Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is Common Core Ed Reform?

The trouble that I have with posts like this one is that I don't necessarily believe that the Common Core State Standards really have anything at all to do with school improvement in general or education reform writ large. Here in Washington State one of the loudest voices on the reform side--hi, Liv!--is also one of the harshest critics of Common Core (justifiably, IMO), and when we've been living under EALRs and GLEs for nigh-on two decades now it's hard to see CCCS as anything more than just the next iteration of a standards process that never really stops changing.

As a math guy, the piece that I don't think people are talking about enough is the idea of giving away our really good state standards in mathematics to the control of a group of people we don't know with beliefs that we may not share. The math wars may have cooled, but we may well be living that armistice moment before things blow up again. If and when they do, where will the power lie?

Read more here, if any.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Initiatives? Meh.

I recommend the article below, but I'll admit to being quite a bit more cynical than the author about Parent Trigger laws.  In Washington State we've seen an extremely reasonable soda tax get thrown out because of an initiative bought by the cola industry, state liquor stores privatized after two consecutive years of initiatives paid for by Costco and the grocery stores, and a campaign for Charter Schools make the ballot against all odds because the Gates Foundation and their allies in the ed reform movement were willing to spend the money it took--some reports say $4 a signature--to get their way.

I'm very leery of most initiatives right now, and I don't see how the parent trigger is anything other than the initiative process writ small.

Eduflack: Triggering Parents

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But We Gave Every Teacher a Workshop on Common Core!

Monday, July 09, 2012

15 Thoughts Upon Looking Through the PDC Reports Today

1)  Considering the late start she got off to because of the fundraising freeze, and the incredible lead that Guy Palumbo had, Rosemary McAuliffe having raised $40k+ already is pretty good.

2)  Nancy McLaughlin, running for the open seat in the 3rd LD that was vacated by Lisa Brown, has raised about $52,000.  By this time in 2010 Michael Baumgartner, running against incumbent Chris Marr in the 6th LD, had raised about $90,000.  Plus, given that Andy Billig is sitting on $80,000 cash-on-hand, I think it's pretty clear which way the winds are blowing.  Given that she's a sitting city council member in Spokane, I though there would be more party support there for what could've been an interesting race in the redrawn 3rd LD.

3)  The fact that Matt Shea and Amy Biviano both have about the same amount of cash-on-hand in their race in the 4th LD is fascinating.  This is the first time that Rep. Shea has had to stand for election since Senator McCaslin passed away in January of 2010, and it'll be interesting to see what kind of memory conservative voters in the 4th have regarding the ridiculous electioneering to fill that spot last year.

4)  Kevin Parker is a fucking amazing fundraiser.  Seriously.

5)   Matt Manweller might be able to fundraise at Kevin Parker levels.  Seriously.

6)  Of the 3 Republican candidates looking to take over for John Ahern in the 6th LD, the one with the thinnest resume is raising the most money.

7)  In the 8th LD Brad Klippert has taken one individual donation, for $25.  The rest of his money is mainly from PACs.  If he's taking Jay Clough for granted, that would be a mistake.

8)  You've got two internecine GOP v. GOP elections in the 12th LD, with Cary Condotta against Robert Morse and Mike Armstrong against Brad Hawkins.  Hawkins made a giant personal loan to himself, but there's still nearly $24,000 in cash and in-kind donations to a challenger running against a reliably conservative incumbent.  What's wrong with Mike Armstrong?

9) Remember back when the Redistricting Commission made the 15th LD majority minority? It hasn't made a noticeable difference.

10)  The 36th LD is fun electoral politics.

11)  For someone who got into the race late, Troy Kelley is doing really, really well on the fundraising front.  He's almost lapped Mark Miloscia, and only trails Craig Pridemore.

12) Clint Didier's campaign for Lands Commissioner is really, really quiet right now.

13)  The fact that Greg Nickels, the last to get into the race, has raised more than all the other candidates is kind of fascinating.  If he makes the general ahead of Kathleen Drew, who has been killing him in endorsements, that would be pretty incredible and speak to the importance of name recognition, even if people don't realize why they recognize the name.

14)  Vote Wyman.

15)  After Lands Commissioner, the second most important elected office for trees is Superintendent of Public Instruction because of the State Trust lands.  Don't believe me?  Observe that some of the biggest donors to the Randy Dorn Re-Election campaign are Weyerhaeuser, the Washington Forest Protection Association, Longview Timber, Hampton Lumber, and International Forest Products Limited (Interfor).


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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Book Review: What Should I Do? Confronting Dilemmas of Teaching in Urban Schools, by Anna Ershler Richert

You should not buy this book, that's what you should do.
I get the quarterly catalogs from the Teachers College Press at Columbia University, and a couple of times a year I'll take the plunge and buy something.  This was my summertime splurge, because the premise looked really, really interesting.


The idea is solid, to take those memorable dilemmas that teachers come across and give them a deeper look.  The case method can be a super way to do professional development and teacher education--see School Leadership and Administration for a great example of this--and I was hoping that What Should I Do? would be similar, but it falls way short.

The problem is jargon.  This is an academic book, and there's nothing wrong with that, but the real power of the stories gets lost in the fog created by unnecessary academic language.  I couldn't think of using this with my student teachers, because it's almost inaccessible.  I'd say the same about any potential for it as a small group book study, or college prep class.

I can only recommend it for the solo reader who has some time on their hands and likes to think about urban schools.

Read more here, if any.

Friday, July 06, 2012

How Public Education Was Perceived 100 Years Ago

From "A History of the United States for Grammar Schools", published in 1912 by the Houghton-Mifflin Company:  
The development of popular education in the United States during the past fifty years has been quite as remarkable as our growth in other ways. This nation has adopted better methods for such education than any other in the world. The Federal, State, and city governments spend enormous sums each year in keeping up the public schools, colleges, and universities. 

The half-century's progress in education has, however, been most noticeable in practical and industrial instruction. Colleges and universities not only train ministers, lawyers, and physicians, but they now educate librarians, engineers, electricians, farmers, and students of commerce; and their summer schools are thronged with teachers of youth who are improving themselves in their art. Courses in domestic science, commerce, physical eduication, and manual training are not given in many of our publics schools. Girls are taught how to be good dressmakers and housekeepers, and boys are given a knowledge of the tools that will fit them either for mechanical trades or for usefulness at home. Tens of thousands of young people who in the daytime work for their living, can now carry on their studies in evening schools. 

Schools are not the only means of spreading popular education.  Public libraries and museums are in our day to be found in all parts of the Union.  Public parks, playgrounds, and recreation centers are provided in many of our cities.  These three last-named outdoor institutions not only furnish entertainment and recreation for old and young, but they show that outdoor life is necessary if the people are to keep storng, well, and happy.

In various ways children and adults are taught to respect the form of our splendid free Government and its beneficent laws.  They come to understand, however, that the real strength of the Republic lies in good citizenship and this means that each and every one, old or young, must do his or her part in working for the good of the neighborhood, of the village or the city, of the State, and of the nation.  In no other way can the United States remain a model country in which to live.
Is any of this still valid today?

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Size Counts

From the PSE of Washington Spring Newsletter:  

Regardless of what hat you're wearing, 2012 will be a pivotal year for working families, public workers, union members, and taxpayers. PSE continues to build power in many ways, including our COPE voluntary political contribution program. 241 members from 73 PSE chapters currently contribute to COPE.

From an email that WEA president Mary Lindquist sent out at the end of last month:  

I am so excited I wanted to send you a quick note before it reaches you. We have achieved a WEA-PAC milestone this year and in the last few days surpassed 30,000 members! I remember asking WEA members to join WEA-PAC every year because their membership expired every year. Well, those days are behind us (for now) and our success with payroll deduction has been amazing. We've grown by more than 3,400 members this year alone. We've grown because members like you have asked colleagues to join WEA-PAC all across the state. Our success translates into our ability to support pro-public education and pro-union candidates.

The WEA has more classified members who are involved politically than the PSE does.  This is a fact, and not open to debate.  This being how it is, when certain lobbyists step up to the table in Olympia and say that they are The Union representing classified employees in Washington State, my legislative friends need to know that they are full of crap.

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