Collaboration in Civic Spheres

William McKee's Profile

Email: william (dot) mckee (at) email (dot) wsu (dot) edu
Originally from Louisiana, William McKee fell in love with the Pacific Northwest after years of visiting family in Spokane. He moved to the area in 2008 and has never looked back, though he does miss New Orleans cooking. He is an avid skier and loves the mountains, of which there are none in his home state.

He is currently a student at Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication. He has been working for Northwest Public Radio, first as an intern, assisting the Morning Edition host and currently as an Associated Press regional news writer.

William McKee's Recent Posts

Medicaid fraud fixes top of mind in both Washingtons

July 3rd, 2012

It was just weeks after Washington State enacted a landmark Medicaid anti-fraud measure, and only weeks before a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for a sweeping federal health care bill that, as the Seattle Times reported, will boost Medicaid enrollment in Washington state by an estimated 42 percent within several years after its 2014 implementation. In other words, it was a good time for a top Washington state health care official to join national colleagues in testimony to a Congressional subcommittee that’s trying to help the federal bureaucracy and states better trace and reduce Medicaid fraud through improved data and data analytics. Douglas Porter, director of the Washington State Health Care Authority, which administers the Medicaid program here, testified recently to the Federal Financial Management Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that, “There’s a lot of data and very little good information. Poorly collected and poorly analyzed data is what’s giving us the problem. The Medicaid Statistical Information System is not uniformly reported on by all states, making apples to apples comparisons very difficult.” The hearing was titled “Saving Taxpayer Dollars by Curbing Waste and Fraud in Medicaid.”

Other challenges facing the Medicaid system, Porter testified, are the loss of staff administrative resources and outdated and ineffective Medicaid fraud detection programs that give little return on investments. In Washington state, Medicaid programs funded by the state and federal governments pay for delivery of medical, dental, behavioral health, and long-term care to an 1.2 million low-income Washingtonians on average per month. Porter in his testimony to federal lawmakers had some additional suggestions for curbing improper Medicaid payments by better sharing information on “bad actors” bilking the system; adopting common technical standards; and using distance learning. Read the rest of this entry »

WA teacher helped students game standardized tests

June 24th, 2012

A Washington state elementary school teacher in the Colville district with 26 years of experience resigned her job as disciplinary actions unfolded following charges she provided “unauthorized assistance” to students in her fifth-grade classroom for three straight years during state-mandated achievement tests. The narrative emerges from an agreed order recently posted online by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in which Sherral M. Kaiser, 52, formerly of Fort Colville Elementary School in Colville, Wash., agrees to the temporary suspension of her teaching certificate for unprofessional conduct.

Teacher’s testing improprieties were only reported to the state after three years
According to the findings of fact in the agreed order signed by Kaiser and top state education officials May 30, 2012, the Colville School District did not notify OSPI until June 14, 2010 that Kaiser for three straight school years, from 2007-08 into 2009-10, had provided “unauthorized assistance to students in her 5th grade classroom” during state-mandated Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) and then Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) achievement tests, and instructed classroom assistants to do likewise, despite Kaiser “having been previously trained in the proper testing procedures.”

The agreed order further reveals that it was only after Kaiser in late May of 2010 engaged in minor misappropriation of Colville district funds of less $40 – by using for personal purposes a returned item credit voucher from a Walmart store where she bought classroom materials on the district’s account – that the district placed her on (paid) administrative leave, and reported her testing improprieties to the state. A pending criminal case in Stevens County court related to her $37.36 misappropriation from the district was dropped as part of a settlement agreement which included her resignation effective August 31, 2011. Though on leave from June 1, 2010 until then, Kaiser was paid total salary and benefits of $79,936 for the 2010-2011 school year according to public records accessed via a Kitsap Sun database. Read the rest of this entry »

Honors program coming to Community Colleges of Spokane

June 5th, 2012

Next fall Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) hopes to begin trial phases of a new honors program at its schools. CCS has published a request for proposals (RFP) from consulting firms to help create an honors program that will increase enrollment and revenues at Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College.

According to the RFP, courses for the honors program will be developed and students recruited this summer. Next fall the two schools will pilot a total of three to five honors classes for as many as 100 students and provide some support services. More planning, design, recruitment and marketing will unfold leading up to fall 2013 when the honors program will officially start, with the goal of eventually enrolling 300 students. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. report: anti-“Pink Slime” campaign was misleading

May 15th, 2012

The media’s portrayal this past March of the long-used lean finely textured beef (LFTB) ground beef additive as suspect “pink slime” has had far-reaching effects, according to a recent report on the controversy issued by the Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan research arm of the U.S. Congress. The CRS report suggests that benefits of the controversy have included increased emphasis on the labeling of ground beef that contains LFTB, and more informed choices for both consumers, and school districts enlisted in the National School Lunch Program, on whether or not to purchase ground beef containing the additive. Other results accented in the report may have a negative effect. These include the fall of 50% beef trimming prices and the rise of domestic beef market prices; retail grocery stores discontinuing products that contain LFTB; the loss of jobs and business as the producers of LFTB and similar products shut down operations due to withering demand; and the heightened possibility of future advances in food safety being stifled due to the negative press on the use of ammonium hydroxide as an antimicrobial agent during the preparation of LFTB. Read the rest of this entry »