Thursday, January 18, 2007

High School Redesign & Luna's Budget

High School Redesign

On Tuesday the House Education Committee (of which I am a member), voted to approve new rules increasing the math and science requirements for high school students. Initially, I was skeptical about the requirements as I was unsure if they were in the best interest of our students. As I listened, I concluded that the changes made from last year were significant and put at ease most of my concerns.

Specifically, Dwight Johnson (Board of Education Director), made it clear that a cross disciplinary approach was integral to the new standards. As a major proponent of financial education, I was happy to hear that this course might be one of many that could be included as a math course. Also, I was happy to hear that these alternative math courses (my language not his) would reflect the needs of students, including non-college bound students. My remaining concern, requiring all students to take a math course their final year, was trumped by all the other benefits that I saw in this rule change.

Luna's Budget
Today I heard Tom Luna's budget proposal. As a caveat, I haven't had a chance to go through and analyze it, so this is only my initial take. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised about what I heard. Some highlights include:
  • Dual enrollment for high school students (sorta like Running Start)
  • Salary floor raised for teachers ($31,000)
  • Classroom supply stipend ($350)

The dual enrollment proposal is something I have been talking up for a while. Running Start, as it is referred to in Washington, is the perfect model of the dual enrollment concept. By taking students out of high school classroom (for at least part of the day) and into the college setting we are both saving money and better educating our students. It's a real win-win (provided the Legislature steps up and takes care of the community college issue).

Increased teacher pay is (almost) always a good thing and so of course I am happy to see it (not to mention the fact that my family will be a direct beneficiary of it). The only downside is that teacher in smaller school districts will most likely have to go even longer now without a raise. The stipend will also be helpful as teacher are routinely required to use their own money to buy supplies. Would you ask someone that works in an office to buy their own calculator or paper clips?

There were other items presented (more money for textbooks, increased discretionary spending, more money for technology, etc.), but these three were the ones that really stood out for me. I'll keep the blog posted as I learn more and as always, your comments are welcome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Running Start is an EXCELLENT program! I took advantage of it myself when I was in HS in Washington. Not many high school students can say they also have an associate's degree- I got mine the same weekend as my HS diploma. It was definitely work, but I have never regretted it for a moment. I wish we had a similar program here in Idaho!