Poulsbo & Beyond

An on-going conversation focused on the community of Poulsbo, fueled by local resident Rich Jacobson.
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Posts Tagged ‘I-728’

Prisoners to Australia and WA Education Budget Cuts

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

WA-State-Budget-cuts-in-education-imprison-teachers

Some good friends of mine stopped by for a visit earlier today. They’re a young couple I had the pleasure of marrying a few years back. She’s a nurse working at Harborview, and he’s in the process of finishing up his Master’s studies and is currently fulfilling his requirements for student teaching (he wants to teach middle or high school).

As a young married couple struggling to make ends meet, our conversation eventually turned towards recent decisions made the the WA State Legislator to reduce Teacher pay, bonuses, and incentives.

Though Washington Constitution makes education the State’s top priority, you wouldn’t know it by the way our elected officials are cutting money that is spent on schools. In fact, the percentage of budget dollars paid out towards education has been rapidly declining for a number of years.

But let’s face it, these are tough times. And as they say, tough times require tough measures. Cuts desperately need to be made, and everyone is going to be affected by it – the administrators, the teachers, and ultimately, the students.

So let’s take a look at the education cuts already on the discussion table for the next biennium, most of which are part of the governor’s budget proposal:

— A total of $1 billion from two different class-size reduction programs  (one of which was authorized by voters in 2000).

— A 6.3 percent cut in levy equalization — money that goes to “property poor” districts that have trouble raising local tax dollars. Many lawmakers oppose this idea, but it would save $39.5 million.

— About $99.5 million in teacher bonuses for earning national board certification (another initiative that was approved by voters)

— A suspension of salary-step increases would cut another $56.3 million from teacher pay.

Voter-approved teacher cost-of-living raises amounting to $253.3 million.

— About $18.6 million for gifted or “highly capable” education.

— More than $37 million for a variety of teacher training, mentoring and continuing education programs.

— About $57 million would be saved by not expanding all-day kindergarten to more school districts.

— Another $95.6 million would be saved if the state changes the way it supports the replacement of old school buses.

— About $40 million could be saved in the next biennium by putting off the state’s science and math graduation requirements. Eliminating all the graduation requirements related to the High School Proficiency Exam could save more than $84 million.

Notice how many of the cuts relate to teachers – cuts in pay, raises, bonuses, incentives, and training.

Then add to that the cuts that will result in an increase in classroom sizes, and our valued educators are left with the unappreciative edict, ‘Do More for Less!’

Some of these proposed cuts beg the question, “Why should WA voters bother to vote on initiatives if Olympia is going to turn a deaf ear and do as they please?

To our elected Representatives:

What incentives are there for professional educators to improve their skills? What encourages our teachers to rise above the status-quo and strive for educational excellence? How can a teaching professional work towards improving their earning potential?

Unfortunately, the decision-makers in Olympia are sending a very strong and negative message to our educators:   “Don’t excel. Stay complacent. Punch the clock.”

My friend then shared a fitting illustration he had recently heard on NPR.

Evidently, back in the 1700′s when the British were transporting prisoners off to Australia, there were a significant number of prisoners who were dying en-route due to maltreatment. The British tried all kinds of remedies – from imposing more rules, forcing Captains to hire doctors, more citrus to fight off scurvy, and increasing Captain’s salaries. But nothing worked.

Finally, an economist had an idea: instead of paying the Captains for the number of prisoners that embarked on the voyage, the government should only pay for the prisoners who walked off the ship in Australia.

They implemented this strategy, and suddenly, the survivability rate rapidly improved to 99%.

Thus, the first fundamental lesson of economics was born:  Incentives matter!

(you can listen to the broadcast in its entirety by clicking on the following link)

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=129757852&m=129768358


CKSD Recognizes New National Board Certified Teachers

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Fourteen educators (a record number for the district) were honored recently by the Central Kitsap School District Board of Directors for attaining the coveted National Board Certification.

Teachers who achieve this distinction must meet very high and rigorous standards through study, evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review. The year-long process requires the creation of a very comprehensive portfolio that documents the impact of teaching practices on student achievement, as well as a series of tests designed to measure content knowledge.

The following CKSD staff members received National Board Certification:

Ken Allen, Woodlands Elem.
Brenda Costello, Esquire Hills Elem.
Amee Coulter, Esquire Hills Elem.
Donna Giese, Silver Ridge Elem.
Julie Gillies, Fairview Junior High
Cindy Jaquay, Green Mountain Elem.
Gina Kahler, Esquire Hills Elem.
David Keller, Central Kitsap JH
Steve Lee, Ridgetop Junior High
Catherine Pitcher, Curriculum Specialist
Barb Robillard, Silver Ridge Elem.
Jennifer Threadgold, Jackson Park Elem.
Deborah Vaughn, Silver Ridge Elem.
Bill Wilson, Central Kitsap JH

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) grants National Board Certification, which was recognized by the National Research Council as having a positive impact on student achievement, teacher retention, and professional development.

Since 1987, more than 91,000 teachers across the country have achieved National Board Certification. This year, 1,272 Washington teachers were certified, placing the state second nationally in new National Board Certified teachers. Washington’s 5,247 total National Board Certified teachers place the state fourth in the nation. Central Kitsap School District currently employs 43 National Board Certified teacher.

Normally, teachers who have successfully achieved their National Board Certification are granted a small annual stipend as an added bonus for their hard work and commitment to educational excellence. Unfortunately, our elected State Representatives (against voter approval) decided to suspend this stipend, and will most likely eliminate it completely in the future.


The Slow Death of Educational Excellence

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Some recent committee decisions being handed down by our elected officials are sending a very troubling and disheartening message:

Olympia Doesn’t Care about Education
Olympia Doesn’t Care about Teachers
Olympia Doesn’t Care about Students

In a recent Kitsap Sun article, Rep. Kathy Haigh was reported to have introduced two bills into the State legislation that would further suspend two spending initiatives that had received overwhelming support by WA voters back in 2000.

Initiative 728 allocated money to reduce class sizes, provide training for teachers, and offer helpful resources for some pre-kindergarten children. I-732 provided annual cost-of-living raises for teachers.

Included in I-728 was funding for an annual stipend allocated to teachers who successfully passed the arduous National Board Certification process.

And now, thanks to our elected representatives, our class sizes will increase, making it more difficult for our kids to receive the personal attention they deserve. Greater demands will be placed on our teachers, but without compensating them for more work.

And already, it appears that this seemingly ‘temporary’ suspension will most likely become a permanent change in the years ahead:

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/jan/18/house-committee-doesnt-object-to-suspension-of/

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, recently made the following observations:

“Over the long term, the only way we’re going to raise wages, grow the economy, and improve American competitiveness, is by investing in our people — especially their educations.

Yet we’re falling behind. In a recent survey of 34 advanced nations by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, our kids came in 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading. The average 15-year-old American student can’t answer as many test questions correctly as the average 15-year-old student in Shanghai.

Considering the increases in our population of young people and their educational needs, and the challenges posed by the new global economy, more resources are surely needed.

State cuts in public education have been under the national radar, but viewed as a whole they seriously threaten the nation’s future. Already, 33 states have sliced education budgets for next year, on top of cuts last year. For example, Arizona has eliminated preschool for 4,328 children, and cut funding for books, computers and other classroom supplies. California has reduced K-12 aid to local school districts by billions of dollars and is cutting a variety of programs, including adult literacy instruction and help for high-needs students. Colorado and Georgia have reduced public-school spending nearly 5 percent from 2010, Illinois and Massachusetts by 3 percent. Virginia’s $700 million in cuts for the coming year includes funding for class-size reduction in kindergarten through third grade. Washington suspended a program to reduce class sizes and teacher training incentives.

Why have we allowed this to happen? Our young people — their capacities to think, understand, investigate and innovate — are America’s future. In the name of fiscal prudence we’re endangering that future.”

I urge our elected government representatives to reconsider the suspension of these two voter-approved initiatives, and make the necessary budget cuts in other areas that do not adversely affect our kid’s education.


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Everyday CK is an ongoing conversation focused on the community of Central Kitsap, fueled by local resident Rich Jacobson.