Innovative Schools Already Exist Right Here in Kent!

Cindy Prescott, KEA Vice President, and Shirley Hickey, past KEA President and current KELA (Kent Educators for Legislative Accountability) Committee Chair, have teamed up to talk about innovative schools that already exist within the Kent School District:

Here in the Kent School District we have innovation all around us. Even as employees who knew about options available to students and parents, there are things we learned while researching the choices we offer in our school district.

The Kent Technology Academy (KTA) exists within Mill Creek Middle School. On their website, we read, “ . . . the heart of KTA is a group of creative, hard working teachers with a knowledgeable leader who have developed integrated lessons that allow more student choice, and encourage students to look more deeply and systematically at the topics in the curriculum. It works not only because of the teachers, but because the students also are expected to work harder than other students. Students are willing to do this because the learning is fun, the technology is fun and allows differentiation. . .”

Down the road, at the Kent Phoenix Academy (KPA), as members of the learning community, students are expected to “uphold the values of moral courage, honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, and support the learning community.” KPA believes in a learning environment where “each student is known well, connections are made between learning and student goals. . .”  This school offers five high school programs to students, each having a different focus and approach from the traditional high school. Project based learning, service learning, and work with colleges and employers are all part of the five programs offered.

Further along the journey you’ll come to the Kent Mountain View Academy (KMVA). The KMVA is a “community partnership including students, families and the Kent School District to provide educational options and flexibility. . .” Third through sixth graders are purposefully grouped together, as well as seventh through twelfth graders so that students can maintain contact with their siblings.

In fact, at each of our schools in Kent we could find innovation and action research. We teach our students to achieve to standards. Because our students are so diverse we design instruction and strategies for reaching them that may look and sound different in various schools. This is our practice. There are those, including Bill Gates through his Gates Foundation, who are hiring data specialists to work on what is “needed” to change our practices.

Charter schools? Who needs them! We have innovation all around us.

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6 Responses to “Innovative Schools Already Exist Right Here in Kent!”

  1. Veteran Says:

    I was wondering about the District Support Teams that will be “walking” through classrooms, collecting data, using a hand held device and then compiling the information to create a report looking at trends. As a member, do I have the right to request what was documented when the DST was in my room? Yes, I know my name is not going to be recorded. Although I am guessing my room number and school name will be. I found it amusing that one of the “look fors” would be to note if teachers were using KSD purchased/approved resources. I considered leasing a storage unit and moving every item in my room I have personally purchased into it. I would also provide a before and after picture, documenting the difference. What I am provided with would take up 2 small book cases. This “reality check” would demonstrate what I provide to supplement the limited resources the KSD purchases to reach the range and diversity in my class. Yes there is innovation in Kent. Created and provided by staff in every building responsible for providing direct services to the students in Kent.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      We are having a fact-finding meeting with teachers from the schools that are doing the “walk-throughs” very soon, so we should have more information at that time. Reports that we are getting vary (as expected) from some who are excited about it, some who don’t mind it, to some who find it a total intrusion and hate it and I have gotten quite a few complaints from teachers who aren’t happy. I have also seen the first set of data compiled for one school and it’s separated out by grade level so it’s not totally clear what teacher it is, but if you’re talking about a grade with only one or two classes, things get more obvious. With the way that KSD has operated, however, who’s to say that they don’t have it assembled by individual teacher, and then re-combine it for distribution to teachers to see. They are going to have to prove to me that they aren’t reporting back to principals saying, “I saw X in this teacher’s delivery and you need to watch that.” I don’t think the intent of that particular “look-for” is to make you eliminate all the personal items you bring to your class, but to make sure they are getting the “bang-for-the-buck” on things like smart boards and all those little plastic things you’re supposed to use to hold your language and content objectives. Unless you have a bathtub in your room (really-just declared verboten by the district) I’d keep it there, unless you really want to prove a point…

      • Ms. Anonymous Says:

        I think Veteran teacher’s point about leasing a storage unit, was that credit needs to be given to teachers who spend on average, $400 per school year out of their own pocket to make Kent Schools innovative, b/c KSD is not providing us with what we need to make learning fun. We have bubble sheets and test booklets, but how is that fun for kids?

        In regards to the Walk Throughs, I am worried that some of those pseudo-administrators are gunning for their least favorite teacher(s) and writing them up as “not sufficient” or whatever is on that demeaning form they use. And do our supervisors know who these pseudo-administrators are talking about? Sure they do! Our grade level is checked on the form and it would not take alot of cognitive power to narrow down whose classroom they are referring to. But to prove my point further, in our school, our principal actually approached a few teachers, pulled them aside and said, “This was noted to be lacking in your classroom during the walk through. Take care of it!” Whoa, ho! So, um……hmm…sounds almost evaluative in nature, wouldn’t you say?

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Well, that may be what was intended by Veteran Teacher, but I’m pretty sure the actual intent of that “look for” is to see that KSD provided goodies are in use. I know that teachers spend thousands of their own hard earned dollars to augment and enrich their teaching and I wish it wasn’t so. Good article about school fund-raising and unequal access to the things that money can provide in Tuesday’s Seattle Times (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017363624_ptafunding29m.html ). It talks of one Seattle elementary school that raises close to $400,000.00 per year and of others that raise less than $5,000.00. This is unfair, even though it is the parents raising money for their own childrens’ schools. Kent has similar disparities and this needs to be addressed. In regard to your fears about the walk-throughs, this completely reinforces the issue of a lack of trust between teachers, principals and upper administration. Of course there is a possibility (probability?) of abuse, especially when you give the type of power that principals have to a group that includes pathological liars, back stabbing rumor mongerers, power-hungry incompetents and lazy, unqualified, narcissistic thugs. Of course that’s just a few that I know, but you get the picture. Be aware and be vigilant. It’s easy to have the wool pulled over your eyes if you’re acting like a sheep; not so much if you’re the wolf.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Pretty diffcult to follow anything Bill Gates has to say about schools in general. Last time anyone checked, he still hadn’t produced any proof that he was a certificated teacher. His perspective is very skewed on what he thinks a successful school looks like, as we know his own children attend private schools (where typically, the class size is under 20 students).

    I remember 25 years ago when the topic of charter schools reared its ugly head in discussions across our state. Voters did not want charter schools then, and they shouldn’t want them now! Charter schools would take away our funds in public ed. Charters are also very discriminatory in which students may attend. They are not good for our kids.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Bill Gates is a very rich man who does a lot of philanthropy with his money, which is good. Unfortunately for us, somewhere along the line, he decided that public schools aren’t capable of educating children the way he wishes and he is putting the power of his money and his stature into projects that are harmful to public education. He has stated that smaller class sizes do no good, that seniority has no effect on student achievement and that higher salaries for teachers with advanced degrees also has no effect. I say he is wrong on all counts and providing capital for people who have economic agendas for privatized schools is also wrong. The case against charter schools is strong and we have been spared so far, but make no mistake: Very well funded, profit driven groups are eagerly awaiting the removal of restriction against charters. We need to remind our legislators that this is not the way to improve education in Washington State. Go to http://www.ourvoicewashingtonea.org/, the WEA website for political action. They make it easy to contact your legislators and offer details on all the education bills currently being considered in Olympia.

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