Inslee says ending some tax breaks would aid schools

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday proposed ending several tax breaks to put an additional $600 million into K-12 education over the next three years. Republicans, who control the Senate, argue the Legislature can wait because legislators put an additional $1 billion into education last year.

By Andrew Garber
Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday proposed ending several tax breaks to put an additional $600 million into K-12 education over the next three years.

Ending the breaks, including tax exemptions for bottled water and janitorial services, would put an additional $200 million into K-12 education this coming year and an additional $414 million during the next two-year budget cycle.

Inslee views his proposal as a down payment, noting the state Supreme Court recently warned lawmakers they weren’t moving fast enough to meet a court mandate on K-12 spending.

“The Supreme Court said it needs to see immediate, concrete action, not simply promises,” Inslee said.

While House Democrats support putting more money into education this year, Republicans, who control the Senate, argue the Legislature can wait.

“There’s a fairly broad consensus that in a 60-day session, with only 44 days left, it’s going to be hard to do something that would really reopen the whole budget,” Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond, said.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Legislature was violating the state’s constitution by failing to provide ample funding for public K-12 education.

It gave lawmakers until 2018 to raise education spending by an additional $3.5 billion to $7 billion per biennium, depending on whether the total includes more state money for teacher pay. It based the order on the Legislature’s own definition of what it means to provide a basic education for the state’s 1 million students.

Earlier this month, the court turned up the pressure by issuing an order that knocks lawmakers for moving too slowly.

Inslee argues the Legislature needs to act now if it’s to meet the court’s demands.

“If we don’t take this step, we will be falling behind the pace we need to maintain,” he said.

The proposal laid out Tuesday by the governor details how he would raise the money and where it would go.

Inslee proposes spending $130 million on basic K-12 materials and operations starting next school year. An additional $74 million would go to a cost-of-living increase for teachers.

Ending the tax breaks on his list would fully fund those proposals through the next two-year budget as well, according to his budget office.

Inslee said the current starting pay allocated by the state for teachers is $34,048, down from $34,426 five years ago. The cost-of-living increase would bring pay back to roughly where it was previously, according to the governor’s office.

Inslee proposes getting rid of a sales-tax exemption for bottled water and a sales-tax exemption for janitorial services, among others. Those two alone would bring in more than $40 million in the next fiscal year.

Another proposal would eliminate a sales-tax exemption for motor-vehicle trade-ins valued over $10,000. Currently, car buyers are charged a sales tax only on the difference between the purchase price of a new vehicle and the trade-in value of their old car.

Inslee proposes limiting the exemption to the first $10,000 in value of the trade-in. It would be worth about $45 million in additional tax collection over the next fiscal year.

The governor indicated he’s talked to GOP leaders about his proposal.

“The other party has said they don’t want to spend another dime on our children’s education this year,” Inslee said,

Republican leaders say there’s no need to hurry because the Legislature put an additional $1 billion into education last year and it will take time to figure out a way to come up with the rest of the funding that’s needed.


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US Education Secretary Visits Haiti Classrooms

US Education Secretary Duncan visits Haiti classrooms, calls for openness to improve schoolsBy TRENTON DANIEL Associated Press

A senior U.S. official visiting Haiti called Tuesday for greater transparency to improve the quality of education in the Caribbean country’s long-struggling classrooms.

In an interview with The Associated Press, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he believes that easier access to information can help improve education standards in Haiti by letting people know more about student and teacher enrollment and by letting them track student progress.

“One of the many needs here are clear data systems, having transparency, knowing basic things, like how many children we have, how many schools there are, how many teachers we have,” Duncan said. “I think it’s so important that everybody be transparent and honest on the good, the bad and the ugly.”

These data networks would also help educators know how many college graduates are staying in Haiti, which has one of the highest rates of brain drain the world, Duncan said.

Haitian President Michel Martelly, with whom Duncan met Monday, promised as a candidate to make education free and mandatory. He says a school tuition program financed by wire transfers and international phone calls has put 1.3 million children in school, though there’s been no independent verification to confirm the numbers.

On his two-day trip, Duncan visited a school where the children sleep on the streets at night. He also saw a seventh-grade class with more than a hundred students.

“Far from ideal conditions,” said Duncan, who came to Haiti at the invitation of Haiti’s education minister, Vanneur Pierre.

Duncan’s visit came as the U.S. Agency for International Development announced a $15 million grant to improve literacy rates in Haiti.

Most schools in Haiti are in deplorable conditions and attrition rates are high. Only about a half of Haiti’s children are able to attend primary school, and less than a fourth make it to secondary school, according to the U.N. children agency UNICEF.


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How Do I Keep My Students Interested?

How Do I Keep My Students Interested?

Maintaining interest in the subject matter is clearly one of the best things you can do for your teaching. If you are asked to give a speech, you want the audience to be receptive to the content of the speech. As a teacher, you must have an audience who listens and is interested in what you do. If you don’t, then you are in for a very long and miserable year. Or two years. Or a long career.So we must come up with things that we can do that will help to encourage and actively promote a high level of interest from the children we teach. What are some of these specific things you can do to help them be more interested?

1. Relate the content to their lives

“Why do I have to learn this?” If you are ever asked that question and don’t have an answer for it, other than, “because I said so,” then you have lost credibility. Why do we need to know grammar? Because it will help you be successful in life. Why do we need to know math? So people don’t cheat us out of our money! Why do we need to learn about the arts? To gain a greater understanding of cultures and history. And on it goes.

2. Relate your life to the content

Learn to be a story-teller. Although I strive to minimize talking, I still believe that an appropriately timed story can work wonders in encouraging and increasing interest in your subject. I make it a point to share with my classes whenever my dogs do funny things. Sometimes I am able to relate music to it, but other times, it’s just me telling a story. One of the Language Arts teachers at my school came up to me at the end of the year and told me about how her students were all writing a few paragraphs about their electives and sharing them with her and with each other. She said that a lot of them wrote wonderful stuff about band and about me and my dogs.

3. Have fun

This will make you enjoy your job more. When you enjoy your job, interest levels will go up with the students. When you have fun, you’ll go home happier at the end of the day. That’s a great thing.

4. Smile

Smiling is a result of having fun. I get too serious some of the times and don’t smile. I’ve had students ask me if I’m upset or tell me to smile more. It’s good for your health.

5. Laugh and get them laughing

Children love laughing. Adults love laughing. Laughing is good for your health too. Be funny. If you can handle it, make fun of yourself. Come up with nicknames for the students. Let them help you make up nicknames. One of the best ways to reduce tension in a stressful situation is to add levity. Because I don’t smile enough, I was told by a handful of students this year that they knew I wasn’t mad only after I would use one of their nicknames. It works.

So, some of these things will help to raise student interest. Some of them will also help to raise teacher interest. The more interested you are in doing the job, the more likely they will be interested. And the more you will enjoy going home at nights and looking back on the accomplishments of the day.

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6 Surprising Study Techniques From A Valedictorian

musicstudyBy on August 14, 2013

Everyone knows that to be a top student, you’ve got to study hard, write great papers, and ace your exams. But there’s so much more to it than that. A large part of academic success comes from the everyday habits and personalized strategies you create for yourself. More often than not, it’s the little things that mean the difference between a mediocre transcript and a stellar GPA. I’ve been a top student for most of my life – I was valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School and graduated from Columbia University with the highest GPA in my class – and the following strategies helped me immensely. Some of them may surprise you in their simplicity, others may contradict what you’ve always been told about studying – but I never could have achieved what I did without them.

Eat During Exams

Taking an exam is like a marathon for your mind. It requires intense concentration over long periods of time, and it’s easy to lose focus or become forgetful as your brain loses steam. Whenever I felt like this was happening to me, I whipped out my secret weapons: apple slices, string cheese, and fruit-and-nut bars. Just a few bites were enough to bring my brain back to life. Exam foods have the following qualities: they’re healthy and easy to eat – you must be able to hold them with one hand so you can answer questions with the other – and they should not be smelly, noisy, or messy, out of courtesy to your classmates. If food isn’t allowed at the test site, see if you can bring in juice or coffee in a closed container.

Study In Bed

A lot of study guides warn against studying in bed. You’ll wind up using your book as a pillow, they claim; and you should keep your sleep area and your workspace separate. But I loved studying in bed. It was one of the only places where I could really concentrate. After a long day of sitting in class, it felt so good to stretch out, get under the covers, and crack open a book. The more comfortable I felt, the easier it was for me to work for long periods of time. When I studied at a desk, within half an hour my back started aching and I began to feel restless. Am I saying everyone should study in bed? No, not if you’re going to conk out. But if you’re well-rested, your bed might just replace your desk as your new favorite workspace.

Cut Back On Study Groups

Throughout my academic career, I avoided study groups like the plague. I could learn better from rereading the textbook or asking my teacher than from talking to my classmates, most of whom knew less than I did. All too often, study groups are cases of the blind leading the blind, and studying with your friends can make it difficult to concentrate. According to Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa, and Esther Cho, college students who spend more time studying alone are more likely to show improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication skills.

That’s not to say study groups are useless, however. They’re great if you want to review for exams or practice foreign language skills; and if you’re really having problems with motivation, your peers may give you a much-needed boost.

Do The Readings After Class

Don’t get me wrong: if you can do the assigned reading before class, you should. But when you start getting hundreds of pages of reading a week – as often happens in college – reading everything just isn’t possible. That’s why I usually waited until after class to tackle the textbook. After the lesson, I could do the readings faster because I was already familiar with the material, and I could skip or skim the sections that the teacher had indicated weren’t as important. Think of it this way: the amount of time you spend in class is fixed; the amount of time you spend reading is not. By waiting to read until after the lesson, I significantly cut down my study time. Keep in mind, however, that there are lots of exceptions to this rule. If you’re expected to participate or there’s the chance of a pop quiz, you’d better come to class prepared!

Maintain Silence After Exams

At the end of a test, what usually happens? Chaos breaks out as students turn to one another and compare answers as if their lives depended on it. And if those answers are different, they start to panic. I avoided this pointless post-test ritual by leaving the room as quickly as possible. Why work myself into a frenzy when I couldn’t do anything about it? And why should I trust my classmates’ answers, anyway? If I could, I looked up what I wasn’t sure about in the textbook. Otherwise, I just waited until I got the test back. Then I went over what I got wrong and made sure I knew it for next time. Simple and (relatively) stress free!

Play Mozart While You Study

Since junior high school, I have always studied with good old Amadeus playing in the background. (My favorite study soundtrack is Mozart’s Violin Concertos, by the way.) Although Mozart does not increase IQ, as people claimed in the 1990s, it can put you in a better mood and improve concentration. There’s something about classical music that just makes you feel, well, smart! If you don’t like Mozart, you can try any music that is upbeat and has a steady rhythm and a relatively constant volume. Whatever you do, don’t put on vocal music while you’re doing schoolwork, as you use the same part of your brain for studying as you do for listening to lyrics. That means Jay-Z and Lady Gaga are out!

I’m not saying that you have to follow these techniques to become a great student. They may not all work for you. If you love joining study groups, hate reading in bed, and prefer studying in silence, that’s perfectly fine. The point is to develop strategies that work for you. Don’t be afraid to challenge convention and try new things. Remember that being a top student is a lifestyle, and you need to feel comfortable in order to do your best.


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10 Things To Know About Choosing a College When You Want To Be a Teacher

Choosing a college

by Mary C. Clement

1. I know I need a college degree to be a teacher, but what do I major in?

The answer to this question actually varies from state to state. In many states, you major in elementary education to teach kindergarten through 6th grade. To teach in a middle school, 6th grade through 8th grade, you major in middle grades education with a concentration in a certain subject. To teach in a high school, you major in the subject, such as math or Spanish, and complete a teacher education program or minor.

2. Who do I ask for the “right” information about my major or any other question?

Read the college or university’s web site. Go to the pages for the school (or college) of education. They should explain what majors are offered. Ask your teachers about their colleges and their majors. Talk with your guidance counselor, and then go to your chosen college and talk with their admissions counselors. Attend an open house on campus; you may also be able to attend an education class while you’re there.

3. I need to work while in college. Is that possible while studying to be a teacher?

Yes, it is possible. However, you need to know that education classes don’t just meet on campus, and they require more hours than other classes. Your education classes will require field experiences, which means you will spend a lot of time out in the schools. During the student teaching semester, it is usually not possible to work, because student teachers work the regular hours of a teacher. So, plan ahead.

4. Will it be harder for me to become a teacher if I start college at my community college (a two-year institution)?

Not necessarily. You will need an advisor at the community college who knows that your goal is to transfer to a four-year institution to become a teacher. Make sure that the general classes you take are transferable. Read the catalog at both your community college and the four-year college you plan to attend to check on the transfer of credits. Many people become teachers by starting classes at a community college, and it can save you a lot of money.

5. I am reading college catalogs online, and I see “general education” requirements. I already know that I want to be a teacher, so what does this mean?

All colleges and universities have general education requirements. These are basic courses in math, science, writing, speech, social studies, and the humanities, and they are designed to make you a well-educated person. General education courses take up much of your first two years in college. However, some colleges and universities have fewer required courses than others. If you choose a school with fewer “gen ed” requirements, you may have more time to study what you want, possibly completing a minor in another field that interests you. Read the catalogs carefully to learn about each school’s requirements.

6. I am considering going out of state to college. Will that hurt my chances for getting a job in my home state after graduation?

No, this should not hurt your chances at getting a job. Just graduating from a college with a teacher education major or minor does not mean you are a licensed teacher, though. When you successfully complete the program at the out-of-state school, you will apply for a teaching license/certification in that state. Then, as a fully certified teacher in one state, you can apply for certification in another state. Each state’s requirements are different, so go online and read the state’s rules. (Do a search for teacher certification and name of state.)

7. What are education courses like? What will I study?

Most education programs begin with an introductory class, followed by a class in educational psychology. Then, you study curriculum and methods. You will also take classes in special education and classroom management. In other words, you need to know about the teaching profession, how students think, what to teach, how to teach, and how to reach all children. All of your coursework is tied together with field experiences and student teaching. Your general education courses and courses in your major provide the content you need. After all, you better know algebra if you are going to teach it.

8. As a freshman, will I take education courses?

This varies widely from college to college. Some first-year students take an introduction to education class and may even go out into schools to observe. Some FEA members have already completed the equivalent of the intro class, and this requirement is waived. Once accepted at a college, attend preregistration and advisement days, and plan your schedule in advance.

9. Once I am in college, how much do my grades matter?

A lot. Your grades determine if you can enter and remain in the teacher education program. Most programs require a certain grade point average to take junior- and senior-level education courses. Your grades determine if you qualify to receive or keep scholarships. As graduation approaches, potential employers look at your grades when considering you for a job. Grades matter.

10. Will the college help me to get a job?

Colleges and universities have career centers that offer workshops on resume writing, job searching, and interviewing. Many career centers also host teacher job fairs, where school districts recruit new hires. Take advantage of these offerings.

Bonus Question

How hard are education courses?

Education courses are very thorough, and they require a lot of hours spent out in the schools. Why? Teaching is challenging, and today’s teachers need to know so much! It is better to have tough courses and to be prepared when you start your first teaching job than to have easy courses and graduate unprepared.

Mary C. Clement is a professor of teacher education at Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga. Before moving into higher education, she taught high school Spanish and French.

– See more at:

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Teachers Offer Back-to-School Shopping Tips

Palatine, Illinois school teacher Judy Lindsey shops for back-to-school items in a Wal-Mart store July 28, 2003 in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.By

August is the unofficial start of the back-to-school shopping frenzy.

Retailers court students and their parents in earnest, eager to sell them everything from flashcards to the new must-have sneakers or laptops.

States give shoppers a break, too. At least 12 states – including Alabama, Florida and North Carolina – declare the first weekend of the month a tax holiday, allowing shoppers to purchase clothes, shoes and school supplies without the burden of state sales tax.

[Learn how to find the best back-to-school deals.]

Their efforts are well placed. Close to 70 percent of consumers plan to spend up to $500 this back-to-school season, and 50 percent plan to do their shopping in August, according to a survey released last week.

Basic items such as notebooks, binders and pencils are at the top of most shopping lists, but 68 percent of those surveyed plan to purchase new clothes for their students and 42 percent will drop some cash on a new backpack, according to the survey, which polled nearly 2,200 online shoppers.

To avoid overspending, parents should hold off on shopping for school supplies until they have a list from their student’s teacher, advises Elizabeth Mejia, executive director of Communities in Schools of Miami, a dropout prevention program.

Items typically on those lists include paper, highlighters and folders, she says, but some high school teachers recommend a few off-list items as well.

“A subscription to a major newspaper,” Michael Healey, a social studies teacher at East Stroudsburg High School South in Pennsylvania, told U.S. News via Facebook. “The value of a well informed opinion is immeasurable.”

National news outlets such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal offer discounted subscriptions to students, which give them access to digital and print editions of the respective papers.

High schoolers with tablets or mobile devices – which accounts for most teens – can often save by subscribing just to the online option.

Students need a place to store that information too, Laura Latall, an English teacher at Lebanon High School in Missouri, told U.S. News via Twitter.

Google Drive is free, and allows students to upload documents, videos and other files – think homework, presentations and research material – and access them from any computer or even a cell phone. Students can also share the files with classmates and teachers.

The most important thing a teen can bring to class each day won’t appear on any shopping list, though, says Judy Hirshey, an AP history teacher at Conroe High School in Texas.

“If my students could only have one tool to help them succeed, it should be persistence,” Hirshey says. “Too many students and parents have forgotten that to truly be successful and learn you must take risks, fail and problem solve.”


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Check out my Stanford Who’s Who member video!

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