May
26th 2015
Stop Dumping Paperwork on Charter Applicants, and Focus on Success

Posted under Public Charter Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

Now that Memorial Day is past, and the unofficial start of summer has arrived, it’s time to start thinking about taking that fun family vacation. For me, it has to include going to the beach, or at least staying cool at a splashing fun water park. While I would enjoy swimming at the lake or at the kiddie pool, I don’t think anyone enjoys swimming through a pile of paperwork.

Yet as a new American Enterprise Institute report explains, too many public charter school authorizers are overloading applicants with questions and tasks that just aren’t necessary at getting to the bottom line of creating innovative, effective educational opportunities.

Michael McShane, Jenn Hatfield, and Elizabeth English specifically surveyed the application processes of 40 non-school-district authorizers, and found some upsetting results. School districts — which make up all the Colorado authorizers, except for the Charter School Institute — tend to lard up the process with obstacles to make it more difficult for new charters to emerge. But as AEI’s new research shows, even many of the alternatives have trouble getting it correct. Continue Reading »

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May
21st 2015
Thompson Board Stands Firm on Bad Contract; Union Backers Go Haywire

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

Yesterday I prepped you for the big vote and showdown at last night’s Thompson school board meeting on whether to accept the proposed union contract update. I told you it could go one of two ways: Either the return to the drawing board 1) resulted in some reasonable solutions to board director concerns that could be adopted, or 2) the board would take the historic step of rejecting the contract.

In case you haven’t heard, the city of Loveland witnessed Option #2 unfold. By a vote of 4-3, the union contract failed again. By collaborating to ignore nearly all the concerns raised, union leaders and district bureaucrats effectively dared the school board to stand firm or fail. The Reporter-Herald‘s Pamela Johnson quoted remarks from most of the board members, including president Bob Kerrigan: Continue Reading »

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May
20th 2015
Thompson Gears Up for the Final (?) Battle

Posted under Education Politics & Teachers & Union

We’ve talked an awful lot about Thompson School District recently. And why wouldn’t we? The district and its reform majority are, after all, at the very forefront of Colorado’s ongoing—and increasingly nasty—education reform wars. The board’s attempt to build a smarter, better union contract that does right by both its students has been met with stiff resistance from both the Thompson Education Association and its big political brother, the Colorado Education Association.

First CEA stepped into the fray by pushing a phony petition designed to block an attempt at providing the district’s negotiating team with written guidance on how to proceed. Shortly thereafter, the board rejected a laughably bad attempt at a tentative agreement. The negotiating teams were sent back to the table to take another stab at the contract on May 12. The rejection of the first tentative agreement was quickly followed by two relatively small, sadly misinformed student “rallies” not entirely dissimilar to those we saw in Jefferson County last fall.

It’s safe to say that things haven’t been pretty in Thompson. Tonight, it all comes to a head. Continue Reading »

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May
19th 2015
Tuesday Twofer: More Legal Victories for School Choice

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Union

This year has been a big year for school choice, and a decidedly bad year for teachers unions. First, a red tidal wave surged across the country in the 2014 elections despite record union spending in an effort to stop it. Then, the school choice aftershocks started. Alabama became America’s 43rd charter state, Nevada passed a very strong scholarship tax credit program that was subsequently signed into law, and Arkansas said yes to a new voucher program for special needs kids. To round things out, Montana took a step in the right direction by passing a small school choice pilot program. Wow!

We recently talked about the NEA president’s recent comment that education policy should be left “… where it belongs: The legislature.” As I highlighted then, this is an interesting statement given a number of union-led legal attacks on school choice programs around the country (including Douglas County). I cynically posited then that I suspected the unions would challenge policies they don’t like anywhere they can win. As it turns out, they may not be able to win anywhere at all. Continue Reading »

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May
15th 2015
A Friday Reminder of What Kids Can Do

Posted under Edublogging & Just For Fun

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good, fun Friday post. All that serious edu-business just keeps getting in the way. But take heart, my friends, for today is once again a Happy Friday. As I was perusing the normal news, an interesting story caught my attention: A Colorado Springs student is about to earn an undergraduate degree in computer security from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)—before finishing high school. His name is Jacob Reichard, and he’s 17.

Check out his interview:

Continue Reading »

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May
14th 2015
Two New Scholarship Tax Credit States Help Bolster Choice Equation

Posted under Governor & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

Earlier this week, I gave you the review of K-12 education issues in the Colorado legislative session like no one else can. Today, I just quickly wanted to look at a few developments in other states.

While our own Centennial State gets closer and closer to taking a big step forward for school choice, a couple of other states in our part of the country have broken through with new scholarship tax credit programs.

Last month I told you that Nevada was on the verge of enacting scholarship tax credits to provide more tuition aid and opportunities for low- and middle-income students. Well, as promised, Gov. Brian Sandoval followed through and signed the program into law. Continue Reading »

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May
12th 2015
Little Eddie Digs Out After the 2015 Legislative Session

Posted under Education Politics & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & Rural Schools & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Tax Credits & Testing

The 2015 legislative session ended last week, and I have no doubt you are all eagerly awaiting a report on the progress made—or lack thereof. Luckily for you, I have been diligently digging through the aftermath of 2015’s education battles just as I help dad shovel snow after a big storm. With a whopping 119 education bills introduced, this is no easy task. The work is ongoing. But we can certainly pause to provide a quick overview of the session’s highlights.

Fortunately, a discussion of actual legislative movement this year is relatively straightforward because very little noteworthy stuff passed at all. In fact, it’s fair to say that the single most important thing that happened this year was a compromise on the testing issue, which we discussed last week after observing a protracted and almost humorous (if it weren’t so serious) game of legislative testing chicken. As I predicted then, the compromise was amended before final passage. The bill currently awaits Governor Hicklenlooper’s signature. But we’ll cover the testing compromise in more depth later this week. For now, let’s talk other highlights. With lists! Because everyone loves lists! Continue Reading »

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May
8th 2015
Colorado, Time to Observe National Charter Schools Week Eddie-Style

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance

It’s a little bittersweet writing near the end of National Charter Schools Week, a couple short days after Colorado’s legislative session concluded with very little progress made on behalf of choice and fair funding. (Nor does all the wet, gray, gloomy weather help, either!)

Looking back, though, the week kicked off with a great Watchdog story about how Denver charter schools regularly top the district’s performance ratings. Not earth-shattering news for me or my faithful readers, but definitely a good reminder and an opportunity to spread the word.

Denver isn’t an isolated example. There are good reasons why a new report shows in 10 other major cities that waiting list demand for charters far outstrips the available seats. Come on, can’t we do something about that? After all, there’s the latest major CREDO report that I recently brought your attention to, which shows a continuing positive trend for urban charter school performance. Continue Reading »

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May
7th 2015
Thompson Stands Up for Change

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Teachers & Transparency & Union

Some famous guy at some point in history once said that the hardest part of any effort is taking the first step. How right he was. Even at the tender age of five, I can tell you that it’s hard to do big, scary, important stuff. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Just ask the Thompson Board of Education!

Reform-minded members of Thompson’s school board took a really big first step last night when they shot down the tentative agreement coming out of the district’s months-long union negotiation process. You probably remember our discussion of that agreement a couple of weeks ago. If not, this piece by my friend Ross Izard should catch you up. The short version is this: The “new” contract stunk.

Faced with the prospect of having to sign the aforementioned stinky contract, Thompson’s reformers took a brave stand and refused to act as a rubber stamp for the union or district bureaucrats. The board members did a great job of articulating their points, and they made a whole lot of good sense to me. Continue Reading »

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May
6th 2015
Amazing Day to Appreciate Teachers and Celebrate Seven Years at Age 5

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers

With a legislative session wrapping up today, and some big school board meetings going down this week, I feel like my little head is underwater. Which makes it a perfect time to step back and briefly express my amazement.

Amazed at what, you ask? In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, it only seems fitting to take hats off and pay tribute to all the great teachers in traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, online schools, brick-and-mortar schools, private schools, and yes — even, homeschooling parents.

Little old me is taking it easy. I’ll start with a hat tip to the Association of American Educators and a statement from the group’s president Gary Beckner: Continue Reading »

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