Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

WSU-Vancouver’s $130K promo blitz aims to up enrollment

by July 24th, 2012

Washington State University’s Vancouver, Wash. campus is seeking requests for proposals from marketing firms to help the school boost its overall campus population an ambitious seven to nine percent yearly through a direct campaign targeting prospective freshman. WSU classes in “America’s Vancouver” across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore. began in 1983 and WSU-Vancouver’s full facility opened in 1989 as “the urban research campus” of the WSU system. It had been focused on courses mainly for upperclassmen and a smaller cohort of graduate students until the 2005-06 school year.

Then it started admitting freshmen and sophomores, and began buying the first of 254,000 student names to date for marketing campaigns to prospective enrollees. Typically such lists are bought from companies offering standardized college admissions tests such as as the SAT and ACT to high-schoolers. Total spring 2012 enrollment at the Vancouver campus was 3,006 students, up gradually from 1,977 in spring 2006, according to online data from WSU.

1,000 items, including laptops, vanish from Seattle schools

by July 5th, 2012

More than 1,000 school-owned “assets” – primarily computers, laptops, maintenance equipment, and classroom items – have been reported missing from Seattle schools since January 2009, said a Washington State Auditor’s Office report released this week. The report concluded that the school district does not have adequate procedures to keep track of equipment inventories, including keeping tabs on the dollar values of individual items of equipment. The audit also faulted the district for a lack of follow-up to find missing items and to hold employees accountable for them. The audit declared that the Seattle district owns 45,269 pieces of equipment, of which 6,964 don’t have a dollar value assigned to them. The audit also said the district lost 1,078 “assets” from January 2009 to January 2012. That included 907 missing items in an October 2011 inventory at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence building and maintenance shops. The auditor’s office was not able to provide an estimate of the total dollar value of the items, and did not go into details on the missing “assets” beyond saying they included maintenance equipment, laptops, communications gear and classroom items. One item was an iPad that a principal did not return when he left the school district.

The audit report was actually released July 2 though it was dated June 27. It stated, “It appears the District does not place a priority on inventory procedures, resulting in inadequate resources allocated to safeguarding assets. Consequently, large numbers of assets are missing, the District does not follow up to locate missing items in a timely manner, and does not hold staff accountable for missing assets assigned to their care.” The report also noted, “for example, we reviewed the most recent physical inventory at Aki Kurose Middle School on February 9, 2010, which found 77 missing assets. The fixed asset accountant sent the Principal a Missing Property Report itemizing the missing assets, and asking the Principal to research, locate, and report on them. The Principal also needed to certify the report within 30 days. As of April 2012, none of the reports were certified. Additionally, the District did not perform follow-up to locate the assets or hold the Principal accountable for them.”

The new findings on missing assets come after another state auditor’s office report in June of last year found 31 laptop computers worth $33,759 had disappeared from a Cleveland High School program, with 13 of those lost computers not reported gone in a timely manner. Twelve of the 30 students reporting missing computers received new ones without paying replacement costs or deposits for the new ones. One student lost two computers.

Bellevue College seeks approval of new bachelor’s degree program in ‘Big Data’ analytics; fall 2014 start eyed

by July 2nd, 2012

For many community college students in Washington state, getting a two-year associate degree might be a ticket into the workplace. But more so than ever, advancing to a higher rank and responsibilities requires more education. So rather than merely serve as a cost-effective warm-up for further training elsewhere, some community colleges in Washington state, including one that has dropped the word “community” from its name, are stepping up with their own special “applied baccalaureate” or career-centric bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand fields which have been emphasized by regional employers during outreach efforts of educators. One such institution is Bellevue College, formerly Bellevue Community College. And as officials there have continued developing applied bachelor’s degree programs in subject areas mandated under a 2011 state budget proviso – namely, information technology, nursing, and environmental and biological sciences – they realized there was a missing piece of the equation. So in a required two-year plan for the new programs that they recently submitted to the state, Bellevue College announced its intention to add one more: Bachelor of Applied Science in Data Analytics. (See pp. 14-15 of the Bellevue College Applied Baccalaureate Degree Implementation Program).

Management requires growing analysis of “structured and unstructured” data
“Big Data is an ‘explosive’ trend,” the college says in its plan. “As large amounts of structured and unstructured data are being collected in all industry sectors, the emergence of of easy-to-use yet sophisticated analytics tools and portals is increasing rapidly…in healthcare, business, finance and other industries to increase operational efficiency and support professionals and administrators in all levels of decision-making.”

Bellevue College will form a multi-disciplinary workgroup to flesh out the new degree program and will provide a statement of need to the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges at the board’s first meeting this coming fall. The special degree program in data analytics would start in fall 2014, with the board’s okay, and would graduate its first students in spring of 2017.

WA teacher helped students game standardized tests

by 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.

New report: still 100K fewer jobs in WA now than in 2007

by June 21st, 2012

Washington has had three recessions since 1990, but the current recession’s recovery has been glacially slow compared to the last two. Roughly 150,000 jobs slower, based on each economic recovery after 50 months. The slight recession in 1990 ended after a few months, and Washington’s employment grew by almost 200,00 extra jobs by the 50-month point. Washington’s recession in 2001 lost about 60,000 jobs, all regained at the 40-month point. Ultimately, Washington had 50,000 more jobs at the 50-month point than it did when that recession began. The 2007 recession has proved much more persistent, as a state report released yesterday again confirmed. Washington had lost almost 200,000 jobs after 30 months, and was still 100,000 jobs in the red at the 50-month mark in May 2012. This was part of the picture painted Wednesday in an Olympia briefing by the Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, which consists of Republican and Democrat legislative budget leaders, the state budget director, the state treasureer and a support staff of economists. The council released a meeting information packet including data on post-recession jobs recoveries in Washington, and their latest quarterly revenue predictions.

From 6/20/12 meeting packet, WA Economic and Revenue Review Forecast Council

The council’s June report mirrors a similar February report that predicted a very slow economic recovery and an accompanying slow growth in future state government revenue for Washington.

Bainbridge teacher resigned after computer porn use found

by June 7th, 2012

A public document recently posted online by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction reveals that a high-profile Bainbridge Island public school teacher quietly resigned at the start of the current school year after the district’s superintendent filed a formal complaint with the state that he had used a work computer to view pornography.

According to an April 30, 2012 agreed order of suspension signed by the teacher, his attorney and an OSPI official, Matthew Pedersen, of Sakai Intermediate School, resigned effective last August 31 after he was found to have “used Bainbridge Island School District computer resources to access and attempt to access sexually explicit materials” during the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years. Pedersen, now 42, of Suquamish, was placed on administrative leave in mid-January 2011 and signed a settlement in late February 2011 agreeing to resign on August 31.

According to a Kitsap Sun teacher salary database he nonetheless was paid a total of $71,977 in salary and benefits for the 2010-11 school year, although that was somewhat less than in several preceding years.

State law requires that certificated school personnel may have an administrative hearing before being discharged. Pedersen was apparently able to negotiate a settlement in which he forfeited his right to a hearing in return for pay and benefits which continued for at least some portion of the time between his being placed on leave and his resignation becoming effective.

A “very well-regarded” teacher
Pedersen made an extra effort to serve the community and to champion classroom innovation. For three years running he led students in supporting a Thanksgiving community food drive. He was also featured in a video by the Bainbridge Schools Foundation on new ways of teaching math to middle-schoolers. Bainbridge Island School District Superintendent Faith Chapel said Pedersen was “a very well-regarded teacher who had positive working relationships with his colleagues,” parents and students.

District’s monitoring system caught attempts to access porn sites
However, Chapel said, district technology staff became aware through a regularly-deployed monitoring system that he was sometimes using his work laptop on school property to access or try to access pornographic Internet sites. According to the OSPI agreed order, Pedersen violated Bainbridge school district policy that all use of the school’s IT network including the Internet “must be in support of education and research and consistent with the mission of the district” and that “use of the system to access, store, or distribute obscene or pornographic material is prohibited.” No criminal proceedings resulted from the investigations by the school district or the state into Pedersen’s questioned activities, she said.

Public Data Ferret’s Education+Ethics archive

Under state law RCW 28A.410.090(1)(a) OSPI in the agreed order suspends Pedersen’s teaching certificate for four months from April 30, 2012, and states that if he wants it reinstated he’ll have to reapply and undergo a criminal background check.

Sakai PTO Co-President Sarah Barnes said she knew that Pedersen had resigned but not “any of the reasons behind it.” Asked whether the school district should have promptly informed the public a teacher was resigning due to using school computers in connection with sexually explicit online materials, she declined comment.

First it was too early to publicly reveal, then too late
Chapel said the district could not reveal anything publicly until OSPI’s formal suspension of Pedersen’s license this past April 30, and then chose not to do so because of the time that has passed.

Pedersen is now working in a non-education, private-sector job in Kitsap County. Reached briefly by phone at his workplace, Pedersen said he would return a reporter’s call later – but so far has not.

Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Honors program coming to Community Colleges of Spokane

by 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.

$2.5K ethics fine for Evergreen College-Tacoma chief

by June 1st, 2012

A high-level state college administrator in Tacoma who also teaches a course on “the ways in which colonialism and neocolonialism have created unequal distributions of power, wealth and access to resources,” will pay a $2,500 state ethics penalty for personal use of public resources – including repeatedly cruising a luxury real estate site on her work computer.

Under a stipulated order she signed with the Washington State Executive Ethics Board, the Executive Director of the Tacoma campus of The Evergreen State College, Dr. Artee Young, will pay a $2,500 fine for using state resources for personal purposes. After receiving a complaint about Young the board investigated and found she used her work computer and state-issued cell phone for personal matters to a degree significantly beyond the allowable de minimus, or minimal, threshhold. The order was approved by the board at its May 11 meeting.