Wednesday, June 29, 2011

State's appeal of McCleary begins . . .

Yesterday was the first day of the state’s appeal in the NEWS lawsuit before the Washington State Supreme Court.  Here is a summary of the ruling in McCleary v. State where the judge ruled that the state was not meeting its constitutional requirement for funding public schools.  The state immediately appealed leading to yesterday's review by the state supreme court.

You can follow the happenings in a variety of places.  The Seattle Times summary, at the League of Education Voters blog, or at the NEWS webpage.  They all share similar information, but this paragraph from the NEWS report says it all to me.

Assistant State Attorney General Bill Clark maintained that the State is currently funding 100% of the costs of basic education. He said deep budget cuts in recent legislative sessions reducing teacher salaries, increasing class sizes and eliminating teacher training affect"enhancements" that do not fall under the constitutional definition of basic education.

I can't believe that they are attempting to make a case that teacher salaries are not part of basic education.  Yes I 728, not part of basic education, that supported enhanced teacher salaries has been cut, but the 1.9% on the base is directly from the state teacher salary schedule used to drive revenue to districts.  To me that is part of basic education.

Or this from the LEV blog.

The state’s lawyer repeatedly argued that local levies and other state non-basic education funding are backfilling “enhancements, like sports”, not basic education funding. “No basic education costs are borne by local school districts.” Come again? The reality is that local levies backfill basic education expenses that the state isn’t paying for, including teacher salaries, special education, curriculum, lights and heat, transportation, and more.

The last sentence is the truth.  We must backfill with levy funds all of those services that most of us would see as part of "basic education" funding.  I don't see how the state has much of a chance to win given our current reality and the diminishing resources per student, but I understand that justices tend to defer to other branches of government.  It angers me that time, money, and people resources are being used to fight what the lower court found as unconstitutional.  Perhaps those state officials responsible for the appeal believe that by delaying something magic will happen to make the solutions easier.  It isn't going to happen and it is a shame that it will may take a court ruling to force change as it did over 30 years ago.

The resolution to this case, regardless of the outcome, will have great impact on us and all school districts in the state.  Projections for the court rendering a verdict are around year's end. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More loss in my future . . .

Here is another of those blog posts from Ian Jukes at Committed Sardine about changes on the horizon similar to my May 19th post on a social vending machine and the death of the mechanical typewriter.  In this one he shares the "9 Things That Will Disappear in our Lifetime" from the zenohistorian blog.  Here are the 9 things and a brief rationale.  Check out either blog post for a more detailed explanation.
  1. The Post Office - There is too much competition for the post office to overcome their financial problems.
  2. The Check - Cards and online will replace checks which will also be an issue for the post office if we no longer pay bills through the mail.  This is an issue for me as I rely on checks for multiple purposes including paying my bills.
  3. The Newspaper - This will also be a concern for me as I like to start my day with the newspaper in front of me, not on a screen.  Yes, I do obviously follow my RSS feeds online and other news services, but having that hard copy in the morning is important to me.  The problem is that the younger generation and others don't see the need that I do.  Looks like I may need to subscribe to read MY paper in the future online. 
  4. The Book - Another problem for me.  I still like having that hard copy as opposed to a reader, but cost and ease of use will likely kill the book.  We are even seeing this happen with textbooks in some places.
  5. The Land Line Telephone - At last something that won't bother me.  Yes, I have one, no two if you count the FAX line, but even I may some day come to realize that I am paying double for one service with a cell phone.
  6. Music - I'm not sure that I really understand this one so I will use the words from the blog.  The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s because innovative new music isn’t being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalog items,” meaning traditional music that the public has heard for years, from older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, Appetite for Self-Destruction by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”
  7. Television - This reference is to network TV, something that I watch very little of other than the occasional sporting event or local news that Icould get elsewhere. This is not one I will miss and one of the few of the 9 that  I seem to be aligned with.
  8. "Things" That You Own - This one is in reference to the growing popularity of "the cloud" where most things will originate from and be stored in "the cloud." 
  9. Privacy - I think we are all beginning to see and feel this.  Technology has made it easy to track and monitor anyone.  Purchasing online, walking down the street, phone calls and the list goes on of ways that "others" can track you.  This is one loss that all of us may someday wish had never taken place.  Of course when potential terrorist plots are tracked down through some of these means we see it as a celebration.  Another one of those double-edged swords that seem to be a part of our lives today.
I'm not looking forward to the potential for some of these losses, but there is little I can do.  The momentum is far too large for me to influence or care to influence.  How about you, are there any of the 9 that you agree or disagree with?  In my May 19th post I asked -  So, what do you think will be the next technology break through that will bite the dust? Stacy responded with the following comment.

Cable TV. Like HBO and so forth. Many people are streaming through the internet Hulu, and Netflix are huge. Cable co. might stay around to offer the necessary high speed internet. However, why would I pay $150 a month to watch tv when I can pay 11 for NEtflix and possibly another 10 if Hulu decides to charge?

 I will be in trouble if I lose my satellite TV - I don't know what Hulu is.  Just another reminder of how unmillenial I am.

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Authority questioned . . .

    Things have not quieted down on the ESEA reauthorization front and the education department's throwing out the potential for waiving certain requirements.  Rep. John Kline (R-Minn) questioned the legal authority to grant waivers “in exchange for reforms not authorized by Congress” as Secretary Duncan has proposed to do.  You can read about it in this Class Struggle post. 

    Besides questioning the secretary's authority he also says that the house is making progress on reauthorizing NCLB and should be finished sometime in the fall.  He shares that they have been working on it in pieces with two pieces completed; one eliminating some federal programs and another making it easier for states to start charter schools.  The third, creating more flexibility in expending federal funds should be out of committee by the end of summer.

    The last two bills will address the evaluation systems for teachers and the accountability provisions of the law. In the article he says there was agreement that the law should not place such high stakes on the results of a single test. Though I don't know what the single test will be replaced with I welcome another accountability measure that hopefully will include some component of improvement over time.

    In a related story in this guest blog at Flypaper by Christine Wolfe, former staffer in the education department for George W. Bush, she shares Kline's opinion that the secretary may not have the authority to do what he wants.  She also suggests that the department adopt a non-enforcement policy as apposed to granting waivers.  In this way states could freeze their AYP goals and not face the potential consequences associated with not making progress towards the 2014 100% requirement. 

    I'll continue to monitor and periodically share progress on reauthorization as it will have a huge impact at the state and local level once the legislation is completed and implementation guidelines are developed.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Reflection with Garr Reynolds . . .

    Thinking about the break and the promise of renewal that it brings for many, leads me to once again visit this recent Presentation Zen post by Garr Reynolds. He is the author of the book that influenced my power points, Presentation Zen. He resides in Japan and is deeply influenced by the Japanese culture. In the short video (12 min.) TEDxTokyo presentation, he shares some of his thinking in lessons from bamboo. I find them applicable to me and to my work and recommend that you view the video and/or the descriptions on the post.

    His ten reflection titles are shared below with a very brief comment from his summary. The complete summary can be found on the post.

    Remember: What looks weak is strong

    • . . . We must be careful not to underestimate others or ourselves based only on old notions of what is weak and what is strong. You do not have to be big and imposing to be strong. You may not be from the biggest company or the product of the most famous school, but like the bamboo, stand tall, believe in your own strengths, and know that you are as strong as you need to be.

    Bend but don’t break

    • . . . This gentle swaying movement is a symbol of humility. . .A bend-but-don't-break or go-with-the-natural-flow attitude is one of the secrets for success whether we're talking about bamboo trees, answering tough questions in a Q&A session, or just dealing with the everyday vagaries of life.

    Be deeply rooted yet flexible

    • . . . The challenge, then, for many of us is to remain the mobile, flexible, international travelers and busy professionals that we are while at the same time making the effort and taking the time to become involved and deeply rooted in the local community right outside our door.

    Slow down your busy mind

    • . . . Often it is difficult to see the signal through all the noise. In this kind of environment, it seems all the more important to take the time to slow down, to calm your busy mind so that you may see things more clearly.

    Be always ready

    • . . . through training and practice we can develop in our own way a state of being ever ready. Through study and practice we can at least do our best to be ready for any situation.

    Find wisdom in emptiness

    • . . . One cannot fill a cup which is already full. The hollow insides of the bamboo reminds us that we are often too full of ourselves and our own conclusions; we have no space for anything else.

    Commit yourself to growth and renewal

    • . . . You may at times become discouraged and feel that you are not improving at all. Do not be discouraged by what you perceive as your lack of growth or improvement. If you have not given up, then you are growing, you just may not see it until much later.

    Express usefulness through simplicity

    • . . . If we could lose our fear, perhaps we could be more creative and find simpler solutions to even complex problems that ultimately provide the greatest usefulness for our audiences, customers, patients, or students.

    Unleash your power to spring back

    • . . . The bamboo endured the heavy burden of the snow, but in the end it had to power to spring back as if to say "I will not be defeated."

    Smile, laugh, play

    • We have known intuitively for generations of the importance of smiling, laughing, and playing, now modern science shows evidence that these elements play a real and important role in one's mental and physical health as well.

    He ends the post with the following words that resonate for me and hopefully for you.

    You do not need to be perfect. You need only to be resilient. This is the greatest lesson from the bamboo.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Finally, the truth . . .

    In the NW Wednesday section of the Seattle Times a reporter finally acknowledges what we have known since the legislature finalized the budget. The title of the article tells it all.

    Schools’ dilemma: Workers don’t have to take pay cuts state passed

    I blogged about this dilemma here, here, here, and here.
    The article is focused on conversations between the Seattle Teacher Association and the district on the legislative pay cut that we know is actually a revenue cut to the district. The teachers in Seattle want the district to cut elsewhere and maintain salary at current levels while the district says it needs to make the cut because there are very few other places to look. They do not want to forgo buying new textbooks as suggested by the SEA president because it would simply be a one year fix.

    The article says that few districts have completed negotiations on the potential pay cuts. Fortunately, we have agreements with our bargaining units. We are in agreement with the spokesperson from WEA quoted in the article.

    The Washington Education Association — the state's largest teachers union — says it understands the state's budget challenges but any salary cuts for teachers should be paired with fewer work days, just like the furloughs for other state workers.

    "It's not fair to expect teachers to work for free," spokesman Rich Wood said.

    Our agreements are based on a combination of grandfathering some of the components of total salary determined by the base, furlough days equivalent to lost compensation, and supporting each of the bargaining units with similar district commitments. It is nice to have this behind us as we enter the summer break. I believe that we have honored the intent of the legislature while demonstrating concern for our teachers by honoring our commitment in some areas of total compensation other than base salary. I am truly appreciative of the leadership shown by all three associations in this work and those representing the district. The collaborative nature of our culture made this possible in a time frame not being met by many districts.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    A sincere thank you . . .

    Today is the first day without students and far fewer cars in all parking lots. Driving through the community to visit principals provided another indicator for school being out; kids on the sidewalks, waiting at stop lights, riding bikes and carrying skate boards.

    For some of us it is the time of year for supervisory conversations, completing evaluations and transitioning to preparation for next year. For example, this Friday we have a meeting with our administrative team to review Classroom 10 progress and continue planning for our August learning opportunities and the return of teachers. We made gains this year on our Classroom 10 journey by focusing on Key Content and identifying best practices for implementing this characteristic.   Our plans for next year are to continue this effort and to hold ourselves accountable for supporting teachers in implementing these best practices.

    Today, however, I need to not share the future, but instead reflect on the year and thank the hundreds of adults on our staff committed to the success of the young people that walk through our doors. At last week’s bond committee meeting when people introduced themselves almost every one of the 18 parents in the room said that they had moved here because of the quality of the schools. We should take pride in this and the work that we do. We need to also thank our school board members, our PTAs, our parents, and the community members who support us in this work. It truly does take a community effort to ensure quality learning every day, in every classroom, for every child.

    We have much to learn and much room for improvement, a challenge that we understand and accept. But for today, accept my sincere thanks for being a part of our team and the role that you play in our continued success. I thank you for the opportunity to influence our work and to be part of this important journey whose goal is to prepare our young people for success in post high school learning and work.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    My best teacher always . . .

    With the close of another school year, I thought I would share this FLYPAPER post that shares some research done by a ninth grade student working at the Thomas Fordham Institute.  She was asked what makes a good teacher so she came up with her top three reasons and then did a research study with 9-11th graders at her school.  Her top three reasons are shared below.

    • A teacher who answers all questions and makes sure every student understands the material.
    • A teacher who takes time aside from the school time to give extra time and support.
    • A teacher who is fun and enjoyable to be around.
    Her research consisted of ranking the top 10 qualities of a good teacher.  The top choices of her classmates were similar to hers with checking for understanding number 2.  The least important quality was giving little homework.  In the post she cites a research study I posted about in December 2010 also asking students similar questions.

    In this March 2010 post I shared what some of our high school students said were the qualities of their favorite teachers.  Once again the responses are similar, focused on expectations, energy level, support, and relationship. These are qualities that we must consider as we reflect on this year and look towards another year with the opportunities it will bring us.  As we look at the characteristics of our Classroom 10 instructional model, where do these qualities fit?  Should we be doing an annual survey of our students to learn what they view as the qualities of good teaching?

    Before we start planning for next year, however, please take some time for fun, rest, and relaxation. 

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Learning opportunities . . .

    I try to follow Thomas Friedman's op-ed pieces in the New York Times because I respect his insights based on experiences in countries throughout our world.  I'm sharing this piece titled, The Earth Is Full, because it comes on the heels of a conversation I had with some central office staff about our sustainability focus.  Nancy was sharing with us how at a meeting at Microsoft there were representatives from other school systems that do not have the same focus and do not see it happening in the near future.  I believe that they are missing opportunities to engage young people in rich content that they find engaging and important.

    We see tremendous potential for young people to focus on our Outcomes and Indicators and Habits of Mind while studying sustainability issues in our science and social science curriculum.  The issues are real and are ones that today's youth will face in the future.  The Friedman piece is an example of the rich content focused on system needs that young people can relate to and use to develop thinking and problem solving capacity.  In it, Friedman shares a book by Paul Gilding an Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur focused on resource use, replenishment, and what it will take to create the changes necessary for balance between them. 

    . . . we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

    Unlike many in the field, Gilding is optimistic and believes that the gloom predicted by some will not occur.

    As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”

    Just from this short piece we can generate many questions for young people to consider.  Do you agree with Gildings assessment of the current and future conditions, why or why not?  How is Gilding using data to support his position?  What impact will the changes he suggests have on the world economy and our way of life? 

    Friedman also shares his insights that you might find interesting in his Times piece.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    A focus on student housing . . .

    This evening we had the first meeting of the new committee focused on student housing needs. The Board directed us to form an ad hoc committee to study and make recommendations for the short and long term student housing needs in the school district. Twenty community members are the decision-making component of the committee. In addition there are two board member representatives, a TEA and PSE representative, and district staff who will facilitate and provide support for the group.

    Since the April bond measure was presented designed to continue our work with the same grade level configurations and delivery models was defeated, this committee has an opportunity to be creative in considering options. They can and will look at using buildings in different ways and will also explore other delivery models as they consider options for the board.

    The first meeting resulted in many questions about our current reality and reflection on what we did and didn’t do to create an understanding of the problems we are facing. It will be interesting and difficult to keep focused on our narrow task because in the back of everyone’s mind is that need to market and pass a bond measure. I believe that we were successful in starting a sense of urgency to identify short term solutions to our overcrowding, something that we have not been able to do with the general public. I’ll share more as we move forward.

    Related to housing is the potential for not being able to add capacity at the Junior High or to build an elementary school on the acreage we own to the west of the Junior High. The King County Executive has proposed amending the Countywide Planning Policies to make it more difficult, if not impossible, to build schools in the rural area. Even though we already have the sewer line to our property, the proposed changes would preclude a public school from being served by a sewer tightline. This would mean needing to find land within the city of Maple Valley to build a new school costing the tax payers millions, if we could even find the property. The April bond measure, at $125 million, was based on adding capacity to the Junior High and building a new elementary on our property.

    We have been working with the Maple Valley City Council and city staff in an effort to influence the decision makers that the proposed changes are bad policy. They understand our needs and have been very supportive in assisting us with this issue. There are multiple districts in King County that own property in the rural area with plans for building new schools. A coalition is supporting us in trying to influence the executive office, but without much success thus far. The Growth Management Planning Council is scheduled to take public comment at their June 29th meeting from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the Puget Sound Regional Council, 5th Floor Board Room, 1011 Western Ave., Seattle. This is a VERY IMPORTANT meeting for us to have a visible and verbal presence.

    I’ll share more as we approach the date.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    The push back begins . . .

    Today brought much more response in the blogosphere to Secretary Duncan’s comments last week about potential waivers to the 100% meeting standard in reading and math by 2014. Once again I found multiple links at This Week In Education beginning with this summary from Education Week. The main theme that ran through those I read is that granting waivers for Race to the Top style reforms will come with push-back from elected officials and others.

    In this FLYPAPER post titled Arnius Duncanus, Mike Petrilli warns:

    But don’t try to tie this stuff to new, made-up mandates. That will only get NCLB implementation embroiled in a lawsuit (which you’ll lose) and acrimonious charges of imperialism (which will be well-founded).

    Some bloggers feel that Duncan and President Obama are threatening congress in an effort to have a new ESEA blueprint by the start of the school year, something that is not likely to happen. Though one would think that there would be enough common ground between democrats and republicans on this issue (NCLB), the dynamics in Washington D.C. are not conducive to crafting something as complex as a reauthorization at this time. See this EDUWONK post for some insight on this.

    Frederick Hess sums it up with these words.

    Living in a nation of laws means that it matters not only what public officials do, but how they do it. Yet, as with "Edujobs," TARP, RTT, federal funding for the Common Core, gainful employment regulation, and much else, Duncan has shown little interest in such highfaluting concerns. Rather, in the classic Chicago style, the attitude seems to be that if the administration wants to do it, that's good enough--whatever the statutory or Constitutional complexities, and regardless of whether this is all likely to turn out as intended.

    The push back has started and there hasn’t been an official announcement that waivers are even a reality. I’m hoping that the need to force reform as a condition doesn’t result in losing the potential for waivers. As I said yesterday, it is a bad law that needs to be changed. Forcing reform will not result in change that sustains increased achievement for all students over time. When will those in positions of authority understand that forcing states to accept conditions and programs will not create the results that they purport to want?

    So, why care?  The sanctions for not meeting AYP will continue as long as the requirements of NCLB are in place.  Schools and school systems will be labeled as failing even if they are achieving gains in achievement, but are not on course for 100% by 2014.  Few schools large enough to qualify under all categories will escape this label as the deadline approaches.  All means every student at standard.  It won't happen by 2014 unless the standards are lowered, something that we don't want to happen.  Once again, it is time for realistic goals for EVERY student and support structures to achieve them, not sanctions to punish those that can never reach them.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Secretary might be waving goodbye to . . .

    The first post this evening in my RSS feed just happens to be from This Week In Education where I found this Wall Street Journal article about Secretary Duncan saying that he might use his executive powers to waive key elements of No Child Left Behind.  Specifically, this would include the requirement for all students to be at standard in reading and math by 2014.

    The law as it stands gives the education secretary broad authority to waive certain provisions. Mr. Duncan wouldn't offer specifics on which provisions are under consideration, but said he's opposed to one that currently punishes schools for not reaching high, specified goals, even as they make dramatic improvement. He also said he might offer states flexibility on how they can spend federal education money.

    I applaud him for considering this step, but question granting waivers only in return for state's adopting other programs that he supports such as charter schools and tying teacher evaluation to student achievement.  He should simply do it because it is a bad law.  We need to move forward and prepare young people for future success and this law will not get us there.  Keep accountability as a center piece of the reauthorization while providing the high support necessary to achieve this necessary goal. 

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    A memorable graduation . . .

    This evening we celebrated graduation with family and friends of over 500 students from the Tahoma High School class of 2011. As always, it was a wonderful evening with messages from valedictorian Cort Hammond, salutatorian Emily Duerson, teacher Gretchen Wulfing, Board President Mary Jane Glaser, and Principal Terry Duty.

    The highlight of the evening was being able to watch Zack Lystedt walk across the stage to receive his diploma. This young man's journey from near death to the stage this evening is a remarkable accomplishment making this an even more memorable occasion. To honor Zack, Terry announced the Establishment of a new award, the Zackery Lystedt Award.  It is to be presented annually to a deserving senior that exemplifies the commitment and perseverence that Zack has demonstrated.

    Because of my position in the district, I am very fortunate to be able to share this evening with our graduates and their family and friends. It is an honor to participate and to accept the graduates as having met the standards established by the State of Washington and the Tahoma School District. There is much to be proud of when shown the list of accomplishments these young people achieved.  Thank all of you for your commitment and support of the graduates on their journey with us.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Returning home . . .

    I found this short video (5:07) of Alan November giving a presentation to a group of parents in 2007 in a 21st Century Learning eBulliten. It is Titled, “3 Skills Our Kids Need to Succeed”. After viewing it I think a better title might be, “How to keep your kids from moving back after college”. He shares that in 1990 32% of young adults aged 18-29 moved back. That number jumped to 65% in 2006. From this CNN report the number rose to a staggering 85% in 2010. I am sure that at least one or two of my 53 readers has shared this experience, me included.

    Why do I like the video? Once again, it affirms that our Classroom 10 vision has the right focus to place young people in positions for success in post high school learning and work. The three areas that he identifies just happen to be easily found in our Outcomes and Indicators.

    Information Processing (Effective Communicator and Complex Thinker)
    Global Communication (Community Contributor and Effective Communicator)
    Self Directed (Self-Directed Learner)

    From his work in the corporate and education world, he believes that young people need to know how to acquire knowledge from the massive amounts of information available and know what to do with it. Employers will be looking for young people who do not need to be told what to do, who do not need a boss. This allows for less management and saves the employer money.

    In his closing he states that the American education system is not designed to prepare young people with these three skills. I know that we are one of many that are attempting to do so. Absent the vision, it is not possible. Our task is to make the vision a reality in every classroom, every day, for every child.

    You might want to watch the video to learn the new definition of boomerang.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Using numbers to explain the "cut" . . .

    It seems like my latest posts have been narrow in scope with budget cuts and reauthorization of ESEA being front and center. Today I’ll add one more to this narrow focus with a post on what the 1.9% “cut” would mean to someone in our system. These numbers will help you understand why I raised the fairness issue in my May 26th post.

    The salaries reflect the 1.9% reduction to the person’s placement on the salary schedule that is also applied to the responsibility and mandatory components of total salary. If a person’s salary also includes extra days or stipends the reduction will also apply to them.

    The following two examples apply to positions that will move an experience increment next year offsetting the 1.9% cut to the salary schedule base.  People in this situation will actually experience a raise.
         MA+45     Step 10     2010-11  $59,922     2011-12  $60,589     Gain  $667
         BA+45      Step 7       2010-11  $47,198     2011-12  $47,878     Gain  $680

    The next example is at the bottom of a column and anyone in that situation will receive the full impact of the cut.
         MA+90     Step 16     2010-11  $73,947     2011-12  $72,542     Loss  $1405

    The following example is from the BA+90 column where movement down in some cells will not cover the 1.9% cut.  This appears to be the case for all columns in years 0-4 and other cells where the increase from year-to-year is less than the 1.9% cut. 
         BA+ 90     Step 4      2010-11  $48,470      2011-12  $48,140     Loss  $330

    What this all means is that it is situational, complex and driven by the differences in the salary schedule from cell-to-cell.  You can see the problem in the partial schedule duplicated below where percent changes from year-to-year are not the same, with some less than the 1.9% and some greater.  You can access the entire schedule here by clicking on the Staff Mix Factor, 2011 Proposals new, Legislature excel spread sheet.

    So, we are left with a difficult situation.  How do we find a fair and equitable way of deciding what to do to make up for the reduced revenue when not everyone is being impacted in the same way?  In the few examples above we can see how the impact will differ depending upon experience and education.  What is fair?

    Add to this the impact on those thinking about retiring in the next two years and it raises even more issues.  Is it fair to have reduced salary in the years used to calculate an individuals retirement income?  I probably need to move away from "fair" to identify creative solutions to this difficult situation because fair doesn't do it for me.  What that context might be, however, escapes me at this time.   

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    A matter of timelines . . .

    It is becoming increasingly more clear that the likelihood of change to ESEA will not happen in the short term.  Despite Secretary Duncan's push for reform prior to the beginning of next school year, the House Education Committee chaired by Rep. Kline is not buying into his timeline.

    But Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who is the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is not persuaded. Last month, he declared there was "no chance" of meeting Duncan's back-to-school deadline. Yesterday, he said in a statement that rather than focusing on "timelines and rhetoric" in advance of an "arbitrary" deadline, his committee is focused on "thoughtful reform initiatives."

    If you are concerned with this lack of progress on replacing NCLB with realistic goals and support structures you might want to consider this petition from the National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators that I shared in this previous post.  It is calling on Duncan and the department to suspend sanctions under NCLB until ESEA can be revised. 

    All young people will not meet standards by 2014.  We knew this when the law was first implemented, yet it did ratchet up tension that was necessary at the time and that is still needed today.  The sanctions, however, will not result in the creativity necessary to identify and implement the changes required to get all kids to a realistic and shared goal.  It is time to identify the goals and structures that will achieve this need and prepare all young people for success in post high school learning and work.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Implementing the "CUT" . . .

    As we prepare to meet with TEA to discuss how to implement the legislative 1.9% salary cut the more upset I get with them passing the difficult work onto us.  I am sure that they do not understand the complexity of this work nor do I believe that most teachers realize the impact of the cut to their salary. 

    Since the cut is to the base salary it obviously impacts every cell on the salary schedule.  It also impacts all other compensation based on the salary schedule base.  In Tahoma this means all stipends, responsibility, and mandatory compensation because they are driven by the base.  What the legislators saw as a simple cut is much more complex.  On top of these concerns we have to determine what this means to the average salary since our negotiated agreement requires that we be at average when compared to seven other districts.

    During the negotiation process in Olympia the Governor advocated for a 1.9% cut to teacher salary and not the 3% for administrators and state employees because they had already lost two learning improvement days.  The argument was that the loss of days plus 1.9% equaled the 3% for state employees.  She felt that this was fair.  Does fair mean 1.9% on the salary schedule base, what the legislature did, is the expectation?  Does it mean 1.9% on the base plus all other compensation driven by the base?  I don't believe that she or the legislators were aware of the other components to compensation and how their simple cut would also impact these.

    So, now the district gets to identify how to operate on less revenue while maintaining relationship with three bargaining units.  We need to do this with the legislative expectation, supported by many, that all public school staff will experience a cut in pay.  From my Passing the Buck post we know that only teachers at the bottom of a column will experience a cut  because there will still be movement for all others that will offset the base cut.  But, we still must factor in the impact of the other compensation driven by the base to see the net result for all teachers.  Not so simple after all, but the easiest part will be the math.  The most difficult may prove to be the relationship.  How do we determine what fair and equitable means under the current conditions and expectations? 

    Little influence on the outcome, but total responsibility for finding and implementing a solution.  Is this fair?