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We are excited to announce the formation of the Distinguished Educators Council!
From our press release:
Chalkboard is seeking 12-15 award-winning Oregon educators to serve on the Distinguished Educators Council. The Council’s mission will be to provide an independent platform for educator voices on reform efforts and implementation, as well as to advise Chalkboard and an array of stakeholders on initiatives not currently being addressed. Applicants should be current classroom teachers who want to participate on the Council in addition to their regular classroom responsibilities. Chosen applicants will earn a $1200 stipend for a year of service on the Council.
The Distinguished Educators Council will have professionally facilitated meetings and access to research on a range of topics related to strengthening the teaching profession including, educator evaluations, continuous growth and career paths, assessing effectiveness, principal leadership, and recognizing and rewarding great teaching. (more…)
It’s the middle of summer (OK, not quite the middle, but it feels that way) and I feel tired, a bit cranky, and frankly, lacking inspiration. Witnessing the never-ending and farcical tragi-comedy being performed in DC, I feel more than ever that we are a nation—and state—of silos.
Many of us hide in our narrow ideological bunkers, and peek out only long enough to lob disdain on our neighbor in their own tidy little world. “You said this, so you must be anti-teacher”; “Oh, you said that, so you’re one of those who want to stick with the status quo”; “You’re rich and want to support schools? You must be trying to corporatize and do away with public schools”; “You’re a parent advocate? Well, you’re just being a pain in my butt”; “Raise taxes in this economy—are you kidding?”
I have spent a little more than a year sharing on this blog what I think and believe in. Hopefully I’ve challenged some of you and made you think—it certainly has caused me to think more deeply. Now, I want a thought experiment from you, those reading this blog. What do you believe in? What do you want to talk about? What inspires you? What are you passionate about? Frankly, I don’t want to hear what you’re against, I want to hear what you want and what you’re for. What do you want for your kids, and for all of our kids? What gets you excited and keeps you up at night?
Tell me. Respond. Help me as I struggle not to stay cozy in my own silo.
Chalkboard was busy last week getting ready and co-hosting (with Social Venture Partners Portland) an inspiring evening with the author of Do More Than Give, Leslie Crutchfield. Over 150 foundation leaders, philanthropists, community organizers, teachers, and trustees gathered at Friends of the Children in Northeast Portland to hear the esteemed nonprofit strategist and author speak about re-conceptualizing philanthropy and discuss how donors can address world issues by going beyond just donating money. It’s a call to action. Leslie’s book highlights donors who have already committed to catalyzing real change in the world.
As Leslie walked among the seated guests, she informed the crowd that philanthropy is growing and changing. It is not just the top 1% of the country giving to charities. In fact, the average household now gives $1,400 a year. Today, over $300 billion is donated annually to nonprofits, while private foundations have nearly doubled and community foundations nearly tripled in the last two decades. Whatever the good intentions, this still begs the question: Is giving money to a cause simply enough? Well, no.
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.
With much of the education and political news grim, with gridlock and pettiness the norm—how are we to move forward? How do we move past the wringing of hands and gain or re-gain our belief that we can do this? (“This” is doing every damned thing we can to prepare our kids for what lays next in their lives—and through them, our own lives.) I have two suggestions.
First, we must be bold and move forward with new ideas that place our kids’ interests at the very heart of our processes and systems. Business as usual must go, gridlocked politicians and political processes must be chiseled apart and forced in to the bright sunlight (please, give us some bright sunlight!). We must find a balance between our need for local control, and the clear and convincing reality that the larger system is broken.
How do we solve a school funding crisis when the decisions of how the state doles out our money has little to do with the actuality of what is happening locally in the schools? When cutting school days from our pathetically short school year does not change the amount of funding our districts receive? When local school boards can negotiate contracts that push off to another generation the very difficult conversations that the adults need to have in order to ensure our kids’ success? When our various systems, well intended to help our most vulnerable, are often uncommunicative and dysfunctional silos?
Where are the candidates? In Multnomah County in the upcoming May election there are 25 school board positions up for election. As of less than one week before filing deadline, in 15 of those races there are either zero or one candidates for the open seat! Now, not ever having been a school board member, my impression is that this is one of the most difficult and often thankless jobs out there. Everyone cares about education and many people think they know why things aren’t as good as we as our community would hope them to be. That said, school board members are exceptionally important decision-makers and leaders for our kids, schools, and communities.
Not only is the position hard, but elections are expensive – so we should be happy to have one candidate and then not have to endure a heated and costly election, right? I know some of the folks running for the open seats. I can’t imagine they’ll be too happy to have me encourage competition, but we need the dialog. Our schools are underfunded and are facing difficult and momentous decisions that directly affect our kids and communities. We need to have meaningful discourse about our schools, who will lead them, and how we will focus our resources to be most effective.
There are no open school board seats in my zone, so I can safely write this from the sidelines.
- Should we, as a community, have a discussion about the job of school board? Should we change these positions to be a paid job, much like a city council person, rather than a volunteer?
- Socio-economically, how would anyone ever be able to consider being on the school board if they have one or more jobs or an employer who won’t give them the flexibility to volunteer for another full time job?
- When we talk about equity in our schools, it seems fundamentally flawed to have a leadership system that for all intents and purposes excludes so many of the people who care so deeply about our schools.
After convening in January to swear in new members and establish committees, the Oregon Legislative Assembly has been in recess until this week. The Legislature reconvened on February 1st to begin regular legislative business. There are a number of important education-related bills this session to keep your eye on, including two from Chalkboard and I wanted to provide an over of important information about the session as well as highlights from a selection of the education-related bills.
There are quite a few new faces in the Legislature this session and, accordingly, the Senate and House Education Committees look a bit different than in previous sessions. Committee membership is as follows:
Senate Education Committee:
Mark Hass, Chair
Frank Morse, Vice-Chair
House Education Committee:
Sara Gelser, Co-Chair
Matt Wingard, Co-Chair
Jason Conger, Co-Vice Chair
Lew Frederick, Co-Vice Chair
John E Huffman
Senate Bill 252
Establishes a “School District Collaboration Grant Program” to provide funding for school districts to locally redesign and implement programs and policies that integrate new:
- Career paths
- Professional development strategies
- Evaluation processes
- Teacher designed compensation systems
This legislation builds on the promising work being done by educators in the CLASS Project. Funding for the grant would come from a portion of dollars currently allocated to Education Service Districts (ESDs). ESDs currently receive 4.75% of the State School Fund. This bill calls for the .75% to be put in the fund to support investments in effective teaching. Read More
Senate Bill 290
Directs State Board of Education to work with stakeholders to develop statewide performance standards to determine effectiveness of teachers and administrators. This bill calls on the State Board of Education to work with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to adopt statewide performance standards to assist school districts in determining the effectiveness of teachers and administrators. The bill requires the performance standards to: take into consideration multiple measures of student, school and district performance; be research-based; and be separately developed for teachers and administrators. Read More.
O, Public School, how I loved thee much more,
Before my first-born in his youthful sap trotted through thine kindergarten door.
Ten autumns, Public School, of promise and betrayal,
This year a teacher of genius, the next one beyond the pale,
Of budgets fickle as mercury and policies that bind
Teachers to scripts and standards that numb minds.
You hath dwelt, Public Ed, on No Child Left Behind, but what of Ahead,
When teaching to the test earns a sweet ransom from the feds?
Estimable Science, chide with me the teachers in elementary
Who claimed you little more than the egg drop test in grades five, four and three.
And Apollo cheer the maestro who conducts music class before school day’s dawn,
And fundraises for festivals and instruments the summer long.
Hate be too strong a word for the teacher who cost me dear in Styrofoam and twine,
When he bade my son build a scale model of the solar system, though it be five miles by nine,
Likewise, Love says too much for she who called the Teacher Certification Committee to task,
so an uncertified college professor couldst teach foreign language class,
But this civil war of gratitude and despair you inspire in me, Public Ed,
Results when our youth line the rafters in classes too big,
And when some insult as elitist those who ask for more challenge,
And when we’re told, “Home school” to get students’ needs met.
A lifetime of asking for money in the space of short years–Local Options, candy sales,
meat sticks, fun runs, cookie dough, galas, auctions, car washes, ad sales, golf tourneys,
jump-ropes, bingo–more coming, me fears.
Public Education, my progeny are your products, like it or naught,
Pray, find you world enough and treasure until they graduate.
By Merry Ann Moore, with apologies to Wm. Shakespeare
Originally published in the Oregonian, as “How about some straight talk about fiscal crisis?”
This past election I received 146 political mailings. They contained hundreds of promises, including vows to support businesses and seniors, improve healthcare and education, and reduce taxes and regulations. Beautiful promises all. But not one of the promises was to cut public programs or raise taxes. Troubling, since state and national fiscal crises suggest we must do both.
My economics students understand this. This fall we watched “I.O.U.S.A.,” which revealed that federal debt swelled to $12.7 trillion in 2009. Bad news, considering we have not budgeted for the additional $46 trillion Social Security and Medicare will cost over the coming decades.
My government students understand as well. A state senator visited with us recently and said Oregon must cut over $3 billion from a $15 billion budget over the next two years, about 20%.
Our national leaders understand, too, but sadly, they’re unwilling to admit it. This month our president and Congress turned their backs on the recommendations of the deficit reduction commission, then declared victory as they extended expiring tax cuts and heaped another $850 billion onto our mountain of national debt.
Why won’t they confront reality? Is it because we aren’t willing to? Consider Oregon. About 93% of our discretionary budget is spent on education, human services and public safety, so cutting 20% means cutting vital services. And in education, where about 85% of spending goes to wages and benefits, that means cutting people. But public servants are quick to react against this, understandably so. (more…)
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
- Langston Hughes
The Senate has defeated the “Dream Act” (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act). This legislation offers a path to citizenship for children who arrived in the United States illegally as minors (under 15 years old). One of those paths is through completing a college degree. A bipartisan team of senators has sponsored this legislation since 2001; the most recent iteration tried to address the concerns of tuition costs and the possible domino effect of citizen sponsorship. In fact, despite the cries from opponents, if you read the actual parameters of the bill, you may be surprised to learn how really difficult it would be – even with the legislation – to become a citizen.
While both sides in the dispute over passage used social justice language and/or financial issues to justify their votes, I would like to add another argument in favor of the bill: developing our infrastructure. We don’t always think of education as an infrastructure issue. We cannot see the physical results like we see a bridge or a highway or repair of a school building. People are not outside schools in their orange vests or hard hats reminding us of “our tax dollars at work.” Yet teachers and other educators work to create and build skills and knowledge that are necessary for people to function successfully in our complex and interdependent system. To deny access to that system seems equally as near-sighted as not repairing bridges or letting school roofs leak. (more…)