Thursday, January 31, 2013

An about face . . .

On Monday at the Washington Policy Center, Liz Finne did a blog post about testimony that Dr. Roza of the U.W. made last week to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.  The title tells it all.

More money doesn't help school children, says UW professor

In the post Finne quoted Roza as follows.

‘And what you can see when you look at the relationship between spending and outcomes for our state is very little relationship, right?' Roza told lawmakers. In other words, more money doesn’t necessarily translate into better student performance."

I chose not to share the post until yesterday's post by Finne with the following title.

Dr. Roza says more money can help schools, but need to spend it smarter

It seems that Dr. Roza read the post and wanted to set the record straight.

Having just read this blog's coverage of my testimony to the Senate K12 committee last week, I feel the description mischaracterized my key message on school finance in Washington state. Liv Finne has given me the chance to post this clarification on her blog. The data chart on the poor relationship between spending and outcomes was evidence on the need to think differently about how to structure education funding going forward in order to get the best outcome for our students. Given the landmark McCleary decision, the state now has the opportunity to rethink how new funds will be applied in the coming years in the state's schools. In my testimony, which you can watch here, you'll see that I challenge the committee to seek a finance formula that builds on the many strong results already evident in parts of our system, and that lays the foundation for better linkages between spending and outcomes now and in the years to come.

So, there are good things happening in some Washington schools that we should be learning from and replicating.  Once again, it is time for implementing what we know is working and for stability, not new reforms and uncertainty as some are now calling touting. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moving forward with system tools . . .

I decided to share some of our work today as an administrative leadership team focused on TPEP implementation.

Below are the mental models that surfaced as each grade level grouping shared their purpose statements and others in the room identified the mental models that they believe were driving the purpose statements.  Those listed are the result of the mental models we believe were embedded in the purpose statements and other statements and questions that emerged in the conversation.

Each group was then given the opportunity to create a concept map that captured the purpose statement and  using circles, identified the proportion of their time spent on different job functions.  We gained a greater understanding of our system and appreciation for the complexity of a building administrator's work from the mental model conversations and the focus on how building administrators are allocating their time.

At our next meeting we will continue to use the concept maps to dig more deeply into the work of building level administrators and to look for leverage points that provide more time and/or support for a focus on TPEP opportunities.  Mike Hansen is planning and facilitating this work.  His transparency about the difficulty of planning for and supporting our reflective conversations is refreshing and welcome and his skill and commitment are resulting in moving this work forward.

I will share that for me it was a positive and productive day.  The exit slips using the Experience Cube framework suggest that others in the room shared similar thinking.  As always, I would welcome a comment sharing your experience from any participant that may be reading this post.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Working through my ladders . . .

Tomorrow, I will be spending the day with our administrators to continue our conversation about support structures that will be necessary to implement the Teacher and Principal Evaluation Plan (TPEP) that result in a positive growth experience for teachers.  To get ready for the meeting, we have been asked to review five purpose statements that emerged and identify any mental models that might be inferred from each statement.

Mental models are the assumptions, values, beliefs, and images we hold of our world.  We use them to make sense of the world and they influence the actions that we take.  Related to mental models are the ladders of inference that we form as a result of our experiences and processing what takes place around us.  Holding mental models and ladders are the result of being people, it is just something that we do without any conscious thought.  They are not right or wrong they just are.  The problem with them is that they control our behavior.

Tomorrow's discussion is very important and as I reflect on the homework I can identify several mental models and, more importantly, a ladder I hold that will influence what I see and hear if I don't attempt to suspend the assumptions driving that ladder.  I could rationalize that my ladder is based in facts and let it control the data I use to make sense of the meeting and my actions.  This might make me feel good, but it will not be supportive of our goal.  Or, I could attempt to suspend those assumptions in an effort to be connected with the conversations and be a productive member of the group.

I will choose to suspend my assumptions, but it will be difficult because the ladder was formed from the reaction of some in the room to a contribution that I made to one of the purpose statements.  I also assume that this was and will be followed by multiple other responses as the participants meet both in and outside of the meeting room.

So, why share this and why now?  Learning organizations require the capacity for reflective conversation and I have a responsibility and commitment to be a contributing member of these conversations.  My capacity to engage and support the work will be influenced by the mental models and ladders that I bring into the room with me.  This is not always easy, but it is essential for all of us to consider as we work collaboratively to support the work of teachers in our system.  So, I will attempt to suspend my assumptions and also focus on using inquiry to better understand the thinking of my colleagues as we search for structures to support administrators in this important work.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

One more reflection . . .

This is Peter meeting with a group of high school teachers and administrators Friday to share with us some of his work around the world and for us to share the work happening in our world.  I haven't had the opportunity to ask those in attendance what they thought, but I know from my conversation with Peter on the way back to Seattle that he is impressed with what we are doing and the journey we have chosen.  At a minimum I believe that he will assist us in connecting our students with organizations around the world focused on sustainable fishing and sustainable food chains.

When I first read The Fifth Discipline, the single most important book that has shaped my leadership journey, I never would have dreamed that the author would one day be sitting with a small group of us at Tahoma High School.  I have been so fortunate on this journey to work with incredibly dedicated people such as those in this picture and to have been gifted with the opportunity to learn from Peter.  Earlier Friday morning Peter presented at the E3 Washington meeting.  Once again, his words reinforced for me the importance for creating the capacity in a learning organization for reflective conversations and a foundation of communication  knowledge and skills.  I also left the meeting reflecting on my understanding and use of mental models and ladders of influence.  He shared them in a context different than what I normally use that created some dissonance for me.

We have made much progress on our learning organization journey that is continually affirmed for me in conversations with those inside and outside of our system.  We can take pride in these accomplishments while knowing that we still have much to learn and opportunities for growth as we find and implement structures for Common Core and TPEP.  We need a time, however, of stability with no more shifting targets for students or adults; a time to put to use the capacity we have created to reflect at the system level before putting into place adaptive changes to better meet the needs of young people and adults in our system.  I am so appreciative that I have the opportunity to be a part of this learning organization and look forward to these new learning opportunities.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A take away . . .

This evening a group from our system was able to attend the E3 Washington evening with Peter Senge.  It almost didn't happen due to the extremely cold weather in Boston where he is on staff at MIT.  It seems that the plane's toilet froze up cancelling his original flight.  He was able to get the last seat on an over booked flight that got him here six hours later, but still in time to share his experience and expertise with us.

As always when I have the opportunity to be with Peter, I am impressed with his knowledge and experiences throughout the world.  Since the focus of E3 is on the economy, environment, and education Peter focused on these as well.  His passion for the environment and public education was evident in his words and the conviction that comes through as he shares his thinking and experiences.

One theme from this evening that resonated with me was that we are preparing our young people for a world that none of us has experienced and have no way of predicting out 30 to 50 years.  Given that, what is important for them to know and be able to do?  We are also leaving young people with issues that are global in nature.  Though many in our country would like us to believe that the world still revolves around us, that is no longer the case and will continue to be so into the future.  Young people need to know that what happens here is felt round the world and that resolution to the issues they are inheriting will require interdependence that we have not yet experienced.  I was both energized and reflective as I listened and most importantly thankful that I have the opportunity to be part of this most important work.

Tomorrow I have the honor for a very short period of time of hosting Peter in our system.  Unfortunately, our students will be leaving as we arrive, but he will have the opportunity to meet with teachers and administrators.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creating an awesome burger . . .
On the 13th I did a post on the FEAR I have not of reform, but on what I see as the wrong kind of reform coming out of the current legislative session in Olympia.  Scott posted a comment sharing his thoughts through making an awesome burger, the kind that every parent and teacher wants for their children and students.

I think of it as going out for a hamburger. Patron (parents order it with a bun, patty, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, mayo, and why not a slice of bacon, since the expectation is that it will be the best burger. )

Now we go to the kitchen, where the burger is prepared. The person (teacher) who is making the burger is doing the best they can with what they have but they do not have bacon, cheese or mayo. Somehow though the burger comes out and the burger is not what they want. 

He then goes on to share how those that own the restaurant, the legislators, respond.

So after lots of complaints, the people who own the burger joint (legislature) decide that their burger is not that great and somehow it is the cooks fault. So rather than ensuring that their restaurants have the right funds to buy all the resources they need to create a great burger, so the cooks can make some awesome burgers, they say that the cooks are terrible and that they want to make a new burger because patrons are unhappy with the way the old burgers were being made and that the cooks obviously do not know what they are doing. 

I believe that Scott has made some good points.  What I wonder about is from the paragraph above about "lots of complaints" and where they are coming from.  Is it the parents that are driving the conversations about new reforms that must be considered before funding the McCleary decision?  Is it the business community or large non-profits that are influencing some legislators?  Or, could it be that some of our legislators, especially those that now find themselves in leadership positions, want to keep pace with the "reforms" being implemented in other states that are perceived by some as more cutting edge?  Are those in Olympia pushing for more reforms truly focused on the needs of young people or is there another for them equally important agenda driving their behavior?

Jonathan responded with a comment to the same post that I believe is important for all to consider in the current environment in Olympia.

They already passed the reforms in 2009 (ESHB 2261), including the timing of how to phase them in. The time table needs to be adjusted because they missed the schedule, and a reevaluation of the costs should take place, but the work is largely done. I remember WEA’s major objection to ESHB 2261 at the time is that it lays out reforms with no funding. They just need to get to work. 

How true!  As Scott says, provide the resources and then make judgments on how well we are doing.  Give the reforms in 2261 an opportunity to be implemented before deciding that they are out-of-date and need to be revised or replaced.  A reform agenda was passed and is now the blueprint for the future.  Allow us to move forward with this blueprint instead of more study, followed by more debate, followed by more change.  As I have shared before, we need stability and support from this legislative session, not debate and partisan political posturing.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Introducing Peter Senge . . .

Later in the week I will be attending two events sponsored by E3 Washington, an organization focused on education for sustainable communities.  Though I am not much of a "joiner", I did accept an invitation to become a board member of this organization.  Our school system has been recognized by them for our focus on sustainability and system thinking and I am honored to be in a position to support their work.

The first event is a Winter Evening With Peter Senge where Peter will engage with attendees in conversation regarding the link between the health and future vitality of our children, communities, economy, education, sustainability and systems learning.  If you follow our journey you know that my leadership beliefs have been influenced by Peter's writing and work.  I have had the opportunity to work with him as Chair of SoLEd and I am looking forward to the conversation Thursday evening.

Then, on Friday around noon I have the good fortune to bring Peter to our district for a visit.  When he committed to the E3 event he did so only after confirming that he would be able to visit Tahoma.  Unfortunately, we can't make it until about noon and with finals, early release, and needing to be back to Seattle by 4 it will be difficult for him to truly experience the quality work of our students and teachers.  It is an honor that he has chosen to spend time with us and I look forward to introducing him to our system.  Let me know if you are doing something Friday afternoon with system thinking and/or sustainability that Peter might enjoy seeing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My concerns grow . . .

Over at Washington Policy Center, Liv Finne did a summary of the first Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee meeting under the leadership of Senator Litzow.  She characterized it as a glass of cold, fresh air blowing through a Senate hearing room.

A new day is dawning for children in our state. Sound reform ideas that were denied a hearing in the past are now being included in the policy debate, thanks to the new openness of Chairman Litzow.

Some of what she sees as positive I see as a step backward.  Check the post for the short summary of eight points ranging from little correlation between revenue, class size and achievement to school employee benefits starving classrooms of needed funds.  I struggle with many of them, but in particular the following focused on the possible repeal of HB 2261, the reform bill that the Supreme Court is using as a marker for future funding under the McCleary decision.

The Legislature has the power and responsibility to define Basic Education. The Legislature can repeal HB 2261 and still comply with the McCleary court decision, said Senior Assistant Attorney General Dave Stolier;

I understand that the legislators could repeal the definition of basic education under 2261, but struggle to understand how this would be a positive step for young people.  Stepping back to create a new definition that may make it easier for this or future legislators to fund makes no sense given the current need to focus on TPEP and preparing young people for Common Core assessments or considering the great deal of time, energy, and money that went into development of this definition and funding model.  We need stability, not new studies and shifting targets.

If the point above doesn't create some concern for you, try point eight below.

HB 2261 prototype school staffing formulas are already out-of-date, as is the single salary pay scale.

I don't know what data they are using to suggest that the staffing formulas are out-of-date; I can only hope that they mean that they don't provide enough staffing support, but somehow I doubt that will become the focus.  What do you think may be the mental model behind the single salary schedule being out-of-date?   What might emerge in the conversations as a more current model?

As I shared in previous posts, it will be important to follow this session closely and to let our legislators know that we need stability with no new unfunded mandates.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sustaining quality under difficult conditions . . .

Today, I had the opportunity once again to meet with two principals to continue our conversations about instructional practice and support for teachers.  This followed a four hour meeting last night of all building level administrators focused on what our system must do to support implementation of  the state mandated Teacher Principal Evaluation Plan.  Though our focus is on student learning and instruction, our current reality was driven home to me in all three meetings and much of that current reality is driven by the large enrollment in our buildings and what we are asking of our administrators and teachers. The stress and anxiety levels continue to rise for these people as more is asked of them while we continue to place more students into spaces designed for far fewer.

I left the meeting last night with much dissonance and the need to reflect on the mental models I hold for the work of building level administrators.  My mental models have been formed with no experience in managing and providing instructional leadership in a large building.  Principal mental models are formed and influenced by their day-to-day interactions and experiences in our buildings.  As we all seek to make sense of the world around us these experiences influence what we see, hear, and believe.  I am very thankful and blessed with the capacity of our principals to maintain a focus on instruction while they manage these large buildings.

In one meeting today with a principal, I found myself needing to apologize for the environment we have created and for the expectations that she is owning.  She continually praised the work of her teachers while questioning how one person can provide them with the support that they want and deserve.  In the next meeting I experienced the frustration that the principal and staff live with daily, partly due to the large enrollment and partly due to programs operating in inadequate physical spaces.

We are asking much of all those that work in our buildings and departments and of the students who live and learn in those buildings.  My concerns for our continued success as a school system continue to grow as I experience the stress and anxiety resulting from our over-crowded learning environments.  We are doing an exceptional job by any measure, but the capacity to sustain our success diminishes with each new program mandated from outside and with each new student that enrolls in our system.

I am so proud and thankful for the commitment and passion that our people bring to their work.  I am at the same time saddened by our inability to provide quality learning environments and by the feelings of inadequacy that I heard from our administrators over the last two days.  They deserve better and our young people deserve better.  I look forward to working collaboratively with those in our school system who share these concerns and also believe that we can do a better job in support of quality learning, every day, in every classroom, for every child.  Let me know if you want to play an active role in the process to ensure that we change our current reality and create learning environments where learning and teaching can flourish without the stress brought on by over crowding.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I don't fear reform, I fear . . .
Before the game I went through the Seattle Times online.  Though I still prefer a hard copy, I am beginning to do more online reading of the paper during the weekends.  What caught my eye once again were the multiple articles on the eve of the 2013 legislative session.  What bothers me most is the call for reform before any new revenue such as this opening paragraph in a Times editorial.

LAST year the Republicans and “roadkill” Democrats who briefly took power in the Washington State Senate operated under the slogan, “Reform before revenue.” They would resist tax increases until they had money-saving reforms. They passed some reforms, and the reforms have already paid off.

The same theme can be found in the title of a second editorial.  It is very clear what position the paper has taken on education as the session begins.

Editorial: Legislature should focus first on fixing public education, then asking taxpayers for funding

While it is clear state lawmakers need to invest more in public education, their first task is to make the system efficient and effective.

Those that know me know that I believe that we must make changes if young people are to successfully meet the standards embedded in the Common Core State Standards.  I don't fear reform, I fear the wrong kind of reform.  I am concerned with many possible reform efforts that may emerge this session, but specifically with one associated with teacher evaluation.  As I have shard many times, I am not pleased with the decision to force every district to choose from one of three instructional models to meet the mandated teacher evaluation  requirement.  Today, however, I am focused on ensuring that our work with this model become another tool to support growth in instructional practice in every classroom.  

In this Times article about the education battle that looms between a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, and a new governor pledged to not raise taxes, is one line that I do fear.  

Tom and Litzow also said they will use the debate over the court ruling to push for policy changes, including, for example, even stricter teacher evaluations than the ones soon to go into effect.

I believe that changing what has been a moving target for two years will be counter productive.  There are still too many unanswered questions about the current model with the potential for difficult negotiations across the state as Associations and districts try to make sense of this moving target.  More importantly, I read this line to mean one thing and that is better alignment with other states on the use of student achievement data in the overall teacher rating.  The current model mandates the use of achievement data, but gives individual systems much autonomy on what this data will be.  This is different than many changes across the country that demand up to 50% of the overall rating be driven by achievement data and also a requirement to use state assessment results.  I believe that this would be a huge mistake.  
Though I think that a change to what and how assessment data is used is a remote possibility this session, I thought we would come out of the last session with the potential to use Classroom 10 as our model.  Odd things happen behind closed doors when the session moves into months four, five, and possibly six.  We must communicate to our legislators this session what we believe will be important for them to maintain and what we believe is essential for them to include if they are to create the support we need to balance the high demand they have implemented over the last few sessions.

About that game - oh so close.  Proud of the way the Hawks came back.  Funny how your emotions can change so dramatically in 30 seconds of game time.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Supporting principal growth . .

I could argue that the most important role for a superintendent is supporting principals as we focus on instructional practice in all of our classrooms.  Of course, this is not the "traditional" role, but it is one that I take seriously and find the most rewarding of my job functions.  I believe that I have the responsibility to teach and to create a culture that promotes and supports change in instructional practices that are reflected in increased student achievement.  My classroom are the principals and central office staff that make up our Educational Leadership Team, ELT.

I have multiple opportunities each month in a variety of settings for this work and this week has been especially rewarding.  Tuesday, we had our monthly ELT meeting that has traditionally been a management meeting.  Two years ago, we added a Teaching and Learning standing item to the agenda and over time we have seen a shift from predominately management to a greater focus on instruction.  On Tuesday we spent the majority of time focused on instructional issues around Classroom 10 and both the teacher and principal components of TPEP.  I used the time to share what I was learning and to reinforce expectations for principals to use strategies that support teacher growth.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I was with three principals on my monthly learning walks in each building.  This is a combination of sharing current reality, looking at data, revisiting prior conversations and new learning, and visiting classrooms.  This year I am focusing on data and feedback, always trying to have our time together result in creative tension leading to reflection on the part of principals related to their support of teachers.  The visits this week were especially rewarding for me.  Though we didn't get into classrooms in one of the visits (first time) because of the content of our conversations, I know, through feedback, that the principal has been reflecting on the conversation.  In a drop-in during a staff meeting the next morning I asked if she would like some feedback with staff in the room and she said yes.  So, we had a brief conversation, similar to what I want between principals and teachers, with a focus on what she might do differently in planning the next meeting.  I think that it is important for teachers to see that principals are also learners and need feedback to support growth.

Following learning walks with the other two principals we talked about feedback and identifying the focus that would support teacher reflection.  We also talked about the role of the principal beyond just giving the feedback, including the importance of engaging the teacher in looking at how the identified focus area might lead to deeper understanding and additional strategies for future use.  Each principal shared with me the decision they made on a focus and that they had provided feedback.  They felt good about the process and experienced a positive interaction with a teacher focused on learning and support.  This is rewarding feedback for me as I support my classroom to increase their capacity to influence and support teacher growth.

I encourage members of our ELT or one of the principals or teachers involved in these learning walks to share their experience by commenting on this post.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Charters add to the "mess" . . .

I was not going to blog about the possible charter lawsuit again, but I first learned yesterday in a Washington Policy Center Post by Liv Finne that State Superintendent Dorn will not be filing a lawsuit to stop charter implementation.  He will instead be asking the legislature to amend I-1240 to allow for oversight by OSPI instead of by an independent commission.  The article at Washington State Wire referenced in the post suggests that this is a conciliatory step that Dorn is taking.  Given his often stated position on the unconstitutionality of the initiative, if the amended legislation is not forthcoming a lawsuit will most likely follow.

“Let me be clear,” he writes. “I am not arguing for or against charter schools, but simply raising the question of the initiative’s constitutionality. I-1240, however, creates a governance structure for charter schools which I believe violates our state’s constitution, and is not accountable to the people.”

The Seattle Times weighed in on the issue in one of today's editorials telling WEA that they should not move forward with a lawsuit.  They speculate in the piece on why the Association is choosing to focus on this issue at this time.

So why is the WEA lawyering up now? The union could be flexing its muscle in advance of the upcoming legislative session’s showdown over education reforms and funding. Or it believes voters would not mind having their will overturned.

I don't know that either of these is the driver for the possible suit.  They could share Dorn's view that it is unconstitutional.  I believe that his decision to seek a change to oversight is a blow to WEA's search for partners and will make it more difficult for them to move forward.  All of this simply adds to the intrigue or perhaps I should say "mess" that legislators will face when the session begins Monday.  Issues with majority/minority control in the Senate, threats over charters, desire by reformers to initiate additional changes, and the supreme court's stated position on funding will put education right in the middle of what will be a difficult session.

I fear that in the political environment this creates, compromise will emerge toward the end of the session that none of us can predict today and that will once again impact our Classroom 10 journey.  It would take place behind closed doors with no public input, similarly to what happened when we lost the opportunity for our instructional model to guide teacher evaluation in last year's last minute action.  This will be a long session and one that we in public education will want to monitor closely as the decisions that are made will have significant impact in the short and long term on our work.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lagging behind . . .

I learned about a new social media video on this Heart of Innovation post.  It is modeled after the Did You Know videos that I have posted about such as this post on Did You Know 4.  The Social Media Revolution Revelation is the title of the video that is only about 2 minutes in length.  It is crammed with data, most new for me and once again shows me what a neophyte I am in this world.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Great football . . .

Looks like it will be Seahawks 3 and Redskins 1.  Washington won the first quarter, but then it was all Seattle.  Right this minute the Seahawks are up 24 to 14 with 5:32 left in the game.  Would have preferred a touchdown after the turnover on the five, but that extra three points feels pretty good right now.  The defense  did a great job after the first quarter when the Redskins scored 14 points on their first two possessions allowing no more points and less than 100 yards of offense.

Enough of the play-by-play, I'll wait until the game ends.  This sounds more like a twitter instead of a blog post.

Seahawks win, on to Atlanta!

Delaying or stopping . . .

Thanks to John for sharing a comment on my last post about  WEA's possible lawsuit to stop charter school implementation in the state.

I 100% support the challenge. The intent of charter schools is to provide another option for students. I do not take issue with that ideal. In fact, districts all around the state have already begun implementing different academies within the district to offer an alternate education for students who need them. The key to this concept is the work is being done WITHIN the district and therefore is under regulation and evaluation by the local elected school board and elected officials at OSPI and the legislature.

He does a nice job of sharing his position and the thinking behind it.  I don't take exception with his position or with his reasoning.  What I do take issue with, however, is the timing.  Even though I understand it didn't make sense to file before Initiative 1240 passed, filing now is also questionable to me.  I would have preferred that WEA took a more aggressive approach in the no campaign like they did in the governor's race that I blogged about here.  The vote was close enough that the Association could have had a greater impact on the outcome.

This situation feels a little like the state filing an appeal to the McCleary funding decision that resulted in the difficult situation legislators face when they begin the session later this month.  It simply delayed finding the revenue to meet what the lower court had ruled.  Not knowing the basis for the possible charter lawsuit makes it difficult to understand the likelihood for success. If the lawsuit goes through I hope it is because there is a better than average possibility for a favorable ruling.  If not, it makes more sense to me to let the charter process move forward.  The prospect of  charter supporters with the resources behind them and state resources fighting a lawsuit is a waste of time and energy.  

It will be interesting to follow this possibility to see what other agencies may join WEA.  My sense is that it will not go forward without multiple partners.  Whatever coalition may form, I believe it will not be able to match the resources that would be forthcoming for those that support charter implementation.  Whatever the outcome, they will not go away especially with the leverage from the successful initiative campaign.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A possible charter challenge . . .

This recent post by Liv Finne at the Washington Policy Center suggests that the Washington Education Association is planning a lawsuit to stop implementation of charter schools in our state.

“Though our candidates won, we are disappointed that corporate interests with their $11 million were able to pass the charter school initiative. Looking forward, your board of directors has decided to fund a legal challenge against the new charters law and, as we did with McCleary, are seeking partners and developing an approach and timeline for this effort. More details about this will come.”

I was not able to find this statement on the WEA web page, but was able to verify that the WEA Board is exploring the possibility of partnering with other organizations in this potential suit.  Finne and the Center were advocates for Initiative 1240 and believe that there are shaky grounds for a suit that might delay, but will not stop charters.  In an earlier post, I speculated about the possibility of a law suit from OSPI and Superintendent Dorn because oversight would come from a commission and the governor's office and not OSPI.  I don't know if this will be the basis for the possible suit spear headed by WEA or if there are other grounds.

Battle lines are being drawn as we can see in today's Washington Policy Center post by Paul Guppy.  The post is about a study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) used by WEA in their campaign against the initiative and a new CREDO study from New Jersey suggesting that charters in the state are outperforming public schools.

Executives of the teachers union, the Washington Education Association (WEA), have announced their intention to block implementation of Washington's new voter-approved charter law in 2013. The union’s goal is to preserve its privileged position in the system by preventing any child from attending a charter school within the borders of this state.

For the backward-looking WEA, the fight against charters isn’t over, but we can be confident they won’t be citing CREDO research anymore.

So, the WEA Board has authorized a possible legal challenge to the initiative.  What do WEA members and others think about this potential action?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Safety Committee review . . .

Our Safety Committee met this afternoon to begin the review and evaluation of our current intruder/lock down plans and procedures.  Following the Sandy Hook tragedy we made the decision to expand the committee to include the building principals for this review so we had over twenty people attending.  Thanks to Sean Kelly the meeting also included Maple Valley Mayor Bill Allison, Maple Valley Police Chief Michelle Bennett, King County Sheriff John Urquhart, Officer Sam Shirley, Fire Chief Brad Doerflinger, and Jacques Imperial representing U.S. Representative Dave Reichert's office.

We tasked the representatives with the responsibility to review the current practices in every building and department in the system to identify our current reality.  This includes training, policies and procedures related to before, during and after an incident, coordination with other agencies before and during an incident, and communication throughout the process.  This information will be the foundation for conversations in our school community about other measures that we should consider as we identify what "safe" looks and sounds like in our schools and buildings.

The conversation this afternoon was productive, resulting in a better understanding of the questions and concerns of our parents, concerns of staff with problems already identified in our buildings, and some possibilities to pursue for an increased presence by city and county officers in our schools.  It is a good beginning to a necessary process as we struggle to balance access and safety issues with the welcoming cultures that we have come to expect in our schools.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ignoring may lead to negative ladders . . .
In the past I have shared that I have a Facebook page, but have done little with it.  I get notices that people want to "friend" me, but have for the most part ignored them.  Recently, I received a message that people are I think it said "unfriending" me or something like that.  This may be a reaction to my ignoring requests and that creates some dissonance for me as I think about the message it gives when I don't accept or respond in any way.  I guess it is time to figure this thing out or discontinue my reserving a space that is not used.  I don't want people to think that I don't want to friend them.

Some way I also joined LinkedIn and have started receiving the same kind of requests.  I know even less about this one and can't even remember when or why I joined.  So, I have some social media decisions to make.  Ignoring requests and the possible negative ladders of inference that may result is not what I want.  I've decided to try and change my behavior, not a new year's resolution, just a positive step in my social media image.

By the way, have you visited Tahoma's Facebook page?  I think with over 20,000 people in the city plus the thousands in our system living outside the city we should have more than 2,674 followers.  If you have not yet joined, please do and let your friends and neighbors know about it.