“What a time to be alive and in education!”

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 


Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn.
Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn.

Since Time Immemorial (STI) is a curriculum created to educate Washington State elementary through high school students on the history, culture, traditions and sovereignty of the Northwest coastal tribes. The school districts will meet frequently with local tribes so their students can learn first-hand about the resilient people of Native America and the unfortunate journey we have experienced since Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the new world.

In the early 2000’s, Tulalip tribal member and Washington State Senator, John McCoy wrote House Bill 1495 that encouraged Washington school districts to teach students about local tribes. Since the bill was passed less than 30% of the school districts participated in teaching the history of neighboring Native communities. In 2014, Senator McCoy presented a new bill, Senate Bill 5433. House Bill 1495 and Senate Bill 5433 were essentially the same, however, the slight alteration of verbiage changed Native American education from being encouraged to a requirement.

During the time period between the two bills, STI was created and made available for the schools that chose to participate. Since then the creators have been able to fine-tune the curriculum by trial and error of participating school districts. The end result is a free, easy accessible curriculum that includes full lesson plans, videos, reading material, and activities that will potentially put an end to stereotypes and misconceptions of Native People that many non-natives possess.

Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn, recently spoke to educators, administrators, and parents from the nearby school districts of Edmonds, Mukilteo, Monroe and Arlington at the Hibulb Cultural Center to discuss the background, and to present an in-depth view of the curriculum.

“What a time to be alive and in education!” Dr. Lynn exclaimed. “The intent of this meeting is not to shame but to give a clear understanding of the Native communities. By sharing the curriculum with our students, it is going to help them become informed citizens. As our youth step up into leadership roles they will be deeply connected with the community. As educators we aren’t teaching our students so they can leave, but so they can grow. We need to assist them as they perfect their talents and give them the tools they need to enrich our communities.”

Dr. Lynn expressed that the youth need to understand the true history of local tribes. She explained that America often tries to downplay the tragedies that occurred to Natives and make it feel like it took place a long time ago. When in reality the elders of today’s tribes were taken from their families and placed into boarding schools where they were forced to learn the white culture and lose their traditional cultural teachings.

Before STI, the story of the birth of America often leaves out the fact the U.S. Government stole its land by murdering Native Americans. That is only the beginning of the countless atrocities the government committed against the Indigenous community.  Dr. Lynn stated, “We are not fulfilling our duties if we are not being honest about the genocide, the assimilation, and the boarding schools. It is important that you know the history because you can teach a curriculum, but if you don’t understand the spirit and the intent behind it, you will tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Dr. Lynn quickly went through a lesson plan with the educators titled ‘The 600 Memorial Lesson Plan’ she said, “Since [House Bill 1495] was signed, over 87% of school districts did not participate in teaching the history of Native People. The only native history we have been teaching is in a post 1900 context. Think about it. Close your eyes and envision the image of a Native American tribal member. Because of what is portrayed in our history books, in our minds we are living with a stereotype. The image is usually in a post 1900 context and its usually of a tribal member who is not from this region. The 600 Memorial Lesson Plan addresses the stereotype issue. During this lesson, students will learn about contemporary issues that local tribal communities are facing today. It will give our students a chance to meet with and understand contemporary Native People, giving us a chance to finally dissolve those stereotypes that often lead to racism and barriers.”

The event concluded with a story, exclusively for the educators, by Master Carver/Storyteller Kenny Moses. As more schools are starting to implement the STI curriculum, the hope of a better tomorrow emerges. An opportunity for a future without harmful stereotypes and offensive mascots is presented. Coast Salish tribes will finally get to share our similar yet unique story as Native Peoples.

For more information about STI and for upcoming classes and seminars, visit www.indian-ed.org

Marysville schools will get more SROs

hristopher AnderssonMarysville School Resource Officer Chris Sutherland holds a door open for students at Marysville Getchell High School during a passing period on Oct. 1.
hristopher Andersson
Marysville School Resource Officer Chris Sutherland holds a door open for students at Marysville Getchell High School during a passing period on Oct. 1.


By Christopher Andersson, North County Outlook 


The Marysville Police Department will be able to more than double the number of officers that it assigns to local schools because of a recently received federal grant.

The federal Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services grant provided the city with $375,000 to fund three new full-time School Resource Officers (SROs).

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said that they had the idea for a “youth services unit” about three years ago that would help create “a strong presence not only in the schools, but also just where youth are hanging out after school as well,” he said.

Nehring added that the city is “trying to be proactive and prevent youth crime where we can.”

The police department currently employs two SROs and together they have responded to more than 7,600 calls ranging from assault, gang activity, theft and threats in the last five years.

“Everyone is focused on the same goal, and that’s providing a safe environment, so the more officers you have that just stay at their school, you’re going to have that presence” said current Marysville SRO Jeremy Wood.

The two current SROs in Marysville have to cover incidents across all the district’s schools, so they expect the extra three officers to help.

“It’s going to be an awesome help,” said Marysville SRO Chris Sutherland.

Currently the officers have to move between the schools frequently, he said.

“Once something happens in a middle school we have to leave our high school to go there. Usually, when we leave we’ll get a call to come back to the high school that’s like ‘hey, when are you going to be back, because we have this issue going on,'” he said.

“With only two SROs it’s going to be hard to cover all those schools and you get better coverage if you have more, but they will also be able to respond in other areas more as well,” said Nehring.

The job of the SROs involves more than just responding to incidents though.

“They’re utilized by family and students for a variety of reasons, and in most cases, because of the relationships they’re building, it’s done in a very positive and helpful manner,” said Shawn Stevenson, principal of Marysville Getchell Academy of Construction and Engineering.

The officers also help build relationships with the students and the schools, said Stevenson.

“I think all of the SROs I’ve worked with in the last eight to 10 years have done a tremendous job helping to build relationships and allowing us to build community between our schools,” he said.

Wood said that building relationships with the students helps them view police officers in a new light as well.

“From my point of view, growing up and going through public high school, I didn’t get to build a relationship with the police, so I relied on the media or maybe that traffic stop where it was more of a negative interaction. So I think it’s important to show the kids, one: you’re human, and two: you’re here to support them and not just come down on them when things aren’t going well,” he said.

Getting to know officers also helps kids realize that they can go to the police when trouble comes up.

“When youth have relationships with the police they are more likely to approach them when they need help,” said Nehring.

“They’re not just seen as someone who comes by when something’s gone wrong,” said Stevenson.

Sutherland said it help kids move past their preconceived notions as well.

“They’ll be more willing to talk to us. A lot of times, they don’t want to talk to us because of whatever their beliefs, what they were raised with, or what they see on the media. We’re allowed to show them ‘hey, don’t be afraid,'” he said.

Nehring wanted to thank the area’s federal representatives like Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, who all “really lobbied hard” for the federal funding for the city.

Mandatory Native American Curriculum in the Cards for Oregon

Oregon Department of EducationThis image was taken when the state adopted the plan to make an American Indian/Alaska Native curriculum mandatory. Pictured, from left, are Matt Eide, Education Northwest (co-facilitator); April Campbell, ODE (co-facilitator); Se-ah-dom Edmo, Oregon Indian Education Association Chair (Advisory Panel member); Robin Butterfield, Independent Contract (Advisory Panel Member); Artis Clark, Jefferson County School District (Advisory Panel Member); and Rob Saxton, ODE Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Oregon Department of Education
This image was taken when the state adopted the plan to make an American Indian/Alaska Native curriculum mandatory. Pictured, from left, are Matt Eide, Education Northwest (co-facilitator); April Campbell, ODE (co-facilitator); Se-ah-dom Edmo, Oregon Indian Education Association Chair (Advisory Panel member); Robin Butterfield, Independent Contract (Advisory Panel Member); Artis Clark, Jefferson County School District (Advisory Panel Member); and Rob Saxton, ODE Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction.


Michelle Tirado. Indian Country Today


A new American Indian/Alaska Native State Plan moves Oregon ever closer to making a Native American curriculum mandatory in all public school districts. When it happens, it will join a still way too short list of states, with neighboring Washington added to it this spring, to issue a similar directive.

The new two-year plan, developed over a nine-month period by the 26-member AI/AN Advisory Panel, which includes representatives from each of the state’s nine tribes, was adopted by Oregon’s State Board of Education in April. Under the plan, all 197 school districts will implement a “historically accurate, culturally embedded, place-based, contemporary, and developmentally appropriate AI/AN curriculum.” While ultimately it is up to Oregon’s legislature, the plan states that the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will support and assist in the development of legislative language for a mandate in the 2017 session.

Under the previous plan, issued in 2006, school districts were “encouraged to implement AI/AN curriculum and instructional materials.” While some have, the information taught is often outdated or inaccurate. Tammie Hunt, education director for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and a member of the AI/AN Advisory Panel, said about a year and half ago, she learned that schools in the Medford 549c district, where some Cow Creek students are enrolled, were teaching information from 1963 sources. In the 1960s, many of Oregon’s tribes were terminated. “They did pull the curriculum. They finished teaching it at the end of this year, from what I understand. They were supposed to do something this summer to update it,” Hunt said.

A few school districts, however, have made a good effort, albeit recent, to get it right. Hunt pointed to Salem Kaiser, which just developed an interactive curriculum that incorporates direct input from all nine tribes. In June, Hunt and representatives from other tribes spent the day in a classroom going through the curriculum as if they were the students.

Ramona Halcomb, education director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and also a member of the AI/AN Advisory Panel, said Pendleton School District has come a long way. Not only did the district approach the Umatilla for assistance in developing a curriculum for a two-week Oregon Trail program, but teachers and administrators have attended cultural events, a few even participated in a sweat with Halcomb, and new teachers have orientation at the tribal museum.

“Ever since the boarding school heritage, developing trust and developing that time to connect with communities is what’s important and what’s so needed—and Pendleton does that extremely well,” Halcomb said.

Including the culturally relevant curriculum, the new plan contains 11 state educational objectives, ranging from increasing AI/AN attendance and graduation rates to meet or exceed state levels to districts recruiting a minimum of 5 percent AI/AN educators and ensuring that educators receive AI/AN responsive training at least once per year, to boost outcomes of Indian students. The plan contains strategies for each objective, though the finer details need to be worked out. “Now we are developing subcommittees that are taking each of the goals and developing action plans—the how this will actually unfold,” said ODE’s Advisor to Deputy State Superintendent on Indian Education April Campbell.

Undoubtedly, there will be challenges in meeting these objectives. Take the 5 percent AI/AN educator target. Halcomb called it a “lofty goal,” but with Native American students dropping out of Oregon public schools at a rate 6.8 percent (2013-2014)—the highest in the state—aiming high is better than aiming low. As Halcomb sees it, through collaboration with the tribes and other entities dedicated to increasing diversity in the education workforce, it is not an unachievable goal. For instance, she would love to see school districts matching tribal scholarships for students pursuing teaching careers.

They also need to brainstorm ways to promote teaching as a worthy profession to go into. Out of the 160 Cow Creek students currently receiving tribal scholarships, none are in teaching programs. “Going into teaching is really tough. You are so governed by rules and regulations,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Campbell is excited about the updated plan, which also provides for a full-time Indian education specialist. She said they took a look at what other states, such as Minnesota, Montana, and Washington, are doing and trying to learn from their successes.

RELATED: From ‘Encouraged’ to ‘Mandatory’: Schools Must Teach Native History in Washington

“Our students are struggling, and so we need to do something for them,” Campbell said. “Our leadership recognized that. I think everyone is ready, ready to see something change for our students. It’s time. It’s overdue.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/08/03/mandatory-native-american-curriculum-cards-oregon-161234

Larsen Leads Bill To Reauthorize School Safety Program

Source: Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-2
WASHINGTON, D.C. (link)—Today,Reps. Rick Larsen, WA-02, Mike Coffman, CO-06, and Suzan DelBene, WA-01, introduced a bill to help pay for improved security measures in schools, such as training for staff and students, and deterrents like lighting and locks. The School Safety Act of 2015 would reauthorize the Secure Our Schools program, which provides matching grants to local, state and tribal governments to meet schools’ individual security needs.
“Schools must be a place where our students feel safe. I introduced this bill to help schools and communities assess and meet their unique safety needs. Sadly our country has not seen the end of violent crimes. Congress must do much more to make our schools and communities safer and shrink the cycle of violence. This bill helps empower schools to focus on what they do best: teaching our students and preparing them for their futures,” Larsen said.
“School violence has hit my district and Colorado hard and I am committed to finding ways to make our schools safer. This bipartisan, common sense legislation will help fund important school safety programs across the country. From education to improved technology, our schools can be made safer through a comprehensive approach to dealing with school violence. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with me in fighting to make our schools a safe place to learn,” Coffman said.
“I’m strongly committed to ensuring the safety and security of our students. While there is no one law that will prevent every single instance of senseless violence, like last year’s tragic shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, we can and must do more. The School Safety and Security Act is an important first step and I’m honored to help introduce it. This bipartisan legislation will provide critical resources to keep our schools safe, ensure teachers and administrators are adequately trained in security procedures, and improve notification and response technologies in schools across the country,” DelBene said.
Violence in schools has continued at a steady pace in recent years, with tragic shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash., in October 2014, and at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., in December 2013.
The Washington State School Directors’ Association has endorsed the bill.
The Secure Our Schools program takes a comprehensive approach to preventing violence in schools based on schools’ unique needs. Matching funds can pay for physical deterrents, security assessments, security training and coordination with local law enforcement. The Act reauthorizes the program and updates it to allow funding to cover emergency communications systems with local law enforcement. 

Assistant Secretary Washburn Announces $2 million in Grants to Build the Capacity of Tribal Education Departments

Funds will enable tribes to plan for directly operating BIE-funded schools on their lands and improving student educational outcomes

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced that grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 per fiscal year are available for federally recognized tribes and their education departments. The grants are designed to help tribes assume control of Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools in their communities, promote tribal education capacity, and provide academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to Indian students on their reservations and trust lands.
Eligible tribal governments may apply for these grants by responding to the Request for Proposals that the BIE published on May 15, 2015, in the Federal Register.
“This grant program reflects President Obama’s commitment to tribal self-governance and self-determination, and will support tribal educators who best understand the unique needs of their communities as they strengthen their capacity to assume full control of BIE-funded schools on their reservations,”said Secretary Jewell, who chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs. “It is a critical step in redesigning the BIE from a direct provider of education into an innovative organization that will serve as a capacity-builder and service-provider to tribes with BIE-funded schools.”
“With this announcement, we are taking the next major step in our efforts to return the education of Indian children to their tribes,” Assistant Secretary Washburn said. “We understand that tribal leaders, educators and parents have the greatest need to ensure that their children receive a world-class education, and with this effort, we will see to it that tribes can assume total control over the BIE-funded schools in their communities to improve the educational outcomes for their students.  We’re grateful Congress understands the importance of this process and appropriated funding to support this effort.”
“This grant solicitation carries out recommendations of Secretary Jewell and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s Blueprint for Reform to transform the Bureau of Indian Education from a school administrator into a capacity builder and service provider to support tribes in educating their children and youth,” said BIE Director Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel. “These grants will help tribes and their tribal departments of education to assume control of the BIE-funded schools serving their communities.”
The Blueprint for Reform, issued in June 2014 following consultation with tribal leaders, is an initiative of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, chaired by Secretary Jewell.
President Obama established the Council as part of his commitment to engage in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. 
Jewell then issued a Secretarial Order to begin restructuring BIE from solely a provider of education to a capacity-builder and education service-provider to tribes. The goal of this transformation is to give tribes the ability themselves to provide an academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to their students, according to their needs.
The Blueprint made several recommendations regarding the BIE’s budget. Interior should invest in the school system’s infrastructure, including new school construction, and align its budget to support tribal self-determination by requesting and increasing tribal grant and Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribally controlled grant schools.
Under the solicitation announced today, grants will range from $25,000 to $150,000 per fiscal year depending on the project, number of educational programs impacted, project design, and expected outcomes. Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, grants will be provided for three years and, depending on performance, may be renewed for additional two-year terms.
Grant funds will support program goals for the following areas that promote tribal education capacity-building:
·         To provide for the development and enforcement of tribal educational codes, including tribal educational policies and tribal standards applicable to curriculum, personnel, students, facilities, and support programs;
·         To facilitate tribal control in all matters relating to the education of Indian children on reservations and on former reservations in Oklahoma; and
·         To provide for the development of coordinated educational programs on reservations and on former reservations in Oklahoma by encouraging tribal administrative support of all BIE-funded educational programs, as well as encouraging tribal cooperation and coordination with entities carrying out all educational programs receiving financial support from other federal agencies, state agencies or private entities.
Top priority will be given to applicants that meet the following conditions:
·         Serves three or more BIE-funded schools (less priority will be given if the applicant has less than three schools, but with at least one BIE-funded school).
·         Provides coordinating services and technical assistance to all relevant BIE-funded schools.
·         Monitors and audits its grant funds by or through its Tribal Education Department (TED)
·         And offers a plan and schedule that provides for:
o   Its TED to assume all assets and functions of the Bureau agency office associated with the tribe to the extent the assets and functions relate to education;
o   The termination by the BIE of all such functions and office at the times of such assumption; and
o   The assumption to occur over the term of the grant, unless mutually agreeable to the tribal governing body and the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, the period in which such assumption is to occur may be modified, reduced or extended after the initial year of the grant.
The BIE will assist tribes in the development and operation of TEDs for the purpose of planning and coordinating all educational programs of the tribe. Each proposal must include a project narrative, a budget narrative, a work plan outline, and a project coordinator to serve as the point of contact for the program. The project coordinator is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the TED fulfills the obligations of its grant.
The BIE will provide pre-grant application training at several sites to support tribes and TEDs in applying for grants. Details on location and times will be made available here.
The BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools, located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 124 are tribally operated under Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act contracts or Tribally Controlled Schools Act grants. BIE also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools.

An Indian Education for All

By Matt Remle


Matt Remle (blue shirt) with Denny Hurtado and Michael Vendiola from the Office of Native Education providing testimony to the Marysville School Board to adopt the STI curriculum. Photo by: Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil
Matt Remle (blue shirt) with Denny Hurtado and Michael Vendiola from the Office of Native Education providing testimony to the Marysville School Board to adopt the STI curriculum. Photo by: Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil


The Washington State legislature has introduced a bill requiring Northwest tribal history, culture, and government to be taught in the common schools.

Washington SB 5433 is an amendment to the 2005 House Bill 1495.  H.B. 1495 “encouraged” Washington State school districts to teach Northwest tribal history, culture, and government.  The Since Time Immemorial tribalsovereignty curriculum (STI) grew out of H.B. 1495 and was developed in partnership with the 29 tribes in WA State and the State’s Office of Native Education.

Since its passage, only two school districts in the state have adopted STI as core, or mandated, curriculum.  The Marysville school district located just north of Seattle and whose school boundaries include the Tulalip tribes became the most recent to do so.

State law makers are now seeking to have the curriculum required in the State’s schools with the introduction of S.B. 5433.

S.B. 5433 states:

The legislature recognizes the need to reaffirm the state’s commitment to educating the citizens of our state, particularly the youth who are our future leaders, about tribal history, culture, treaty rights, contemporary tribal and state government institutions and relations and the contribution of Indian nations to the state of Washington. The legislature recognizes that this goal has yet to be achieved in most of our state’s schools and districts. As a result, Indian students may not find the school curriculum, especially Washington state history curriculum, relevant to their lives or experiences. In addition, many students may remain uninformed about the experiences, contributions, and perspectives of their tribal neighbors, fellow citizens, and classmates. The legislature finds that more widespread use of the Since Time Immemorial curriculum developed by the office of the superintendent of public instruction and available free of charge to schools would contribute greatly towards helping improve school’s history curriculum and improve the experiences Indian students have in our schools. Accordingly, the legislature finds that merely encouraging education regarding Washington’s tribal history, culture, and government is not sufficient, and hereby declares its intent that such education be mandatory in Washington’s common schools.”

If passed, Washington State would become the second state to mandate the teaching of tribal sovereignty curriculum. Montana is currently the only state to mandate Indian education for all state schools when it passed House Bill 528— the Indian Education for All Act, in 1999.

Matt Remle (Lakota) works for the Office of Indian Education in the Marysville/Tulalip school district and was on the curriculum committee that helped pass the districts requirement to teach the Since Time Immemorial tribal sovereignty curriculum in the Marysville schools.

Marysville School District schools obtain 21st Century Learning Center Grant

Source: Marysville School District


In collaboration with the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS), the Marysville School District has been awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant to fund after-school and summer programs for Quil Ceda Tulalip and Liberty Elementary schools. The grant, amounting to $1.3 million, will support academics and enrichment activities for 50 students at each school for the next five years.

WABS, a coalition of 12 regional school districts, and the district partnered with the Marysville Public Library, YMCA Snohomish County (Marysville Branch), Pacific Education Institute, the University of Washington Institute for Science and the Geo-Literacy Alliance of Washington State. Members of this partnership worked together to develop the grant proposal and will provide services for students and families enrolled in the program.

Both schools qualified for the grant due to the high rate of students who receive free and/or reduced lunch.

The grant will help support a significant segment of the student population who are not meeting math or reading standards and will fund teachers and coordinators to run the programs at both schools.

The program is expected to start in mid to late fall. “We are very thankful for this partnership, the grant, and are excited about the opportunities that it will provide for our students at Quil Ceda Tulalip and Liberty Elementary schools” shared Dr. Kyle Kinoshita, Executive Director of Learning and Teaching, at a recent school board meeting.

For more information about the grant, please contact Dr. Kyle Kinoshita, 360-653-0884 or email Kyle_Kinoshita@msvl.k12.wa.us.

Washington Schools Face Multiple Threats From Natural Disasters


A new draft report finds that Washington schools face threats from nine different kinds of natural hazards.Credit Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

A new draft report finds that Washington schools face threats from nine different kinds of natural hazards.
Credit Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction


By Austin Jenkins, NW News Network

The Oso landslide, with 41 dead and two still missing, could be the the third-worst natural disaster in Washington history after the Stevens Pass Avalanche of 1910 and the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

But what if there had been a school in the path of the slide? The death toll could have been much higher.

A new draft report from Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction finds that 15 public schools in Washington are within 500 feet of a mapped landslide zone. The good news is none of those nearby slopes are considered steep and the risk of a landslide in those areas ranks as “low.”

However, the report finds another 28 Washington schools have a steep slope with a “high” risk of sliding in the immediate vicinity. And dozens more K-12 buildings are close to hills with a “low” or “moderate” risk of failing.

Six major natural hazards

It’s not just landslides. The draft report finds that Washington schools face threats from nine different kinds of natural hazards. Six of those pose the greatest threat:

  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunamis
  • Floods
  • Wildfires
  • Volcanoes
  • Landslides

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to start packing our bags and shutting down schools,” says report co-author Robert Dengel with Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). “But talking about risk in a real and practical way.”

To that end, OSPI has partnered with 28 school districts in a pilot project to help them create their own hazard mitigation plans. Dengel gives the example of the Ocosta School District on the Washington coast where plans are underway to construct a tsunami safe haven.

In the case of landslides, Dengel says districts may want to have a geotechnical engineer do a formal on-site assessment of the slide risk. But it might not even take that to rule out a threat.

‘I’m Pretty Shocked’

Take the example of Holmes Elementary School in Northwest Spokane. It shows up in the draft report as sitting near to a steep-slope hill with a preliminary landslide risk level of “high.”

“I’m pretty shocked,” says Holmes Elementary principal Steve Barnes.

Barnes says his school is about three blocks from the Spokane River and there is a steep slope there. But if the hillside were to give way, the debris field would flow north away from the school. So how did Holmes Elementary end up on the list? Because the list was created using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, not actual site visits.

The report emphasizes the list does not represent a “determination of landslide hazards nor the level of landslide risk.”

Wake-Up Call

Still, the principal at Holmes Elementary sees a value in being reminded of the potential for natural hazards to affect his school. “Natural disasters are pretty low, if at all, on my radar,” admits Barnes, whose school regularly drills for shootings and other human dangers. “We have lockdowns, we have shelter-in-place … so those are where we’re spending our time.”

Washington has 295 school districts with more than 2,400 campuses and more than 1 million students, according to the draft report. Dengel, the report’s co-author, says in an average-sized school district with 30 school buildings, usually only one or two would be at high risk for some sort of natural disaster.

His bottom line: “The sky isn’t falling, but there’s definitely work to do to better protect our students.”

The draft report is titled “Washington State K-12 Facilities Hazard Mitigation Plan.” It’s the first of its kind in the nation and was made possible by a 2012 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

OSPI will accept public comments on the draft until July 25. A final report is due out this fall.

‘School Choice Week’ Begins Today in Washington; 55 Events Planned in the Evergreen State

Source: National School Choice Week

[Olympia – Jan. 27, 2014] – This week is School Choice Week in Washington and across the country. More than 55 events are planned across the Evergreen State, in addition to 5,500 events nationwide.

The Week, which is the nation’s largest-ever celebration of educational opportunity, gives students, parents, and teachers in Washington a chance to raise awareness of the different types of educational options available to families in advance of the 2014-2015 school year. Events across the state will include rallies, school fairs, roundtable discussions, open houses, and parent information sessions.

National School Choice Week spotlights all types of education options for families – including traditional public schools, public magnet schools, charter schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling.

In addition to raising awareness of school choice options in Washington, the Week also provides students, parents and teachers with an opportunity to call on leaders in Olympia to expand access to high-quality education environments for children.

“Washington families know that when parents have the freedom to choose the best schools for their children, great things happen,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “Student achievement increases, graduation rates rise, and children are better prepared for real life.”

Said Campanella: “We hope families across the state will use National School Choice Week as an opportunity to learn more about the educational options available to their children, and to begin researching schools for the 2014-2015 school year. If families want to switch schools, January is the time to start the search process.”

The Week officially kicked off at a major rally Saturday night in Houston, Texas. Today, students wearing National School Choice Week’s signature yellow scarves will ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange.

National School Choice Week is an independent public awareness campaign that shines a spotlight on effective education options for all children. For more information, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com

Lawmakers hope to dissect a teacher’s day


By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald

OLYMPIA – What goes on each day inside thousands of public schools is a vexing question Washington lawmakers want to answer.

For the second year in a row, there’s an effort to find out how teachers, administrators and staff spend their time and use what is learned to guide future decisions by the Legislature.

The Senate education committee held a hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 6064 to compile data on how each of the state’s 295 districts defines and uses school time.

“Are (schools) being productive? What’s actually going on, nobody knows,” Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, the bill’s author and chairman of the committee said before the hearing. “The more information we have, the better understanding we’ll gain of what’s going on.”

He deflected concerns that lawmakers might use the information to impose new mandates on public schools.

“At the end of the day, if you’re a high-performing school, you’ll keep on doing what you’re doing,” he said.

Most speakers at the hearing welcomed such an analysis because they are convinced it will illuminate the dedication of school employees.

“Bring it on. Find out what’s really going on in our schools,” said Jim Kowalkowski, superintendent of the Davenport School District, near Spokane.

A year ago, lawmakers passed and Gov. Jay Inslee signed a nearly identical bill. It requested the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee carry out the work but it couldn’t. This time, they are asking the Washington Institute of Public Policy to undertake the task.

The bill seeks information on how districts determine classroom and non-classroom time as well as instructional and non-instructional time. They want researchers to see if the use of time is spelled out in collective bargaining agreements. The report would be due Dec. 1, 2015, and cost an estimated $137,000.

Meanwhile, lawmakers did include $25,000 in the budget for Central Washington University to begin gathering data on what a typical work day looks like for a public school teacher.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, then a representative, argued for the money.

At the time he said he had tired of the back-and-forth between reformers convinced teachers spend too little time teaching and the teachers contending they can’t spend as much time as they want because of a growing number of non-teaching responsibilities.

He said he thought teachers are weighted down by state-imposed chores and wanted to find out if it’s true.

The Center for Teaching and Learning is trying to get an answer. In September, its researchers began collecting information from 5,000 elementary and secondary school teachers from 159 school districts.

Teachers, who hail from small, medium and large schools, are completing online surveys. Some also are logging in their hour-by-hour teaching and non-teaching related duties one week each month.

In the survey, teachers are answering questions about the amount of each day which is devoted to classroom planning or assessment, interaction with students and parents, preparation for standardized state exams, professional development and duties assigned by the school or district.

The final report is due to lawmakers June 30. The university received $25,000 in the state budget to cover the study.