Monday, October 30, 2006

The Biggest Stories in Washington Education Right Now

  1. Governor Gregoire’s Washington Learns project, which deserves to be #1 based on all the work they’ve done in the last year. They’ve heard all the testimony from the public-at-large; now we get to see if they’ve actually listened and make the changes that will give the report validity. After reading the draft I’m not optimistic. We’ll find out on November 13th when they issue the final report at the Governor’s big education summit with Bill and Melinda Gates in attendance.

  2. The Special Education Lawsuit. See my earlier post here. I do hope that TV Washington is going to go out and cover some of this, because the potential the lawsuit has to change how we help our alphabet kids in the state is huge. I think it has the potential to trump item #1 completely; if the price tag attached to the special ed kids is high enough, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s where the lawmakers decided to target the funds instead of towards all the things called for in Washington Learns. Which leads nicely into item 3…

  3. The Take the Lead initiative from the WEA. In Eastern Washington the action team that they trained at the WEA Leadership Academy is going to start doing their presentations soon on why increased funding for schools is important. They’ve also been given a hell of a gift from Washington Learns, because the Picus and Odden report is an incredible blueprint of just what it might cost to meet that pesky “paramount duty” clause in the state constitution. It also dovetails nicely with WASDA’s Ample School Funding project.

  4. The Battle in Seattle. With their school board making Spokane’s old city council meetings look tame by comparison, and the Superintendent throwing up his hands and hitting the bricks, it’s looking like Washington’s largest school district has an even tougher road ahead than the one they’ve already been down. It doesn’t help that the state’s two biggest newspapers are Seattle-based, meaning that the roving eye of the fourth estate will be watching the entire time. And all of this with a couple of levies on the ballot in February. Good luck, metronaturals!

  5. Kids failing high school because of the Math WASL. Half of the junior class has yet to pass the math test (see here), and Dr. Bergeson seems to be sticking to her guns that if you don’t pass the test (or you don’t meet one of the other, friendlier measures) then you don’t get a diploma. It’s going to be even worse when science becomes a graduation requirement.

  6. The state auditor going through school district finances. This isn’t a hot one right now, but when they start releasing the reports on the districts it could get bloody in a hurry. If it’s broken out enough to show what a district spends on technology, or travel, or administrator perks, there will be an outcry.

  7. The Supreme Court hearing the WEA’s case on automatic deductions for political expenses, a case that I’m not entirely sure the WEA should win. If they do lose convincingly, and I wouldn’t want to be arguing a union case in this political environment, it would be a major hit for them and one of the biggest victories that the Evergreen Freedom Foundation has ever had.

I’ll try to update this list every couple of months or so. When the legislature is in session things happen quickly, and the only constant in schools is change, so it should be fun!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. I would say that "WA Learns" does not merit a #1 ranking...unless the story is actually how $1.7 million study has become watered down to merely a list of new programs/gimmicks the governor wants to try.

Nobody seems to be noticing that aspect of the latest draft though.

And Federal Way SD has dropped two big issues on the legal "magic 8-ball." -- grandfathered salaries and grandfatered levy lids if I remember correctly.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I just read about the Federal Way lawsuit, actually. The KOMO News story is here, and the official FWPS website about the lawsuit is here. I'll have to go through the information--it looks like it could be an interesting thing.

I share your disappointment with Washington Learns. Never has a bang turned into a whimper so quickly and so limply.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WA Learns was doomed at its inception. The enabling legislation, SB 5441, was a Christmas tree of every hope the majority party ever had for education.

Each step of the process, however, multiplies the absurdity of the attempt.

Better for a study to focus on specific data related to school finance in WA so decisions can be made based upon information not rhetoric or perceptions.

Picus and Odden sold a canned report with little connection to status quo spending policies--thus no way to compare their recommendations to the status quo.

Task forces took the opportunity to promote their pet project.

Then the "study" was to be modified based upon public comment--huh? Public opinion modifies "science?"

Then the governor's staff "summarized" what was meant by all of the above and included a batch of governor brainstorms.

Then the steering committee got their chance to push for their pet projects.

Now edits are taking place.

Seeing the starting legislation would you have predicted that we would get recommendations about public-private partnerships to market the merits of creativity?

And no recommendations about grandfathered salaries/levies, regional cost differentiation, special education or other clunky aspects of the appropriation?


12:35 PM  
Blogger Jim Anderson said...

Why shouldn't the WEA win in its lawsuit?

7:57 PM  
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5:09 AM  

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