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Education news from the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area.

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Conservation camp sponsorships offered to educators by Safari Club

OUTDOOR EDUCATION — Educators are being offered sponsorships for week-long conservation camp where they can earn two-four graduate credit hours.

Applications are out for the 2016 American Wilderness Leadership School at a facility near Jackson, Wyoming, organized by Safari Club International. Six different week-long sessions are scheduled June-August.

The school offers a wide range of course topics including wildlife conservation, land management issues, endangered species and sportsmen in conservation.

Teachers can earn National Archery in the Schools instructor certification, check out shooting sports, learn how to teach outdoor survival to youths, join federal wildlife managers on field trips, visit natural gas fields to explore energy and conservation issues and learn stream ecology. 

Teachers can apply for sponsorships to cover the $900 cost of the school including room and board at safariclubfoundation.org.

Q&A: Spokane Public Schools board candidate Jerrall Haynes

Jerrall Haynes, 26

Notable Experience: Enlisted in U.S. Air Force in 2010. Haynes is a staff sergeant and an airplane mechanic. Serves as the freshman football coach at East Valley High School. Member of the political action committee of the Spokane branch of the NAACP.

Education: Graduated from Summerville High School in South Carolina in 2007.

Given the current budget shortfall of $5.6 million what programs would you take money from to make up the difference?

Programs should not be taken away from the students. For the time being we could start tapping into our reserves. We could even begin reviewing unnecessary positions in administration as a step in responsibly reallocation resources. Cutting programs should not be the first thing on our minds.

Q&A: Spokane Public Schools board candidate Rocky Treppiedi

Rocky Treppiedi, 62

Notable Experience: Served on Spokane Public Schools board since 1996. He’s been an attorney in Spokane since 1979. Works as an administrative law judge for the state Office of Administrative Hearings. Served as an assistant city attorney for the city of Spokane for many years until 2012.

Education: Earned bachelor’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Earned law degree from Gonzaga Law School.

Given the current budget shortfall of $5.6 million what programs would you take money from to make up the difference?

The board, the administration and I have been struggling with that since the first week of September. We plan to adopt the modifications to the budget on October 14th. I’m opposed to reducing academic services to students. We need to use the Strtegic Plan to guide our decision making. We can: delay some technology purchases and/or use a small amount of reserves for critical needs; use reserve money set aside for future curriculum purchases to make some purchases this year; increase user fees for those services that have become more expensive due to the contract settlement; avoid filling staff vacancies; reduce administrative expenses such as risk management and attorney fees.

Q&A: Spokane Public Schools board candidate Paul Schneider

Paul Schneider, 40

Notable experience: He’s taught in public schools for 18 years, including one year at Shadle Park High School and the last 11 years at University High School.

Education: Graduated from Gonzaga Preparatory School in 1993. Earned a bachelor’s from Western Washington University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington.

Given the current budget shortfall of $5.6 million what programs would you take money from to make up the difference?

To call what happened in past couple of months a shortfall is questionable.  The district was given millions from the state and has more in reserve to meet the needs of our programs and our valued professionals.  That said, my priorities will always be to finance and fund programs that DIRECTLY impact kids and cut in areas that do not.  A couple of examples would be to evaluate current administrative overhead costs and perhaps the cost associated with the over-testing of our kids as areas where we might find savings.

Q&A: Spokane Public Schools board candidate Patricia Kienholz

Patricia Kienholz, 46

Notable experience: President of Citizens Law and Safety Research Center. Kienholz serves on boards, including as trustee for Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

Education: Graduated from Ferris High School in 1987. Earned degrees in social sciences and communication and the study of women and men in society from the University of Southern California.

Given the current budget shortfall of $5.6 million what programs would you take money from to make up the difference?

The district has had budget shortfalls in the past, and it’s important to keep in mind a budget is a proposed plan for revenues and expenditures, adjusted as actuals come in throughout the year. No funds can be removed from basic education; adjustments have to be taken from other areas, not necessarily programs. I wouldn’t take any funds from programming involving special needs or school safety.

The district is doing a good job addressing the issue so far by looking into the cost of lunches and Express. The cost of food has risen considerably over the past three years. University of Washington reporter Deborah Bach, cites a study finding that, “Washington families with two adults, a preschooler and a school-aged child saw the cost of meeting their most basic requirements jump as much as 72 percent between 2001 and 2014, depending on where they live. But median wages increased just 21 percent during that time.” (Bach, Deborah. “Cost of meeting basic needs rising faster than wages in Washington State.” UW Today. 11/20/14. University of Washington. Online publication. 10/07/15.)

Harvard debate team loses to New York state prisoners

What happens when you combine street smarts AND book smarts?

Apparently you win debate competitions. The Harvard debate team lost to a group of New York state prisoners back in September.

To be fair the prisoners were enrolled in a "rigorous college experience." Called the Bard Prison Initiative it allows inmates to get college degrees while incarcerated. According to Bard program leaders of the 300 prisoners who have gotten degrees with the program, less than 3 percent returned to prison within three years. 


Q&A: Cheney School board candidate Henry C. Browne

Cheney School District 3

Henry C. Browne, Jr.

Age: 55 

Notable experience: Browne has served on the board since he was appointed in December of 2012. He’s worked for the Washington State Department of Corrections for more than 15 years. He’s also an assistant pastor and an adjunct instructor at Park University at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Education: Graduated from the College of West Africa in 1976. Earned bachelor degrees from the University of Liberia and a masters of accounting from the University of Phoenix.

With two bonds failing this year how do you propose paying for some of the infrastructural/space upgrades the district needs?

I am hopeful that as a long term solution the state begins to fulfil its constitutional mandate to amply fund basic education. This of course includes adequate infrastructure needs. Until that happens, our most viable alternative is to borrow money by selling bonds. We will need to do a much better job of engaging our constituents and listening to their ideas for possible solutions. Unfortunately, the infrastructure problems will not go away and will only get worse as our district enrollment continues to increase.

What is the most pressing issue facing the district?

Without a doubt I will have to say infrastructure. The high school is already very overcrowded and in need of major upgrades. There are also needs at the elementary and middle school levels, although at this time those are not as pressing as the high school needs.

Do you think the Cheney school district should continue to offer high school football, given both the cost and the danger of concussions?

As a parent with children currently in the district who play multiple sports, my personal opinion is that the football program is a valuable part of the overall educational experience. I think it would be unfortunate to discontinue any activity which encourages our children to be actively involved with fitness and physical training; at the same time we are encouraging them to do just that. With the recent studies done on the relationship between football and head injuries, more emphasis has been placed on education, equipment, and rule changes intended to minimize the risks involved.

Do you support the sex education curriculum currently taught in the district ?  Why or why not ?

As a board member I need to have trust in the professional educators to design and deliver curricula that are both accurate and relevant. As such, I am not aware if all the details of the sex education curriculum. As a parent, it is my responsibility to teach and train my children and allow them to think and reason for themselves.

Are there any books currently in libraries within the district or on class reading lists that you feel are not appropriate to be used in schools ?

I am not aware of any books in libraries or on class reading lists that I would consider inappropriate to be used in schools. Again, it is the parent's responsibility to train and teach their children to make proper choices.

Should evolution be taught in public schools ?

My personal opinion on the teaching of evolution is that it should be taught as only one of several possible theories for the origin of man. As a born again Christian, I subscribe to the belief that I was created in the image of God just like it says in the Bible.

If you could change one thing about the district what would it be and why?

I think we have a very well run district and I am proud to be part of it. The one thing I would change if I could would be the minds of at least 60% of our patrons so we can pass the needed bond(s) to fund our infrastructure needs.

Who was your favorite teacher? When and why?

If I had to pick one I would say John Rudin. Mr. Rudin was my high school language arts teacher. He deserves a lot of credit for instilling in me a love and appreciation for literature as well as a well-rounded vocabulary. We had to learn twenty words a week, including pronunciation, definitions and using them in sentences.

Favorite recess game in elementary school?

I would have to say soccer, with kickball coming in a close second.

Fondest high school memory?


*Editor's note: Browne's opponent, Patrick Rushing, didn't respond to multiple interview requests. 

Q&A: Mead School board candidate John P. Hatcher

Mead School District 3:

John P. Hatcher

Age: 64 years old

Notable experience: Hatcher is the founder of Spokane Occupational and Hand Therapy. His company won the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation award in 2009. He said he’s comfortable working with legislators because of his work to get occupational therapists licensed in 1985.

Education: Graduated from Gresham High School in 1969. Earned a degree from the University of Puget Sound and a master’s degree in health services administration from Whitworth University.

What needs to be done to address the overcrowding issues in the District? Specifically, how can Mead redraw school boundaries with minimal impact on students/parents?

I would expect that the Mead District will continue to use Citizens Advisory Committees to assist in developing proposed attendance boundaries and present these to the public prior to implementation.  They need to ensure an open and transparent process that best answers the needs of the students and families and that situations, such as currently experienced, that have families with siblings in different locations be avoided.  The Mead District has been successful in passing levy's and bonds; they are now embarking on planning to build new facilities and update others.

What is the most pressing issue facing the District ?

 As with all districts across the state, the full funding of basic education by the legislature and the stewardship of those monies to best meet the local educational need within the Mead District

Do you think think the Mead school district should continue to offer high school football, given both the cost and the danger of concussions ?

The cost and danger of injury in all sports must be constantly reviewed and addressed with the latest information available.  Sports are an integral part of the school experience and development.  Football receives the most attention, but all sports come with risk.  It would be refreshing to see schools also offer "Life Sports" to students.

Do you support the sex education curriculum currently taught in the district?  Why or why not?

Sex education, health, and human biology are integral to a full, well rounded education

Are there any books currently in libraries within the district or on class reading lists that you feel are not appropriate to be used in schools?

The act of censorship needs to be limited to only a last resort, if it is ever implemented.  Teachers should feel free to chose those texts and other resources that they best feel meets the educational goals of their curriculum.  If we embark on this very dangerous endeavor we weaken the individual ability to fully reasoned thought and discourse

Should evolution be taught in public schools ?

Scientific theory, including evolution, is based upon observation and data collection.  It is science.  Evolution has always been a theory, and as such belongs in any science curriculum

If you could change one thing about the district what would it be and why?

The Mead District, and all districts, are justifiably proud of the graduation rates and those students who achieve high accolades and go on to college.  But, statistically, about 42% of all students do no go on to college.  They enter the work force or the military.  Over the years schools have cut drastically courses such as mechanics, shop classes, life skills, etc.  Rather than removing these to a "skill center" we need to reintegrate these processes back into our schools.



McGraw-Hill history textbook refers to African slaves as ‘workers’

A Texas mother noticed something disturbing last week in her son's "World Geography" textbook. The book referred to African slaves brought to the United States as "workers."

The reference was under the "Patterns of Immigration" chapter. On Wednesday Roni Dean-Burren posted a photo of the section of the text on Facebook. The next day she posted a video explaining what she'd found and showing the reference to slaves as "workers". By Friday McGraw-Hill said the language in the book would be changed in subsequent editions.

The text referred to the slave trade as a pattern of immigration and mentioned European indentured servants, but did not mention African slaves, Dean-Burren said in her video. 

From the video:

There is no mention of Africans as working as slaves or being slaves. It just says we were 'workers'

On Friday McGraw Hill said they would change the language. From the McGraw-Hill Facebook post:

However, we conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves. 

Mc-Graw Hill said the language would change immediately on all digital material.

‘Raise your hands if you think emotions matter’

Emotional intelligence researcher Marc Brackett spoke Thursday about the importance of teaching emotional intelligence in the classroom. He presented at the Young Child Expo & Conference via Skype after his flight out of New York was canceled.

 “I’m on a mission,” Brackett said. “Raise your hands if you think emotions matter.”

He was one of the keynote speakers for a three-day conference hosted by Gonzaga University School of Education and Los Niños Services.

Brackett’s talk emphasized the importance of understanding what children are feeling instead of focusing only on behavior. For example, he said, many boys act out of anger when in fact they’re feeling disappointment. These are two very different emotions and it’s important a distinction is made, he said.

“That’s why we say it’s so critically important to understand what’s going on inside the child,” he said.

Brackett is a senior research scientist at Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy, he’s also the director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Brackett, along with others, have developed emotional intelligence tests and resources. His program, RULER, is being used in schools across the nation, including Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma.

RULER helps students and staffs recognize, understand, label, express and regulate emotions effectively. According to Brackett, schools that emphasize emotional intelligence have higher test scores and less disciplinary problems.

“Classrooms with higher emotional intelligence (scores) have students that are more engaged,” he said. “I hope that you believe integrating emotional intelligence into your schools can make a difference.”

Aftan Lissy is studying counseling at Gonzaga. She said Breckett’s theory or emotional intelligence makes intuitive sense to her. She hopes she can integrate it into her career when she graduates.

“Just understanding why the children are having the emotions they have is so important,” she said.

Wendy Dominguez works for Family Services near Moses Lake. Like Lissy she said she hopes to implement aspects of Brackett’s research into her own work.

The conference continues through the rest of today and tomorrow. There are about 500 registered attendants.

Perkins loan program ending

Via our Washington, D.C., correspondent, Kevin Graeler, the Perkins Loan program is ending. 

The Perkins Loan program, which was used by more than 15,000 Washington students last year, expired Wednesday when reauthorization efforts failed in the Senate

 It's possible it could come back later in the year, Graeler reports. 

A student who received money through the loan program prior to June 30 is grandfathered in and will be eligible for a Perkins through September 2020 if they remain at the same institution.

Students who received their first Perkins Loan disbursement for the current school year before Thursday may receive money through next June.

Upcoming events aimed at promoting secondary education

Next week more than 50 representatives from colleges, the military and scholarship foundations will offer workshops and events to Spokane-area students with the hope of interesting them in some sort of secondary education.

Excelerate Success is hosting the Spokane T-2-4 Circuit. There will be representatives from technical schools, two-year universities and four-year universities.

“It’s really more about motivating younger and younger students to start thinking about a pathway to education after high school,” said Excelerate Success Executive Director Amy McGreevy.

The week-long event targets the 42 percent of Spokane-area students that graduated in 2015 and didn’t attend some sort of secondary education, according to a press release. 

Although sessions during the day are closed, the evening presentations are open to the public, McGreevy said. She said there will be raffles with a grand prize of an Apple Mini-ipod.

The Spokane T-2-4 Circuit schedule is below. Check out their website here


State Attorney General asks courts to reconsider charter school ruling; he cites concerns about potential impact on other programs

The Washington Attorney General requested that the State Supreme Court reconsider whether charter schools are unconstitutional, Thursday. The attorney general raised concerns that the Court's ruling could threaten similarly funded programs including Running Start.

"Regardless of one's feelings about charter schools, the Court's reasoning in striking them down raises serious concerns about other important educational programs," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a news release. 

It's interesting because those concerns aren't necessarily reflected at the local level. I spoke to Eastern Washington's director of Running Start, Melinda Ackerman and she said she wasn't concerned.

"I don't know how it would impact Running Start because it's a completely separate program," she told me. "The money follows the kid."

Which just goes to show you that no one knows what the ultimate impact the court's ruling will have. Kinda like throwing a baseball high in the air and then waiting to see if it hits a parked car.

There will be longer and more detailed story posted online, which I will link to. For now here is some light bedtime reading for y'all. If you're having trouble sleeping no need to thank me. 

Read the AG's press release here.  Check out the original court decision here. Read the full (31 pages) motion for reconsideration below. 


Researcher says texting can increase college enrollment

Incessant texting is the bane of classroom teachers. Ironically enough it might be getting students in the door.

According to University of Virginia education professor Benjamin Castleman college enrollment increased 3.1 percent when schools texted prospective students important deadline information. That's a big step in combating what researchers call "summer melt" or the tendency for high school students, especially low-income or first-generation students to not attend college even after being accepted. 

Castleman’s book, “The 160-Character Solution” argues that “nudges” in the form of texts and other social media can help students meet college application deadlines. Castleman also argues that texting can increase overall student performance. To be clear Castleman isn’t saying texting is a magic potion that cures all ills. It’s just one tool.

“It’s not texting itself that makes these nudges successful, it’s attending to details, like the frequency, timing and framing of messages,” Castleman tells the Hechinger Report.

From the Amazon blurb, “By focusing on behavioral changes, Castleman demonstrates that small changes in how we ask questions, design applications, and tailor reminders can have remarkable impacts on student and school success.

So parents next time you want your offspring to clean their room (or attend college) try bombarding them with texts. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Read a more in-depth review of the book from the Hechinger Report.


Former Washington Supreme Court Justice worries charter school ruling endangers Running Start, other programs

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, not everyone is a former state Supreme Court justice.

Philip Talmadge is a former Washington State Supreme Court justice and he believes the recent charter school court ruling is a mistake. A mistake that could end "many other innovative programs like Running Start …" 

In an opinion piece Talmadge wrote Monday for the Tacoma News Tribune, he says the ruling was misguided. The basic crux of his argument is that the court is confusing "school programs with a common school system."

The state constitution must provide a system that is open to all. That doesn't mean that the state can't fund specialized programs, he argues.

That's why he thinks the ruling could jeopardize programs like Running Start, which are funded by the state yet not operated by local school districts.

"Public charter schools are as constitutional in Washington as in the other 41 states that approved them in the prior 20 years," he writes.

Read (or skim) the court's opinion here. Read Talmadge's opinion piece here.


Seattle teachers, district come to tentative agreement; school may resume Thursday

Seattle teachers reached a tentative agreement with the city’s school district as their strike entered its fifth day Tuesday, but they will stay on the picket lines pending its approval.

Spokane teachers nearly went on strike last week, however the Spokane Education Association and Spokane Public Schools were able to come to a one-year contract agreement. They will start negotiating next year's contract in January.

Spokane teachers wanted better compensation, as do Seattle teachers.

Both disputes have ties to state-wide education funding issues. Although the state is constitutionally obligated to support education, in the past districts have partially supported teacher pay themselves. The 2012 Washington Supreme Court McCleary ruling determined that the state is failing to meet its constitutional duty to pay for the cost of basic education. That’s why this year’s Spokane teacher contract included a cost-of-living increase provided by the state. However, union officials across the state believed more was needed. 


It’s time to register

If your child will be 5 on or before Aug. 31, it's almost time to register for kindergarten.

Spokane Public Schools will begin registration on March 2. 

Central Valley School District kindergarten registration begin on March 5.

Families can register at their neighborhood elementary schools in the appropriate district.

What you'll need: a birth certificate or other verification of age, proof of residency and the student’s immunization records.

Bill to help get kids outside gets hearing in Olympia

OUTDOOR EDUCATION — A Senate committee will hold a hearing today, Feb. 11, at 1:30 p.m. on “No Child Left Inside,” a bipartisan bill (SB 5843) that provides $1.3 million for programs to get kids to away from their screens and back outdoors. 

A media release from the bill’s introduction by Sens. Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and Parlette (R-Wenatchee) note's that Washington’s NCLI has inspired federal legislation of the same name. 

Scheduled to testify at today's hearing are:

  • Oak Rankin of Darrington, whose community was devastated by the Oso landslide in 2014. This bill would enable funding for programs such as the Darrington Youth Outdoor STEM Pilot Project  which helps students learn about local natural resources.
  • Joshua Brandon, a veteran and program manager for Project Cohort, a program designed to support veterans’ mental health, in part through outdoor activities. The legislation’s grant program encourages funding for programs that tap veterans for program implementation or administration.
  • Courtney Aber who heads up YMCA’s BOLD & GOLD programs (Boys Outdoor Leadership Development & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development)
  • Martin LeBlanc of IslandWood, the Bainbridge Island-based outdoor education organization
  • Marc Berejka from REI

Education headline roundup

Education offers a variety of interesting stories. The following are a few headlines from around the country.

Orlando Sentinel: Weird Testing Rules: No Flushing Toilets, Please - http://bit.ly/1wsjV8s

Hechinger Report: New York school beats the odds by “going rogue” on Common Core - http://bit.ly/14hlgax

Atlantic Monthly: Science, in the words of Alan Alda - http://theatln.tc/1ywGDlu

New York Times: Ban on Cellphones in New York City Schools to Be Lifted - http://nyti.ms/1wVh6f9

Everett Herald: Survey finds favor among voters for Inslee tax plans - http://bit.ly/1AsVtu2

Birding, fly fishing programs presented this week

 OUTGROUPS – Inland Northwest outdoors groups have drummed up some good stuff for their monthly free programs. Among this week’s offerings are:

• Trans-America touring and local bicycling programs will be discussed by three speakers, 6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 10, at Riverview Retirement Center, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., for Spokane Bicycle Club.

• Climate change impacts on Palouse Praire ecosystems, by Sanford Eigenbrode, professor in the University of Idaho's Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences program, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11, at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Road in Coeur d’Alene, for Coeur d’Alene Audubon.

• Fly Auction, anglers donate hand-tied fly patterns for auction to benefit local fishing education and fisheries conservation programs, 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12, at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, for Spokane Fly Fishers.

• "Exploring South America — The Bird Continent", by Lucila Castro and Peter Morrison of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Riverview Retirement Center, for Spokane Audubon.