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Eye On Olympia

More on school reform recommendations…

Here's our print story on former state treasurer Dan Grimm's recommendations for school reforms, some of them pretty dramatic.

From it:

"The status quo will be vigorously defended," former state treasurer Dan Grimm writes in the new report. "The challenge before us is to resist the temptation to acquiesce."

Among his recommendations:

•Repeal an initiative that promises teachers an annual Seattle-based cost-of-living increase.

•Guarantee state-college admission to students who earn a new college-track high school diploma.

•Repeal tenure for principals.

•Boost salaries for the lowest-paid teachers and add support staff.

•Have the state take over collective bargaining for all of Washington's nearly 300 school districts.

Many of the proposals are "pretty blockbuster kind of talk," said Liv Finne of the conservative-leaning Washington Policy Center. "When I first read this, I kind of fell off my chair."

A deep recession may not be the ideal time to overhaul schools, but Grimm argues that children can't wait. And school districts are going to court for more state cash.

...Many of the proposals are likely to face strong resistance from teachers and school advocates.

Rich Wood, a spokesman for the Washington Education Association, said protecting the cost-of-living initiative is one of the union's top priorities in the next legislative session. Teacher pay, Wood said, is not competitive with a lot of other professions that require similar education.

As for doing away with teacher-preparation requirements, that would reverse a longtime trend, he said.

"If anything," Wood said, "there's been a push toward higher standards for certification and teaching."

...Cathy Allen, a Democratic political consultant, said Friday that Democrats had high hopes that 2009 would be a year for major changes in schools and school funding.

"This was going to be the time when we were going to see the most comprehensive educational reform in Washington ever," she said.

Then the economy collapsed. And much of what Grimm is proposing, she said, "costs money."

"I think what we'll see next year will be the Year of Education Wringing of Hands," she said.

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