Archive for April, 2010

30th 2010
Giving You More Good Reasons to See The Cartel Movie While It’s Here in Denver

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Parents & School Choice & School Finance & Urban Schools

Last Friday I told you that a great new education movie called The Cartel is coming to town. In fact, on this coming Tuesday at 7 PM, at Denver’s Chez Artiste Theatre, my Independence Institute friends are co-hosting a special screening event with a brief Q & A following the movie.

Given the events of this week, in which thousands of New Jersey students walked out in protest at proposed K-12 education budget cuts, watching the film takes on all the more fresh relevance. As edublogger Matthew Tabor points out, the adult organizers who incited the event are doing a disservice to students by showing no interest in truly solving the Garden State’s education problems. Had they watched The Cartel with an open mind first, they might have taken a different perspective on quite possibly the most fiscally bloated and corrupt state education system in the nation.

Got your attention yet?

If you’re still not sure about whether to come, I invite you to read a brand new review of the film written by local blogger Joshua Sharf. It provides a refreshing and insightful perspective, coming from someone smart and thoughtful who isn’t enmeshed in the finer points of the education policy research and debates.

Look, in all honesty, you don’t have many good excuses to miss watching The Cartel at some point this week while it’s in town. You especially want to come out on Tuesday evening to see the movie and my Education Policy Center friends — and if I can stay out of trouble, maybe my mom or dad will bring me, too!


29th 2010
Writer May Want to Think Twice about Keeping Government Out of Teaching

Posted under School Choice & State Board of Education & Teachers

When I saw the opinion article in today’s Denver Post titled “Keep the government out of teaching,” I thought I was going to encounter a radical libertarian argument for the “separation of school and state” — or at least something like universal vouchers.

You start reading the piece, and realize it’s a response to a previous column written by local radio talk host Mike Rosen defending the Texas State Board of Education’s newly-approved social studies curriculum.

Oh, okay. So judging by the title then, this column is arguing for government bodies to stop imposing curriculum decisions on schools or for expanding school choice so parents can pick a school with a different curriculum. Right? Continue Reading »

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28th 2010
New Fordham Report: Colorado Charters Lagging in True Autonomy

Posted under Denver & High School & Middle School & Online Schools & Parents & Public Charter Schools & Research

One of the main ingredients that gives public charter schools the opportunity to thrive in a competitive environment is the degree of autonomy to determine its own culture, curriculum, program, budget and personnel policies. But just how much autonomy do they have?

We know that because of different laws and policies, all states certainly aren’t equal. The Center for Education Reform’s annual report card on states’ charter-friendliness is the leading example.

But today the Fordham Institute released a report that takes a closer look at 100 charter schools in 26 different states, rating them on a carefully-developed metric of autonomy in the areas of: Vision and Culture, Program, Staffing, and Financial and Governance.

An interesting aspect of the report was not only taking into account the effect of state laws but also adding the impact of contracts signed between charter schools and their authorizers (e.g., school districts) on autonomy in these different areas. Continue Reading »

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27th 2010
Colorado, Avoid Iowa’s “Save Are Teacher”: Try “Teach Us English” Instead

Posted under Just For Fun & Middle School & School Finance & Teachers & Urban Schools

People in Iowa, avert your eyes for a moment. The shame might hurt too much. Did you see this story? Thanks to Mike Antonucci, I learned today about the “teacher who Un Des-Moines her own protest.” For all you Cleveland Indians fans out there, that’s what we call a pun.

The Iowa State Daily tells us more about the protest:

Earlier that week, students arranged a gathering outside of Merrill Middle School in Des Moines to protest the cuts before the school day started March 8. The rally was organized by Theresa Hoffman’s language arts students while Hoffman got an OK with Merrill’s principal.

“They were very upset that we lost shop and drama [last year], and then when they heard we were going to lose vocal music and that I am retiring and a math teacher is retiring, and they’re not replacing us, they’re concerned with the size of classes,” Hoffman explained

Continue Reading »

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26th 2010
Vote Denver School of Science and Technology for Obama Commencement

Posted under Denver & Federal Government & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

From today through Thursday, you have the chance to help decide where President Obama gives a high school commencement address later this year. Why should you care? Besides some hint of local pride from my fellow Coloradans, that is.

Because as David Greenberg points out on the Ed News Colorado blog, one of the six finalists is the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST). The school’s track record of success is impressive. And Flypaper’s Mike Petrilli offers even more reasons to vote for DSST.

So here’s your assignment for the week: Go to the White House website so you can review and rate each of the six finalists’ brief essay and video entries. I am confident you will do the right thing and give your highest ratings to the Denver School of Science and Technology. This isn’t about what you think of President Obama, but about putting the national spotlight on a successful charter school that is replicating throughout Denver.

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23rd 2010
Pass the Popcorn: Come to Special Denver Screening of The Cartel Movie on May 4

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & Urban Schools

Break out the heavily-buttered popcorn, and don’t forget the Kit Kats and Junior Mints. Movie night is coming! And not just any movie… My Education Policy Center friends are co-hosting a special screening of The Cartel on Tuesday, May 4, at 7:00 PM, at Denver’s Chez Artiste Theatre. Besides the special screening event — at which Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow will follow the movie with a brief Q&A — The Cartel is scheduled to show at Chez Artiste four times a day from April 30 to May 6. (Tickets for all screenings are available online or at the box office.)

The new, award-winning documentary focuses on New Jersey to offer a fresh inside look at the K-12 public school system and opens eyes to the need for significant reform. Click the play button below (or follow this link) to listen to a new iVoices podcast as The Cartel producer/director Bob Bowdon gives a sneak peek at his film and shares what it’s all about: Continue Reading »


22nd 2010
Happy Earth Day: Reminding Colorado of Need for Balanced Education

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Parents

Happy Earth Day. Remember a couple weeks ago when I told you how parents here in Colorado and elsewhere could help put Earth Day education back into balance? The nice lady Carrie Lukas explained it all on an iVoices podcast.

Well, since we posted the information, a couple Colorado parents have chimed in with their stories on the Balanced Education for Everyone website. Here’s what a dad named Kevin from Denver had to say:

It’s about time this topic is approached in our schools. My kids come home and I usually have to reeducate them about what they have learned in school that day. The liberal attention global warming attracts in schools needs to change. As a father of three, I am rallying for a balanced education in the classroom.

Also, a Littleton parent spoke out: Continue Reading »

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20th 2010
When It Comes to Education, We All Can Do Better Than Simply Trusting the Experts

Posted under Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice

Ok, let’s get something straight. Just because you name something a charter school, and even just because you give it charter-like freedoms, does not guarantee success. These schools provide an opportunity for innovation, for something outside the norm. And most importantly, they are afforded the conditions that better empower students, teachers and principals to build success.

To bring home the point that nothing is guaranteed, last week the New York Times reported on a California charter school that, according to some experts, should have had all the ingredients for success, except it didn’t succeed: Continue Reading »

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19th 2010
iVoices: THE Week for Sen. Michael Johnston’s Tenure Reform SB 191

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

As far as education reform issues go, this year’s Colorado legislative session has been kind of humdrum. Until now. Yes, this week is THE week. Senate Bill 191the proposal I’ve told you about that will overhaul our state’s evaluation and tenure system for the better — will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and Thursday.

If you’re not too familiar with SB 191, or you want a better sense of what exactly it will do and which groups are lining up to support or oppose the bill, then click the play button below (or follow this link) to listen to lead sponsor Senator Michael Johnston, D-Denver, discuss it with Ben DeGrow on a new iVoices podcast:

Stay tuned. My Education Policy Center friends and I have just begun to cover this issue. (And if there happens to be another “THE week” after this one, don’t blame me for my youthful exuberance and excitement.


15th 2010
Not All is Good News Out of Florida: Charlie Crist Vetoes Tenure Reform SB6

Posted under Governor & Innovation and Reform & Teachers

Update: Reactions to Governor Crist’s decision are pretty strong, including the Eduwonk giving Crist the ironic “it’s all about the kids” award and Andy Smarick labeling the move “the most disappointing education policy decision by a major Republican officeholder in recent memory.”

Just a short post today: Bad education reform news from the state of Florida (I know, it’s hard to believe). Governor Charlie Crist has vetoed Senate Bill 6 — which would have made it easier to dismiss ineffective teachers, while tying teacher compensation more closely to demonstrated gains in student learning.

Was the bill perfect? As Rick Hess–one of the sharpest education reformers out there–points out, certainly not. But it was a “game-changer”:

…[G]iven the fierce battle that the FEA and its brethren have waged against even more nuanced efforts to rethink tenure and pay, the choice is not between this ham-handed bill and a more elegant cousin but between SB6 and the status quo. Given that choice, there’s no contest–give me SB6.

If you have 3 or 4 minutes to spare, listen to education reform godfathers Paul Peterson and Checker Finn try to unravel the politics behind Crist’s decision to veto the bill.

There… See? I can blog about Florida even when I’m not heaping the state with praise.

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