Kylie Grunow

Kylie Grunow

Chalkboard Project Project Director

Kylie Grunow is Project Director for the Chalkboard Project and mom to three beautiful girls, ages 6, 4 and 3. Kylie was born and raised in Southern Oregon and earned her bachelor’s degree in both political science and history from the University of Portland. Joining Chalkboard in 2008, Kylie brought with her experience in political consulting, strategic planning, and program management gained over the last decade in her professional life and the past six years as a parent. Improving the lives of children is near and dear to Kylie’s heart and she is thankful to work for an organization with same mission.

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…)

In a blog post a few weeks ago, Liz Hummer wondered if the world uses too much edu-speak, too much jargon. She pointed out that jargon can remove us from what we are really talking about and it can turn people off from becoming part of the conversation.

She was right. Now, more than ever, Oregonians need to be joining the conversation about how we can improve our public education system, not shying away because they don’t have the facts, they can’t fathom the figures, or they aren’t familiar with the terminology.

In fact, many Oregonians aren’t familiar with the jargon of public education and who can blame them? Too many of us think we don’t have the time or the resources to really understand what a state public education budget of $5.7 billion means for our school district, or what a graduation rate of 66% means for the local economy. Even for data junkies, it can be overwhelming to try and find meaningful information. That’s why Chalkboard created the Open Books Project.

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As the 2010-2011 school year begins in earnest, parents and students have probably noticed a few things. Students probably have larger classes or maybe fewer class offerings. Parents are noticing the shortened school year and feeling the more urgent need for volunteers. Most likely they’ve had to dig a little deeper to pay activity fees for school sports or to take that field trip to the beach.

A quick search of the Oregon Live website found over 147 items posted on our schools and the budget cuts in the last two weeks – over 21 postings a day. But the fact is that most Oregonians don’t know much about their district’s budget or where the dollars go, which makes it difficult to know what it really means for the school down the street when reading an article about cuts to a K-12 budget of over $5 billion.

The Open Books Project, an easy-to-use website with information on state and district-level finances, student achievement, and student and teacher demographics, is designed to help Oregonians learn more about the budgets, graduation rates, and student-teacher ratios in their school district and districts across the state.

Last week, Open Books added a section that offers a deeper look at five Oregon school districts, how they’ve been affected by budget cuts and what they are doing to hold their students as harmless as possible in the coming year. Beaverton, Eugene, Salem, Sherwood, and Springfield school districts answered the following questions:

  1. Are you cutting any full-time employees (FTEs)? If so, how many?
  2. What is your average class size for the coming year and how does that compare to the last school year or your historical average?
  3. Has collective bargaining been affected for 2010-11 school year?
  4. Are you using any type of reserve in your 2010-11 budget?
  5. What measures has the district taken to meet the needs of the students? Tell us your story in a few sentences.

Visit www.openbooksproject.org to find out more and encourage your district to share their story with us.