Archive for September, 2009

30th 2009
A Glimpse at New Schools: Westgate Community School (Northglenn)

Posted under Elementary School & Homeschooling & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Suburban Schools

You don’t think I would be considered a “gifted and talented” student, do you? Because if so, and if I lived in the north Denver metro area, I would take a really close look at getting into the new Westgate Community School.

Chartered by the Adams 12 School District and located in Northglenn, Westgate serves students from kindergarten to 6th grade. According to the school’s main web page:

Our school offers an innovative, stimulating learning environment to all students, including the twice-exceptional, visual-spatial, and highly/profoundly gifted learners. We specialize in gifted learners whose needs diverge from traditional educational models. Our instruction is organized to support diverse learning styles by using methods that match the strengths of alternative learners.

We believe the social and emotional needs of gifted students are as important as their intellectual needs. While making our high expectations clear to all students, we also offer a loving learning environment where it is safe to take risks among peers. Our goal is to make our students feel successful, understood, and appreciated for who they are.

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29th 2009
Running for Local School Board? Learn the Issues from Independence Institute

Posted under Independence Institute & School Board

Do you live along Colorado’s Front Range? Are you running for the board of education in your local community this fall? Then my friends in the Education Policy Center are glad to invite you to a school board candidates issue briefing on Thursday, October 15, at 7:00 PM.

Hosted at the Independence Institute offices, the event is free. An electronic copy of educational materials will be handed out, and light refreshments will be served. If you’re planning to come or have questions related to the event, please contact Ben DeGrow.

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28th 2009
Of NEA, ACORN, Duncan and Electric Chairs: EIA is Back with a Bang

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & Federal Government & Independence Institute & Teachers

If you aren’t a regular reader of Mike Antonucci’s Education Intelligence Agency (EIA), you don’t know what you’re missing. Mr. Antonucci is one of the best national experts on teachers unions, has a very keen perspective on the significance of issues in unions and education politics, and breaks many stories with his vast network of (mostly anonymous) sources.

That’s why when he took a break from his online reporting and commentary for nine or 10 days a little earlier this month, I was suffering from a mild case of withdrawal. But EIA’s Intercepts blog is back, with two new pieces I commend to your reading enjoyment and enlightenment:

EIA is back with a bang. Happy Monday!

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25th 2009
If a Teacher Strike Comes, Will Boulder Learn Denver’s 1994 Lesson?

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Teachers

Back in the spring, I pointed you to some important discussion about the Boulder teacher “sickout”. A month ago I mentioned how the collective bargaining contract with the school district, and teachers voted to reject the latest offer.

Well, earlier this week, the Boulder Valley Education Association filed official notice with the state that the union intends to strike. Sure, as my friend Ben DeGrow pointed out, that doesn’t necessarily mean a strike will happen soon or even happen at all.

But another large Colorado local union went down a similar path 15 years ago during the state’s last teachers strike. So will the parties involved learn the lessons of the 1994 Denver walkout (PDF), or perhaps even take the opportunity to promote reforms in the way teachers are paid? Continue Reading »


24th 2009
Calling Colorado Parents to Participate in Study of Core Knowledge Charters

Posted under Denver & Parents & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Teachers

From the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Commissioner Dwight Jones is urging parents to get involved in a research study of Core Knowledge charter schools:

The study is being led by David W. Grissmer and Thomas G. White,
researchers at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. They have received a $4.9 million grant to evaluate the effectiveness of Core Knowledge charter schools in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Education is participating as a full partner.

The five-year grant is being funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education. Grissmer, a principal research scientist, and White, a senior scientist, work at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, a national center that focuses on the quality of teaching and students’ learning.

“This study holds tremendous potential as a definitive work that will analyze the key ingredients of these successful schools,” said Commissioner Jones. “Because the study design requires participation
from parents who win lottery-based enrollment to Core Knowledge charter schools—and those who don’t win those lotteries—I am strongly encouraging parents to participate in the study to help us all
better understand the elements that make these schools effective.” [link added]

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23rd 2009
Online Elementary Teacher of the Year Gives Cyberschool Sneak Peek

Posted under Elementary School & Independence Institute & Online Schools & Parents & Rural Schools & School Choice & Teachers

If my mom and dad were to sign me up for one of Colorado’s many public online education programs, what would my school experience look like? Would I be chained to the computer all day, blogging for the Independence Institute? Okay, I’m teasing. Of course not. But you may be really surprised to find out what it’s like.

If you or someone you know are considering the cyberschool option, you really ought to listen to our latest iVoices podcast. Click the play button below to hear Colorado’s online elementary teacher of the year Christina Narayan explain how she teaches reading and math to students all over the state while building a sense of community and cooperation:

Mrs. Narayan, a teacher for Branson School Online, really seems like a remarkable lady. But what’s even more noteworthy is how her passion and excitement for what she does reflects the bright future for this increasingly popular education option.

That, and the fact she got to throw out the first pitch last month at a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game. I’m so jealous!

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22nd 2009
A Glimpse at New Schools: West Denver Prep II Looks Like a Great Sequel

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

So this isn’t exactly a NEW school. But West Denver Prep, arguably the city’s most successful charter, has added a new campus and the opportunity to serve more students.

Back in May my Education Policy Center friends visited the original West Denver Prep. Ben DeGrow summed up the visit:

You can’t help but leave the grounds of the school on Federal near Jewell thinking that though the challenge is great, there is definitely hope to do more to improve educational opportunity for the poor children of our nation’s inner cities.

And now, a little over a mile away, West Denver Prep II has completed its first month in action, reaching out to a largely poor and Hispanic population, motivated by three Core Beliefs: Continue Reading »


21st 2009
I’ll Learn Cursive if I Can Use Crayons (or Maybe Type in a Script Font)

Posted under Just For Fun & Teachers

When not typing like I do for the blog, I use crayons (especially my favorite colors blue and green) to write in large block letters. On paper, mind you, not walls. I’ve learned that lesson! Anyway, that’s why I found interesting the new article in the Denver Post “Cursive increasingly out of loop in schools”:

West Virginia’s largest school system teaches cursive, but only in the third grade.

“It doesn’t get quite the emphasis it did years ago, primarily because of all the technology skills we now teach,” said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary education in Kanawha County schools.

For Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University, cursive writing is a lifelong skill, one she fears could become lost, making many historic records hard to decipher and robbing people of “a gift.”

Gulp. Not sure what different Colorado schools do about teaching handwriting, but I’m curious to know. Does anybody out there teach cursive with crayons? Or maybe I can just use one of those “script” fonts here on WordPress. Does anybody know how to do that?

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18th 2009
Teachers in Another School District Decide to Break Away from the NEA

Posted under Independence Institute & Teachers

Back in the spring I told you about a local teachers union in Kansas that broke away from the National Education Association. Apparently the trend is growing. From a press release sent to my friends in the Education Policy Center this week about some happenings in Spokane, Washington: Continue Reading »

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17th 2009
iVoices: Colorado’s Own Expert Talks Education Policy and the Courts

Posted under Courts & Federal Government & Independence Institute & School Choice & School Finance

Exactly what role should unelected judges play in making policies for our schools? What problems have been created? What can we expect in the future? These are the kinds of questions that University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Joshua Dunn addresses in a new iVoices podcast with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow (click the play button below to listen to the 15-minute discussion):

The podcast only scratches the surface on the issue of the courts and education policy, because Joshua Dunn really knows what he’s talking about. Along with Martin West, he edited an important new book on the topic called From Schoolhouse to Courthouse — published by the Brookings Institution Press and Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Continue Reading »

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