League of Education Voters Foundation, A Way Forward
9 AM- 945 AM
We’re back. Today we are here in force because our proposal, A Way Forward, is the first item on the agenda. Lisa Macfarlane, George Scarola, and John Tapogna are presenting.
There is no doubt about it, A Way Forward is a bold plan. Lisa begins by asking a simple question: do we take this once in a lifetime opportunity and propose bold solutions or do we patch the system. We choose the former.
Our plan is based on five core principles that the new finance system must address:
- The state is responsible for providing every student reasonable opportunities to meet the state’s high school graduation requirements.
- The new finance system is organized to drive improvements in student achievement.
- The funding responsibilities of the state and local school districts are clearly delineated and separated.
- Local decision makers are given flexibility to determine the best use of money while being held accountable for results.
- Revenue distribution is simplified and scull budgets are transparent.
Based on these principles, we propose five key proposals:
Redefine Washinton’s Basic Education Commitment
This is about being bold. This about giving every student reasonable opportunity to meet the state’s achievement standards and graduation requirements. Part of this is ensuring children have an opportunity to arrive to kindergarten school ready. To that end, we propose ensuring quality early learning for low-income children. We also recognize that a high school diploma is not enough education for young people today. We propose guaranteeing graduates a 13th year at the community college level.
Washington has some of the most burdensome and non-productive accounting practices around. Accounting system fixes and data system improvements are foundational issues for us. It’s time for an entirely new chart of accounts and to require all school districts need to use the same accounting system. When true costs are revealed, it will be crystal clear to policy makers, stakeholders, and taxpayers, what is being funded at what level and what is not being funded.
The time has come for teachers and principals and district leaders to work together to tap the full potential of using student achievement data to improve instructional practices. We propose that school districts and the state work together to establish benchmarks for spending and achievement.
We propose funding school-based performance awards. The awards, $100 or more per full-time student, would reward all the staff members of schools that meet or exceed their achievement targets, to reward collaboration.
In cases of persistent under performance, state inspections and interventions would kick in.
Core K-12 Education Fund
LEV proposes an entirely different budget development process that is more transparent and more honest. We call for a new K-12 Expenditure Council (modeled after the Revenue Forecast Council and the Caseload Forecast Council) and we suggest that policy makers develop a new tool- a K-12 Resource Model (like what is in use in Oregon).
We also call for an entirely different and much simpler way of distributing the money. We propose eliminating the many categorical programs (some of which are inside basic education and some are outside basic education) and replace them with a single, new K-12 Core Education Fund. It would essentially function as a block grant to school districts. This revenue would not be earmarked, but districts would have to account for how they spent the money and what results they achieved and they would do so using an uniform accounting system.
This new Core K-12 Education Fund would provide additional funding per student for four groups who require additional resources to meet their education needs:
- low income
- special education
- English language learners
- career & technology education
Targeted Intervention Fund
In addition to the Core K-12 Education fund, our 4th proposal calls for a new “targeted interventions” fund.
This would be the place that state policy makers could direct school districts to use new money for gold-standard-research-proven programs. Today the list of gold standard programs includes:
- one-on-one tutoring in K-3,
- class size reductions in K-1, and
- monitors for students at risk of dropping out of high school.
This fund would also invest in targeted implementation of promising practices, like Navigation 101, and would commit the state to rigorous evaluation of them.
Better Compensation System
The single best thing you can do to improve student achievement is to ensure high-quality, supported teachers.
We need to do a better job of supporting teachers as they master the skills and knowledge necessary to drive student achievement . The state needs to invest more heavily in a rigorous teacher induction program if we want the highest quality teachers to enter and stay in the profession. Too many new teachers leave the field within their first five years.
We expect a compensation survey would recommend higher compensation for hard-to-staff positions, for example in subject areas such as math, science, or special education or in schools with challenging demographics or locations that make it hard to attract talented teachers.
Because we have given the state the responsibility for funding basic education, we think the state should also have the responsibility for bargaining educator salaries.
We are also calling for renewable, three-year rolling contracts for teachers and principals. Kids are not well served when struggling teachers or principals stay in the system without the support and training they need to become effective team members in their schools. Adopting this part of the proposal would force a much needed focus on evaluation, mentoring, and professional development.
Reform + Resources = Results. If we want our kids to be competitive and qualified for the jobs of the future, then we need to infuse resources and reforms into our school finance system