Posts filed under ‘Media’
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April 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm wastandforchildren
We have made progress in recent years. Our historic efforts to improve early learning are guaranteeing more kids success in school.
Our K-12 student test scores continue to rank high nationally. Our innovative schools in cities around the state have been highly successful in raising vital math and science skills. Our community and technical college system is rated as one of the best in the nation.
In classrooms, our hard-working, committed teachers are focused on improving student and teacher performance. In 2009, almost 1,250 teachers received the prestigious National Board Certification, and we rank fifth in the nation in board-certified educators, in part because of the investments we put in place.
So we are making progress. But we can and must do more.
We must preserve and enhance the early learning initiative we started four years ago when we created the Department of Early Learning. Despite our tough times, now is the time to build the economic future for our children and our state. I ask you to adopt legislation creating “All Start,” a voluntary Washington preschool program to provide early learning opportunities to all 3- and 4-year-olds.
To ensure a good start for all our children, I ask you to continue our implementation of all-day kindergarten for all kids.
And to assure all our children get the education they deserve wherever they live in our state, I’m asking you to lift the levy lid and fund levy equalization.
Highly effective teachers in the classroom and principals who are leaders are key to student success.
I urge you this session to approve an overhaul of the way we evaluate teachers. The new evaluation system must focus on what really counts: high-quality instruction, student achievement and growth. And for the first time, I ask you to provide a system to evaluate the performance of principals based on student achievement as well.
If we have schools where dropout rates are high, student performance and achievement are low, and where no progress is being made, we need to be able to step in and turn them around.
Our higher education system is a major economic engine for our recovery.
We need to keep the doors to higher education open to students of all income levels by restoring funding for the State Need Grant Program.
January 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm wastandforchildren
We wouldn’t expect a students year-long academic performance to be evaluated based on a single test, so why would we evaluate a teacher’s performance based on a single observation? Isn’t the goal of evaluating and assessing to identify areas of strength as well as weakness?
It is time for teachers to be evaluated based on clear standards through the use of multiple observations and multiple factors – including their ability to impact student academic growth.
Read about how one teacher’s union, The American Federation of Teachers, is standing up for improved evaluations that support effective teaching.
January 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm wastandforchildren
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned today that he expects states and school districts to spend incoming stimulus money on true innovation, not the “status quo.”
Moreover, schools that do not spend the money on reform, he said, will not be favored for upcoming federal grants, and could even lose out in a second round of stimulus funding.
Duncan spoke with reporters, including from the Post-Dispatch, this morning to discuss education reforms laid out in President Obama’s budget proposal.
He said the department will “aggressively pursue a reform agenda.”
He talked about rewarding teacher excellence, encouraging alternative certification, and building financial incentives to persuade good teachers to go to troubled schools.
He encouraged schools to think about extending school days, school weeks, school years.
He said more money will be dedicated to charter schools than ever before.
But, more than anything, he emphasized how stimulus money will focus on innovation and accountability.
Billions of dollars will be invested in school districts, he said. They must use that money to make a difference in students’ lives. “Just filling holes isn’t going to get us where we want to go,” he said, “even when the holes are large and significant.”
Schools must give students more access to great teachers, after-school programs, and extended learning time. “It isn’t just about money,” he said. “It’s about being more innovative and more creative.”
Schools that don’t follow his guidance, he said, could lose their second round of stimulus dollars, and even give them a disadvantage in future grant fund competitions.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure every dollar is spent wisely,” Duncan said.
And if it is not spent well, he said, “we’re going to come down like a ton of bricks.”
Watch the Web cast of Duncan’s remarks on USA Today’s web site.
March 27, 2009 at 11:00 am Lisa
Stand for Children members and other education advocates packed the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee hearing yesterday, demanding education reform NOW.
Read the coverage in the Tacoma News Tribune and The Olympian – Stand for Children members Sarah Powers and Brooke Valentine are quoted!
March 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm Lisa
Members of the Excellent Schools Now! Coalition met with the editorial board at The Spokesman Review last week, leading to the publication of this editorial Sunday.
Unless political leadership in Olympia takes charge, school reform could end with a whimper. Two bills that carried the tenets of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Washington Learns initiative and the Legislature’s Basic Education Task Force were suffocated in committees.
What’s emerged in the Senate is a “We Love Education” bumper sticker.
The hollowed-out bill states an intent to really, really do something about this issue in the next biennium. The following have been removed: Core 24 (the state board of education’s wish to increase the number of required graduation credits from 19 to 24), all-day kindergarten, preschool for low-income children, an increase in transportation dollars, school accountability and changes in teacher certification, assessments and pay.
The Washington Education Association drew an unrealistic line in the sand. Produce an immediate $1 billion to $2 billion and it would possibly consider teacher-related reforms. No such money exists, which is why changes were to be phased in over six years, starting in 2011. That was a realistic nod to the state’s daunting budget challenges. Nonetheless, the originals bills died.
However, hope has re-emerged in the House, which on Thursday night passed a bill that adds back many of the needed reforms, despite WEA opposition.
Now the two chambers will have to reconcile matters and send a single bill to the governor. The House version moves the ball down the field. The Senate version punts.
It’s important to remember how this all got started. The state has been financing basic education with a 30-year-old formula that doesn’t recognize demographic shifts, technological changes and the increasing competitiveness of other nations. Credible lawsuits charge that the state is not meeting its paramount duty under the state constitution, which is to provide for basic education.
If the state puts this off for two more years, those legal challenges remain. The next court date is Aug. 31. Legal challenges aside, the state risks being left on the sidelines as other states scoop up federal stimulus money tied to innovative education reforms.
As the House showed with its strong bipartisan vote, it is not too late to rally. A broad coalition that includes the Washington Roundtable, the Parent Teachers Association, the League of Education Voters and school district boards cheered that result and is working hard to persuade others that the status quo is unacceptable.
As Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, said: “If not now, then when?”
Now it’s up to legislative leaders to bring the promise of reform across the goal line.
March 16, 2009 at 11:10 am Lisa
This year, the Legislature has a decision to make when it comes to education: Is Washington going to make progress for kids or maintain the status quo?
If we’re ready to make some real progress for kids, the answer lies in the recommendations of the Basic Education Taskforce, which are crucial to updating our antiquated education system in Washington.
As a parent with two kids, I’ve seen how our underfunded system is shortchanging our kids. Last year, when school enrollment was larger than teacher capacity, our third graders were facing a 35 percent increase in class size for the following year.
One of the suggested solutions? Have the PTA essentially “buy” an additional teacher — for $75,000.
This suggestion outraged me. Bellevue is considered by many to be a wealthy school district. There are certainly wealthy PTAs in Bellevue. However, not all schools are as lucky as the school that my children attend, and your zip code should not be the determining factor in a kid’s education.
Schools around the state are being forced to privately fund public education, yet our constitution states it is the paramount duty of the state to fund basic education.
We all know that Washington is facing the worst budget crisis in our history. However, over the last 30 years, education reform has been piece-meal at best. Our kids are the future of our state. They deserve a comprehensive, 21st century education system that will truly prepare them for college and careers.
This session the Legislature has the opportunity to pass real education reform such as smaller class sizes, updated graduation requirements in line with college standards, teacher mentor programs and Pre-K for high-risk students. While our education system is in dire need of more money, we cannot continue to throw money at the same broken system and expect better results. Our Legislature has the opportunity now to fix that broken system. I urge them to take leadership and embrace this opportunity.
February 21, 2009 at 5:19 pm Lisa