Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Washington Education Association

July
28th

Charter schools: Not a cure-all, but a sign of health

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Other education reforms are more urgent than charter schools. Washington could have a fantastic public school system without them.

But we don’t have a fantastic system, and one of the reasons is a reactionary K-12 establishment that can be counted on to resist efforts to bring rigorous standards and greater accountability to public education.

Charter schools aren’t a magic cure for all that ails the schools, but the fact that they are prohibited here –­ while allowed in the vast majority of other states – is another symptom of the backwardness of “progressive” Washington.

Initiative 1240, which would legalize charters in Washington for the first time, has just officially qualified for the ballot. The usual suspects are lining up against it, notably the Washington Education Association – which tore into the measure like a pit bull the moment it got traction.

The WEA’s mother organization, the National Education Association, takes a more nuanced position on charter schools. Here’s a line from its position paper:

“NEA believes that charter schools and other nontraditional public school options have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods that can be replicated in traditional public schools for the benefit of all children.”
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Jan.
13th

School reform can’t wait for a booming economy

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The middle of an economic crisis is not the time to stop fixing public education. On the contrary.

A legislative push for new school reforms – including charter schools and greater teacher accountability – met with instant resistance this week from the usual suspects.

Singling out the bill to authorize a handful of charters – which are oddly easy to demonize in this state – the Washington Education Association issued a statement describing the measure as a “distraction from the real debate.” The real debate, naturally, is about pumping billions of dollars the state doesn’t have into a K-12 system that doesn’t work well enough.

Charter public schools are hardly the most important reform out there, but they do serve as a barometer of a state’s willingness to give every possible option to parents and children.
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Oct.
25th

Public charter schools should be an option in Washington, too

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The state PTA has gotten tired of waiting for Superman.

Last week, it mounted a new and welcome push to persuade the state to reconsider public charter schools, an educational option common in most other states but forbidden – stupidly forbidden – in Washington.

The history is not promising. Washingtonians have twice defeated proposals for public charter schools at the polls, and the Legislature has repeatedly refused to allow them.

As the PTA recognizes, this makes no sense whatsoever. Virtually all serious education reform movements in this country advocate charter schools as

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March
30th

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 »

Jan.
14th

A classroom view of school reforms

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Many people presume to speak for teachers: lawmakers, parents’ groups, the Washington Education Association, various K-12 lobbies. But there’s no substitute for letting teachers speak for themselves.

What teachers think is a particularly timely question right now. Last year, Washington forfeited any claim it might have had to $4 billion in “Race to the Top” funding the Obama administration has offered to states pioneering cutting-edge reform strategies. In Olympia, the political resistance to some of those strategies – merit pay, for example – has often been framed in terms of what’s best for educators.

After the Race to the Top failure, a partnership of pro-education organization decided to find out what a scientific sample of actual rank-and-file teachers thought of the proposed reforms. The Excellent Schools Now Coalition surveyed educators in November. As it turns out, they appear much more receptive to the Race to the Top policies than some seem to think.

Excellence in Schools Now is a high-credibility group that includes the College Success Foundation, Black Collective, League of Education Voters, Stand For Children and the Washington Roundtable. Some of the results from its survey:
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Jan.
14th

Coming Friday: School reforms, immigration detention centers

Here’s what we’re working on for tomorrow:

A dogged pursuit by the New York Times has exposed troubling evidence about the lengths federal officials have gone to cover up cases of mistreatment and substandard care at federal immigration detention centers. The Obama administration needs to make good on its promise to increase oversight within Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Many people presume to speak for teachers: lawmakers, parents’ groups, the Washington Education Association, various K-12 lobbies. But there’s no substitute for letting teachers speak for themselves. When asked recently by a pro-education group, most of them appeared to support serious

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Nov.
19th

State should not retreat on math, science

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Randy Dorn’s timing is both politically astute and all wrong.

For days, the state schools superintendent was widely rumored to be preparing for battle over the state’s math and science graduation
requirements.

Sure enough, on Thursday morning, Dorn’s office announced he would ask the Legislature to delay the math and science tests, and to allow students to pass math with lower scores.

Meanwhile, across the state Capitol campus at the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, chief economist Arun Raha was sucking all the air out of the news cycle. Little can compete with an ugly revenue forecast that puts the state $2.6 billion in the hole.

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