Archive for August, 2009

17th 2009
Odd Trio of Gingrich, Sharpton, and Duncan Hit Road for School Reform

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Innovation and Reform & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & Teachers & Urban Schools

What a crazy world we’re living in these days! Last week I pointed out how a voucher group is working closely with the union on a private school teacher training project… Hatfields hugging the McCoys?

Well, here’s another example of strange bedfellows — Education Week blogger Alyson Klein notes that an odd trio is running around together promoting school reform:

In case you missed it, it basically involves Rev. Al Sharpton and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich high-fiving and fist-bumping and telling everyone about how their similarities on education policy transcend their differences on… just about everything else. They’re pro-charter, pro-merit pay, pro-accountability, and they play well with all sorts of audiences.

At the convention, a room full of conservative Republican delegates gave Sharpton a standing ovation, while, during the inauguration festivities, a crowd at an inner-city high school in majority black and Democratic D.C. took cell phone pictures of Gingrich (although he kinda got upstaged by another Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona).

Well, now U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is hopping on the tour.

Now you know how important the cause of education reform is: Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton, and Arne Duncan are on the same road show promoting it. There may be many disagreements on nearly every other issue, but not the one that most directly affects kids like me.

If only they could all also agree about the need to save private scholarships for D.C. students.

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14th 2009
A Glimpse at New Schools: Thomas MacLaren School (Colorado Springs)

Posted under High School & Middle School & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice

Update, 8/18: Denise at Colorado Charters offers more information on the new Thomas MacLaren School, as well as an account of the ribbon cutting ceremony.

If you live in the Colorado Springs area and have a student heading into the middle school years, you may want to take a look at the new Thomas MacLaren School. The tuition-free public charter school opens this month with classes from 6th to 9th grade. Eventually the school will serve students all the way up through high school.

Many things set MacLaren apart from traditional public schools, but most prominent are:

  • A classical education curriculum that builds from the basics of grammar (6th-8th grade) to the logic of finding “implications and relationships that exist among the ideas already learned” (9th-10th grade) to the higher-level rhetoric (11th-12th grade) “wherein students begin to synthesize and relate concepts already learned” — all students will be required to take four years of Latin
  • Student uniforms
  • Single-sex classrooms (that’s right: No yucky girls! I may have to look into this school….), except the fine arts classes (including choir, drama, etc.) and lunchtimes will be co-ed

Continue Reading »


13th 2009
Teachers Union Hearts Voucher Group? Hatfields-McCoys Kiss and Make Up?

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Private Schools & School Choice & Teachers

I’m too young to be shocked by it, I guess, but a news story in today’s St. Petersburg Times certainly raised a few eyebrows around here in the Education Policy Center. If this doesn’t make you do a double-take, I’m not sure what will:

In a move that experts are calling nearly unprecedented, the Hillsborough County schools and teachers’ union have joined forces with a nonprofit Florida voucher group to help train private school teachers.

Step Up for Students — which runs the state’s tax credit voucher program — plans to spend at least $100,000 on classes for teachers who serve its scholarship students, among the county’s most economically disadvantaged children. The school district and union will provide space in the jointly developed Center for Technology and Education.

“Bottom line is these are our children, they are disadvantaged children, and they often return to our public schools,” said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers’ Association. “I want them to get the best possible education, wherever they get it.”

Hey, did I read that correctly? Continue Reading »

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12th 2009
Introducing the Carnival of Education Innovation: What Could Be More Fun?

Posted under Early Childhood & Edublogging & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Teachers & Urban Schools

Who doesn’t like carnivals? I’m thinking about the carousels, moonwalks, ferris wheels, and the cool prizes — don’t forget the hot dogs, popcorn, and funnel cakes!

Okay, now that I’ve whet your appetite and got you nostalgic for childhood, what I really wanted to bring your attention to is the new weekly Carnival of Education Innovation — as explained by Dave Saba, the first host and guy who got it going:

It’s basically a collection of links to recent blog posts on a particular subject. People can come browse the links as a sort of one-stop-shop for all that’s happening in education innovation that week—a “best of the week” so to speak, taking place each Tuesday.

This blog carnival has started out small, with only six participants — including yours truly. I far and away won the prize for the youngest carnival contributor with my post on dead people receiving health insurance benefits from Detroit Public Schools.

Six participants isn’t enough. Let’s keep this thing growing. Submit your blog entries, and encourage others you know writing about education innovation to join in. Thanks to Joanne Jacobs for bringing attention to the carnival!

The idea of the blog carnival is to rotate hosting among the different members. I’m hoping that Ed Is Watching will get its turn soon. Please stay tuned, and come join in the fun!

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11th 2009
Sign Up to Stay in Touch with Save School Choice for D.C. Children

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

I’ve told you about a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators who are leading the fight to save the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program for disadvantaged children in our nation’s capital.

Well, most urgent on the agenda is saving the scholarships of 216 kids that were taken away at the last minute by Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — despite the program’s proven success. Sign up on the new Save School Choice website to stay in touch and learn about ways you can help these 216 kids and many more.

And listen in to the radio ad that’s debuting today in Washington DC (click the play button to hear):

Let’s keep up the good fight, and let them know that both little kids and big people here in the Rocky Mountain West want to save this important educational opportunity for as many D.C. kids as possible.

1 Comment »

11th 2009
NEA Backs Obama Care Plan, Doesn’t Bother Asking Member Teachers

Posted under Edublogging & Federal Government & Independence Institute & Teachers

For some reason, these days all the big people are talking a lot more about health care than education. Hey, I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctor or going to school. But at least at school, you’ve got some of your friends around you. And learning can be fun, too (but don’t tell my friends I said that).

Anyway, my other friends in the Education Policy Center provide one overlooked example of how the two issues overlap with this post on the Independent Teachers blog:

If you were a full-time member of the National Education Association (NEA) through joining your local teachers union, then you sent money during the 2007-08 school year to support the current proposal from Congress and President Obama to promote socialized medicine.

According to the latest disclosure report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, NEA gave $500,000 in 2007-08 to the group Health Care for America Now, a 501c4 political organization that is backing President Obama’s health care plan. (It is likely that NEA has made further contributions to this group since 2007-08, since NEA is listed as being a member of the HCAN steering committee.)

Wow, you think the union could at least bother to ask first. No luck, though. I happen to know of another group that represents Colorado teachers that doesn’t take sides on the health care debate and costs considerably less to join: the Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE).

Maybe the union leaders change their minds on the issue if they watched this cool new animated health reform video made by my friends at the Independence Institute.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled edublogging now.

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10th 2009
A Glimpse at “New” Schools: Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & Parents & Principals & School Choice & State Board of Education & Teachers

Okay, okay … so Denver’s Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment isn’t exactly new. In fact, at more than 100 years of age, it’s one of Colorado’s older public schools. So what’s new about it?

Montclair is one of the state’s first two Innovation Schools — as approved by the local school board and by the state board of education under the 2008 state law — and the only school to be recognized both as an Innovation School and as a DPS Beacon School. What does that mean, you ask? Continue Reading »


7th 2009
Overhaul Detroit Schools without Giving Health Insurance to Dead People

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & School Finance & Urban Schools

It’s Friday. What better time to kick an institution that’s down, and deservedly so? If anyone is taking nominees for an American school district to tear down and start over the education system from scratch, I vote for the Detroit Public Schools. Anyone with me?

The district’s well-documented failures and financial deficits are exacerbated by the latest findings of far-reaching corruption. The Detroit Free Press reports today about what was found in a pair of audits of Detroit Public Schools (H/T Intercepts):

Among the findings: 160 outdated BlackBerrys, 11 motorcycles, 97 two-way phones and 50 handheld radios sat unused. One audit also showed that 411 people — including some who are dead — were receiving health insurance even though they weren’t eligible.

Ending those benefits will save the district an immediate $2.1 million, [emergency financial manager Robert] Bobb said.

Health insurance for dead people? To cover future embalming needs? Protection money from grave robbers? If we take away their benefits, will they be added to the rolls of Americans without health insurance? Unbelievable stuff. Do you see what I mean? Continue Reading »

1 Comment »

6th 2009
Florida Survey Offers Latest, Greatest Proof Parents Love School Choice

Posted under School Choice

The more parents know and experience school choice, the more satisfied they are with it. The Friedman Foundation’s newly-released survey of 808 parents who have participated in Florida’s scholarship tax credit program is just the latest and most overwhelming proof.

Florida’s eight-year-old program provides full tax credit to corporations donating to qualified scholarship granting organizations. Those groups provide scholarships worth up to $3,950 (or full tuition) for low-income students to enroll in the private school of their choice. According to the Friedman report, the latest numbers show 23,259 Florida students attending private school on a tax credit scholarship.

Simply put, participating parents love it: Continue Reading »

1 Comment »

5th 2009
To Ask Five Jeffco Board Candidates About Key Education Positions

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Earlier this week Ed News Colorado reported that five Jefferson County residents have stepped forward to fill the school board vacancy left by departing Scott Benefield:

Here are the candidates:

* Harvey Burns of Westminster retired from the district is 2004 after 30 years as an English teacher and librarian. He works as a substitute teacher. He was an officer of the Jefferson County Education Association and served on the board of the Colorado Education Association in the middle 1990s.
* Edward Duran of Arvada is vice president of an information technology company.
* Tomas Griego of Westminster is a retired middle school teacher and middle and high school administrator. After retirement he worked as a hearing officer in the Westminster schools. Most of his career was as assistant principal of Hodgkins Middle School in the Westminster district.
* Robin Johnson of Arvada is the mother of three children in the Jeffco schools and has been a school volunteer and active in the Jeffco PTA. She works as an administrative assistant in an accounting firm.
* Cody McNutt of Arvada is a graduate of the International Baccalaureate program at Lakewood High School, currently is a senior at the University of Denver and is executive director of the Arvada Harvest Festival.

Continue Reading »

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