Archives for category: Washington State

The state of Washington rejected charter schools three times. But in 2012, Bill Gates and his wealthy friends like a Walton and a Bezos, spent $10 million and barely got their legislation passed.

The state’s first charter is in big trouble.

According to the Seattle Times:

“Just months after it opened, First Place Scholars, the first charter school in Washington state, is in turmoil.
Its first principal resigned in November, more than half of its original board of directors have left, too, and the state’s charter-school commission has identified more than a dozen potential problems that need to be fixed soon if the school wants to keep its doors open.

“Among them: hiring a qualified special-education teacher for the roughly two dozen students who need those services, and completing background checks on some of its nonteaching staff.”

The Washington Policy Center, a free-market advocacy group, insisted that the charter school was not in trouble and the law is working just fine.

In an earlier post, I expressed the concern of parents in Seattle that the selection of a permanent superintendent was moving too quickly. Some parents, always suspicious that Bill Gates is trying to buy their schools, feared that he was involved in the rushed process. I regret that I cast aspersion on Dr. Larry Nyland, the interim superintendent who is under consideration for the post of permanent superintendent. I have it on excellent authority that he is an experienced educator of impeccable integrity. If the board slows down, listens to parents, and engages the public in this important decision, it will build trust and good will.

Here is a statement from Seattle parent leaders. They do not oppose Dr. Nyland. They want public engagement, which is a precondition for building trust.

Dear Seattle School Board Directors,

As strong advocates for family engagement, we are concerned about the timing and rushed nature to appoint Dr. Nyland permanently through 2017.
Our council board feels that a search for a Superintendent could provide other qualified candidates, however we also believe that providing consistent leadership and stability for staff and families also has value for our district at this time. When asked to provide support for a contract extension for Dr. Nyland as interim Superintendent, we agreed. Dr. Nyland’s commitment to stewardship and accountability of SPS resources, closing the opportunity gap, providing better customer service, and responding to parent concerns is encouraging. However, when appointing a permanent Superintendent these criteria and commitments should be fully assessed through a formal process.

SCPTSA did not realize the School Board would be voting on this action so quickly without providing time for families to engage. The specifics of the contract extension, specifically to make this a permanent appointment, and the process for hiring the Superintendent, were unknown even to us. Families have been led to believe that there would be a full and transparent search process for the appointment of a new Superintendent. Five days’ notice over a holiday weekend is simply not enough time.

The School Board should move at a more deliberate pace. This rushed action will likely perpetuate distrust of the School Board and the District. Rushed decisions continue to force parents to react instead of being able to engage effectively in their children’s education.

We ask the School Board to delay this vote to explain the decision process to parents and school communities and allow sufficient time for response. It is vital the School Board takes the proper time to confirm the right person is being hired as the permanent Superintendent of our schools.

Sincerely,

Seattle Council PTSA Board
Katherine Schomer, President
Cassandra Johnston, Vice President
Dianne Casper, Secretary
Jenny Young, Treasurer
Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative chair
Julie van Arcken, Central Area Director
Cecilia McCormick, Special Education Director
Annabel Quintero, South West Area Director

CC: PTA Board Leadership for all 82 PTA Local Units in Seattle

It has to annoy Bill Gates that he has not yet been able to buy the schools of Seattle, where he lives. But the stars are aligning for him. He is pushing behind the scenes for a mayoral takeover–which is a sure path to charters and corporate reform. Nothing like killing off democratic control of public education to clear the way for corporate reform.

Next on the docket is a rushed process to make the interim superintendent, Larry Nyland, the permanent superintendent. He seems like a pliable sort, and he is surrounded by Broadies left over from an earlier superintendent who was Broad-trained.

The school board announced hearings just a few days ago, while everyone was thinking about Thanksgiving, that the future of Nyland will be decided Wednesday. Forget about the national search the board promised.

Citizens should turn out, ask questions, and insist that the public schools belong to the public, not to Bill Gates, Eli Broad, or their billionaire friends.

Parent activists in Seattle are wary of Proposition 1B, a proposal for “Preschool for All,” fearing that it means a scripted curriculum and standardized tests for tots.

They have learned that the money for the proposition is coming from hedge fund managers and corporations that have been mainstays of the charter school movement.

Parents worry that the Gates Foundation is behind the proposal and that it is a prelude to mayoral control, for-profit schools, and TFA. are they right? Read: 11 Reasons to oppose Prop 1B.

This Washington State preschool teacher explains why he will vote against Prop 1B.

Arne Duncan issued waivers to 43 states to allow them to avoid the sanctions of the No Child Left Behind Law, passed in 2001, signed into law in January 2002. NCLB is an utter disaster, recognized as such by everyone except the people who had a direct hand in writing it. It requires that 100% of all children in grades 3-8 must be “proficient” on state tests of reading and mathematics or the school will face dire consequences.

 

In no nation in the world are 100% of all children proficient in reading and math. Congress’s mandate was a cruel joke on the nation’s public schools.

 

In order to get Duncan’s waiver, states had to agree to Duncan’s terms. One of them was that the state had to create a teacher evaluation system based on test scores. Washington State initially agreed, but as the research accumulated showing that this strategy was not working anywhere, the legislature refused to pass such a system.

 

Duncan revoked the waiver he had in his lordly manner extended. Now almost every school in the state is a failing school and must spent at least 20% of their federal funding on private tutoring or allow students to transfer to “non-failing” schools, if they can find one.

 

This article by Motoko Rich in the New York Times shows the ugly consequences of Duncan’s policies have been on the public schools of Washington State. Schools that have shown dramatic improvement in recent years are now declared failures. Duncan says the state must suffer the consequences of its failure to follow his orders.

 

This man is not fit to be Secretary of Education. He is a promoter of privatization and high-stakes testing. His period in office has been marked by massive demoralization of teachers and educational stagnation (his own term). From his actions, it appears that he doesn’t care for public education and hopes it will be replaced by privately managed charters and vouchers. His action in this case has caused harm to the students and teachers of Washington State. The headline of the article says he put schools “in a bind.” It would be more accurate to say that Duncan has rained chaos on the schools and children of Washington State. The sooner he is out of office, the sooner we can turn to realistic ways of helping children and schools.

The Education Law Center reports on a major ruling in Washington State:

WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT HOLDS LEGISLATURE IN CONTEMPT ON SCHOOL FUNDING

Orders State to Comply in 2015 Legislative Session

On September 11, 2014, in McCleary v. State, the Washington Supreme Court held the State in contempt for failing to obey a court order for a phase-in schedule for fully funding the components of “basic education” by the 2017-18 school year. The Court ruling was unanimous.

As reported by the Associated Press, Thomas Ahearne, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said Thursday’s order “wipes out all the excuses that legislators tell themselves as to why they don’t have to do anything. I think the attorney general is now going to be telling legislators, ‘Guys you are in a box.'”

In an earlier McCleary decision (2012), the Court found the State was not meeting its “paramount duty … to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its border,” as stated in the Washington Constitution. The Court commended the Legislature and agreed with its chosen means of reaching a constitutional level of funding. The Court ordered the State to implement the agreed on changes within the 2018 deadline the legislative body had set.

Since 2012, however, the State has not made “sufficient progress to be on target to fully fund [basic] education … by the 2017-18 school year,” the Court concludes in this decision. And, “the State admitted that it did not comply with the court’s … order.”

The Court also points out that “The State, moreover, has known for decades that its funding for public education is constitutionally inadequate,” and warned that, “If the contempt is not purged by adjournment of the 2015 legislature, the court will reconvene and impose sanctions or other remedial measures.”

The cost to pay for basic education in Washington has been estimated at $4 billion or more in each biennial state budget. Underfunded educational resources that the Legislature has identified as basic education include full-day kindergarten, more instructional hours for high school students, pupil transportation, a new formula for school staffing levels for smaller class sizes, and more state support for school equipment and supplies.

Education Justice Press Contact:

Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19
http://www.edlawcenter.org
http://www.educationjustice.org

Copyright © 2014 Education Law Center. All Rights Reserved.

In 2001, Congress passed a law called No Child Left Behind. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January 2002. It is the worst federal education legislation ever passed. It required that 100% of children in grades 3-8 must be proficient by 2014 or their schools are failing and subject to harsh sanctions. In no nation in the world are 100% of children proficient. This is an impossible goal. Yet many schools have been closed, many educators fired, because they could not do the impossible.

Although NCLB should have been re authorized in 2007, Congress has been unable to agree on how to change it. It should have been scrapped. Accountability should be the job of the states, not the federal government.

Into the stalemate over NCLB stepped our present Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who offered waivers from the 2014 deadline to states that agreed to evaluate their teachers based on their students’ test scores. States lined up to seek waivers. Washington State, however, asked for a waiver but the Legislature refused to evaluate teachers by test scores. Many studies have shown that this a fundamentally flawed way of evaluating teachers. But Duncan stuck to his guns, oblivious to the research. He decreed that Washington State would lose its waiver. That men’s that every school in the state is a failing school and must inform parents that their child attends a failing school.

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Educators in Washington State have written a plea to Arne Duncan not to rescind the state’s waiver from what is, in fact, a ridiculous law. They have a petition and invite you to support them by signing it.

Here is their press release:

This year, most school districts across Washington state were forced by Secretary Arne Duncan’s selective enforcement of the No Child Left Behind Act to send letters to all parents that labeled our schools as failures. We are parents, teachers, students and community members who reject this label that has been placed on our schools.

We know that our schools are not failures. In fact, their accomplishments have been remarkable, especially given the deeply flawed policy imposed on them by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). While there are certainly changes needed for our schools – many due to the legacy of racism, class inequality, and lack of equitable funding for our schools – we believe that those changes should be directed by communities that make up local school districts, not by top-down mandates. This website will share stories and testimonials about the great things that are happening in our schools that should be supported and connect our communities so that we can organize opposition to Arne Duncan’s policies and No Child Left Behind.

According to NCLB, our schools should have had 100% of students test at proficient levels in reading and math by 2014. No county, no state, and no school district has ever achieved 100% proficiency on standardized tests and, in fact, the way the tests are designed make it statistically impossible to achieve that goal. Washington, like many other states, originally had a waiver in place that would have exempted it from this absurd NCLB mandate. However, when the state legislature refused to pass bills tying teacher evaluations to test scores (following overwhelming evidence that this would not improve teaching or learning), Arne Duncan chose to punish Washington state by revoking the waiver. With the waiver gone, nearly all of Washington’s schools have been labeled failures, we may lose control of millions of dollars in federal money, and some schools will be at risk of state takeovers and mass layoffs of teachers.

This kind of political game-playing has no place in our schools. Our schools and teachers should not be labeled as failures simply because we have rejected extremely flawed education policies. In August 2014, 28 school superintendents from around the state authored a letter, where they declared that their schools’ successes are not reflected in these ratings and criticized No Child Left Behind. We agree. It’s time for the voices of parents, teachers and students to be heard and respected.

If you have a story to share about why your school is not a failure, tell us here.

Also, sign our petition to reinstate the NCLB waiver for Washington state.

Endorsed by:

Parents Across America (PAA)
Seattle Education Website
Social Equality Educators (SEE)
Wayne Au, PhD, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Washington Bothell*
Jesse Hagopian, Teacher, Garfield High School*
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council member*
Sue Peters, Seattle School Board Director*
Melissa Westbrook, Seattle Schools Community Forum

*For identification purposes only

Washington State declined to ask Arne Duncan for a waiver from NCLB because the legislature thought that the price was too high. In exchange for gaining freedom from NCLB’s demand that 100% of students would be proficient by 2014, the state would have to agree to endorse Arne Duncan’s inane idea that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students. Apparently some wise policy makers saw the research and the universal failure of Duncan’s idea and said “no thanks.”

Now virtually every school in the state of Washington is a “failing school.”

The superintendents are required to send a letter to parents informing them that their child attends a failing school. But 28 superintendents sent a cover letter explaining that the law required them to say something untrue.

““Some of our state’s and districts’ most successful and highly recognized schools are now being labeled ‘failing’ by an antiquated law that most educators and elected officials — as well as the U.S. Department of Education — acknowledge isn’t working,” the cover letter states. The letter is signed by John Welch, superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District, which represents the 28 districts.

“The signees include many of the larger school districts in King and Pierce counties, such as Bellevue, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Washington, Northshore, Renton and Tacoma.
They announced the protest letter at an event Wednesday.

“Seattle Public Schools did not sign it, but supports the letter’s sentiments, a spokeswoman said.”

NCLB is a pathetic hoax that was intended to label almost every school in the nation a failing school. Kudos to the superintendents of Washington State for standing up to abusive federal power—not only NCLB but the coercive waiver too.

28 superintendents in Washington state join the honor roll for courage in support of public education.

Jersey Jazzman heard NPR describe the reason that Washington State refused to bow to Arne Duncan’s demand that the sate use test scores to evaluate teacher quality.

It wasn’t because the methodology has no evidence behind it.

It wasn’t because the method has been questioned by theNational Academy of Education, the American Educational Research Association, the American Statistical Association, and leading scholars.

No, Washington State said no to our omnipotent, omniscient Secretary of Education because of those terrible unions who are afraid of being evaluated.

Or could this explain NPR’s rationale:

“So, as I was sitting at the kitchen table this evening, my ears perked up at the 5:30 break for WNYC, the NPR outlet here in the greater New York area. The announcer let us know that All Things Considered was proudly sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation, which was supporting (I’m paraphrasing here) educational “choice” for families.”

– See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/04/corporate-education-reform-buys-public.html#sthash.DkIcHS3q.dpuf

Washington State thoughtfully rejected Arne Duncan’s threat to cancel its waiver from the absurd demands of No Child Left Behind. The decision to say no to federal demands and intimidation was bipartisan.

The Legislature refused to bend to Duncan’s insistence that the state adopt test-based evaluation, which has consistently failed across the nation and has been declared inaccurate by the nation’s leading scholarly organizations.

The Washington State legislature understands federalism. Secretary Duncan does not. He thinks he is charge of the nation’s schools–every one f them. As someone who spent eight years running the Chicago public school system, one of the nation’s lowest-performing, he should have earned humility. Unfortunately, he enjoys a sense of certainty that is astonishing, almost as astonishing as his indifference to research and evidence.

The sense of the Washington State legislature was succinctly expressed by Chris Rekydal, a Democrat.

Unlike Duncan, Rekydal understands that the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution leaves education policy to states and localities.

He said in a statement:

“As a legislator who voted for our state’s robust home-grown teacher-principal evaluation system and one of the authors of our state’s new rigorous 24-credit graduation framework, I am disappointed in the federal government’s decision to repeal our waiver.

“This is a tremendous moment in our nation’s history where a state that strongly supported the President in 2008 and again in 2012 soundly rejected the federal government’s demands to structure our teacher-principal evaluation system to the specific criteria established by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

“My message to President Obama and Secretary Duncan is that Washington State is committed to education reform that is collaborative, bipartisan, and focused on student success and teacher growth. Our legislative decision to reject the federal government’s demands was done with substantial deliberation and a deep respect for state and local control.

“The bipartisan rejection of this federal government demand during the 2014 legislative session is a strong and unifying message that our state fully embraces our constitutional 10th Amendment guarantee to develop, fund, and administer our state’s education system as the citizens of the state of Washington and their elected representatives determine, not as federal officials deem it appropriate.

“Washington State has one of the leading K-12 systems in the United States. With 89% of our adult population having earned a high school diploma or greater, we are a national leader in student success, employment growth, and earnings.

“I strongly encourage federal officials to use this moment in history to model Washington State’s success instead of using us as an example of federal government power and leverage. I challenge the federal government to turn a corner on education reform, fix the deeply-flawed and failed No Child Left Behind Act, and get back to empowering the states instead of coercing them.

“No Child Left Behind is a failed policy of the Bush administration that focuses on student failure and school punishment. This is no way to run a public education system. Enacting bad policy at the state level as a result of bad policy at the federal level will not help schools – and certainly won’t help students – be successful.”

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