level. A spot of bright news in the report showed progress for African American and Hispanic students. Both improved scores by double digits. Poor results over all will surely re-ignite the debate about whether the focus on math and reading to meet requirements from No Child Left Behind are the culprit. Doesn’t explain why we wouldn’t use history as part of the reading assignments used to improve that skill.
Show Me the Money: The New America Foundation unveiled a cool new tool, a product of their Federal Education Budget Project. The project shows comparative analysis of K-12 funding, demographics and student outcomes as well as financial aid data and results for higher education. The Washington higher education data was enough to make me wish I’d gone to brunch this morning.
Show Me the Money II: Seattle’s Families and Education Levy kicked into high gear yesterday with a campaign launch event. The diversity of support was warming – nearly as warming as the “Baby Dangerettes” who stomped and whistled their way into the hearts of supporters. The event was held at El Centro de la Raza, and attended by dignitaries from all levels of government, including, Mayor Mike McGinn, former Mayor Norm Rice, City Council Member Tim Burgess, Seattle School Board Member Sherry Carr, State Representative Marcie Maxwell and representatives from the Seattle Education Association, Seattle Public Schools and the Families and Education Levy Oversight and Planning committees. While not all of us agree on everything, we do agree that this levy is critical to Seattle’s children.
That’s all she wrote this week. So sorry to have nothing pithy to say about that congressman who resigned or the new “children’s” book making waves. I figure you’ll get those nuggets elsewhere – everywhere.