Inside Opinion

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Tag: Rosemary McAuliffe

Feb.
8th

A public school accountability bill? Still a chance

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Education reform – serious education reform – remains alive in the Legislature. No thanks to the Legislature’s education chairwomen.

State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, and Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, have used their peremptory power to squish two measures that would have nudged Washington toward the national mainstream.

One bill would hold educators genuinely accountable for student performance; the other (now dead) would have authorized a limited number of charter public schools.
Both strategies are strongly encouraged by the Obama administration and have been embraced by states trying to shake public schools out of mediocrity. Both are opposed in this state by teacher unions and other stalwarts of the status quo.

As usual, the Legislature’s powers-that-be crouch like defensive NFL linemen, ready to tackle anything that might challenge the failing trade-union model of public education.

This year, though, McAuliffe had to deal with a bipartisan rebellion that effectively shut down her committee last week. A majority of the Senate Education Committee wanted to at least hold a vote on the charter school bill; when she refused, they refused to act on any other education legislation.

Credit is due the Republicans and Democrats who forced this crisis. And some credit is due the Senate leaders who revived the accountability bill – though not the charter bill – by shifting it to the Ways and Means Committee.
Read more »

Feb.
12th

Seniority-based teacher layoffs hurt schools, students

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Here’s a multiple choice question for anyone concerned about the quality of Washington’s schools:

With teacher layoffs almost guaranteed because of looming cuts in state funding to school districts, which teachers should be the ones to get pink slips?

A. Those with the least seniority, even if they’re among the best and teach subjects – such as math – that districts have difficulty finding teachers for.

B. Those whose evaluations indicate they are the weakest and least effective in the classroom.

For parents, students and some legislators, the answer is a no-brainer: B. Keep the best and lay off the problem teachers.

In a recent telephone poll commissioned by the Partnership for Learning and the Excellent Schools Now Coalition, 81 percent of the 500 voters contacted agree with the statement: “If a district is facing layoffs, teachers should be retained based on their performance in raising student achievement, not how many years they have been teaching.”

Unfortunately, that’s not how it’s done in Washington. When layoffs are required, they’re done strictly on a seniority basis. Read more »