Opinion

Everything Bremerton: Continuing my education

Last Saturday I had the very distinct pleasure of joining a rather large group of fellow education advocates from all over the state. We spent a full day on legislation and education-based training hosted by the League of Education Voters, a Washington state-based citizen founded and citizen funded organization.

The topics discussed and covered everything from a new framework for education funding, universal Pre-K, public charter schools and the status of a new principle/teacher evaluation pilot program and the NEWS lawsuit.

LEV invited me to do a 20 minute presentation on advocacy and social media, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to do again.

In the afternoon, a round table “speed dating” style of presentation was hosted on Schools That Work. Bremerton was well represented as three staff members from the Bremerton School District contributed their own time to do four, 15 minute presentations on the West Hills Elementary STEM program, of which my own son, Nick, is a 5th grade participant.

State budget shortfalls, a recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling on our state’s paramount duty and the overall un-sustainability of the current educational funding, staffing and operational paradigm, all assisted in the creation of an environment that is ripe for critical and implementable reform.

As our Legislature enters the 2012 session, key decisions and legislation on education issues will be history changing if successful. The current tightly controlled and strangled, labor excessive, union preservationist way of conducting the public’s business of education will be considerably diminished.

Principals and teachers will face a more frequent and effective system of evaluation where the data collected will actually be used and implemented in future career choices and staffing decisions.

The movement to push for public charter schools in the state of Washington has gained some new and prominent support from organizations like the Washington State PTA. Competition is needed. One special interest group should not continue to control and profit from a vast majority of the public education resources in this state.

The way in which schools are funded and the excessive burden of the levy upon the average citizen will be the primary focus of more than one piece of legislation being considered and or submitted in the next 60 days.

Simplification and clarification is desperately needed, when it comes to education funding because the existing complex and convoluted system breeds a constant stream of work around operational decisions that include Band-Aids, budgetary line item manipulations, staffing patchwork shortcuts and reactionary reporting redundancy at its best. This creates systematic failures on a variety of levels for enrolled students and the supporting community.

The best hope, in a long time, for a new and improved Washington state education system is right now.

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