April
17th 2015
New CTBA Report on School Choice Smells Like Bologna

Posted under Research & School Choice & Tax Credits

The last few Fridays have been absolutely lovely. They were sunny, warm, and filled with delicious new stops on the school choice train. Today is different. It’s cold, rainy, and all around a little icky outside. If I were older and knew what the word “foreshadow” meant, I might say that I should have expected today to involve reading something like a yucky, choice-bashing report from the heavily left-leaning Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA).

Unfortunately, I didn’t see it coming. And after reading through the report’s findings, I have to say I walked away pretty irked about the report’s tilted observations and the motivations driving them. But just as I was warming up my little fingers for a vigorous defense of choice, I noticed that my good pal Jason Bedrick beat me to the punch. Jason has said pretty much everything that needs to be said, but I’m also going to stick my nose into the debate on a couple of the biggest issues anyway. Continue Reading »

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April
16th 2015
“Twin” Studies Add More Pieces to Teacher Effectiveness Puzzle

Posted under Elementary School & International & reading & Research & Teachers

Apparently, there has been some rampant speculation that little Eddie is actually little Eddies, that there is more than one of me. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Now I find that sort of talk a little disturbing. Who am I anyway?

Maybe someone has seen my doppelganger out there. I’d also given consideration to the possibility that my parents have locked an evil Eddie twin in a basement closet, only to be let out at inopportune times. Let me here and now assert my firm belief that such a notion was nothing more than the phantom of an overactive imagination.

Still, my curiosity is piqued at the potential boon to educational research that having a twin would provide. The National Council on Teacher Quality today brought my attention to a pair (!) of studies — one in the Netherlands, one in the United States. The idea? Take a set of twins and put them in different teachers’ classrooms to test the effect. Continue Reading »

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April
15th 2015
Little Eddie’s Wednesday Triple Play: Dougco, School Choice, and Accountability

Posted under Accountability & School Choice

I feel like we have few distinct tracks here on Little Eddie’s edu-blog. We often talk about Jeffco and its ongoing struggles, I always love to talk about school choice in any form, and I’ve been known to get into financial issues from time to time. But what happens if—don’t freak out me here—what happens if we blend three of our favorite tracks into a single blog post? Oh yes, it can be done. In fact, I’m going to do it right now.

Let’s start with our good friends in Douglas County, who you will remember we’ve talked frequently about in recent months. Back in August, I highlighted an amicus brief co-authored by my edu-buddies Ben DeGrow and Ross Izard in support of Douglas County’s local voucher program. I also spent some time pumping you up for oral arguments in the related Supreme Court case (no decision yet, I’m afraid), celebrating the district’s return to the state’s top accreditation rating, and deconstructing some attacks against Douglas County’s pay system.

That, my friends, covers both Douglas County and school choice. Now for the third track: Accountability. Continue Reading »

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April
14th 2015
Whichever Way You Look, Colorado Seems to be Stuck in a Testing Rut

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Accountability & State Legislature & Testing

I came across a story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times under the headline: “Majority of California’s Latino voters highly value school testing.” Given the state of affairs in Colorado, how could something like that escape my attention?

A majority of Latino voters, 55%, said mandatory exams improve public education in the state by gauging student progress and providing teachers with vital information. Nearly the same percentage of white voters said such exams are harmful because they force educators to narrow instruction and don’t account for different styles of learning.

The survey, sponsored by the Times, found that even higher percentages of Californians (77% Latino, 56% White, 64% Total) agreed that “students’ achievement and progress on standardized tests” should be an important or the most important factor in teacher pay and evaluations. That finding casts even more doubt on the suspect poll finding trumpeted by the National Education Association last year.

Especially interesting, given this is the state that gave us last year’s earth-shattering Vergara ruling. Though no one seems to have consulted the Colorado Education Association president, who recently told legislators that “all teachers do the same job.” Continue Reading »

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April
10th 2015
The School Choice Train Makes Its Next Stop: Arkansas Gov. Says Yes to Special Needs Vouchers

Posted under Private Schools & School Choice

Another Friday is upon us, my friends. And what a Friday it is! Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and school choice just keeps on flourishing. That’s right, Nevada’s big success wasn’t the end of the story. Arkansas has now come aboard the school choice train!

Two days ago, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1552 into law. With a quick wave of the magic gubernatorial wand, Hutchinson breathed life into the Succeed Scholarship Program—a move that brought praise from friends of choice. The program is designed to provide private school tuition scholarships to kids with special needs. Continue Reading »

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April
9th 2015
Tick, Tock: Accountability Clock Leading Some CO School Districts to Watershed

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Grades and Standards & High School & innovation schools & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & State Board of Education

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Not many clocks today actually make that noise anymore. But even with the digital timepieces we’re more accustomed to now (and are pretty much all little people like me have known), if you set the alarm you know that it’s bound to go off at some point.

Whether it’s a soothing chime, a familiar radio station, or a deeply irritating Beep, beep, beep, your time to sleep (or whatever) eventually will run out. The question for struggling Colorado schools and districts is what’s going to happen after time is up. That time is drawing perilously close for some.

As Chalkbeat Colorado reports this morning, the 5-year accountability clock is quickly running out for some districts: Continue Reading »

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April
8th 2015
Keep That School Choice Train A-Rollin’: Nevada Prepares to Join the Scholarship Tax Credit Club

Posted under Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

Man, it’s been an exciting two weeks for school choice. Last month, we celebrated Alabama’s induction into the charter club after it become the 43rd state to pass a charter law. We paused briefly to remember Colorado’s now-dead attempt at an ESA law, then proceeded to revel in the glory of freshly encouraging research on urban charters. I rounded out it all out by providing an update on the nation’s biggest school choice developments.

The fifth item on the list was the passage of Nevada’s scholarship tax credit bill by the state’s lower legislative house. Guess what? That bill has now passed the Nevada State Senate and is heading to Governor Brian Sandoval’s desk for signature. I can say with 99.99 percent certainty that he will sign it forthwith (the .01 percent accounts for the possibility of an alien invasion and/or meteor strike). Why? Well, because he happily stated that he “will sign it when it reaches [his] desk” during Nevada’s 2015 State of the State address.

Once the governor puts ink to paper, Nevada will become the 15th state to adopt a scholarship tax credit program. It will be the 26th state to adopt a private school choice program of any kind. Continue Reading »

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April
7th 2015
Middle-Income Families Have Long Track Record in Building Colorado Charters

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice

Even someone as young as me has heard the familiar expression, “Everything old is new again.” That’s what I couldn’t help thinking today when my Education Policy Center friends told me about Richard Whitmire’s new Education Next piece titled “More Middle-Class Families Choose Charters.”

Maybe that’s just because I’m so attuned to watching these things that I fail to see the surprising element in the headline. But then again, maybe it’s just my fault for being in Colorado. Whitmire does raise an interesting point, framing the issue as follows: Continue Reading »

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April
3rd 2015
Charters Off the Beaten Path: A Different Kind of Roadtrip

Posted under Rural Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

This has been a good week. I got to write what I hope you thought was a funny April Fools’ Day post, and yesterday I had the pleasure of highlighting some exciting developments in what is quickly shaping up to be another year of school choice. The week before that, I talked about the awesome work urban charters are doing across the nation. But for all our talk of urban charters (which only makes sense given that most charters are in or around cities), we don’t often get to explore the world of rural charters.

“Explore” doesn’t necessarily have to mean what nerds like me usually think it means. Sure, numbers and studies are great, but there’s something to be said for getting out and physically exploring charter schools off the beaten path. Maybe that’s why I was so interested by an edu-story today highlighting a special kind of road trip by some folks in Pagosa Springs. Continue Reading »

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April
2nd 2015
One Week’s Progress Gives Hope for Another Year of School Choice

Posted under Governor & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

Awhile back I asked the pertinent and hopeful question: Could 2015 turn out to be the Year of School Choice: Part II? Now that your split sides have had ample time to recover from yesterday’s laugh-out-loud April Fool’s posting, let’s look back on the updates from just the past week.

To do so, we really need go no further than the American Federation for Children website, just to rehash the developments of the past seven days: Continue Reading »

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