Tacoma Public Schools—Paying Attention To Policy*


Recently, the Board approved its District Improvement Plan.  With regards to attending to student achievement, it is where the action is in Spring 2008. 


See the new gateway to our group’s web pages on Tacoma schools. 


Ideas from the a workshop On The Achievement Gap at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Nov. 1-3 2007 (and from related sources).  This might influence Board policies. Have a look, participate in the public discussions. 


Leadership, In Transition

Perhaps you have heard of the recent (summer 2007) culmination of a bad year for the leadership of Tacoma Public Schools.  In a nutshell, a new superintendent in his first year did not work out.  Community groups and long-time watchers of the public schools have said the situation is a disaster that tops any in memory.  For a page of links to news stories about the situation, go here. 


Critical Questions about Tacoma Public Schools

1.     Can the public get access to data about achievement rates for different groups of students?  

2.     Can we improve the quality and quantity of public participation in the leadership of Tacoma public schools?  

3.     Does the District have an implementation plan for its five goals?  

4.     What are the Board’s critical needs in its hiring process for a new superintendent?  

5.     What is the consensus about the quality of leadership in Tacoma public schools?  

6.     What constitutes a conflict of interest for a member of the School Board? 


Click here for Other Questions  


Visit the Tacoma School Board site

--Looking for the dates and agendas of School Board Meetings?  The main Tacoma Schools page has a yellow box, upper right, with recent items linked.  The report of the 11/29 planning meeting is here.  Data presented at that meeting are linked here.  

--Get Smart Tacoma is a parallel goal-setting effort.  Read its report


Our state Superintendent of Public Instruction website

--Here is the Report Card site for Tacoma Public Schools

--Their study on improved school district characteristics.

--the Washington State School Directors’ Association describes the job of School Board members and offers many useful documents. 

Learning from Others

--Check the Washington State Achievers Program, from the Washington Education Foundation. 

----A lot of very good ideas were raised at the Achievement Gap Summit, and at the Race & Pedagogy Conference, which took place right here in Tacoma. 

--(If you have useful suggestions, news stories and so on, send them here, please.)

Links to research and ideas on public schools. 

----UW’s Beyond High School Project has many studies based on Tacoma data.  One of its leaders is Charles Hirshman, whose website has many useful publications.

--UW School of Education’s Center for Multicultural Education supports work by James Banks and others.

--ED in ’08 wants the political parties to emphasize education. 

--Ever heard of KIPP schools?  Should Tacoma try one?



*The material found on these pages is largely the product of discussions among different groups I have been fortunate to encounter.  One of them is called “the Conversation.”  Another draws people from around the city, and does not have its own web page.  They are people who have a lot of experience with education, administration, and politics, and discussions are always interesting.  The discussions produce the ideas, and this page serves to record them.

--Sid Olufs