So you wanna be a charter school
If you thought starting a Washington state charter school would be a walk in the park, think again. The Washington Charter School Commission met in the first of five sessions yesterday to instate Washington’s first legalized charter schools, according to a report from the Everett Herald. A maximum of 40 charter schools will be approved over the next five years, and only after a rigorous application and approval process that includes input from a public forum and an OK from the commission and a separate six member evaluation team. Charter schools must be operated by non-profit organizations and will act as public schools and receive public school funding from the state. The nine-member committee approved charter school application and approval processes and performance frameworks yesterday, as outlined in this 30-page document. Good luck to all of you education go-getters (applications due Nov. 22).
Bye bye to Ballmer
Microsoft announced today that CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring in the next twelve months and that the company's Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to find his replacement. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in a press release. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team."
Ballmer's tenure as Microsoft CEO has been marked by a series of arguably flopped copy cat attempts at competing in the services field: The Windows phone platform holds just 4 percent of market share and Windows 8 sales have been anemic at best. A poorly conceived and proprietary Xbox One was actually booed out of gamer conference EVO this year. The company is in the midst of a restructure and Windows Phone has inched up since last year, but to be successful, Ballmer's successor will have to nail the mobile OS game — creating not just a phone, but a personal assistant users can't live without. Crosscut's Drew Atkins will have more on the transition later today, but for now here's a vintage video of the type of Ballmer theatrics that will be sorely missed.
Pre-school for all!
The Seattle City Council is considering universal pre-school for 3 and 4-year-olds in Seattle, according to the Seattle Times' Lynn Thompson. As envisioned, the program would be free to families that make less than than 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($47,000 annually for a family of four) and others would pay on a sliding scale. Councilmember Tim Burgess seems to be spearheading the project, telling the paper that he would be introducing a plan in early September to study the feasibility of universal pre-school. Burgess and other education advocates say such a program could make a huge difference in getting kids ready for elementary school, where a lot of time is currently spent catching students up on basics like reading.
It's a worthy new initiative for Burgess, who humbly pulled out of the mayoral race early and returned his donors' money, when, as he told Crosscut, he knew he wouldn't win. The funding source is still TBD, but really, who wouldn't rather have a pre-school education than pothole-less streets?
Snohomish schools beef up police presence
Lastly on today’s schools beat, Snohomish County has amped up the police presence at its districts’ schools. The new school safety unit will include four deputies and a sergeant, who will patrol the county’s more than 60 public and private schools, make safety recommendations and partake in mentorship programs as needed. Officials hope the presence of the officers will create a culture of security, safety, and prevention. “In nearly every case where violence breaks out at a school, there was someone who knew something about what was going to happen,” Deputy Christopher Ferreira tells the Everett Herald. Officers are expected to be a welcome addition to this fall's back-to-school season.
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