If you don’t have to see or live with the consequences of your decisions, it becomes very easy to do bad things.
In Olympia, this is especially true as the lure of money, power, and personal political ambition continually cloud the judgement of the peoples’ representatives.
Add to this dysfunctional system an insulating layer of well funded non-profits, think tanks and NGOs; all vying to create our state’s education policies and claiming to know what’s best for our students.
These groups woo hand-picked politicians and hight level bureaucrats to become their “thought leaders”.
Perks include personal invitations to corporate underwritten conferences and retreats — with the built-in opportunity to meet all the right sort of people.
What’s the catch?
Once they’re back in Olympia, these members of the political class must be willing to prioritize the political agendas of these non-profits, think tanks, and NGOs, while throwing their constituents under the bus.
The comforting facade of democracy in Olympia is already slipping as the clock winds down on the McCleary crisis AND YET the legislature continues to stubbornly refuse to do their Constitutionally mandated job to amply fund public education.
Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine, explains how neoliberalism has made an art of using a political crisis to push through destructive policies while the general population is either too distracted or exhausted to cope with or push back against the political wrecking ball.
It appears Chris Reykdal, our newly elected State Superintendent, just can’t resist co-opting the McCleary crisis to push his own agenda outlined in his Education Vision.
Delinking High School Graduation from State Mandated Tests.
The first battle in Reykdal’s shock doctrine like maneuver came in the clash over delinking high school graduation from mandated state tests.
On the campaign trail, Reykdal claimed to be against using end of course exams or EOC’s to determine graduation.
Then came the push in the press for Reykdal’s Education Vision, which shifts all EOC’s down to 10th grade in order to make way for personalized career pathways and his mandatory high school and beyond learning plans.
During last year’s battle over EOC’s and mandatory high school and beyond plans, one of the suggested compromises was the state removing the current biology EOC as a graduation requirement.
Of course, this wasn’t much of a compromise, since the biology EOC was slatted to be replaced by another test – which would be tied to the next generation science standards.
This shows just how sneaky all of the political maneuvering in Olympia has become.
Then Senators Rolfes and Rivers – as requested by the Superintendent of Instruction, Chris Reykdal -dropped Senate Bill 5951, which requires EOCs for graduation and mandates high school and beyond learning plans for every student.
That’s when parents and teachers knew the fix was in.
Hey, at least the Business Roundtable is happy.
This skirmish illustrates one of the big problems with our current political system: Reykdal and his co-conspirators in the legislature don’t have to be personally involved in the soul crushing denial of diplomas to the seniors who get nailed by a high stakes standardized test.
How about this: if these politicians truly believe denying kids diplomas is the right thing to do, they should have to walk their talk.
Instead of creating mandates in Olympia which will be carried out by others, these politicians should have to personally meet with these kids, look them in the eye, and deliver the bad news.
Reykdal’s Education Vision
It should come as no surprise that Reykdal’s Education Vision has ed-reform written all over it. Complete with the co-opted double speak used to push personalized learning.
Remember, the McCleary decision is about the state’s neglect of its Constitutionally mandated job to amply fund basic education. It has NOTHING to do with making a comprehensive redesign to K-12 education, and yet, that’s exactly what Reykdal is proposing.
Here’s some of the troubling parts:
High School and Beyond Learning Plans for Every Student
The transition from middle school to high school is a substantial risk for students. The research shows that if a student fails even one core course (math, science, or English) in the 9th grade, they are less likely to graduate from high school than their peers. Washington state will become a leader in adopting a robust universal High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP) for 8 th graders on their way to high school. The middle school provides the plan to the student’s high school, which details the student’s strengths, areas of growth, initial career interests, and a road map of the courses required to graduate from high school successfully. The HSBP tool will be digital and accessible to parents, guardians, counselors, and students. It will also provide the framework for early warning messaging to parents via contemporary digital media tools. Authentic parent engagement needs to meet the needs of the 21st century.
Forcing kids to choose a career in 8th grade is bad enough. Using 10th grade exams plus student career interest to build a graduation pathway is ludicrous.
Will Bill Gate’s alma mater, Lakeside, be implementing high school and beyond plans for every student and ditching their well rounded liberal arts curriculum in favor of graduation pathways?
I don’t think so.
I also can’t let pass the idea that authentic parent engagement is somehow equivalent to using digital messaging tools.
21st Century Tools to Engage Parents and Guardians
Parent or guardian involvement is a foundational piece to a child’s success in school. Many Washington school districts are already using software systems specifically designed for parent or guardian access. On these tools, a parent or guardian can view their child’s grades, class schedule, attendance, missing assignments, and more. Some tools also have a built-in translator for our families whose primary language is not English. As it stands now, parents and guardians must register themselves to these tools, because they are not automatically registered with their student’s enrollment. They also must register for alerts to tell them if their child was absent, if they have a late assignment, or others. To foster more open communication between schools and families and to reduce student absenteeism, parents and guardians should be automatically registered within these software systems for automatic notifications of their child’s progress in school. This will require a substantial redesign and scalability of these tools so they are powered effectively on mobile devices and in more platforms.
We should be using 21st century tools to better connect students, parents and guardians, and schools to ensure students are attending class and are on track to meeting their individual plan.
Sorry, this is student surveillance being sold as parental engagement. Automatic registration of parents for various software systems run by the state also reeks of big brother.
$14.7 million to overhaul K-12 accounting and data systems
And, of course, OSPI is going to need a whole bunch of money to build a new data system.
Provide $14.7 million to overhaul K-12 accounting and data systems to ensure compliance with new basic education funding frameworks and local levy restrictions, state and federal accountability standards, and the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards. Funds will also be used for continued sharing of educational resources across districts, increased protection of OSPI’s student and educator data, and additional performance monitoring to better manage grant funding.
Sorry for all of the bad news.
We may not be able to stop all of the dirty dealings happening around McCleary, but we should vow never to forget them either.
On a positive note, you can support Sen Chase’s bill to fully fund education. Visit this link to learn more.