Archive for the 'Manning' Category

Mar 06 2015

On tiered licensing

Published by under Manning

manning TRAVIS
MANNING

 
Opinion

The big hand of government is heavy. Right now, Idaho lawmakers are attempting to swipe local control from Idaho’s school districts and charters with House Bill 222, the career ladder and tiered licensure plan.

With only a couple weeks left, lawmakers finally decided to bring out this 33-page behemoth of a bill. Lawmakers got sidetracked this session with the Idaho Education Network debacle so put off dealing with this controversial legislation until now.

Idaho legislators are fond of railing against the federal government, demanding that Idaho have control of its own destiny, from healthcare to wilderness, environmental policy to education. Ironically, state lawmakers then hamstring local municipalities.

Gov. Otter and legislative leaders have touted the need to attract and retain high quality teachers in Idaho, but House Bill 222 doesn’t do that. This plan barely moves the needle in terms of attracting teachers because of all the heavy handed mandates couched in this proposal.

Teachers entering the education field have plummeted the past five years. Some districts have resorted to head-hunting organizations like Teach For America because they are desperate to hire for hard-to-fill positions. Provisional certification can be given to someone with a degree who wants to try out teaching, but it’s with little support. Districts are hiring hundreds of student teachers under emergency licenses because they have no other options.

And the big hand of government is trying to help fix the problem? I say, get out of the way and let’s have an open and honest conversation about political agendas getting ahead of truly improving Idaho’s public schools.

HB 222 makes teachers accountable for conditions over which they have little or no control. It is entirely unfair to connect a majority of student test scores to teachers, when there are so many factors that influence a child. Teachers are not afraid of accountability, but tying student test scores to teacher pay is flat out unethical.

There is nothing in the state Constitution about adequate tax breaks for corporations. Just ask IACI President Alex LaBeau, who’s recent email rant against teachers reveals a corporate entitlement attitude all too prevalent here in Idaho.

Disturbingly, the tiered licensure plan being pushed by the Idaho House was sold to the Governor’s taskforce on education last year with misleading data released from the Idaho State Department of Education. Department data only included white students. When comparing Idaho to other states with similar demographics, and excluding Idaho’s nearly 20 percent minority student population, it made Idaho’s data look bad. Continue Reading »

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Jan 20 2014

The problem with Common Core testing

Published by under Manning

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. Continue Reading »

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Sep 28 2013

About K12 Inc.

Published by under Manning

manning TRAVIS
MANNING

 
Opinion

Idaho’s largest virtual charter school, with approximately 3,500 students, has outsourced student essays to India for review in the grading process.

The revelation that K12 Inc., the world’s largest online charter school provider, sent thousands of student essays overseas was revealed back in 2008 by Arizona blogger David Safier. But it wasn’t until September 2013 that K12 verified at least one Idaho charter school was also involved. After being pressed, K12 admitted that Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA), Idaho’s largest virtual school and operated by K12 Inc., had outsourced student essays.

“This was a pilot program offered by K12 to give teachers additional support,” said K12 spokesperson Jeff Kwitowski in an email. “Reviewers provided initial feedback, but teachers assigned grades.

Teachers could use the service at their discretion. It was used by some schools, including IDVA, until the pilot was discontinued.”

Records I have obtained indicate that between August and December 2007 IDVA outsourced over 3,000 essays to India. A Sept. 10, 2008, Education Week article reveals K12 eventually settled into a business relationship with TutorVista, a tutoring service in Bangalore, India. In so doing, IDVA may have violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which protects student work and private information.

K12’s “pilot” project highlights an important issue within for-profit charter schools: adequate oversight. Private companies like K12 are not subject to open meetings laws or public records requests.

Ironically, K12’s website claims, “We must foster a culture of professionalism, service, transparency, accountability….” Difficult to hold a company’s board of directors, CEO’s and shareholders to this standard when their business practices, products and services are considered “proprietary.” There is no reason to believe the “pilot” project would have ever been discontinued had an investigator not unearthed the practice and dragged it into the sunlight of parental scrutiny. The IRS is also investigating. Continue Reading »

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Aug 26 2013

View from a Mormon Democrat

Published by under Idaho,Manning

manning TRAVIS
MANNING

 
Opinion

I am proud to be an Idaho Mormon Democrat.

Not an oxymoron, there are thousands of Idaho Democrats all across this great state who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I was raised in a Republican house hold by dedicated parents who happened to be devout Mormons.

For years, I esteemed the tenets of the Republican Party as part and parcel to my own moral compass, aligning my political feelings and the political platform of the Republican Party with my firmly held sentiments on social justice and Constitutional protections.

For years, I was a dedicated Republican and happy with a party perhaps best epitomized by President Ronald Reagan. Pragmatic, Reagan was willing to compromise when necessary because he understood that he was president of the United States of America – not just for those in his own party – but for everyone who was a citizen of this great country.

Having worked on George W. Bush’s campaign in Washington State over a decade ago, and traveled the world and seen many different cultures and peoples, I became troubled in recent years with an Idaho political system hell bent on ignoring hundreds of thousands of Idaho citizens, be they Hispanic, poor, Democrat, or otherwise moderate in their viewpoints.

Most recently, I became disenchanted with an Idaho legislature that publicly and unabashedly devalued the funding of Idaho’s public schools. Using an economic downturn as a calculated excuse, the legislature tried to ignore its Idaho Constitutional duty to “establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” This same legislature continues to damage public schools today, flying radically in the face of two-thirds of Idahoans who voted down their extreme measures last year in Props 1, 2 & 3.

In recent years, I didn’t leave the Republican Party – the Republican Party left me.

The Republican Party is quick to talk about the notion of competition in business, even education, but is slow to recognize the value of competition in the political playing field, which ideological blind spot is disturbing because it – intentionally or not – devalues rigorous public discourse. When policymakers are not fully accountable to its people, how can public policy be adequately vetted?

It’s ironic that the Idaho GOP platform is quick to want “unequivocal, thorough scientific research” when it comes to managing water flows for fish conservation, but somehow forgets to require the same demands for solid research for drastic, punitive, so called education reforms.

A healthy state government in Idaho needs a healthy Idaho Democratic Party.

While campaigning last year for the legislature, I was appalled to talk to hundreds of Idaho citizens who reluctantly, casually, often quietly admitted they were Democrats, with a quick eye glance to see who might be listening nearby. I was told by dozens that they feared retribution from a boss at work if they revealed their political affiliation. Reprisals for political affiliation have absolutely zero place in a democratic republic like the United States of America and are entirely illegal. Continue Reading »

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owb1444

WASHINGTON-OREGON-IDAHO Our acclaimed weekly e-pubs: 35-45 pages Monday mornings getting you on top of your state. Samples available. Contact us by email or by phone at (208)484-0460.

 

 
RIDENBAUGH BOOKS
 


 
This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
 
100 Influential Idahoans 2015. By Randy Stapilus; published by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 202 pages. Softcover. List price $16.95.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015 page.

100 Influential Idahoans 2015
Idaho
 
 
"Essentially, I write in the margins of motherhood—and everything else—then I work these notes into a monthly column about what it’s like raising my two young boys. Are my columns funny? Are they serious? They don’t fit into any one box neatly. ... I’ve won awards for “best humorous column” though I actually write about subjects as light as bulimia, bullying, birthing plans and breastfeeding. But also bon-bons. And barf, and birthdays." Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons. by Nathalie Hardy; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 238 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
Raising the Hardy Boys page.

 

Hardy

 
"Not a day passes that I don’t think about Vietnam. Sometimes its an aroma or just hearing the Vietnamese accent of a store clerk that triggers a memory. Unlike all too many soldiers, I never had to fire a weapon in anger. Return to civilian life was easy, but even after all these years away from the Army and Vietnam I find the experience – and knowledge – continue to shape my life daily."
 
Drafted! Vietnam in War and in Peace. by David R. Frazier; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton OR. 188 pgs. Softcover. $15.95.
The DRAFTED! page.

 

Drafted
 
Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.
See the THROUGH THE WATERS page.


 
Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014; he was widely praised for steady leadership in difficult years. Writer Scott Jorgensen talks with Atiyeh and traces his background, and what others said about him.
Conversations with Atiyeh. by W. Scott Jorgensen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 140 pages. Softcover. $14.95.
The CONVERSATIONS WITH ATIYEH page.

Atiyeh
 
"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.


 
Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.