Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Educational pioneer? Not this state

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on July 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm with 2 Comments »
July 27, 2009 7:52 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.


In case you missed it, Washington just flunked the test for school reform.


The failure will sting. States that pass the test are eligible for a piece of $4.35 billion in federal education funding. It looks like Washington’s schools aren’t even in the running.


The money is part of an initiative called "Race to the Top." Congress and President Barack Obama have charged Education Secretary Arne Duncan (see his commentary on the opposite page) with disbursing it to states that can serve as showcases for what works in public education.


Obama and Duncan told the country Friday how they planned to identify those states. Essentially, a state would have to demonstrate that it can implement successful, student-focused reforms in the face of political obstacles, hidebound K-12 establishments and teachers unions.


Some of their core expectations:



n 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.


n A state must reward high-performing teachers. For the most part, Washington does not.


n 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.


n A state must have a credible way of stepping in and fixing failing schools. Washington doesn’t.


There’s no shame in missing out on federal money if the requirements for the money serve no good purpose. In this case, though, the Obama administration has homed in on characteristics that distinguish flexible, performance-oriented school systems designed to serve students, not power structures.


Gov. Chris Gregoire, who was in Washington, D.C., last week to talk to Duncan and Obama about Race to the Top, returned saying that Washington wouldn’t be seeing any of the money, at least not in this round.


Any chance at it in the next round will depend on whether the Democrats who run the Legislature are willing to stand up to some of their most powerful constituent groups.


Republicans have been arguing for some of these reforms – such as merit pay and charter schools – for decades. Now the arguments are coming from the most liberal Democratic administration this country has seen since the 1960s.


Somebody should get a clue.

Categories:
What's coming
Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. “…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…”

    Fantastic idea. Finally someone has it right.

    We’ll collect data on the student performance of a school full of gang bangers to their teachers and also collect data on the student performance of the sons and daughters schools of doctors, lawyers, rocket scientists, etc. to their teachers.

    We’ll throw it in a database and all the worlds problems will be solved.
    Maybe I missed that course in college where they throw apples and oranges in a blender and come up with honey?

  2. sloremodeler says:

    Another “victory” for the WEA (Washington Education Association)! Strike another accolade for a union whose interest is totally self serving. They oppose everything from school reform to Charter Schools. Like health care, most Washington residents recognize that our education system has serious problems. Yet any effort at raising the bar gets defeated by the WEA.

*
We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0