Archive for February, 2009

February
27th 2009
Sad to See Rocky Go, But Education Reporter Nancy Mitchell Should Stay

Posted under Denver & Journalism

Today is a sad day, one that people who have been around a lot longer than I have seem to understand a bit more. No more Rocky Mountain News. There’s a nice tribute over at GoBash as a “bad day for education reform”, as well as a call for a moment of silence from Ed News Colorado.

We will miss living in a two-newspaper town. The Denver Post reports that a lot of the big names from the Rocky will join the staff of the city’s sole remaining daily paper — including editorial page editor Vincent Carroll, political reporter Lynn Bartels, columnists Mike Littwin and Tina Griego, and sports writer Dave Krieger.

But what about Colorado’s most decorated and talented education reporter: Nancy Mitchell? Her excellent “Leaving to Learn” series alone shows what a great asset she has been. I certainly hope Nancy Mitchell finds a way to stay in Colorado, and continue to provide the great coverage on education that this almost-6-year-old can only aspire to do someday.

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February
26th 2009
“I Ask You, President Obama, to Please Save My Scholarship”

Posted under School Choice

My tummy feels sick today — not because of something I ate, or any bug or anything. But because of the news that Congress’s latest spending binge includes a provision to take away school choice from some of the neediest kids in the nation’s capital.

Watch the video from Voices of School Choice. These kids can tell you why it’s important for President Obama to stop what Congress is trying to do (H/T Matt Ladner):

I’ll let the Wall Street Journal sum up with its excellent editorial today:

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama spoke of the “historic investment in education” in the stimulus bill, which included a staggering, few-strings-attached $140 billion to the Department of Education over two years. But he also noted that “our schools don’t just need more resources; they need more reform,” and he expressed support for charter schools and other policies that “open doors of opportunity for our children.”

If he means what he says, Mr. Obama won’t let his fellow Democrats consign 1,700 more poor kids to failing schools he’d never dream of letting his own daughters attend.

Please do your part in asking the President to save the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. (And hope that groups like Democrats for Education Reform can join in, too.) Help me get my appetite back — at least by lunchtime.

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February
25th 2009
Boulder Valley Decision to Sue State Charter Schools Made in “Plush Times”

Posted under Courts & Independence Institute & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & School Finance

The Boulder Valley school board doesn’t seem to be learning too quickly. As the Boulder Daily Camera reports, at least they have put off their decision to waste more taxpayer money by continuing their lawsuit against educational opportunity through the state’s charter school authority. But they’re not making many winning arguments to justify their past actions, either.

My Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno was quoted in the story:

Pam Benigno, director of the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center, said Boulder Valley leaders should be held accountable for their “waste of taxpayer money.”

“I’m a strong supporter of school choice,” Benigno said. “Families should have as many options as possible, and the state charter institute is a good idea for Colorado.”

Continue Reading »

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February
24th 2009
New GoBash Site Takes on Boulder Valley’s Anti-Charter School Lawsuit

Posted under School Choice

My friends in the Education Policy Center never quit. They have good new ideas all the time. The latest is the site GoBash (“The Good, The Bad, and The Shameful”):

The purpose of the site is to raise public awareness of influential figures who either support or oppose needed reforms of a public education system that has failed thousands of children.

The first posting there takes a little different angle on the recent Colorado court victory for parents and charter schools I wrote about last Friday. GoBash files an open letter with the Boulder Valley school board:

Just how much of the taxpayers’ money did you spend in your lawsuit against the State Charter School Institute? You lost the suit in district court but appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, costing not only the school district but the state more money. All to deny families more educational choice and opportunity. Thankfully, the appeals court justices had the good sense to uphold the district court’s decision.

Shame on you, Boulder Valley School District!

Agreed. Since GoBash filed its open letter, the Boulder Daily Camera reports that school board members are meeting tonight to decide whether to appeal the lawsuit and spend even more taxpayer money trying to take away opportunity from kids across Colorado:

Boulder Valley officials said they’ve spent $198,695 to date on the lawsuit.

You don’t suppose the Boulder school board believes in the “magical money tree”, too?

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February
23rd 2009
Colorado State Lawmakers Give School Choice a Monday Double-Whammy

Posted under Parents & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

Another day at the state legislature, more setbacks for school choice. I’m back from school, have my homework done, so I wanted to share this quick update.

Dead on arrival? Yes, that would be a proposal by state senator Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, to create a modest pilot property tax credit for families who take their child out of public school and enroll him in a private school or homeschool program. The Democrat-controlled State Affairs Committee terminated Senate Bill 221 (PDF) on a party-line vote.

In other news, the state house shot down an attempt to restore cuts in public charter school facilities funding.

A double-whammy against school choice opportunities, and it’s only Monday….

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February
23rd 2009
Making the Best of an Overstimulated Situation for Colorado Students

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & School Finance

You know how this almost-six-year-old is no fan of the huge spending bill the President flew out here to sign last week. While it sounds nice on paper, I’m here to clue you in to the fact we aren’t going to be saved by a “magical money tree”.

In the meantime, my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has a tip on how to make the best out of a bad situation. As he writes in yesterday’s edition of the Colorado Daily – if nearly a billion dollars is going to flow into Colorado for the purposes of K-12 education, let’s at least attach it to some serious and radical reforms:

If the federal government is bound to spend untold billions it doesn’t have on education, nearly all would be better served by a student-centered approach to distributing the funds.

Washington would do much better to offer incentives to states and school districts that attach funds directly to students, empowering families with a wide array of public schooling options.

After all, parents best know how to make use of the money to meet their children’s needs.

The so-called “stimulus” is a fait accompli. Yet for all the mammoth debt, the least we can request is more incentive for the money to benefit students directly.

Of course, Ben also knows that federal spending and common sense too often don’t intersect. So there it is: All that debt I’m going to have to pay, and we’ll probably miss a golden chance to fix schools and help more kids like me learn what they need in order to succeed.

Sigh… When are the grown-ups going to stop being in charge?

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February
20th 2009
Charter School Institute Legal Victory A Win for Families Seeking Opportunity

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & State Legislature

Yesterday provided great news for Colorado families who live in school districts unfriendly to certain public education options. The Charter School Institute, a state body created by the legislature in 2004 as another way to authorize charter schools, secured an important legal victory.

From a press release in the Attorney General’s office:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers praised a decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals today that upheld the constitutionality of the Colorado Charter Schools Act.

The case centers on Boulder Valley School District’s claim that the General Assembly does not have constitutional authority to create and fund charter schools that are not controlled by local school boards. Continue Reading »

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February
19th 2009
Please, Please Don’t Nip Colorado School Innovation In the Bud

Posted under School Choice

Back when I was just barely 5 (not nearly 6, like I am now) I applauded Colorado’s new Innovation Schools Act. While the law could be better – some of those adult interest group lobbyists got in there and changed it – it’s a noteworthy step in the right direction.

Today, finally, almost nine months later, the first two schools are coming forward to take action under the new law:

Manual High School and Montclair (elementary) School of Academics and Enrichment will ask the Denver school board Thursday for permission to become the state’s first two “innovation schools.”

The DPS board will hear the proposals and vote upon them at Thursday’s meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant Street.

The Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer has more details about these two schools’ requests for freedom:

Principals in their presentations tonight will ask for further exemptions from state laws that govern employment rights for teachers hired by the school, how teachers are evaluated and standards schools are required to teach.

The requests also will ask for permission to hire unlicensed part-time teachers, which is currently against state rules.

What can be lost by exchanging greater freedom for greater accountability? The effectiveness of teacher certification on student learning is very much in doubt, to put it kindly. Let’s hope the DPS board is willing to take such a small chance to help some of Colorado’s neediest kids.

In related news, Manual High School principal Rob Stein is finalist for a position at the University of Denver. Hopefully, a possible departure doesn’t have a negative impact on the request for his school.

Slowly but surely, innovation in Colorado public schools is starting to bloom from the roots up. Let’s not nip it in the bud.

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February
17th 2009
And There Ain’t Gonna Be No Magical Money Tree at Today’s Rally Either

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Federal Government & Independence Institute & Parents

I have to go back to school today, so I’ll miss the big rally at the State Capitol today:

President Obama is flying his corporate jet to Denver to sign a bill putting my children into debt. I want to give him a proper Mile High welcome. The Independence Institute, along with Americans for Prosperity and other groups promoting sanity, are organizing a protest tomorrow, Tuesday, at noon at the west steps of the state capitol, and I hope you’ll be there.

We’ll have over-sized checks you can sign to show your family’s $30,000 commitment to the bill. I’ll be joined by Michelle Malkin, Mike Coffman, Bob Beauprez, Jim Pfaff from AFP and many others.

My parents said they want to make a statement and sign one of those checks. Thirty thousand bucks is a lot of money, you know. Can you imagine how many Legos or Matchbox cars that would buy? Seriously. And my family doesn’t get to pick the $30,000 off the magical money tree any more than the federal government gets to do so with the hundreds of billions of dollars they’re borrowing and spending.

And, sorry to say, there won’t be a magical money tree at today’s rally either. But you can stand up and exercise your democratic rights.

But just because I can’t go to this event in the next couple hours doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it. Stand up and make your voice heard for the kids in my generation who will be paying the bills forever.

8 Comments »

February
16th 2009
A Presidents Day Wish to See More Common Sense in Colorado Schools

Posted under Federal Government & High School & Suburban Schools

I’m at home. My parents said the break from school is for something called Presidents Day. Among other things, our greatest presidents were gifted with tremendous common sense. While that often doesn’t seem to be the case with the way our public school system is run, a couple stories in the news give me a little hope that this might change.

First, it’s good to see Boulder students tell their peers that the idea to rename a high school after a President who has been in office less than a month, who has accomplished nothing of significance, and who already has broken several campaign promises, is truly the height of silliness.

Second, it’s good to see Aurora student Marie Morrow, who was busted for having a fake gun drill prop in her truck at school, is not suspended anymore. Now if we can do something to fix the “zero-tolerance” absurdity, we may have gained something positive from this experience.

It’s truly hard to imagine what great men like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would have to say about cases like the ones in Boulder and Aurora. But welcome to Colorado in the year 2009.

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