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The Washington Education Association (WEA), the statewide teachers union, has endorsed Inslee, but not A+ Washington. “WEA members don’t have a position on this plan, and we weren’t involved in drafting it,” WEA spokesman Rich Wood told me, reiterating his membership’s support for quality teaching and quality public schools for all students.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who is running for re-election, also attended the LEV breakfast. According to his campaign, “Superintendent Dorn supports all the strategies included in the A+ summary document. In fact, many of these reforms are currently in the process of being enacted, largely due to the efforts of Superintendent Dorn. The key, of course, is turning these general strategies into specific pieces of legislation."
The allure of A+ Washington lies in its promise to fix “the system,” which in our state includes 295 school districts and nine educational service districts (ESDs). Still, in the plan's current incarnation of broad, sweeping education goals, it is hard to imagine how the top-level policy recommendations included in A+ Washington will really trickle down to implementation in individual schools. Chris Korsmo acknowledges that the plan’s success depends on local buy-in.
“The changes we are advocating require strong implementation. One way to ensure that is to work locally. Initiatives such the Community Center for Education Results (CCER) Roadmap Project (an education initiative focused on South Seattle and South King County) provide the opportunity to look at the work different school districts are doing to close gaps and provide proof points to other districts that what they are doing works. So the reverse effect happens – local work gets focused on and put into the statewide plan. It’s trickle up as much as anything.”
At its best, the A+ Washington plan is an effort to celebrate our state’s education successes and establish common values and achievable goals for the future. Still, individual school district superintendents will need to support it and teachers, administrators and parents need to be able to see the direct benefits to their schools, classrooms and students for this to be more than just another coalition with just another plan.
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