Saturday, November 24, 2012

If We Want Them to Finish College, We Have to Make It Realistic To Do So

From the November 23rd, 2012 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education:

This is from a study called "Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates" by the National Student Clearinghouse, and the stats get to what I think are two absolute truths about teaching today:

1)  Raising tuitions might make budgetary sense, but it does absolutely nothing to further the goals we have around completion and workforce readiness.  The number speak for themselves, explicitly--if you want college students to graduate, which is the best proxy we have for success, then we need to give them the chance to be full time students.

2)  Making it harder to become a teacher is intended to create a stronger beginning teacher workforce, but I'd suggest that variables like the ProTeach Portfolio and WEST-E testing are doing more harm than good.  It's not bureaucratic mandates that are going to make the profession more attractive.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One More Thing on the Achievement Gap.....

A solution that the PESB looks primed to try and move through the legislature is to allow suitable SAT scores to serve as a proxy for the WEST-B; e.g., if your SAT scores were acceptable, you wouldn't have to bother with the WEST.

My one question would be: if the SAT is a good enough correlation with the WEST-B, then why do we even bother with the WEST at all?

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Monday, November 12, 2012

The Achievement Gap Before the Achievement Gap

Courtesy of the packet for the September Professional Educator Standards Board meeting, this is a graph that compares the passing rate on the WEST-B test of African-American students in teacher prep programs, to the passing rate of all students.  So not only are there less African-American students going into teaching, barely half of them are getting over this first bar.

A later slide says that of the 4,587 students who passed the WEST-B in 2010-2011, 75 of them were African American.

It's your classic chicken/egg question; if we had more teachers of color to inspire our students of color, more of them might go on to close the circle and become, themselves, teachers.  The question is how to get there, which is something the state has been struggling with for as long as I've been in teaching, and a societal issue that goes back to the sixties.

For more reading, try this article from the Huffington Post.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

We Must Remain Vigilant on Levy Equalization

Sure, it's just a throwaway comment in a larger article about school funding on Crosscut, but anytime that I read something like this:
One big potential cut could be $605 million by eliminating the state's education levy equalization program, an idea has never gained traction in the Legislatures. The program helps districts with lower property tax revenues; those districts are often in struggling communities.
 .....I get nervous, especially with the profile that the local levy swap idea gained towards the end of the Gubernatorial election.

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Friday, November 09, 2012

McKenna Conceded, So Let's Start Looking at 2016

I'm still rather shocked that Rob McKenna lost.

He'd won statewide races before; Inslee hadn't.  Inslee's campaign was a bit of a shambles early on, until he won the August primary and never looked back.  McKenna had been priming for this run since arguably his days on the King County Council, had the state GOP as confident as they've ever been, and still--it didn't happen.

We've known arguably for 5 years that Rob McKenna would be the GOP candidate in 2012.  Rossi had to get another swing at the pinata after coming so close in 2004, but McKenna was clearly next in line.  Who's next in line after Rob McKenna?

Let's set aside, first, the most recent GOP candidates for US Senator.  Dino Rossi (2010) has already had two tries, and Michael Baumgartner (2012) may not poll above 40%.  Conceivably Clint Didier, who lost to Rossi in the 2010 primary (and this year for Lands Commissioner) could try to step up to a run for Governor, but he's also a two-time loser.

What about the GOP Congressional delegation?  Certainly not Doc Hastings.  Dave Reichert is an interesting possibility, given his King County connections, and the state just elected a Representative to be their Governor, but the rumors about his health could dog him, and running for statewide office is a different proposition than winning the 8th CD.  Cathy McMorris-Rogers could eventually be Speaker of the House, would have to give up her House seat to run for Governor, and has a sinecure in her CD that is nearly unmatched, so I don't think she'd try.

Jamie Herrera-Beutler would be interesting.  She's an attractive candidate and a good public speaker, but has been dogged by stories that she doesn't have town hall meetings because she can't handle them, and as Craig Pridemore sadly discovered coming out of Southwest Washington to win a statewide office isn't an easy thing to do.

What about other recent Republican losers for statewide office?  We've already talked about Didier.  James Watkins wasn't able to take out Troy Kelley after smearing him like mad.  Reagan Dunn just tripped over his stepping stone when he lost the Attorney General contest to Bob Ferguson, and on this line you can't get from point A to point C if you're not able to touch point B first.  John Adams and Sharon Haunek aren't viable.

From the legislative ranks, then?  When you look at the Senate Republican Caucus there really isn't anyone who jumps out.  Steve Litzow had a good win on Tuesday in a competitive district, and in the next four years there is a shot he could raise his profile enough to stand out, but he's also a pro-choice Republican which is something that just begs for a challenge from the right.  Mark Schoesler is a solid conservative who has chaired JLARC and knows the budget as well as anyone, but I can't imagine him doing well at all on the west side.

It's much the same story in the House Republican Caucus.  I could see Matt Shea trying it, but Clint Didier's losses pretty much show you the ceiling that the Tea Party/Liberty candidates have in this state.  He's also pretty damaged after his most recent campaign, and while those scandals may not have been enough to cost him the 4th LD they would be absolutely fatal in a statewide election.  Richard DeBolt is an interesting notion.  I'd love to see Joel Kretz run, since he's in my LD, but I don't know why the hell he'd leave God's country up in Ferry County to spend all his time in Olympia.

Stupid ideas?  Rodney Tom switches parties (again!).  Kirby Wilbur.  Nansen Malin.  Mac Strong.  Jason Mercier.

It'll be an interesting four years.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Lessons From the Election

1)  The 3rd Legislative District, in Downtown Spokane, was thought to potentially be in play after redistricting.  When Lisa Brown retired and turned it into a contest between Representative Andy Billig and City Council Member Nancy McLaughlin, that created a real benchmark that the 3rd hadn't seen in years, between high profile candidates from both parties, a real contest in the 3rd LD.

Except that it wasn't.  McLaughlin only got 42% of the vote, and I think it's going to be a long, long time before you see a Republican of any sort of profile try it again.

2)  If Rob McKenna can't win the Governorship in this climate, with his profile and credentials, against that opposition, then there's no reason not to believe that the Democrats won't hold the Governor's office for another 26 years.

3)  From my viewpoint, as someone who really likes education politics, McKenna made two really big mistakes.  The first was in treating Race to the Top like it mattered, and like it was worth winning, but the bigger mistake was embracing a Local Levy Swap that he didn't really understand and that gave Jay Inslee the opportunity to take away McKenna's high ground on taxes and school funding.  McKenna eventually had to go into a bit of a retreat and get arm distance from an idea that he had made a keystone of his school funding program ("It's not my idea!", he said on Robert Mak's program), but the damage had already been done.

4)  Cheryl Pflug went to bed smiling last night.

5)  If the King County results trend towards Kathleen Drew, and she overtakes Kim Wyman for Secretary of State, that will be the biggest damned travesty of the entire cycle.  Wyman is clearly more qualified and has better credentials, and the only way that I could see that someone would look at the two candidates and vote for Drew is if they put more stock in party affiliation than anything else.

6)  If Kim Wyman does lose, here's the reason why:

It isn't fair to smear Wyman with that voter suppression brush, but the entire GOP brand was hurt this cycle by the exact sort of nonsense in that video.  The Washington Policy Center at least tries to message it in terms of election security; those Republicans who won't even bother with the pretense are toxic.

7)  The Gumpian Genius of Jay Inslee.  In early spring I thought McKenna had already won, because Jay looked like crap after he resigned his seat in Congress, and the campaign was just plain awful.

And then he won the primary, convincingly, and it was off to the races.  He was slow and steady, implacable when McKenna was sometimes manic, and stuck to his themes.  In a political environment where Scott Walker has some profile, the "You don't know the real Rob McKenna" ads hurt.  The one tying him to the Tea Party was a lie, but an effective one.  All glory and honor to Team Inslee, because they were masterful.

8)  Ya coulda won that thing, JL.

9)  Say what you will about Gingrich or Santorum, but they had a core and they were willing to stick to it.  Mitt didn't.  If you try to be all things to all people, you'll be nobody to anyone.

10)  About 5 months until the filing deadline for 2013!

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