Inside Opinion

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Tag: Arne Duncan


Master’s bump: $330 million a year for nothing

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Legislature is facing the greatest revenue crisis in generations. Somebody in Olympia ought to be talking about $330 million that gets spent every year for no apparent purpose and with no apparent results.

That, according to a Seattle-based think tank, is how much the state spends on the “master’s bump” – the roughly $11,000 a year extra it pays more than half of Washington’s teachers because they’ve earned master’s degrees.

Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Bill Gates both singled out the master’s bump as an example of waste in public education. We hope they caught somebody’s attention in Olympia.

In theory, the additional degree would translate into better performance in the classroom. But there’s no evidence that it actually does. Multiple national studies have found that the additional pay, on average, buys little improvement in the quality of education.
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A trip at the Race to the Top finish line

This editorial will appear in the Wednesday print edition.

It’s report card time for Race to the Top: “A” for theory, an “A” for effort but a shaky “B-” on the final exam.

The Obama administration set out to shake up the educational status quo last year when it put up $4.35 billion in prize money for states on the front lines of school reform. So far, it has partially succeeded, even among some foot-draggers like Washington.

Proof lies in the education bill Gov. Chris Gregoire has just signed into law. For Washington – an important qualifier – the bill is a big move. For the first time, the state will be able to intervene in schools and districts that just can’t seem to deliver a decent education. New teachers will remain on trial for three years, not two. Read more »


Lawmakers sit out the Race to the Top

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

We now know the Legislature plan’s for competing for Race to the Top education dollars: Too little, too late.

The Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that supposedly positions Washington to win its share of Race to the Top funding – money the Obama administration is offering states at the cutting edge of education reform.

Washington isn’t at the cutting edge. It isn’t even at the dull edge. It’s at the back of the handle of a dull blade.

Gov. Chris Gregoire had to withdraw the state from the first round of the federal competition because Washington was simply a non-contender. Many of the key reforms U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was looking for – such as high-quality charter schools – were nowhere to be found within our borders. There went Washington’s shot at $200 million-plus that would have been a godsend during a brutal budget crisis.

The 2010 Legislature, in theory, has decided to put the state back in the running for round two. Senate Bill 6696 would in fact take several serious steps toward better-performing schools.
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