Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Ed Reform in Washington State is Completely Full of Crap Right Now

From the most recent Quality Education Council meeting, the League of Education Voters summarizes:
Concerns about growing budget deficits and lack of funding to implement bold reforms. Ms. Ryan vehemently pushed back saying she hears the budget concerns, but now more than ever is the time to step up and put forward a strong vision for the state — our kids deserve it. Dr. Bette Hyde agreed “125 percent.”
I watched the segment (it's about 2.5 hours in), and I'd say the LEV transcribed it accurately.

I'd also say that Ms. Ryan, of the State Board of Education, and Ms. Hyde, of the Department of Early Learning, are both talking out of their ass, which seems to be the pattern right now.

Exhibit A, right here at the Quality Education Council. Ms. Hyde had anothe quote later on about how people are looking to the QEC for hope (hope of what, who knows?), and that meant they needed to fulfill their charge. Sorry, Bette, but from where I stand in the classroom I'm not looking to you for jack-squat. I'd just as soon you left me alone instead of creating work to justify your existence.

Exhibit B would be Ms. Ryan's very own State Board of Education, which just passed new graduation requirements despite there being absolutely no way to pay for those requirements. But the reasoning goes that, hey, things will get better, and the State Board of Education has to do something, so why not.

You've also got the Professional Educator Standards Board screwing around with cultural competency requirements, the Superintendent of Public Instruction signing on to the common core standards even though we didn't get the Race to the Top money, the Center for the Improvement of Student learning doing who-the-hell-knows what, the Local Levy Workgroup just had a meeting, too, and the districts involved in the Evaluation Pilot Project are also clicking along, and I assume the Department of Early Learning and the Higher Education Coordinating Board are also putting out the paperwork, too.

Right now ed reform in Washington is a sad, expensive Dilbert cartoon with board after board, committee after committee working on scores of different projects and none of them possessed of the moral fibre to admit that we're in a budget crisis and maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't be re-arranging the furniture when the house in on fire. The first rule of being in a hole, the one about stop digging? That's not going to happen as long as the Big Shovel lobby that makes up all these commissions keeps thinking that their work trumps the reality that everyone else in the state is having to live with.

If you put them together, the packets from the last Quality Education Council and State Board of Education meetings come up to exactly 800 pages. Not 800 pages of how to preserve what we have, not 800 pages of acknowledgement that we're in the worst budget crisis since the Great Depression--800 pages of change that we just can't afford. And to put it bluntly, if the bureaucracy can't figure that out for themselves, then Lord let the legislature defund them and use the money for something worth a damn. There may well come a time where what Hyde and Ryan want can be--this is absolutely not that time.

And that's my rant.

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