Lawmakers hope to dissect a teacher’s day

OLYMPIA – What goes on each day inside thousands of public schools is a vexing question Washington lawmakers want to answer.

For the second year in a row, there’s an effort to find out how teachers, administrators and staff spend their time and use what is learned to guide future decisions by the Legislature.

The Senate education committee held a hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 6064 to compile data on how each of the state’s 295 districts defines and uses school time.

“Are (schools) being productive? What’s actually going on, nobody knows,” Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, the bill’s author and chairman of the committee said before the hearing. “The more information we have, the better understanding we’ll gain of what’s going on.”

He deflected concerns that lawmakers might use the information to impose new mandates on public schools.

“At the end of the day, if you’re a high-performing school, you’ll keep on doing what you’re doing,” he said.

Most speakers at the hearing welcomed such an analysis because they are convinced it will illuminate the dedication of school employees.

“Bring it on. Find out what’s really going on in our schools,” said Jim Kowalkowski, superintendent of the Davenport School District, near Spokane.

A year ago, lawmakers passed and Gov. Jay Inslee signed a nearly identical bill. It requested the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee carry out the work but it couldn’t. This time, they are asking the Washington Institute of Public Policy to undertake the task.

The bill seeks information on how districts determine classroom and non-classroom time as well as instructional and non-instructional time. They want researchers to see if the use of time is spelled out in collective bargaining agreements. The report would be due Dec. 1, 2015, and cost an estimated $137,000.

Meanwhile, lawmakers did include $25,000 in the budget for Central Washington University to begin gathering data on what a typical work day looks like for a public school teacher.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, then a representative, argued for the money.

At the time he said he had tired of the back-and-forth between reformers convinced teachers spend too little time teaching and the teachers contending they can’t spend as much time as they want because of a growing number of non-teaching responsibilities.

He said he thought teachers are weighted down by state-imposed chores and wanted to find out if it’s true.

The Center for Teaching and Learning is trying to get an answer. In September, its researchers began collecting information from 5,000 elementary and secondary school teachers from 159 school districts.

Teachers, who hail from small, medium and large schools, are completing online surveys. Some also are logging in their hour-by-hour teaching and non-teaching related duties one week each month.

In the survey, teachers are answering questions about the amount of each day which is devoted to classroom planning or assessment, interaction with students and parents, preparation for standardized state exams, professional development and duties assigned by the school or district.

The final report is due to lawmakers June 30. The university received $25,000 in the state budget to cover the study.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah asked if the new study would be redundant of the university’s effort.

Steve DuPont, assistant director of government relations for Central Washington University, said the two studies would complement one another. And he also offered to have the university conduct the research if desired.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Floatplane wreckage recovery in Puget Sound begins

The U.S. Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle Deep Drone 8,000, a barge and a crane in recovery efforts.

U.S. 2 was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish on Monday evening because the Bolt Creek fire spread close to the highway. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire spreads

The highway was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish, mile posts 46 to 50.

This screenshot shows a man being hoisted to a rescue helicopter Monday after being involved in a plane crash near Lake Cavanaugh. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Brothers rescued after plane crash en route to Snohomish area

The two men, 78 and 79, were flying from Skagit County to an airstrip south of Snohomish when their plane went missing.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Police: Purse snatching in Everett park led to stabbing

A Snohomish woman, 36, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

A semi truck blows smoke out of its exhaust pipes while driving southbound on I-5 on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reader: Did a tractor-trailer cover my car in diesel soot?

Probably not, according to a Department of Ecology spokesperson, since diesel emissions are getting “cleaner.”

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
Somers: Federal aid creates ‘historic opportunity’ to tackle challenges

The Snohomish County executive’s plan focuses on public safety, housing, child care, climate — and mountain biking.

Lynnwood City Council members, from left: Jim Smith, Shirley Sutton, Shannon Sessions, Josh Binda, George Hurst, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, and Patrick Decker. (City of Lynnwood)
No penalty for Lynnwood council member’s ‘underinformed’ views on racism

The City Council didn’t censure Jim Smith after a report found he discriminated against a Black city employee.

Christian Sayre at his bail hearing at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Anchor Pub ex-owner arrested again, released on Oregon sex crime warrant

On Monday, Everett police arrested Christian Sayre for the fifth time in the past year. A judge released him Tuesday.

Most Read