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.
- 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!