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.  


Scott Mitchell said...

Mike, I fear the same things. I always like to look at things in a simple way and I know I have said this numerous times on your blog and in TEA newsletters. I am not sure how we call for reform when we have not given the constitutional resources to implement what we have. 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.

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.

The cooks meanwhile, are confused because they have been doing their best to make awesome food for years even though they do not always have what it takes make great burgers.

With all of that said, Tahoma makes a fabulous burger and have created great recipes with the food and funds we have been given.

It is unfortunate that we have to continually fight for our jobs but our kids are worth it.

Sorry for the random burger ranting but it is how I think.

Jonathan said...

Too often the legislature makes me feel as respected as a hamburger cook. 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.