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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: teachers

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January 29, 2015 at 5:00 AM

More substitute work for retired teachers? Some lawmakers say yes

Substitute teacher Carrie Richardson, who has more than 50 years experience teaching, subs in for a third-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School in Seattle last November. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2014.

Substitute teacher Carrie Richardson, who has more than 50 years experience teaching, subs in for a third-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School in Seattle last November. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2014.

A bill introduced in the state House on Tuesday would temporarily allow some retired teachers more flexibility in how much they can work without losing their retirement benefits.

House Bill 1737 is a response to the substitute teacher shortage in Washington state, which has left schools and districts scrambling to fill substitute requests and combining classes when subs can’t be found. Lawmakers behind the bill say the shortage is partly caused by a state pension plan that keeps some retired teachers — a group that school districts traditionally rely on for subs — from substitute teaching.

Under the bill, teachers who retired early under a certain retirement plan would be allowed to substitute teach up to 216 hours — or about 27 days — before losing their retirement benefits, at least for a few years.

The bill, if passed, is designed to give school districts enough time to adjust to the substitute shortage. If it passes, its provisions would sunset in 2019, and the teachers would go back to losing their pensions any month they worked even a day for a public employer.


Comments | More in News | Topics: substitute shortage, substitute teaching, teachers

September 1, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Your voices: Local teachers on their ideal first day of school

With the start of the new school year just around the corner, we asked local teachers for their thoughts on what a perfect first day would be like. The following are their responses.

What does your ideal first day of school look like?

I am able to get everything done in 51 minutes. There is laughter and focus. Students leave looking forward to returning.

Ellen Simonis, Trout Lake School, Trout Lake

My ideal first day would be one where all of the students in my classes come to school properly fed, clothed, sheltered, and without any damaging stress caused by living in poverty.

—Bill Foster, Cheney Middle School, Cheney

Students with schedules already established, going to classes wherein they find the teachers contracted for the year. All the books/supplies for the quarter are already in place, and students and teachers can start learning about each other. No first day placement tests. No excessive hall wandering. Lots of smiling.

Tom O’Kelley, Oakland High School, Tacoma

A class that is reasonable in size so I can reach out to every student every day, necessary supplies that I don’t have to buy out of my own pocket (approx. $500 a year, or more) and a clean, safe classroom.

—Corie Jones, Elk Plain School of Choice, Spanaway


Comments | More in Your voices | Topics: first day, teachers

April 24, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Guest: Experienced teachers need new advancement opportunities

Katie Piper

Katie Piper

I am fortunate to work with a collaborative and talented staff at the public high school where I teach. Over the past few years, all teachers at Sammamish High School in Bellevue had the chance to work on a curriculum design team and re-imagine the courses we teach to make them “problem-based.”

In this approach, units of study are organized around authentic problems that students must solve, typically while playing a role such as a candidate for public office. Some teachers have also taken on leadership roles while remaining part-time in the classroom, and have helped plan high-quality professional development that most of my colleagues agree is an improvement over what school districts traditionally offer.

But most of these opportunities are not the norm today in public education, and they may not be able to continue to the same degree at our school because most of this work was made possible by a federal Investing in Innovation (i-3) grant. Next year is the last year of our grant, and many of us wonder what comes next.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Advanced Placement, Katie Piper, Sammamish High School

December 18, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Map: Washington districts with the most board-certified teachers

As The Seattle Times reported Tuesday, Washington state tops the country for number of national board-certified teachers. Curious who is No. 1 in the No. 1 state? Seattle Public Schools had the state’s most new certified instructors and also the sixth-highest number in the nation, with 54. Rounding out the top 10: Highline (21) Spokane (20), Bellevue…


Comments | More in News | Topics: National Board, national board certified, teachers