Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rewrite instead of scrapping . . .

In this February post, I talked about a Senate bill attempting to define the school day in a way that would eliminate the ability for early release, late arrival, and waiver days.  The way the bill was written it would also have eliminated a weather-related late start by not allowing it to be counted as one of the required 180 days. SB 5588 made it out of committee, but with very different language.  Testimony before the Senate K-12 Early Childhood and Education Committee convinced the members that the bill was unworkable, but instead of scrapping it they decided to make their point in another way.

From This week In Education we learn that instead of throwing it out they decided to study it that will include some type of new reporting by us.

... they gutted the original bill and replaced it with language requiring the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) to “study” the issue. If adopted as amended, JLARC would be required to “conduct an analysis of how school districts use school days.” A report to the Legislature would be required by December 2014.

Under the new SB 5588, JLARC’s analysis would be required to include:
• how school districts define classroom time, non-classroom time, instructional time, non-instructional time, and any other definitions of how the school day is divided or used;
• estimates of time in each category;
• when non-instructional hours occur;
• how non-instructional hours are used, including how much of the non-instructional time is devoted to professional development for the purposes of teacher and principal evaluation training or common core state standards training; and
• the extent the use of each category of time is identified or defined in collective bargaining agreements.

They obviously want us to get the message that they want kids in school six hours a day for 180 days.  We have many teachers that feel the same way and so do I.  Unfortunately, I also see the need for staff development so that those hours maximize the potential for all young people to be prepared for the mandated assessments required by policy makers and for implementing the mandated evaluation systems.  If they would couple this change with the ten paid staff development days called for in the basic education legislation and allow for weather-related late starts this point would make sense.  As it stands, it would make more sense to scrap the bill instead of another study that isn't needed, something that the new majority in the Senate are not likely to do with any of their "reform" bills.

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