Archive for June, 2010
On June 22, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn was testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee about education funding.
During his testimony, he compared his salary to Seattle Mariners’ pitcher Cliff Lee’s, saying that the state has its priorities out of line.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and other blogs, were quick to point out that while Dorn doesn’t make nearly the $9 million that Lee does, he does have an annual salary of $121,000, plus vacation, sick leave, benefits, pension, etc. The Seattle Weekly also has a blog post up about the situation.
On Wednesday, June 30, Dorn released a statement through his office.
On Tuesday, June 22, during my testimony in front of the House Ways and Means Committee, I spoke about the need to make education funding a greater priority in our country by comparing what we spend on education with what we spend on professional sports.
Unfortunately I made the mistake of using my salary as the point of comparison. It was a poor analogy and I regret using it.
But I don’t regret pointing out the absurdity of our current lack of commitment to education funding. I strongly believe we need to reset government and actually dedicate ourselves to fully funding a basic education for every child in this state. Our future as a society depends on it.
Lawmakers in Washington D.C. are still trying to find funding for a bill that would allow school districts to keep teachers employed while the economy recovers.
The new plan is to pull money from several funds, including the Race to the Top competition fund and the Teacher Incentive Fund (which helps school districts create pay-for-performance programs).
The overall goal is to create a $10 billion fund to help school districts avoid laying off teachers and staff in future school years (after the bit of remaining ARRA stimulus funds are gone). Education officials widely agree that school districts are facing a funding cliff after the 2010-11 school year, due to a combination of state stimulus money that was used to backfill education cuts being gone, a likely continuing sluggish economy and likely low tax revenue.
To find out more, click here to read the Politics K-12 blogpost by Alyson Klein at Education Week.
Update: Everett Community College is the only Washington school receiving money. According to a story in The Herald (Everett), the $4.8 million grant will be used to train students in healthcare and green technology.
This grant is from the fifth and final round of the federal Community-Based Job Training Grant program.
From the Associated Press
U.S. Labor Department is announcing $125 million in grants to 41 community colleges and organizations for job training.
The money will go to programs in 26 states. In four years of this grant program, more than $622 million has been awarded to 301 community colleges and other organizations in 49 states.
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis says the money is aimed at helping people train for high-demand occupations with the help of the nation’s community college system.
Grants are going to: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
I haven’t been able to find anything yet about which colleges in the state are getting money, but I will update this post as soon as I do.
Only about a month remains until the Department of Education will announce the finalists in round 2 of the federal Race to the Top competition. This time, Washington is one of 36 applicants vying for$3.4 billion in federal funding, which is what’s left of the $4.5 billion set aside for education reform.
During the first round of the competition, Delaware and Tennesee got $600 million. Another $350 million was put aside for the “Race to the Common Test,” which is a race between state coalitions to get money for a national test. Washington is one of the states involved.
In all, 35 states and Washington D.C. applied. Washington was one of six states that only applied in the second round. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said between 10 and 15 winners will likely be selected.
But does Washington have a chance? According to blogger Justin Snider at Hechinger Ed (which is published by the Hechinger Report), the answer is yes.
While he doesn’t give reasons, part of his belief may be tied to the amount of school-district buy-in Washington has on its application. Almost every school district in the state (251 districts, or 96 percent) supported the application. School district support has been seen as a big boost in getting funding by education-folk, with first-round winners Delaware and Tennesee boasting strong support. But Education Secretary Duncan has said support isn’t a deciding factor.
Applications are graded based upon how well they address four specific reform areas:
- Adopting standards/assessments that prepare students to succeed in college/workplace and compete in the global economy.
- Creating data systems that measure student growth and success, and give teachers/principals indicators of how they can improve instruction.
- Recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers/principals
- Turning around the lowest performing schools.
Along with many other states, the state Legislature passed education reform bills this year in an effort to be more successful in the competition. The major one for the competition was Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6696, which creates pilot programs for new teacher and principal evaluations, strengthen school accountability, expand teacher preparation and improve evaluation programs.
PubliCola, a Seattle-based blog, posted earlier this spring that Washington’s chances diminished when the statewide teacher evaluation system was changed to the district by district pilot program it is now. The Education Optimist, a blog by an education professor and education policy director duo, doesn’t even rank Washington as having a chance.
I haven’t read all the 36 applications, which can be found at EdMoney (a blog by the Education Writers Association), so I don’t fully know how Washington compares. I do know one key difference between Washington and other states is the lack of charter school options, which is one of the criteria from the first round. But will that really hurt the state in the end?
What are your thoughts? Do you think Washington has a chance in receiving any funding? What have you heard?
Just stumbled across some interesting data on a League of Education Voters blog post.
The Partnership for Learning, an independent, nonprofit organization in Washington that looks at school improvement efforts, has released a spreadsheet comparing which new education reform projects school districts are participating in.
The spreadsheet includes participation for federal School Improvement Grants, which are grants for struggling schools; the pilot program for teacher and principal evaluations; federal Race to the Top application; and four innovation clusters (Improving STEM, Developing great teachers and leaders, jumpstarting improvement in struggling schools, and improving college and career readiness and reducing the achievement gap ), which are part of the state’s Race to the Top application.
According to the data, Whatcom County’s school districts are participating in the following.
Bellingham – Race to the Top applicaton
Blaine – Race to the Top and innovation cluster about great teachers and leaders
Ferndale – Race to the Top
Lynden – nothing
Mount Baker – Race to the Top
Nooksack Valley – Race to the Top, plus all four innovation clusters.
To download the Excel spreadsheet, go to the League of Education Voters blog post.
This story is from last week, and goes hand-in-hand with the School Days post about Washington and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Two different coalitions of states are vying for federal money to create a series of national tests. The idea behind national tests, and national standards, is that all students in the country would be expected to know the same things. Currently, states dictate what students should be expected to know.
The other coalition of states is led by Florida. There are many similarities between the groups and some states support both.
To read the story, click here.
The Seattle Times on Saturday published an in-depth investigative report about the state pension system and how employees in the education field are able to double-dip.
Through a loophole in the pension system, some people have been retiring from positions at a college or school, earn their pension, and then get rehired for the same, or different, job.
To read the story, click here.
Bellingham Technical College President Thomas Eckert is leaving for Blackhawk Technical College in Wisconsin.
The Blackhawk board selected Eckert on Monday, June 28 to replace a retiring president. Eckert will leave Bellingham at the end of August.
“He’s been awesome. We’re very very sorry to lose him,” said Yvonne Cartwright, board president, adding that Eckert has worked hard for BTC at the state and local level. “He just hit the floor running and has just a tremendous amount of energy”
Eckert came to Bellingham in 2007 from Nicolet Area Technical College in Wisconsin, where he had worked for 14 years.
“This door opened and it made a lot of sense for him and we all completely understand,” Cartwright said of Eckert’s decision. “As much as we were going to miss him and wish weren’t losing him, we know where he’s coming from.”
Three out of five BTC board members, Cartwright included, were part of the last presidential search process. Cartwright, who has been on the board for 10 years, said they will likely pick an interim president to lead the college during the presidential search process.
“A lot of work that goes into it because we have to select the right person,” Cartwright said, adding that the college needs someone who can handle budget challenges. “You don’t want to make a snap decision on who you want to lead your college.”
People using Wells Fargo’s ATMs in Washington this summer will likely be greeted with a picture of Bellingham High School teacher Jamie Yoos, the state 2010 Teacher of the Year.
The bank is honoring 44 of the educators in the national teacher of the year competition, with ATM messages appearing in 39 states and Washington D.C. In Washington, people will be able to learn more about Yoos, who teaches chemistry and bicycle maintenance classes, by touching a button on the screen.
The teacher of the year screen, which will be in place until October 4, will appear on most of Wells Fargo’s 185 ATMs in the state.