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Posts published in January 2014

The problem with Common Core testing

manning TRAVIS
MANNING

 
Opinion

We have reached a testing crisis in Idaho and Common Core hasn’t helped. As a current high school English teacher, I know. We are over-testing children, including the new 8-hour Common Core test: theSmarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

In high school alone we give students the PSAT, SAT, IELA, PLAN, ACT, pre- and post-tests, end-of-semester exams, ASVAB, Science ISAT, AP tests, SBAC, PLATO, benchmarks, Career Information System (CIS) and sometimes the NAEP. Not all students take every test every year, but the testing process disrupts the entire school calendar, regardless. Testing burns weeks of instructional time, clogs up school computer labs, and costs millions. Special education students are given even more tests, often with accommodations to take as much time as they need, soaking up weeks more in a teacher’s curriculum calendar.

I support the Common Core standards generally, but I do not support the high-stakes test, the SBAC.

Last year I wrote an op-ed in support of Common Core, but there are some ongoing concerns since then that haven’t been addressed by policymakers: fiscal strain, increased class sizes, cutting necessary programs and courses, teacher and student privacy issues, and tying teacher merit pay to SBAC.

The proposed teacher career ladder is coming down the pike, but details are sketchy. Idaho legislators want to tie as much as 50 percent of SBAC scores to teacher pay. “Our students are the most over-tested in the world,” writes education historian Dr. Diane Ravitch in a January 11, 2014 speech. “No other nation—at least no high-performing nation — judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools.”

We have become a nation infatuated with standardized testing and, in the process, have given private testing companies the onus for unnecessarily labeling schools, children and teachers. Groups like the Albertson Foundation and their Don’t Fail Idaho campaign continue to beat public schools about the head with statistics. Their campaign is meant to inform – but also to demoralize public schools – in order to privatize them, convert them into for-profit charters. (more…)

On the front page

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Drone look at pygmy rabbit turf (Boise Statesman)
Review Inslee's legislative proposals (Moscow News)
Another record year on the farm (Nampa Press-Tribune)
Flag football league at Nampa (Nampa Press-Tribune)
New grade school at Murtaugh (TF Times News)

YMCA and store both want Civic site (Eugene Register Guard)
Fish have too much mercury in Rogue River (Ashland Tidings)
$100K art project planned for Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Woodburn police sue leadership (Portland Oregonian)

Seahawks go to Super Bowl (just about all)
More on bikini coffee owner in court (Everett Herald)
Inslee's legislative plans addressed (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
Digital records coming at St. John hospital (Longivew News)
State bill would regulate drones (Port Angeles News)
Repairs on Greene Street bridge (Spokane Spokesman)

What made the front page

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Two lobbyists conduct GP campaign school (Boise Statesman)
Special school elections coming up (Lewiston Tribune)
Democrats get more respect in legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Prison escapees have links to Canyon (Nampa Press Tribune)
Wolf plan survives in court (Nampa Press Tribune)
Big new regional sheriffs armored vehicle (Pocatello Journal)
New chamber plans on economic development (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello schools still deciding on fired coach (Pocatello Journal)
Sandpoint Fire Chief retires (Sandpoint Bee)
Problems with mobile elk (TF Times News)

The upcoming legislative session (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing KF downtown redevelopment (KF Herald & News)
Concerns about Medford gang violence (Medford Tribune)
Former commissioner Walker dies (Medford Tribune)
Review of Cover Oregon's mishaps (Portland Oregonian)
Contest for Roseburg council seats (Roseburg Review)
E-cigarettes become more popular (Salem Statesman-Journal)

The risks of going into pot business (Everett Herald)
Bakers face discrimination issues (Kennewick Herald)
Finishing work on Boeing tanker (Everett Herald)
Sheriff proposes law enforcement levy (Longview News)
Child porn victims want restitution (Everett Herald, Longview News)
Oil distributor shuts down (Port Angeles News)
Acting prosecutor will quit (Port Angeles News)
Prepping for more oil shipments (Spokane Spokesman)
Legislators hear about medical pot (Tacoma News Tribune)
Looking ahead to legislature, budget (Yakima Herald Republic)

Lesson from the past

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

An array of familiar Democratic faces turned up Tuesday at the Boise press conference where attorney Nels Mitchell announced his run for the Senate against Republican Jim Risch, but one in particular may have resonated for people familiar with recent Idaho politics.

He was Mike Burkett, a former state senator and like Mitchell an attorney. Also like him, he has run as a Democrat against Risch. What's remarkable about Burkett is that he is one of the few people ever to beat Risch in a political contest.

That was in 1988, long before Risch was a U.S. senator, but at another time when he was powerfully positioned in the state, as Senate president pro tem. Risch then had been winning elections for 18 years (for county prosecutor, then senator) and had never lost one. He was very smart, disciplined, an excellent speaker and debater and (with his wife Vicki) a fine political strategist, and centrally positioned among Idaho Republicans in his points of view.

There was also a rap on him: That he was arrogant, loved to wield power, stepped on people. Respect was there; likability slipped over time. By 1986 Risch's winning margin was 54 percent, not a marker of strength. In 1988 he made the mistake of backing a primary challenge to a sometimes obstreperous member of his caucus, Rachel Gilbert. Gilbert, as was her wont, shot back, describing Risch as a Statehouse power out to crush independent-minded people like her. She won her primary.

When Burkett ran against Risch that year, he played a role Gilbert could have scripted: As an outsider and an unknown with a small-town demeanor, which didn't stop him from blasting Risch strongly, feeding the narrative of Risch as a powerful insider. Risch lost.

That of course was a quarter-century ago, and Idaho was a different place then, less Republican than now. Risch since has gone on to win more elections. (Disclaimer here: I was campaign manager for one of his opponents, in 2002.) The power-seeker rap wouldn't work nearly as well now in the context of a U.S. Senate seat, where he's one vote out of 100, and in the minority (at present), and working mostly outside the state. (more…)

Playing politics, flipping sides

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

Last week's discussion among legislators about bringing back legislation moving toward background checks for gun buyers seemed a little oddly-positioned. It was legislation that failed – decisively, not reach floor votes – last year; nothing much has happened since to change many attitudes toward it; and this short session is intended mainly for tightly-focused items that need resolution right away. Background checks might seem more logically revisited after the net election, which could rejigger the political calculus.

Republicans quickly jumped to the argument that the revival of this legislation in the election year session might be specifically politically oriented – even down to specific seats.

Of all seats Oregon Senate Democrats see as top targets, two jump out: the Hillsboro-area seat held by Republican Bruce Starr, and the Corvallis/Albany seat held by Republican Betsy Close. In both cases, Democrats have a registration advantage, and probably have already an advantage for taking over one of those seats (Close's; no Democrat has filed for the Hillsoboro seat, yet). The thinking is that putting Starr and Close on the spot on the backgrounding bill will give Democrats an advantageous issue heading toward November.

If so (we won't prejudge the motivations here), there's a significant side-comment here. The presumption has been that outside of central urban areas, gun legislation was mostly a political winner on the anti-legislation side. These two districts at stake are not central urban districts. Hillsboro is the substantial community in the Portland metro area farthest from Portland and until now most receptive to Republicans and conservatives. The Albany/Corvallis district has two midsized cities but is located out in the farm country.

Does the politics of this suggest that the politics of guns is changing a bit?

The desire named street car

From the Boise Guardian web site, based in Boise.

Thousands of tax dollars later, Team Dave’s desire named street car has resurfaced.

This time around instead of hiring a PR outfit to create public support for Mayor Dave Bieter’s dream of a “downtown circulator,” city officials are aiming for a Jan. 29 meeting to seek “input” on what type of circulator in the downtown area is desired… not presuming no street car is desired, based on past surveys.

The GUARDIAN can only echo years and years of reports, studies, surveys, and studies. Give us a damn bus system and quit wasting our money! People wanting a streetcar make as much sense as those who hailed the runaway bus driver as a hero–before coppers filed charges against him for whacking trees and nearly wiping out the Idaho Power building.

Hint: the city is unlikely to get streetcar permission from ACHD if they can’t get the hockey pucks installed to monitor parking meters.

What Made the Front Page

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Little change in NW fish plan (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Nezperce schools asked to change Indian mascots (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho school budgets rank low (Moscow News)
Oil and can development on Canyon land (Nampa Press Tribune)
Monsanto growing wheat at Filer (TF Times News)
Boise hospitals ordered to respond to data requests (TF Times News)

OSU pay info battle goes on (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Some skiing ongoing in Oregon (Eugene Register Guard)
Store concerns about new liquor law (Hermiston Herald)
No major Hermiston airport upgrades (Hermiston Herald)
Still no Upper Klamath water agreement (KF Herald & News)
Ashland considers business license change for pot (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
State tests mercury in Rogue River (Medford Tribune)
Milton Freewater wants well review (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Gun background check moves in Senate (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman-Journal)
Tri-Met still rewarding executives (Portland Oregonian)
Ron Tonkin, car dealer, dies (Portland Oregonian)
Schedule set for PERS challenge (Salem Statesman Journal)
Marijuana hearing features critics (Salem Statesman-Journal)

Bikini barista in court (Everett Herald)
Areva wins Hanford contract (Kennewick Herald)
3 Rivers snags outdoor store (Longview News)
Child porn victims want damages (Seattle Times)
Two legislative seats filled (Tacoma News Tribune)
GMO battles resume at statehous (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima prosecutor won't run again (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima city fills council seat (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakamas may get fill legal control on land (Yakima Herald Republic)

Price on unifying economic developmnt

mendiola MARK
MENDIOLA

 
Reports

Bank of Idaho President and CEO Park Price strongly encourages eastern Idaho’s three economic development organizations - Bannock Development Corp., Bingham Economic Development Corp. and Grow Idaho Falls Inc. - to effectively flex their collective clout by merging into a single regional force.

Speaking at a recent Rotary Club of Pocatello luncheon, Price noted the three organizations have been discussing the possibility of consolidating into a single entity, which he said would pay dividends for years to come throughout the region.

The Idaho Falls bank executive - who holds an economics degree from Dartmouth, ran a successful Pocatello car dealership for many years and has been engaged in economic development for more than 30 years - noted the Pocatello/Idaho Falls region boasts a population of 250,000 and a work force of nearly 130,000, the second largest in Idaho behind Boise.

Price praised successful economic development efforts in the Magic Valley where communities and counties in the Twin Falls area cooperate as a cohesive unit. The Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization (SIEDO) has wracked up several impressive achievements, including $800 million in industrial projects built or announced since November 2012, creating more than 1,200 jobs.

Those projects include Chobani’s massive $100 million yogurt plant near Twin Falls, Glanbia’s $15 million cheese innovation center, Frulact Group’s $40 million fruit processing plant in Rupert adding 100 jobs, a new $160 million Clif Bar plant employing 250, McCain Foods’ expansion adding 150 jobs in Burley, Monsanto’s Wheat Technology Innovation Center in Filer with 30 jobs, Gossner Cheese’s $20 million investment in a Mini-Cassia plant, etc., etc.

“Major private investors in Bannock Development and Grow Idaho Falls with whom I’ve spoken are in favor of a regional approach,” Price said, noting the Salt Lake Valley and areas around Bozeman, Billings and Missoula, Mont., pose the greatest competition to eastern Idaho for jobs that pay living wages. “The competition is no longer other communities in Idaho.”

Price warned the trend of companies incorporating technology in all their processes and emphasizing automation to remain competitive does not bode well for low- or semi-skilled workers, whom he said are part of the long term unemployed.

He mentioned that in September he toured the J.R. Simplot Co.’s new 380,000 square foot plant in Caldwell, which has brought about the closure of Simplot plants in Aberdeen, Caldwell and Nampa.

“The three older plants employed about 1200. The new plant will employ just 265. The plant is a fine example of technological efficiency,” Price said, adding there are not fork lift operators, sorters or other laborers employed there, only employees who operate computers or maintain equipment. (more…)

What made the front page

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Bergdahl video appears from Afghanistan (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Moscow News)
Battle over Shakespeare Festival land (Boise Statesman)
Counties resist additional medical costs (Lewiston Tribune)
Dog control in Lapwai may increase (Lewiston Tribune)
WSU tuition might drop with legislation (Moscow News)
Activism about megaloads through Moscow (Moscow News)
Luna okays Common Core testing scaldown (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa library project finances uncertain (Nampa Press Tribune)
Common Core at legislature (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello senior center closes over asbestos (Pocatello Journal)
Blackfoot state of the city talk (Pocatello Journal)
Carrie Logan sworn as new Sandpoint mayor (Sandpoint Bee)
Bonner assessor seeks re-election (Sandpoint Bee)
Critics blast wolf killings (TF Times News)
Fish & Game panel appointees questioned (TF Times News)

Highway 99 cam at Junction City for trucks (Eugene Register Guard)
YMCA increased offer for Civic Stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Dispute over Klamath County charter (KF Herald & News)
Meeting on gase grouse rules, rancher impact (KF Heralf & News)
Splitting strategies among Jefferson advocates (Ashland Tidings)
Petition to limit guns in Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Pendleton urban renewal weakening (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Two Umatilla commissioner seek to reup (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pendleton prison official demoted (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Legislators mull liquor system (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Legislator calls for ending Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Racial equity report card on legislators (Salem Statesman Journal)
Private forest owners wnat replanting help (Salem Statesman Journal)

Hanford reach exhibit gets $100k donation (Kennewick Herald)
Krush Ultra Lounge at Seqium closes (Port Angeles News)
Sequim reviews city hall options (Port Angeles News)
More problems with Bertha (Seattle Times)
Catholic organizations filing gays who marry (Seattle Times)
State points to Spokane for Boeing development (Spokane Spokesman)
New owner for Spokane Shock football (Spokane Spokesman)
More state aid to Boeing? (Vancouver Columbian)
Two Clark credit uninions merge (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot ban at Yakima progresses (Yakima Herald Republic)
Clinic for farm workers shifts affiliation (Yakima Herald Republic)

Doug Fairbanks he ain’t

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Someone – we don’t know who just yet – but someone has pulled back the curtain on that pudgy little fella working the controls in New Jersey politics. And what we see back there is he’s just a real – and flawed – little guy like the rest of us. He’s really not “larger-than-life.” He’s really not a “different kind of politician.” And he won’t be on the presidential ballot in 2016. He’s lied. Several times. And it’s been proven.

Though a follower of things political, I’ve tried to avoid getting into this Christie mess. In the first week or two of disclosures of the abuses in the George Washington Bridge story, the whole thing seemed like a tempest in a Jersey teapot. Disgraceful actions by an overzealous staff run amok. Just the usual B.S. But Christie himself, a New York media blitz, the purely amateurish and irrational actions of some of his Republican political travelers and pictures – those damning pictures – have made it impossible to “walk on by.”

When this whole thing blew up a couple of weeks ago, I said to myself “Self,” I said. “This guy’s a pro. He’s tough. He’s a straight shooter. He’ll ream out his staff, throw out the garbage and put the whole thing to rest. Nothing to see here. Go on to something else.”

But Christie has become his own worst problem. At first, he hunkered down. Silence. Then he decided spending two hours on his feet with New York and national media would put the whole thing to rest. It didn’t. For two reasons.

First, answering questions from 60-70 reporters while staying “on message” for that time is impossible. You’re going to get the same questions 12 different ways. And, if you stray from the absolute truth just once, you’re going to screw up and contradict something before it’s over. Christie thought he could beat that. He didn’t. He screwed up several times.

Second, his lengthy appearance “on camera” was probably the longest continuous stretch he’s stood before the national public to be looked over. What he showed was not the image of a controlled, even-tempered, intelligent and wise decision-maker in command of his duties. Presidential material, as it were. He was alternately churlish, apologetic, humble, over-bearing, articulate, inarticulate, knowing, unknowing, aware of detail, unaware of detail and obviously reaching to find new answers to questions already answered. He lost me when he tried to make himself a victim going through the “cycles of grief.” (more…)

A sense of fair play

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Students at Bellevue’s Eastside Catholic High School are in the process of learning the old lesson about how unfair authority can appear. In the process, though, they may turn the tables and provide Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain their own “teaching moment.”

As most parents know, each generation has an evolving sense of “fair play.” Youth is quick to spot hypocrisy and utter the phrase all parents hear too soon: “that’s not fair!”

All authority figures, whether parents, politicians, priests or the police, end up replying with some version of “life’s not fair, kid,” or “that’s tough, that’s the way life is.” And the young respond with “That doesn’t make it right,” or “That’s not the way it should be.”

Part of the problem is each generation believes it has a superior sense of justice as well as an expectation that justice is truly blind to the inequities created by money and power. Infusing this expectation is a concurrent sense that most issues are black or white with consistency prevailing, not gray and inconsistent.

The issue at hand is the forced resignation by the Archdiocese just before the Christmas break of Mark Zmuda, a beloved teacher, administrator and coach for the past 13 years. By all accounts he is a competent, professional person performing well.

His “mistake” (and sin in the eyes of the Church) was that of availing himself of his right under Washington law to marry his same-sex partner last summer. Some one complained to the Archdiocese that this was a violation of his contract which requires conformance with Catholic teachings.

Before this matter has run its course the Eastside Catholic students may indeed extract the proverbial pound of flesh by creating continuing publicity which at a minimum will embarrass an Archbishop they believe should have known better than to step into this particular cow pie. (more…)

What made the front page

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Bus accident report targets driver (Boise Statesman)
More charges for Bujak, Canyon prosecutor (Boise Statesman)
Legislature looks at dental care cost (Lewiston Tribune)
Inslee would boost minimum wage (Lewiston Tribune)
Bennett mill reopens near Clarkston (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow review sewage temperature (Moscwo News)
Pullman plans sewer line to Airport Road (Moscow News)
Flu spreading (Pocatello Journal, Sandpoint Bee)
No gay joint tax returns in Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
Conditions good for avalanche (Pocatello Journal)
Western States Equipment builds in Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
TF reviews Snake canyon jump cost (TF Times News)
Gay marriage, add the words at Statehouse (TF Times News)
Sage grouse meeting packed (TF Times News)

Flu rates rising, response (Eugene Register Guard)
Attorney suggests revising stadium deal (Eugene Register Guard)
Two Hermiston council members to depart (Pendleton East Oregonian, Hermiston Herald)
Hermiston police wanted growing business initiative (Hermiston Herald)
Klamath County mulls $144 jail fee for all (KF Herald & News)
Klamath Project water cut in half (KF Herald & News)
Considering dangerous dogs in Medford (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Maybe more residential in east Medford (Medford Tribune)
Vote planned for Medford teachers (Medford Tribune)
Potholes yield suit against Penfleton (Pendleton East Oregonian)
CRC officials at legislative hearing (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Firearms still packed at PDX (Portland Oregonians)
Near-record low for Oregon traffic fatalities (Portland Oregonian)
Salem considers school boundaries (Salem Statesman Journal)

Inslee state of state, minimum wage (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
State might override local pot bans (Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick TriCity Herald)
Snohomish internal battle over tech department (Everett Herald)
Hanford budget may rise (Kennewick TriCity Herald)
Gun range may growth with grant (Longview News)
Longview PUD may raise manager pay (Longview News)
New Clallam prosecutor (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles business groups unite (Port Angeles News)
Machinist union chief retires (Seattle Times)
Regional economic boost still on (Spokane Spokesman)
Senator Murray promotes CRC (Vancouver Columbian)
Oregon reviews CRC options (Vancouver Columbian)