Vision for OSPI

What are your priorities ?

A:

My top 4 priorities:

  1. Advocate for full-funding of public education and provide guidance to the Legislature about funding priorities.
  2. Develop an assessment process that is not a burden to the system (unlike SBA) and focuses on providing information to help teachers, families, school buildings, and school districts improve our service to ALL children.
  3. Support schools and systems to close opportunity gaps.
  4. Promote innovative/alternative school models to meet the varied needs of the students we serve (examples: School of the Arts, Science and Math Institute, Montessori, Big Picture Schools, Technology Access Foundation).

What are your funding priorities?

A:

-$10-$15 billion, if fully-funded

-Levies: we cannot force school districts to rely on local levies to pay for teacher salaries and basic education expenses. This bakes inequity into the system - those districts that are property-rich will always be able to pass levies; those that are property-poor or bedroom communities will always struggle.

-Cost-of-living increases: many educators have gone for years without a cost-of-living increase. How can we expect to hold onto existing teachers when we are not compensating them to match inflation? Especially with the teacher shortage, this is a must!

-Small class-sizes: to make this a reality, the state must provide money for capital projects to build the additional classrooms required, as well as provide incentives to attract the many new teachers needed to fill additional classrooms.

-All-day kindergarten: if we want to close gaps for children, we have the greatest opportunity at the beginning of their K-12 experience. We must invest where our dollars will have the greatest impact. 

-Pay for at least two state training days: not all districts have the resources necessary to pay staff for professional development, and yet professional development and time for collaboration are critical if we want to improve instruction and support for students.

-For the future: block grants for districts to leverage to provide unique support for the non-academic needs of students (training in trauma-informed practice, mentoring, PBIS, restorative justice) AND free, quality early childhood, beginning with our most vulnerable populations (low-income students and recent immigrants must be our first priority) AND infrastructure to meet the tech needs of our rural/remote schools.

What are your funding ideas?

A:

-Create a more progressive tax system (since we're the most regressive in the nation, with the greatest burden on the backs of the poorest citizens)

- Consider capital gains tax

-Close tax loopholes for the largest corporations 

 

How will you work to close opportunity gaps?

A:

There are four things we must do differently in public education:

  • STAFF: WE must be more intentional about recruiting more diverse educators, and placing those individuals who are most effective and experienced with our most vulnerable student population (students of color, ELL, SPED). Staff must be supported with the necessary resources and professional development to best serve these populations. Staff must be compensated appropriately to ensure retention
  • FAMILY/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: We must do a better job of seeing family and community as equal partners in the education of children. Educators alone cannot meet the many and varied needs of students.
  • STUDENT SUPPORT: We must ensure the academic, social-emotional, physical, and cultural needs of all students are being met. Students whose needs are not met or who do not feel connected into the school community do not learn well.
  • TRANSITION: We must do a better job of aligning systems from preschool to post-secondary. We are losing too many students of color, ELL, SPED, and foster children in the transition point from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, and high school to adulthood. We must create a smooth pathway for students and families to understand how to navigate the complex system of public education.

Explain your vision for creating clear pathways..

A:

(related to TRANSITIONS above):

I would like to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to develop on-line documents and videos in multiple languages to help families understand the following:

  • How to prepare students for each transition - from early childhood to elementary, from elementary to middle, from middle to high school, from high school to post-secondary.
  • What standards/learning targets are for students at each grade level, why students should meet those targets or when adaptations should be made.
  • How to get additional support for a child who has special needs either physically or mentally.
  • What resources are available in each region to support the academic, physical, social-emotional and cultural needs of students.
  • The wide variety of professions that are available, so students are able to begin to envision the many opportunities that are available beyond high school.
  • The many different kinds of post-high school opportunities available to students - 2/4-year and technical colleges, internships, apprenticeships, military - why students should select a particular path and what students need to do to qualify for each opportunity.

What are your goals for the first 100 Days on the Job at OSPI ?

A:

-Meet every employee  

-Do an assessment of all departments to determine practices and procedures that are effective and those that can be eliminated - cut back on the red tape that plagues educators and school districts from getting work done.

-Convene a working group of individuals from each region - students, classified and certificated staff, superintendents (from large and small districts on both sides of the mountains, north and south), representatives from higher education (2-yr, 4-year, technical colleges, military), parents and community leaders to discuss the state-of-the-state to begin the strategic planning process.

-Visit at least 7 schools in 7 different districts (at least one every other week).

 

What do you think about Common Core?

A:

Common Core is often confused for being curriculum, instructional practice and a state assessment. Common Core are merely a set of standards - here's what students should know and be able to do this year. I had the opportunity to provide input on the very first draft of the middle and high school English Language Arts standards for Common Core years ago while at OSPI. Common Core is not curriculum. I do not believe textbooks should be the foundation of instruction, although they are a resource. Curriculum is not instruction or teaching. My desire is to promote quality instruction for all students, including students who qualify for highly-capable services to students on IEPs/504 Plans to students who receive support as they learn academic English. Finally, Common Core is not the state test (the Smarter Balanced Assessment). It is my plan, as soon as I take office, to gather educators and test experts (not connected to a test company) to have honest conversations about a testing system that does not take as much time, informs our practice, and returns results in a timely fashion.