Monday, October 29, 2012

An unfair burden raises concerns . . .

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center did an op-ed for the Kent Journal about why teachers will  love charter schools.  She quotes a current public school teacher sharing the constraints being experienced by teachers in today's public schools and then offers six ways that charter schools offer an escape from the unfair burdens being placed upon them by traditional school administrators.  When I got to number four I found myself getting a little upset.

Fourth, teachers in charter schools are evaluated on their performance on an individualized, humane basis by a high-quality principal who knows them well. Teachers in traditional schools in Washington state will soon be evaluated on a complex checklist of factors, reduced to a matrix of numbers, which cannot possibly capture a teacher's unique and quintessentially singular ability to motivate and inspire students to learn.

If you follow my blog you know that I have struggled with the new evaluation system and shared my thinking in previous posts such as this one.  It wasn't "traditional school administrators" who decided on the model we are being forced to implement, it was policy makers responding to pressure from Washington D.C. and the "reformers" who see value-added as a necessary component of school reform.  The same might be said of the charter initiative that she believes teachers will love.

I didn't need to see this op-ed piece, but now that I have I will share some additional information on the teacher evaluation models that have now become the next big thing to change the quality of public education. This Education Week article from last week, shares two research studies that raise questions about it's use at secondary levels. Findings from a study  of middle school math teachers by Douglas N. Harris of Tulane University raises the question of how academic tracking may be influencing the results.

Failing to account for how students are sorted into more- or less-rigorous classes—as well as the effect different tracks have on student learning—can lead to biased "value added" estimates of middle and high school teachers' ability to boost their students' standardized-test scores, the papers conclude.

"I think it suggests that we're making even more errors than we need to—and probably pretty large errors—when we're applying value-added to the middle school level," said Douglas N. Harris, an associate professor of economics at Tulane University in New Orleans, whose study examines the application of a value-added approach to middle school math scores.

I also found very interesting the analysis shared below that can and most likely would have a significant influence on the math courses that teachers would want to teach knowing their student learning score is part of their overall evaluation total.

The scholars' analysis also showed that teachers who taught more remedial classes tended to have lower value-added scores, on average, than those teachers who taught mainly higher-level classes.

That phenomenon was not due to the best teachers' disproportionately teaching the more-rigorous classes, as is often asserted. Instead, the paper shows, even those teachers who taught courses at more than one level of rigor did better when their performance teaching the upper-level classes was compared against that from the lower-level classes.

The idea of tracking is a common-sense scenario for any parent who has faced the politics of middle school, Mr. Harris said. "It's not that surprising when you think about how tracking works," he said. "Part of it is based on whether your parents are the ones who are more savvy about this and are going to call the counselor and lobby for you to be in these higher courses."

But if such bias is not accounted for in policy, a teacher could, in effect, boost his or her value-added score simply by teaching all higher-level courses, the paper notes.

Add to this another article from Education Week where twelve of the nation's top education researchers urged caution in the use of value-added evaluation models.  In a series of studies, Jesse Rothstein, a University of California professor, found bias in standard value-added models.

“[Value-added measures] will deteriorate—will become less reliable and less closely tied to true effectiveness—if they are used for high-stakes individual decisions,” Mr. Rothstein wrote in a brief for the meeting. “How much will teachers change their content coverage, neglect nontested subjects and topics, lobby for the right students, teach test-taking strategies, and cheat outright? ... We simply don’t know.”

I could go on, but I'll just share one more example of why we need to be cautious with how these evaluations will be used.  It comes from an article Amy Adams shared with me about Florida's value added model in this Tampa Bay Times article.

What aggravates teachers most is that 40 to 50 percent of their evaluation is based on "student achievement" — but it's not always their own students who are being measured.

For example, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers are rated partly on their students' FCAT scores. But the FCAT is not given until third grade. So if you teach a lower grade, then your "student achievement" score is based on the scores of older students at your school. Similarly, teachers of subjects that don't even appear on the state's standardized test are being evaluated, at least in part, on FCAT scores. Eventually, the newer end-of-course exams will be counted into the equation.

Kim Musselman teaches kindergarten at Clearwater's Eisenhower Elementary, where children's families tend to move a lot, she said. So she likely will be evaluated on the scores of older children whom she never taught.

When the evaluations are used to determine raises, "my pay is going to be based on kids that I've never had before," Musselman said.

This is one of my biggest fears; that in the future raises will be based on the results of these models and that there is so much more that must be learned before they should be used for this purpose, if ever.  What will our learning organizations become if raises are based on a teacher's value added score and when teachers lobby to teach only those classes and those kids that result in higher ratings?   How will this influence principals as they make these important and difficult decisions?

Quite a long post from reading a short op-ed piece.  It concerns me that if I-1240 passes there will be 40 charter schools that need not evaluate teachers using the state-mandated process.  If it is so important and has so much promise to improve instruction in public schools, and if charters are public schools in this state, why would they not be required to follow the same evaluation rules that we must?  Or, if as Finne says it is another unfair burden, why require it of all other public schools in the state?  If teachers in our district did not belong to TEA, WEA, or any other EA would we get the same exemption?

I'm still upset that we can't use our instructional model that we spent years developing and refining and I don't believe that being a charter school or school system would improve what we are creating in Tahoma.  Finally, I guess that I am one of those "traditional school administrators" that Finne speaks about, but please know that I had no role in placing the unfair evaluation burden on teachers and principals.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Following tradition . . .

The weekend before Halloween we take our annual trek to the pumpkin farm with the grand kids.  We've been doing it since our own kids were young and today was the big day.  We found four pumpkins pretty rapidly, unlike some years when it seemed to take much longer.  My grandson wasn't too happy during the picture taking time because he wanted to hold the dog.  Not the best picture, but you get the idea.

Back at home it was  carving time.  Kobe still isn't much into the carving stuff, though he did do a little bit.  Ciara did two pumpkins herself.  They turned out great.  The picture below shows the finished product minus one that went home with Kobe.  Sorry for the fuzziness, a combination of using the phone, rain, and movement on my part.

Our grand kids are a big part of our lives.  We are so blessed that they live close and want to spend time with us.  They are certainly among the best things that have happened to us and we plan to have them in our lives as long as they enjoy it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Learning from fleas and a lid . . .

One of the blogs I follow is dangerously ! irrelevant written by Scott McLeod.  A few days ago he did a post  titled Don't Be The Lid featuring a video by Jason Ramsden.  There is a message in the video for all of us that have the opportunity to support others and especially for those of us in positions with positional power.  We have the responsibility to ensure that the cultures in our learning environments do not do to teachers what the lid does to the fleas.

Unfortunately, I am not able to embed the video on this post.  Please consider going to Scott's post to view this 56 second video.  I can, however, share the video that led Ramsden to do the remix of Don't Be The Lid.  In this dangerously ! irrelevant post Scott shares three examples of the power of organizational norms to shape behavior.  One of those is the flea jar wondering if our classrooms are like a jar of fleas.  Ramsden changed the focus to leaders and teachers.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Teacher Leadership journey . . .

We had both our elementary and secondary Leadership Institutes this week.  The focus was on all eight components of our Key Content district goal.  We used videos of district teachers as a vehicle for teacher leaders and administrators to identify instructional practices aligned with each of the eight components of our goal.  Kristin, Renae, Dawn, and Nancy did a great job of compiling the videos and taking us through a process that assisted us in identifying and labeling the instructional practices we observed.

What did we learn?  Well, we learned that teachers in our system are using these preferred instructional practices in their class rooms.  We learned that, with focus and support, these practices can become part of any teacher's repertoire.  Though I don't have a great deal of feedback, I believe that the teacher leaders left this learning opportunity feeling positive about the potential for achieving our goal by the end of this school year.  I also believe that they left with some creative tension as they consider how best to support their colleagues in learning about and incorporating these and other preferred instructional practices into their repertoire.

John shared the following in a comment to a post following elementary leadership on Tuesday.

Today I asked my grade level chair how the leadership training went today. He was very positive and reflective in his response. He said he found it reassuring to see practices from the video lab that reinforce the good teaching practices he witnesses at Rock Creek every day. This was his first time in the Teacher Leadership Institute in some years and he was impressed. He also mentioned that he was actually surprised that we were doing as well as were doing; as if these practices were some kind of mystery to anyone who has not been able to attend the TLI (my words, not his).

I am interested in other feedback that you may be willing to share as either someone who attended the training or from others that may have discussed it with someone who attended.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Robot, Gangnam Style . . .

I decided it was time for a "lighter" post so I picked this TED talk featuring robots developed by Dennis Hong from the Virginia Tech robotics lab RoMeLa.  They developed a robot that dances "Gangnam Style", based on the video by South Korean rapper Psy that went viral this summer on You Tube.  I've watched a few of these gangnam dances that showed up in my RSS feeds, but didn't share until this one.  It may not be the best, but it is humorous.

Watch Charli do his thing. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thanks for comments, sharing and a request . . .

I am very thankful for the thoughtful comments to my post on a request for support.  Thank you Jordan and Jonathan for your comments about what we are creating in Tahoma.  I too am proud to be associated with the outstanding educators we have in this school system and your comments affirm our work and are a source of energy for me.

This week brings another opportunity to work with principals and teacher leaders on our Classroom 10 goal.  We have engaged in much reflection and dialogue about our lesson plans, the strategies that we have chosen for support, and the results that we are experiencing.  We continue with our large group, full day learning opportunities and at the same time we are implementing building level support structures in an attempt to differentiate and meet specific needs identified by the principals.

The pace of change on this goal has been troubling as we struggle to find and implement structures and strategies to support all teachers in meeting standard on this goal.  We have learned through this experience just how complex and comprehensive this goal is.  This has been reinforced for me as I dig deeper into the 5D Instructional Model from CEL.  Our key content goal aligns with almost all dimensions of the model and for some dimensions aligns with each of the sub dimensions.

The instructional behaviors this goal requires are for many teachers a significant change to their current practice.  We must find ways to support all teachers in meeting standard on this goal.  For the teachers in my faithful 74 readers, what can we do to provide you with the knowledge, practice, and feedback necessary to make and sustain these research-based instructional practices?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NEWS says no "steady progress" . . .

In this September 8th post I shared about the legislature's required response to the State Supreme Court to demonstrate "steady progress" on the directive to increase public school funding.  Today, I received a summary from the Network for Excellence In Washington Schools (NEWS) of their response to the post budget filing.  The summary can be found here.

It is a very informative summary of the lawsuit and the state's lack of movement including the historical context.  The gist of their response is captured in the following words from the summary.

Plaintiffs’ post‐budget filing respectfully requested that the Washington Supreme Court take that harder path of Constitutional enforcement. For example, an Order that (hopefully) puts legislators’ perennial excuses and foot‐dragging to an end by making it unmistakably clear that:

  • The State did not demonstrate “steady progress” funding reforms promised under ESHB 2261, and did not show “real and measurable progress” achieving full Article IX, §1 compliance by 2018.
  • The 2012 budget’s failure to make that required progress is Constitutionally unacceptable.
  • The Court will therefore take firm action (which legislators might not like) if the 2013 budget fails to make significant progress (1) fully funding reforms under ESHB 2261, and (2) achieving full Article IX, §1 compliance by 2018.

It will be interesting to see how the Court will respond.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A request for SUPPORT . . .

Add caption

I received an e-mail today from Scott Mitchell, a regular reader of my blog who happens to be President of the Tahoma Education Association. In it, he shared with Nancy and me information on a theme that is emerging in conversations he is having with elementary teachers across the district.  It is an issue that has been with us over time, but is taking on added urgency with the common core focus.

I wanted to get your thoughts and reflections on a topic that seems to be coming up more and more when I am in the buildings talking to teachers.  The number one stress that is on teachers in our elementary schools is how do we get everything done that we are being asked to do.  We do not just teach our 3-4 subjects and then we are done, there are many other initiatives that also need to get done and it is impossible to do it all.      

I am appreciative of the tone of the e-mail and Scott’s being comfortable to send it.  I believe that it is an indicator of the capacity we have developed for reflective conversations and the relationship that is a result of this capacity.  Scott is advocating for his members in a way that resonates for me and will result in a positive response to his request.    

So, what am I asking?  I am requesting an audit of what is expected of teachers at each of the grade levels.  If I was a new teacher, I should be able to be handed all of the curriculum that I need to do for the whole year and know what is expected. . . Teachers want to do everything they are being asked but right now the expectation is unrealistic.  

What concerns me about this e-mail is the fact that Scott felt compelled to share it.  This is not a new issue in our system; it is one that we have struggled with over time.  At our last two elementary principal meetings we discussed the issue in relation to our common core work.  Over time, we have had one deep review of a single grade level and other conversations that have not resulted in providing the requested information across the system.  For a system that prides itself on balancing high demand with high support this would be one place where our current reality does not match our stated belief.

Why has it been so difficult over time to bring closure to the need for this guidance?  Could it be partly due to changing standards and the continual need to rewrite curriculum?  Could it be partly due to multiple people guiding the work in different content areas?  Could it be . . .  Other questions come to my mind as I am sure that they do to you.  What I have learned over time is that below these questions and below the structures that we have in place are the mental models that are driving our behavior in the central office.  Until we bring those to the surface and identify mental models that result in new structures, we will not bring closure to this request for support.  It must be time for a system tool like the iceberg to assist us in delving deeply below the surface.  I’d be curious as to what my 74 readers think those mental models might be.              

Thanks Scott for driving home for me a current reality that I am not proud of and that has already shifted to creative tension to move the system to finding answers.    

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Education issues election impact . . .

This article in Education Week brings the charter school initiative, I-1240 once again to the front page of my thinking.  I know that, like football, this has been a recurring theme in previous posts, but it is an education issue of significance and may be as some are beginning to suggest the first step in a broader plan to change education in this state.  Much in the article is a rehash of other articles, but there are for me some new and interesting twists.  First for me was this information from a recent statewide poll asking if education issues favored one governor candidate over another.

When Elway Research, a Seattle-based polling firm, asked state residents whether education issues in the state gave Mr. Inslee or Mr. McKenna a bigger advantage, 31 percent gave the edge to Mr. Inslee, while 30 percent gave it to Mr. McKenna. The rest gave neither an advantage on the issue.

It appears that education issues may not be playing a significant role in this critical election.  The charter initiative is certainly one of the main education issues where the candidates hold different positions with McKenna firmly in the “Yes” camp and Inslee in the “NO” camp.  The poll would suggest that the candidate's position on this issue is not resulting in a significant benefit for either of them.

A second new twist for me is the reference to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that is beginning to emerge in the “No” campaign.  As can be seen in the excerpt below, McKenna is being likened to Walker and some see charters as the first step in a plan to take on other education issues as Walker did once he was elected.  Mr. Holmquist, quoted in the article, has been a public school teacher for 25 years. 

As for Mr. McKenna, who supports performance pay and abolishing last-hired-first-fired labor rules, Mr. Holmquist saw parallels to another Republican governor elected in 2010, and fears Mr. McKenna would move against collective bargaining itself. "He's going to talk one way and behave another way if he becomes governor, just like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin."

The last piece of interesting information is the comparison between how much money was raised in the “Yes” and “No” campaigns today and in 2004 when we last voted on it.  There is far more money today for the “Yes” group and far less money today for the “No” group.  Will this be the deciding factor or are there other variables that will ultimately decide this issue?  Are you ready to share your "guess" on the outcome?

Total contributions to the "Yes on 1240" campaign add up to $8.3 million, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a non-profit based in Helena, Mont. In fall 2004, pro-charter donations totaled $3.8 million, the Seattle Times reported that year.

The two anti-charter campaigns, meanwhile, have raised $275,000 between them, including donations from the state teachers' union, an affiliate of the National Education Association. That pales, however, in comparison with 2004, when $1.3 million had been raised by early October to fight charters.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Football on weekend, instruction on . . .

Sorry for another football post, but the Seahawks pulled off another win in the last two minutes.  They came from behind to win 24 to 23 after stopping the Patriots with about three minutes left in the game.  Century Link was rocking.  I don't know how much of a difference the 12th Man made,  but it was sure fun trying to make it difficult for Brady and the Patriots.

Two times in the last three days I watched a live football game, first our Bears and today the Seahawks.  In between, I watched much of the Husky game on TV.  I like other sports, but football seems to have a special draw for me.  Other than work and family, it is about the only thing I prioritize on my calendar.  Missing a Bear game is actually more stressful than missing a Seahawk game, something I had to do twice already this year when I missed the Cowboy and Packer games for work related reasons.  Today's game partially made up for missing those great games.

With football behind me until Friday when the Bears take on Kentlake for their homecoming game, I can focus on instruction as we prepare for our leadership learning journey at the high school on Tuesday and the superintendent cohort Wednesday in Highline.  I continue my learning journey trying to create a deeper understanding of CEL'S 5D instructional model and the new principal evaluation model that must also be implemented next year when we move to the new teacher evaluation requirement.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Friday night football plus . . .

The Bears played Kentwood last night in a home football game.  The first half ended in a 13 to 13 tie and was one of the best high school games I've seen in a long time.  The kids played hard, but the second half was a different game.  We started the second half with two miscues and couldn't recover, losing 35 to 13.  It was, however one of those games that was closer than the score indicated.

Once again, the halftime show featuring our band and flag team was a big hit.  The routines are getting more complex and the kids sound great.  Oh, and yes those are two sophomore football players who chose to join the band for the half time performance.

The cheerleaders rounded out the evening with enthusiasm and energy.  Except for the score it was a great evening.

More football tomorrow when I watch the Seahawks take on the Patriots, it should be fun.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Closing common core for now . . .

Scott came through with a comment to my request for feedback on the Common Core that I’ll share below.

I am observing...people feeling a little anxious about a new main dish hitting the plate without any of the sides coming off.

I am thinking...that Tahoma is a great place and have no doubt that appropriate training will be given to us to take this task on.

I am feeling...a change in the wind that I am willing to take on but wondering as you stated Mike, when will we ever just get to sit in the hard work we do and relish in no changes.

I am believe that this will be successful.

Once again the theme of apprehension and possibility emerges in the feedback.  Though we desire continuity and focus we find ourselves surrounded with changing focus and multiple demands.  Though the two comments are a very, very small data set, I appreciate the confidence that the system will support implementation of these new standards.   If we can move forward with the mental models embodied in this feedback we can be successful in creating learning experiences that position our young people for success on whatever assessments are imposed at the federal and state level.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium released sample items and performance tasks on Tuesday.  If you are interested you can access them here.  They will give you a sense of the rigor expected in the standards.  You will need to scroll down to gain access to the released items for both English/language arts and mathematics.  Please consider sharing your thoughts on the items?

I’ll close this post by revisiting I-1240, the charter school initiative that I last posted about here.  The topic made Education week with this article.  I didn’t see anything new in the article, one person advocating for (a former Issaquah board member) and one person against.  I also saw yesterday where the League of Women Voters has come out against the initiative.  You can read about their reasons for opposing on this fact sheet.  Will this endorsement influence the outcome? Will it counter the large cash contributions for the initiative’s proponents?  We will know in the next few weeks as the campaigns become more visible whether grass roots campaigning can overcome the big advantage in dollars behind this effort.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A CCS comment . . .

Thanks Jonathan for sharing your feedback to my request in this blog post focused on implementation of the Common Core State Standards.  Below is his comment using the Experience Cube as a framework.

Jonathan said...
I am observing . . .group of professionals willing to take on a big challenge.

I am thinking . . .we may not yet realize the true scope of this undertaking.

I am feeling . . .interested in learning more about the CCSS.

I am wanting . . .to believe these are reachable goals.

These are mental models that will influence his work and that of his colleagues as we move forward with this initiative.  It would be informative if a few more of my “74 Members” would consider sharing their thoughts. I'll move on to other topics that are building in my blog file, but this is one that will have significant influence our work and I am interested in hearing and understanding the mental models that teachers are bringing with them.

Thanks for following my sometimes random thinking and what I find as interesting happenings. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sharing about Common Core Standards . . .

I'm interested in learning reactions to last Friday's Common Core introduction for the elementary teachers and those at the secondary level who have been working with the Teaching and Learning Department to align unit learning goals and activities with the new standards.  The Experience Cube can provide a framework for sharing your thinking and feelings about this transition.  Please consider sharing with me and the others who read this blog using the cube to frame your feedback.

I am observing . . .
I am thinking . . .
I am feeling . . .
I am wanting . . .

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another change opportunity . . .

You may not have known, but yesterday was World Teacher Day.  The day is sponsored by UNESCO  and is intended to raise awareness and appreciation of teachers and the teaching profession across the world.  It does not, however, seem to generate much publicity or action in our country or at least in our area media.

On this day, we call for teachers to receive supportive environments, adequate quality training as well as ‘safeguards’ for teachers’ rights and responsibilities...We expect a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us. This World Teachers’ Day is an opportunity for all to take a stand.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

I shared this same quote yesterday afternoon with the elementary teachers who were meeting at the high school for an introduction into the Common Core State Standards and our district's plan to place our students in position to be successful when new assessments aligned with the standards are implemented in 2015.   On a day when I would have preferred sharing only our appreciation and admiration for what teachers do we were also sharing this new demand placed upon us when the state signed onto the Common Core initiative.

I can capture the gist of my message in three pictures.

When we are placed in a situation that requires change as the Common Core will do, we can choose the mental model that we bring to the work.  The mental model one brings will determine the effort and commitment put forth to learn about the standards and ensure that instructional practices are aligned with providing young people with the opportunity to experience success.

The decision by policy makers at the state level to embrace the standards has placed us in a difficult situation.  At a time when we would prefer stability in the targets that young people and we are held accountable to, we must once again begin the curriculum alignment process.  As we learn more about them we see an opportunity to support all young people in being prepared for post high school learning and work.  The standards are also supportive of our Outcomes and Indicators, providing another reason for a positive mental model that views this initiative as an opportunity to better meet the needs of our students.

This significant change that has been placed upon us outside our system will require change on the part of adults.  More importantly, however, in 2015 our students will be taking new and different assessments to determine if they meet these new and rigorous standards.  In the room yesterday, I saw faces of adults that care about the young people in their classrooms and know that we have the responsibility to provide the experiences necessary for our students to be successful on these assessments.  Because of this commitment, I am confidant that the adults in our system will be able to suspend negative assumptions and bring the energy and commitment necessary for a successful transition to the Common Core.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Presenting at the Town Hall . . .

Below is Kevin Patterson's review of yesterday's presentation at the city Town Hall meeting.  We were invited to present on our College and Career Ready initiative.  Kevin is our Public Information Officer.

The Town Hall was pretty full Wednesday night, as the City of Maple Valley celebrated its 15th anniversary with cake, ice cream and ideas. City Council members and staff served up the treats at Lake Wilderness Lodge but it was Tahoma Superintendent of Schools Mike Maryanski and Tahoma High School Principal Terry Duty who dished up a whole menu of ideas that the school district is turning into action to increase students’ readiness for college and careers.

What the audience of more than 100 Maple Valley residents heard at Wednesday’s  annual Town Hall meeting is how the school district is making changes to ensure that every graduating senior has a viable plan. Statistics tell us that 60 to 65 percent of THS grads enroll in college. We’re not sure where the remaining students go when they leave us. What concerns us is that they might not have the information they need to find their way toward jobs and careers that offer a living wage and a path to the kind of lifestyle they desire. Even the students who go right into college need some assistance, as many of them leave school before earning a degree.

Tahoma High School is starting to address that knowledge gap with a program called Future Ready. Students will have new opportunities this year to learn more about college and career opportunities and what it takes to get there and be successful. Terry Duty talked about a new activity called Table Top Conferences, where students and their parents meet at school to talk about future options.  He described increased opportunities for students to visit colleges and businesses where they can learn more about post-high school learning and careers. Calls are going out now from the school district to identify and recruit community members who would be willing to host a student for a job shadow, or be part of a speakers’ bureau that shares information and ideas with students about college and careers.

Ultimately, students from elementary school through Grade 12 will learn more about the options available to them as they transition from high school. But that’s not enough. Mike Maryanski told the audience about one of the bigger ideas emerging as part of college and career ready planning: a new Tahoma High School that would be the centerpiece of a regional learning center in the heart of Maple Valley.

Part of that regional learning center plan could involve collaboration with local colleges and the private sector. Imagine a campus with a new Tahoma High School for grades 9-12 that also would be home to a branch college campus serving the entire community. Nearby would be a high-tech business park, featuring light manufacturing businesses that could partner with the high school to offer internships, job shadows and other learning opportunities. The community would have another source of living-wage jobs and new contributors to the tax base that supports civic services.

Much work remains before this vision is realized. It has progressed quickly, gaining support and momentum. It is a vision shared by city and school district leaders who see the benefits for young people and the greater community. Discussions and planning during the next few weeks will determine whether this bold idea can succeed. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Collaboration with the city . . .

A short post to let you know that we have been asked by Maple Valley city staff to share our career and college ready focus at tomorrow's Town Hall Meeting.  The meeting and ice cream social will be at the Lake Wilderness Conference Center starting at 6:30 p.m.  It is an opportunity to engage community members in this important work and a direct result of a growing collaboration with the city to support young people and needs of the city.  It will also provide us with a forum to share our student housing problems and the potential for a new high school as the cornerstone of a much needed bond measure to increase district capacity as well as the warm, safe, and dry needs of existing buildings.