In Oregon, we know a lot about lumber. A tree’s core is where it grows from and gets it strength. On a similar track, the core K–12 subjects of English Language Arts and math are essential for students to learn if they are going to be ready for college and/or careers.
That’s why we are proud Oregon decided, on its own, to adopt the Common Core State Standards. These math and English Language Arts standards are statements of the knowledge and skills that students need to master in order to be prepared for college and/or the workforce.
Our neighbors in California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada also have adopted the Common Core State Standards, as has almost every state. They were created through a voluntary, collective effort by states because the people closest to our communities and schools know what’s needed. In fact, teachers and administrators in our state, including principals and superintendents, are deciding how the standards are to be taught and will establish the curriculum. (more…)
Dear Room 14 Families,
I want to take a moment and share some of my thoughts about the recent strike vote. I know it is a cause of concern for all involved and it’s important to have an open dialogue during stressful times like these.
I must start by saying that this is a terrible situation that we, the powers that be in this district, have put ourselves in. The thought of going on strike makes my stomach churn with anxiety and I hope it is something that never happens. I do not want to go on strike. I love my job and want to keep doing the work that I see as so very important. That being said, I believe in and support the action we teachers took last Wednesday.
My dad recently retired from the trades after working as an electrician for the last 40 years. He was part of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and so I grew up valuing unions. As I’ve gotten older and become a part of a union, I’ve begun to see how important unions are for creating a fair work environment. There is often a disconnect between the mangers and the workers. Workers have a perspective of the job that is unique because they are out there doing the work. Without unions, workers do not have the power of a unified voice regarding decisions made that directly impact them. This voice is critical to creating a cohesive and successful work environment. Because of this, I believe that unions are of great importance. I must make it clear that, although I believe they are important, unions are not flawless entities. As a union member, I do not agree with all of the outstanding issues on the table, but as a union member I understand that if we are not all in, then we lose our power and our voice. (more…)
It’s been less then six months since Governor John Kitzhaber signed into law House Bill 3233 establishing the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning. Like the spring bulbs in my garden that have suddenly sprouted, there are promising signs all over the state that are foreshadowing the potential that such a Network can fulfill once it fully blossoms.
However, it’s easy to lose sight of the intended vision that guided funding for the Network. So here’s an overview of what a comprehensive system of support for educators looks like with examples of how many of the Strategic Investments being launched by the Oregon Department of Education connect to the Network.
The logic around developing a statewide Network is simple:
- Invest in educators collaborating on the same educational targets.
- Collaboration and sharing among educators then spreads effective practices.
- Increased adoption and skill in using proven practices then improves student outcomes.
Too often there is a belief that strong teacher preparation and a few workshops for teachers once they are employed will do the trick. Instead, HB 3233 identified investments for each stage of a typical teacher’s career.
After months of review, Washington state just approved its first public charter schools!
Washington’s public charter schools were chosen carefully to provide more high-quality options for our most at-risk students, especially children of color and students from low-income families.
A high bar was set: of the 22 charter school proposals that were submitted, 8 were approved.
Here’s the list of public charter schools that were approved. Scroll down for the map.
Washington’s First Public Charter Schools:
1) Excel Public Charter School, grades 6-12*
Opening in Kent, Fall 2015
2) First Place Scholars Charter School, k-5*
Opening in Seattle, Fall 2014
3) Green Dot Charter Middle School, grades 6-8*
Opening in Tacoma, Fall 2015
4) PRIDE Prep, grades 6-12*
Opening in Spokane, Fall 2015
6) SOAR Academy, K-8*
Opening in Tacoma, Fall 2015
7) Summit Public Schools – Olympus, grades 9-12*
Opening in Tacoma, Fall 2015
8) Summit Public Schools – Sierra, grades 9-12*
Opening in Seattle, Fall 2015
*Grades the school will serve at full expansion
I recently read The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley, a Time magazine journalist. Ripley followed three American high school exchange students in Finland, South Korea and Poland for one year. As Ripley tells their stories, she directly and indirectly suggests ways to strengthen education in the U.S. based on the education systems in the other countries.
Here is my best attempt at summarizing her recommendations. And yes, these are brief snap shots; the book offers far more lengthy explanations. Like most educators, I have questions about these ideas, but all are worthy of discussion. Whether they can, should or will be implemented is open to debate, so let the conversation begin.
1) Use a single set of clear, targeted standards. Will Common Core serve this purpose for the U.S.?
2) Conduct fewer standardized assessments, and make them matter. The adoption of Common Core standards and Smarter Balanced assessments, along with more stringent graduation requirements, may be leading us in this direction. At least the “make them matter” part. (more…)
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has just written about the frustration of teachers who accurately grade their students, but then get severely criticized if they dare to hand out “Ds” or “Fs.”
We believe report cards are important, not just for students, but also for assessing how our state, districts and schools are performing on education measurements.
Sometimes the results can be tough to stomach. Oregon recently received a “D” from StudentsFirst, a national education advocacy group. They said: “Oregon can improve many of its educational policies to make its public school system more student-centered. Specifically, the state can do more to prioritize teacher effectiveness in decision-making and empower parents with information and quality choices.” You can read the full StudentsFirst report card here.
Ten years ago, Chalkboard Project developed an online tool for learning more about Oregon school districts, the Open Books Project. With support from the Oregon Community Foundation and in partnership with the Oregon Department of Education, we will re-launch Open Books tomorrow as the online portal for Oregon’s redesigned school and district report cards (www.openbooksproject.org). (more…)
Krista Parent is in her 13th year as superintendent for South Lane School District. She has been an educator in South Lane for the past 29 years serving as a teacher, coach and school administrator. In addition, she is currently leading research on the role Chalkboard could play to support the development of strong school leaders.
In just a few days, the Distinguished Leaders Council (DLC) will meet for the first time at the Chalkboard headquarters. This group of exceptional leaders will begin discussions regarding “the state of educational leadership” and attempt to identify key strategies for ensuring great leadership in every school across Oregon. The 16 members of the Council were selected because of their unique experiences, successful leadership, and their reputations for “out-of-the-box” thinking.
The Council plans to meet at least three full days (weekends) between January and April, when they are scheduled to report their recommendations to the Chalkboard Board. It is premature to speculate on what their recommendations might include, but with the lineup of leaders on the Council, you can bet there will be something worth taking note.
If we really mean business about educating ALL students to high levels, we must have bold, exceptional leaders stepping forward to help set the direction and path to reach this goal. The members of the DLC will set this work in motion. (more…)
After over six years with the Chalkboard Project, I’ll be leaving my office and signing out of my email for the last time. It has been an honor to work for this organization and towards the mission of strengthening education in Oregon. I am so grateful for the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to work with and for during my time here.
As I’ve reflected on my work at Chalkboard, there have been a number of lessons learned and insights that have come up for me. I want to share a few with all of you in acrostic form—just to keep it interesting.
- It takes courage to take action knowing full well that people might not agree with you and they might be loud about it. I used to think I needed tougher skin so that I wouldn’t worry about what others thought, but now I believe that courage is standing up for what you believe in, feeling the pushback, and continuing to move forward regardless.
This past week we were all reminded that it has been 50 years since LBJ declared the war on poverty. He famously said, “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it.” With 22% of Oregon kids in poverty, one of the shortest school years in the country, and some of the largest class sizes, it’s not surprising that in another announcement this week, Oregon ranked 40th in a recent study reported by The Oregonian. “Oregon’s low-income students have been left far behind.”
Our neighbor, Washington, scored 9th with the most glaring difference being “the high share of Washington adults who are highly educated and earn good incomes, giving them a leg up as parents.” In my career as a classroom teacher, I’ve taught at two schools where the poverty rate was higher than 90%. The school where I teach now has about 40% poverty rate. I’ve seen the symptoms of poverty in our children, and the cure is far off.
The symptoms of poverty in the classroom are subtle and often I don’t know that a child lives in poverty. I don’t see their living conditions; I just see them as 10 year olds. This is one of the advantages of public school: the mixing of kids, the excitement of possibility, and the opportunity to escape the grips of a challenging home life. As teachers, we often assume that kids have homes where their school endeavors are supported, that they have quality nutrition, enough sleep and basic life experiences. Poverty gets in the way of just about all of these opportunities and it profoundly affects kids’ performance in the classroom. (more…)
I recently read a new book, G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement, written by Kathryn Asbury and Robert Plomin, a couple of British behavioral geneticists. It left a strong impression.
Though the title may be somewhat prosaic, G is for Genes might be one of the most important books about education written in the last 50 years. It has far reaching policy implications and calls for some thoughtful reflection concerning our current education reform efforts.
The term “personalization” has been around in education circles for a while, but here gets brought to center stage with new clarity and an unparalleled sense of importance. The authors argue compellingly for an education approach aimed at helping all children reach full potential. They argue for both a more humane and effective approach focused on the specific needs of each individual. (more…)