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Korsmo’s news roundup: No, no, no, no, no, no

For many of us it’s the beginning of mid-winter break and you can’t swing a dirty sock at the airport without hitting a flustered parent strapped into a Hello Kitty backpack, herding half asleep kids into their special time with TSA. Before running off to all points warm and dry, take a minute to help kids in Neah Bay. They’re part of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest – winners get technology upgrades to boost interest and aptitude in math and science. (They could make it easier to actually vote, but if you can just hang in there for a minute or two, you’ll feel better for having done it. I swear. And unlike my potty mouth, I swear in a good way.)

Speaking of kids, and I do hate to be a nudge, but I have to just share this little piece of “I believe the children are our future..” Go to 1:19 of the hearing – yes, it’s TVW. And yes, I partied like it’s 1999 streaming a public hearing in a Miami hotel room. And why, yes, I did want to hit myself in the head with a staple gun afterward. But don’t go to Home Depot just yet. Recall the new MET study on teacher evaluations showing that student input can be an important part of teacher evaluations.  (If you did tune in, yes, she did just say that some kids don’t like teachers with high expectations and is apparently worried that children with guns will have a say in a teacher’s evaluation.) (and yes, she did just say that it is a “serious problem.”) Meanwhile, union leadership elsewhere is looking for different answers.

Five Corners: After some serious negotiations between the Governor and education committee from both sides of the aisle and both chambers, (Apparently, they call this a “five corners” negotiation. Watch for it in an upcoming CSI episode because it sounds all pentagrammy) a deal was struck on teacher/principal evaluation this week. The bill sailed out of the Senate and awaits a vote in the House. Core elements include the use of student progress data in teacher and principal evaluations as well as evaluations being used in decision making on placements and layoffs. That’s the good news. While these are important new principles to add, they must be negotiated in collective bargaining agreements. So, like all things “local control,” this one will get figured out 295 different ways. I’m not a glass half empty gal, so don’t get me wrong. This is good progress. For Washington.

Early Learning: Trying to follow the multiple early learning bills this session has been a lot like watching Dog the Bounty Hunter. You can’t turn away, but you sure wish somebody would just tell you how it ends. If you’re keeping score at home, here’s what we think we know on this day, at this hour with a half a cup of coffee done gone; The Universal Pre – Kindergarten bill is dead. Officially known as HP 2448, the bill was quashed in a House committee over concerns related to its cost and what some saw as threats to other state early learning programs. Me thinks this one will be back. The voluntary quality rating system is also dead. The attempt to enshrine the program into law failed – again over cost concerns. It looks like we have enough QRIS infrastructure in place to meet our Early Learning Challenge Grant (race to the top) obligations. But this issue will also be back – next legislative session will be all Ground Hog Day all the time. The legislative attempt to expand implementation of WaKids (our kindergarten readiness assessment “program” – it’s not just a test!) is still alive and kicking. Stay tuned. There’s always next week.

Sweet Moolah: State budget forecasters finally had a Zoloft-free moment this week, projecting an increase in state revenues of $96 million. While it’s a drop in the $30 + billion budget, it’s a welcome news to budget writers and could be a good sign of economic improvements to come. (Anyone else shaking fists at the European markets and Washington’s reliance on sales tax?) Speaking of money, the President’s budget includes an increase of 2.4%. While there’s lots of good stuff, like most POTUS budget docs of the past twenty years, it’s mostly symbolic.

Here’s symbolism we can believe in. Arne Duncan on the Daily Show.

Snippets:

  • New Mexico is no longer the red-headed step child of NCLB waivers. Given the extensions for waiver filings, no one needs to be. Wish the IRS worked this way.
  • We all know that what happens in the classroom is critically important to student progress, a new study shows the impact that school leaders (French for Principals) can have on kids. It turns out, principals matter. Which will not come as a huge surprise to those doing the job.
  • Rumor has it that Teach for America in Seattle will be shown the door. The unceremonious reality of a new school board. Not even a year into its stint here, TFA has had nothing but shade thrown at it from the haters whose only plan seems to be “no.” No charters, no TFA, no data driven decision making in hiring, no superintendent with a vision, no, no, no. Time to say yes to some change, people.

And with that, folks, she’s done. Have a great President’s day weekend. Please vote for the kids in Neah Bay!

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15 Comments

  1. Melissa Westbrook February 18, 2012

    Ah, that middle-school word “haters”. I don’t know anyone who “hates” TFA.

    What we don’t like:
    - no true results based on peer-reviewed studies
    - costs districts extra money for under-prepared teachers (but good news for Seattle – if we don’t find a donor for year two of the contract, we don’t have to pay for the $4k per year per recruit fee – I’m sure TFA doesn’t want other districts to know this but it’s a relief for our cash-strapped district). We had to use up more HR time and even hire a sub to babysit a recruit who wasn’t ready to be in the classroom
    - even the district’s staff was throwing up their hands with one saying, “TFA is the giving that just keeps on givin’”

    As for data-driven decision-making in hiring, not sure what that’s about but we do have site-based hiring teams which is the best way to have community-driven hiring to build a cohesive teaching corps (rather than a revolving door of TFA “teachers”).

    The superintendent search is going well so far and they even hired a firm that gives a money-back guarantee if they superintendent leaves in the first year. Sounds good to me.

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  2. Charlie Mas February 18, 2012

    I had not heard that rumor about Teach for America in Seattle. Yes, a motion to terminate the contract will be on the Board agenda in March (that’s news, not a rumor), but it’s not clear that the vote will go that way. It would require at least one board member who voted to approve the contract last year to vote to terminate it. Now what could make that Board director change his or her mind?

    Could it be the tepid interest in hiring Teach for America corps members among the schools? Only six were hired when they were candidates on equal footing with certificated teachers.

    Could it be the really ugly backroom deals used to bring Teach for America to Seattle that have since been revealed? Emails, made public, show all kinds of manipulation with the superintendent, the PESB, the WAC on emergency certifications, and more.

    Could it be the grave insult taken by the District’s teaching corps, the real teachers who are offended by this swipe at their professionalism? These are the district’s front line workers, the ones who actually teach the students. How does it serve the district to anger them in this way?

    It could be any or all of these things. More than anything else, however, it could just be too much drama for six hires.

    Tell us more about who said that they didn’t want a superintendent with a vision. I hadn’t heard that one before.

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  3. Beth Sigall February 19, 2012

    Wendy Kopp, head of TFA, and Dennis Van Roekel, appeared on a Dept of Education panel together in September discussing teacher quality. On that panel, Van Roekel stated that he admired TFA’s recruitment strategy, and wanted more TFA teachers to stay in the field. Yes, there were changes he would make to TFA, but he was supportive of their efforts and their mission.
    Later in December, Kopp and Van Roekel co-authored a piece in USA Today about the teaching profession: “3 Ways to Improve the USA’s Teachers”
    I raise these examples to illustrate the larger point that nationally, TFA and NEA leadership are finding ways to work together, forging ahead with the common mission of educating all students. But yet again here in Washington we remain stuck in the past – -stuck in the “us v them” zero-sum mentality that anything new must be taking away from the old, instead of seeing something new as a way to improve conditions and learning for everyone.
    If Kopp and Van Roekel can find common ground, and recognize that BOTH institutions bring value to our schools, surely we can do that here. As Chris aptly observes, the TFA debates mirror the charter school ones — nationally, states and school districts are finding common ground and working together on charter schools, under the leadership of the Obama adminstration, which fully supports charter schools. These states and school districts are seeing the value in more choice, more flexibility, and trying new, fresh approaches.
    Yet here we are stuck in debates that are 10-15 years old, if not more. It’s rather puzzling, and somewhat frustrating. Again, by way of example, I was speaking recently to a very progressive friend of mine who lives in Massachusetts (arguably the best state in the nation for public education). I mentioned my involvement to help bring charter schools to Washington. His response was one of unequivocal disbelief. “You guys don’t have charters? Seriously? Wow.” Again, as Chris correctly observes, we are becoming the “no, no and no” state.

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    • Leonard February 19, 2012

      “But yet again here in Washington we remain stuck in the past – -stuck in the “us v them” zero-sum mentality that anything new must be taking away from the old, instead of seeing something new as a way to improve conditions and learning for everyone”

      Your statements are incorrect.

      Lincoln Center in Tacoma has modeled itself after a charter school- adding Saturday school, extended day etc.

      Seattle Public Schools has already instituted a four tier teacher evaluation system. Level 1 elementary schools are becoming Level 3 schools. Seattle Public Schools (yes, with the new board) has signed onto Creative Approach Schools.

      Seattle voters approved the Family and Education Levy (twice the previous amount) to support wrap around services. Schools of poverty have created community partnerships.

      I’m not hearing anyone saying no, no no. Then again, it is easy to push an agenda by spouting propaganda.

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  4. Melissa Westbrook February 19, 2012

    I’m confused;; who isMr. Van Roekel with?

    It’s not “us versus them” – it’s fully certified and trained teachers versus 6-week trained teachers (who primarily go into the schools with the highest challenges).

    Yes, there are a number of people, including Bill Gates, who believe TFA should make some changes. Have they? No, they haven’t.

    There is no real peer-reviewed evidence that TFA does better than full-certified teachers AND they cost more to have in our schools. We don’t have the money to support this effort and clearly, our site-based hiring teams aren’t interested.

    I come from a place of yes:

    - yes, to fully funding our schools instead of the Legislature continuing to duck away from the issue
    - yes, to direct interventions for struggling students
    - yes to summer school
    - yes to longer school days or years
    - yes to more schools of innovation (through the program administered by OSPI)
    - yes to more wrap-around services at high-need schools
    - yes to high school career/college counseling

    There is a place of yes; you have to listen for it.

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  5. Melissa Westbrook February 19, 2012

    I’m confused;; who isMr. Van Roekel with?

    It’s not “us versus them” – it’s fully certified and trained teachers versus 6-week trained teachers (who primarily go into the schools with the highest challenges).

    Yes, there are a number of people, including Bill Gates, who believe TFA should make some changes. Have they? No, they haven’t.

    There is no real peer-reviewed evidence that TFA does better than full-certified teachers AND they cost more to have in our schools. We don’t have the money to support this effort and clearly, our site-based hiring teams aren’t interested.

    I come from a place of yes:

    - yes, to fully funding our schools instead of the Legislature continuing to duck away from the issue
    - yes, to direct interventions for struggling students
    - yes to summer school
    - yes to longer school days or years
    - yes to more schools of innovation (through the program administered by OSPI)
    - yes to more wrap-around services at high-need schools
    - yes to high school career/college counseling

    These are strategies that DO work.

    There is a place of yes; you have to listen for it.

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  6. Gloria February 19, 2012

    It isn’t ‘No’……. It’s ‘No, thank you, that won’t be necessary.’

    I know a fully certified and highly qualified teacher who did not get a job teaching at Aki Kurose. Yet a TFA person did get hired there. There is NO shortage of fully trained, Master’s Degree-d teachers in this area. There is no need to ‘broaden the hiring pool’. It is plenty full of teachers with certificates and degrees. And it is a slap in the face of the profession to hire TFA before them.

    So it’s not NO, it’s just unnecessary.

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  7. Beth Sigall February 19, 2012

    Dennis Van Roekel is the President of the National Education Association (NEA),

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  8. Kathy February 19, 2012

    The National Education Association, at their Representative Assembly last summer, passed a resolution of NO support for TFA in communities that do not have a teachers shortage (such as Seattle). The NEA Representative Assembly includes around 10,000 educators from across the nation who come together to discuss issues and make decisions. The Seattle Education Association (SEA) has also passed a resolution not supporting TFA.

    SEA created and supports an innovative teacher evaluation system now being used. SEA created and supports Creative Approach schools. I find it interesting that LEV shows no interest in the innovation going on in Seattle.

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    • Leonard February 19, 2012

      Thanks, Kathy.

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  9. Tacomamama February 20, 2012

    I am very disappointed that the education advocacy community spent most of the session fighting about charters and evaluations and let the early learning bill die. High quality early learning programs work. They produce long-term positive impacts. These impacts have been well-documented with lots of that “data” I hear talk of. Early learning is not controversial.

    The fiscal note on 2448 had it at 18.8 million in the 1015-17 biennium. That’s a little less than the note on the evaluations bill and the charter bill, combined. Think about what we could save in later services for kids and adults who never catch up to their peers.

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    • Charlie Mas February 23, 2012

      Tacomamama, the reason is clear. LEV cares about their reform issues – which are all about the adults – not about student issues.

      Charter schools are about which adults own and govern the school, not about the students in them. There is nothing that a charter school can do for students that a public school cannot.

      Teacher evaluations are all about which teachers get hired, fired, promoted and transferred, not about how students are taught.

      The teacher health insurance bill has absolutely nothing to do with students.

      The one bill that would have made a difference in students’ lives, early education, and LEV (and all of the other Education Reform finger puppets of the Gates Foundation) totally drops the ball.

      They are sad.

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  10. Maureen February 29, 2012

    Wow, how weird, LEV seems to have deleted my reply to this thread (it had made it through moderation and appeared for a little while). Good thing I had copied it onto a thread over at the Seattle Schools Community Blog! I’ll recopy hear and see if it is allowed to stay this time. Please do email me if you think I am somehow being uncivil or breaking a rule. It seems odd that mine got deleted and Charlie’s didn’t given that he called you a ‘puppet’ and I called you a ‘smart education advocate.’:

    Over the past 50 blog posts (excluding Ms. Korsmo’s roundups), LEV mentioned charters at least three times more often than they did early learning (about 15 to 5 ratio). It’s pretty clear where LEV’s efforts are being expended. I don’t understand why so many of Washington state’s smart education advocates are spending so much time and money supporting charters. We can certainly learn from what good charters have done in other states (extended day, targeted interventions, cradle to college supports) and implement them in more of our existing public schools. But that sort of investment will mean fulling funding education in Washington. I would like to see LEV put all of their efforts behind that goal.

    2/24/12 12:45 PM

    (that date and time is when my comment originally appeared here)

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    • LEV February 29, 2012

      Sorry about some of the missing comments. We had to reinstall WordPress, and unfortunately, some of the content didn’t seem to make it back.

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  11. Maureen February 29, 2012

    Uggh “hear” should, of course, be “here”

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