Sunday, June 10, 2007

Thinking About the Little People

I'm not so sure the voice of the small district has been adequately represented during the reform efforts of recent years. I suppose that most might claim that their needs for things like textbooks and special programs are proportional to larger districts, but I'm not so sure that claim holds true for all of the work needed. They don't always have the capacity to support curriculum alignment work, afford instructional coaches, offer a diversity of classes for students, better benefits for teaching staff, and more.

The state of Washington is looking at trying to help in two areas: one is salary equity across the state and the other is instructional materials. One of the recommendations from Washington Learns was to identify no more than three curricula for both math and science for the elementary, middle, and high school levels. This poses a problem for all districts because of the potential need to purchase curriculum. Money is a premium for all, certainly, but small districts may not have the student numbers to attract some of the better deals from publishers. In an effort to help, state officials are working with publishers to freeze prices for six years. While this might not be as good as supplying more funding to districts, it is a step in the right direction.

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