Schools chief Bergeson gives last speech

  • By Donna Gordon Blankinship Associated Press
  • Friday, November 21, 2008 10:18pm
  • Local NewsNorthwest

SEATTLE — Terry Bergeson is asking Washington state education leaders to continue her efforts as she leaves her job as superintendent of public instruction.

Her final “state of education” speech, delivered Friday, comes after 12 years as head of Washington’s education department and 45 years working in the field.

She said the two biggest challenges the state’s education system will face in the years ahead will be a lack of money and the punitive side of federal education laws.

“Any cuts to our already strained and underfunded system will be devastating,” Bergeson told the Washington State School Directors’ Association at its meeting in Spokane. “Education is our paramount duty, regardless of the fiscal crisis that we face.”

She expressed optimism about the work of a legislative task force assigned the job of figuring out how to fix the way the state pays for education.

The Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance, which is scheduled to meet again next week, is working to finalize its proposal for a new teacher pay system, goals for better student-teacher ratios and ideas for paying for classroom technology and more help for struggling students.

The task force is still debating how to pay for a longer school day and whether teacher salaries should be negotiated by the state instead of by individual school districts.

Bergeson congratulated Randy Dorn, who was elected to take her place as superintendent of public instruction. However, she spoke out against his plans to get rid of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning and said she continues to support the goal of higher education standards.

“As President-elect Obama says: ‘Mend it, don’t end it,’” Bergeson said.

Dorn, who spoke later in the day to the same group, said in a telephone interview that he also supports high standards but feels it will take a lot more than a simple “mend” to turn the WASL into a useful tool for teachers, students and parents.

“I’ve championed having an assessment as a tool. I don’t think the WASL is a tool,” Dorn said.

He said the WASL needs to be shorter, the results need to get to people faster, it should be hooked up to technology and the information it provides should be understandable to parents, students and teachers.

Dorn said the WASL should help parents and teachers design a better education program for each child and that simply isn’t possible when the results aren’t available until four months after the test is given.

In his speech, he shared an idea for helping both the economy and education. Dorn said he is lobbying in Washington, D.C., for a share of the economic stimulus package to be redirected toward the nation’s schools.

“I propose that we go after $100 billion to invest in universities, community colleges, technical schools and K-12 education so students don’t suffer the effects of the economy,” Dorn said, adding that he is discussing the idea with Washington’s congressional delegation.

He thinks this investment in education would help many more people and save many more jobs than putting the same $100 billion into one corporation, and it would send a message to the rest of the world: “In a downturn, you invest in your people.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Car crashes into Everett apartment, displacing residents

No one was injured in the crash late Friday, according to Everett police.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read