Thursday, January 31, 2013

Who’s behind the reform agenda?

Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush
(photo courtesy
Over the last several years, House Democrats have championed legislation to reform our public schools. The status quo wasn't working and changes were necessary.
Two of the biggest reforms were passed a few years ago- HB 2776 and HB 2261. These measures redefined "basic education" and provided a road map for fully funding basic education by the year 2018. Full compliance with these two measures will get us back on the right track with keeping our promise to fully fund our public schools- an opinion reaffirmed by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary decision.
We also haven't been shy to enact additional reforms to other parts of public education when problems emerged that needed fixing. We enacted a new Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program that will ensure a great teacher is in front of every student in every school. We adopted Common Core Standards that will ensure our students are learning what they need to know so they can be successful in life after high school.
But despite adopting these sweeping reforms, some lawmakers are looking to take our public schools in another direction.
An article from the Washington Post today may shine a little more light on that new direction and where those directives are coming from.

Here's an excerpt from the article:
A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.
A call to the foundation has not been returned.
The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush's agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can't read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores.[...]
Washington state is not referenced in the Washington Post piece, although bills have been introduced in our Legislature that would hold back third-graders, make changes to our newly-reformed teacher/principal evaluation program, and give schools an A-F grade.

Read this story in Spanish.