Archive for May, 2010

28th 2010
Adams 50 and SBS: Balancing the Equation with Some Parents’ Serious Concerns

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Middle School & Parents & School Accountability & School Board & Suburban Schools

Not too long ago I wrote about my Education Policy Center friends’ visit to Adams School District 50 for the Standards-Based Education tour. Some seem to have taken the posting as an unqualified enthusiastic endorsement of the district’s SBS program, or maybe they thought I was being too one-sided and generous with praise.

The intent was to provide a descriptive summary of what my friends saw from the official tour. Okay, though, I own up for not making it clearer, and maybe I gave the district too much benefit of the doubt. But that’s also what happens when my friends let a 5-year-old do their blogging for them. (Not that I don’t like doing it, I’m just saying….)

Anyway, a few facts are plain: 1) Adams 50′s SBS system is new and untested. 2) Buy-in from schools and teachers certainly isn’t universal across the district, and implementation has been rough — at least at times. 3) Test results so far haven’t been encouraging. Continue Reading »


27th 2010
Raising Concerns about Race to the Top and Move Toward National K-12 Standards

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Research & School Accountability & State Board of Education

I’ve written plenty about Colorado’s ongoing quest for Race to the Top federal education grant money. I’ve noted both the promise and the peril within this pursuit. But one issue I have yet to highlight is the Race to the Top requirement that states sign on to the Common Core Standards.

In a new iVoices podcast, Colorado State Board of Education member Peggy Littleton explains how the pull of federal money threatens to lead us down a path towards national testing and curriculum, undermining local control and in some cases watering down the quality of standards. Follow this link or click the play button below to listen: Continue Reading »


26th 2010
Let’s Find an Answer to Honor the True Spirit of the Innovation Schools Act

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & Urban Schools

While we certainly have our challenges and plenty of room to grow, Colorado is a state blessed with a healthy variety of public school choice. Among the growing number of options are innovation schools, made possible by a bipartisan 2008 state law.

Colorado was the first state to implement innovation schools — something I have written about numerous times here. The idea is to provide greater freedom from burdensome state regulations, district policies and collective bargaining provisions by allowing individual schools to formulate proposals that give them greater autonomy and flexibility over decisions surrounding personnel, program and budget.

Of course, even the best education reform ideas encounter problems being put into action. As Education News Colorado reported last week, Colorado’s first three innovation schools (all based in the city of Denver — Manual High School, Montclair Elementary, & Cole Arts and Science Academy) have sought and received a formal legal opinion that school district officials are violating the Innovation Schools Act by refusing to relinquish control over key areas of budget and personnel. Continue Reading »


25th 2010
Grand Junction Grassroots for Balanced Education (Maybe Not for Eating Dirt)

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Parents

Back in April, I told you about the Balanced Education for Everyone campaign to empower parents to ensure their child’s school provides a balanced presentation of global warming and environmental issues.

Well, it’s more than just an idea here in Colorado. Out in the Grand Junction area, local attorney and former school board candidate Rose Pugliese took note of some unbalanced classroom presentations in her local schools. Instead of just complaining about it, she started circulating petitions and has garnered hundreds of signatures that she plans to present to the school board this evening.

Click the play button below (or follow this link) to listen to Rose discuss her grassroots effort with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow on an iVoices podcast: Continue Reading »

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24th 2010
Ninth Circuit Remediation: U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on School Choice Again

Posted under Courts & Federal Government & School Choice

Not that it’s a huge surprise, but we’ve learned the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to take a second look at the Ninth Circuit decision striking down Arizona’s 13-year-old individual scholarship tax credit program. The American Federation for Children reports this morning:

Supporters of school choice programs that provide children with educational opportunity will once again have their day in court—in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court decided today that it would hear an appeal to a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that declared an Arizona school choice program unconstitutional.

Continue Reading »

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21st 2010
SB 191: Devil in the Council’s Details While Harrison Moves Ahead on Evaluations

Posted under Education Politics & Governor & Parents & State Legislature & Teachers

Yesterday Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law Senate Bill 191. Now all eyes are on the details that will be hashed out by the Governor’s Council on Educator Effectiveness.

The state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, carried all the weight of opposing SB 191 and pushed amendments that watered down some of the bill’s better features. And yesterday CEA officials turned down the chance to show up for the bill signing event: Continue Reading »


20th 2010
School Choice Advances in New Jersey Over Petty Teachers Union Obstruction

Posted under Education Politics & Parents & School Choice & State Legislature & Teachers & Urban Schools

This is the education story of the month you may have heard nothing about. In light of having recently seen the movie The Cartel, the scene seems especially poignant. In fact, if a sequel were to be made to The Cartel, you certainly can imagine this being a part of it.

The scene is last Thursday in Trenton, New Jersey, at the State Capitol — where a senate education committee hearing was scheduled for the bill S1872, which would create a 5-year pilot scholarship tax credit program. Cue Lori Drummer, writing for the Big Government blog: Continue Reading »

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19th 2010
iVoices: Innovative Rocketship Education Charter Network Looking at Colorado

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

Several weeks ago I very briefly highlighted a School Reform News piece written by my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow on an innovative public charter school network in California that may someday soon come to Colorado.

The name? Rocketship Education. It couldn’t be more cool, makes me think about becoming an astronaut someday. Even better, the school is helping needy students in San Jose learn a lot using a unique hybrid model to divide instruction between the traditional classroom and the online “Learning Lab.” Rocketship schools are able to save money and resources for other key priorities in the process.

Well, Rocketship CEO John Danner is coming to Denver this Friday to speak at the Donnell-Kay Foundation’s Hot Lunch event. Before making his trip, Mr. Danner joined Ben DeGrow for a new iVoices podcast (click the link or the play button below) to discuss what sets his schools apart, his vision for education reform and possible future plans for Rocketship Education (maybe coming to Colorado?):

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18th 2010
Chapter Closes on Central Falls Saga with Slow, Painful Obama Reform Win

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Innovation and Reform & Teachers & Urban Schools

Nearly three months ago Rhode Island’s Central Falls High School made the national news when Superintendent Fran Gallo fired teachers and other employees en masse when the union refused to make some concessions aimed at helping to turn around the low-performing school. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan weighed in with supporting comments, and the spotlight grew even larger.

Well, as of Sunday, a chapter has closed on this story. Central Falls has re-hired the teachers (H/T Alan Gottlieb). At first blush, Flypaper’s Andy Smarick worried aloud that the re-hiring was poorly conceded on a deal that wouldn’t aid the turnaround. But with more information in hand showing a strong, favorable deal had been reached, Rick Hess remarked: Continue Reading »

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17th 2010
District 50 Standards-Based Education Tour Raises Hopes of Success (With Patience)

Posted under Elementary School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Principals & School Accountability & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

On Friday my Education Policy Center friends took in the presentation and tour of new Standards-Based Education (SBE) system in the local Adams School District 50 (Westminster). It’s the largest school district in the nation to have taken such a bold departure from the traditional system of age-based grade levels and familiar letter grades.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Roberta Selleck, District 50 decided to move outside the box in addressing the challenges of a long-term decline in student enrollment coupled with growing rates of student poverty and limited English proficiency. The district is just completing its first full year using the SBE system, and there’s definitely something exciting and innovative going on. The system is about so much more than can be squeezed into a blog post, but here’s 16summary thoughts about SBE: Continue Reading »


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