Sunny Petit is the Associate Director for the Center for Women, Politics, and Policy which promotes the education and empowerment of women and girls through civic leadership programs and research. Prior to joining the Center, she was Regional Director for a counter-human trafficking organization in South Asia and ran programs in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. She lives in North Portland with her husband and two children.
Remember the posters of US Presidents on your wall in your middle school? It’s the literal evolution of executive leadership in our nation on display. In each photo, you saw the changing social fabric of our country, you saw military leaders and governors and great orators, but there was always something missing. I didn’t see any women on those posters, and thus, I didn’t see myself. While I loved hearing about women like Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks, the role models offered for girls were minimal- segments on women’s history often felt like a footnote. I managed to make it through a complete K-12 education in Oregon, never knowing the name of Oregon’s first female Supreme Court Justice Betty Roberts, let alone the names of the Oregon suffragists who made that historic event possible.
A few years ago as the Center for Women, Politics & Policy at PSU started planning around the centennial for Oregon Women’s Suffrage in 2012, we discussed what other women’s stories were out there to discover and share. Over the past year, I’ve worked together with Gayle Thieman, an expert curriculum designer and Past President of the National Council for Social Studies, to develop a grade 6-12 curriculum that brings to life the stories and achievements of Oregon’s women pioneers who have shaped our state for generations. (more…)
In my last blog, I explained why international comparisons of student achievement like the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) provide an inadequate basis for justifying education reform. At the end of that blog, I suggested that there are other data sources that challenge us to think about a range of changes to public education. I now offer three data-driven rationales for reform.
The three data sets justifying serious consideration of education reform are these: (1) cohort dropout rates, (2) changes in workforce requirements, and (3) dramatic recent changes in the scope and content of the human knowledge base. Let’s consider each of these in order.
The cohort dropout rate describes the percent of students of each high school class who graduate on schedule at the end of the senior year, regardless of when a student leaves school. This statistic has drawn recent interest, as a result of the current ESEA regulations that require states to report cohort dropout rates at the state and school district levels.
The results are of concern, though they have been long recognized by educators. In Oregon, the state cohort dropout rate is about 34 percent, with a range of district rates from 14 percent to 66 percent (for districts with a least 100 students in the cohort). On a national level, the rate is estimated at around 30 percent, though we should be cautious in believing that this statistic is accurate. The national data set is compiled from state data and it is unlikely that reporting standards are identical in every state (though federal regulations should theoretically ensure consistency).
Considered independently, the cohort dropout rate is distressingly high. (more…)
A few weeks ago when a small group of CLASS leaders had the opportunity to meet with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan they took the time to be candid with him about CLASS Project as well as the challenges and opportunities of the federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant. See more photos on our Facebook page.
- Terrell Smith, Sherwood School District, speaking to Secretary Duncan.
Chalkboard has been working with districts through the CLASS Project for over four years, but the Teacher Incentive Fund grant is relatively new to Oregon. We helped seven Oregon districts apply for the TIF funds in 2010 as a way to fund their CLASS Project work. With its focus on a comprehensive system for supporting effective educators through expanded career paths, relevant professional development, effective performance evaluations and new compensation models CLASS was a good fit to receive TIF funding. We were pleased to receive $24.4 million for five years of planning and implementation.
Although CLASS is the foundation of TIF in the seven districts that received federal funds, the federal grant has its own specific requirements and timelines. Here’s a quick chart that describes some of those differences: (more…)
Mandy Zatynski writes for Education Sector’s blog, The Quick and the Ed.
Education Sector is an independent think tank that challenges conventional thinking in education policy. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to achieving measurable impact in education policy, both by improving existing reform initiatives and by developing new, innovative solutions to our nation’s most pressing education problems.
There’s a lot of talking that goes on here in Washington. Policymakers, state leaders, nonprofits, and think tanks (like us) all have an opinion about education, its current state, and how to make it better. But there’s often an essential voice missing from this conversation, the point-of-view from the front of the class, next to the students, in front of textbooks, and inside the person that matters most: teachers.
As a former ESL educator, this baffles me. I am surprised by the amount of conversation and decision-making that takes place regarding the role of a teacher without a single, working educator present or weighing in at any point of the process.
Washingtonians can talk about the realities that a teacher faces daily, but an educator knows them, lives them, battles them every day. Washingtonians can break down budget cuts and how they will increase class size; but a teacher can show us what the cuts look like, from students two-teaming a single desk to cramped, overheated spaces that lead to uncomfortable, disruptive students.
In Washington, we like to talk about reform. We need to better train our teachers. We need to better assess our teachers. We need to better track our teachers from graduate programs to first jobs.
How about: We need to better listen to our teachers?
Because the fact is, we cannot talk about improving training for our teachers without first asking current educators how they could have been better prepared for Day One. And we shouldn’t talk about budget cuts or make assumptions on the effect of larger class sizes without consulting the folks who are actually affected.
We talk about teachers like they’re the big elephant in the room, and they’re not. There’s 7.2 million of them, in fact. They’re in metropolitan cities and country towns; affluent areas and poverty-stricken neighborhoods; from the snow skis of the Appalachian Mountains to the surf boards of the Pacific coast. And with today’s technological wonders – from live webcasts to video conferences, from Twitter feeds to blog posts – there’s absolutely no reason why teachers shouldn’t be included in the conversation.
That’s why my organization, Education Sector, has launched a Facebook group for just that. Called Teacher Sector, this page is for educators only. Here, you can weigh in on one of our poll questions or respond to the day’s top news in the education world. Or maybe we’re missing the big issue altogether, so post your own thoughts. Tell us how those new teacher evaluations are going. Are they fair? Are they useful? Or just come and network with other teachers. We designed this space to get a pulse, if you will, on the teaching industry; to make sure our work is improving your work; and to collect feedback along the way. The bottom line is: Your voice is missing, and it’s desperately needed.
As we’re just beginning our outreach efforts with Teacher Sector, we’ve added a limited time incentive for participants: like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/TeacherSector, and answer a quick poll question to enter a drawing for a year’s worth of school supplies ($450, to be exact). Only the first 500 teachers to do so will be included in the drawing, so hurry!
I feel angry, conflicted and frustrated. I know schools took huge cuts (but was this really cuts to growth, but still more than last year?). I know class sizes had to be bigger (but was this really that unions would not budge?). I know specialties have been cut (but was this really staff inflexibility?). I know teachers are underpaid (but was this a balancing effort due to big benefits?).
All the things “I know” because my school district and the media tell me, yet I cannot make the facts fit with the numbers I saw at the legislature. The cuts to school budgets were not huge – the lack of increase was the key. So why so much change? No more library or computers at my son’s school. No more music options at my daughter’s school. Both have classrooms too big for even the best teachers. If we are just working with the dollars of last year, why are these schools so different?
Meeting agreed upon salary and benefit increases seem the answer to me – can any of you show where I am wrong?