Sunday, August 02, 2009

Washington doesn't qualify for more federal education money

The feds are distributing $4.3 billion "stimulus money" for education, but only to states that demonstrate excellence in public education. This is an Obama priority and Education Secretary Duncan is pushing it. Essentially, a state would have to demonstrate that it can implement successful, student-focused reforms in the face of political obstacles. How does Washington measure up? Tacoma News-Tribune
Some of their core expectations: • A state must connect data on student performance to individual teachers. The logic for this is blindingly obvious: The data connection can not only help evaluate teachers, it can help evaluate the curriculum they use, the schools of education that trained them and the effectiveness of their principals. The failure to make that connection cripples accountability all around. Washington doesn’t make it. • A state must reward high-performing teachers. For the most part, Washington does not. • A state must encourage educational innovation by not imposing a cap on the number of charter public schools – schools commonly organized and self-governed by teachers and parents. Washington imposes a cap: zero. • A state must have a credible way of stepping in and fixing failing schools. Washington doesn’t.
Obama has "homed in on characteristics that distinguish flexible, performance-oriented school systems designed to serve students, not power structures." Also Washington Post. Our history on allowing such flexibility for schools is sad. Just one example: Our Legislature passed a bill to implement charter schools a few years back - a bipartisan effort. Charter schools are run independently and bypass many of the "this is the only way to run a school" rules; most states have them. The Washington Education Association immediately brought a referendum to cancel it. The got the public scared and the voters went along. So all our schools are required to work by the one-size-fits-all system. No flexibility allowed. How can Washington make the changes so we qualify for this additional funding? More importantly can we implement what is proven to work? Or do we choose to stick with our 20th-century industrial school system? Christine Gregoire was in D.C. asking for more money this week. Will she lead our Legislature to get our schools the additional flexibility her Obama wants? Or actively pass around her tin cup begging? Via Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy:

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