Archive for August, 2010

31st 2010
Hickenlooper Education Plan: Substantive Discussion with Dubious Funding Claim

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & School Finance & Teachers

I know that political campaigns are going on. Election season is upon us. When I ask my mom or dad what’s happening in the race for governor, they usually roll their eyes, take a deep sigh, and pat me on the head: “You’ll understand when you’re older,” they say.

That may be true, but I do like to understand where the people running for office stand on education issues, so I was glad to see today’s story by Todd Engdahl in Ed News Colorado on Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper’s education agenda — which breaks down the campaign’s official issue brief:

Education needs to be about what is best for our kids and that means raising the level of their achievement in knowledge and skills necessary to be successful adults. We must continue our investment in building a 21st Century education system in Colorado. Without a strong education system, job creation and economic development cannot be sustained. Making Colorado synonomous [sic] with innovation has to include supporting great teachers, and engaging parents and local communities as partners to improve our schools. Continue Reading »

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30th 2010
Time to Revisit Common Core?: It May Take a Change on Colorado’s State Board

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform

Four weeks ago today the Colorado State Board of Education adopted Common Core academic standards in math and language arts by a 4-3 margin. Instead of putting the issue to rest, Colorado’s failure to secure an expected share of federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funds has resurrected the issue.

Why? Because some of the fuel behind getting the State Board to adopt the interstate educational compact was the value it would add to the state’s RTTT application — despite objections laid out by state senator Keith King (R-Colorado Springs) and others. Word on the street is that some local school officials have been raising the specter of repeal, feeding on the RTTT loss to add momentum to their cause.

In a new blog post, the State Board’s Marcia Neal (R-Grand Junction) reasserted her deep skepticism toward federal involvement in education and what she sees as a course of action leading Colorado down a path toward greater national dictates on our schools: Continue Reading »

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27th 2010
We May Disagree about Senate Bill 191, But There’s No Need to Rewrite History

Posted under Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

Nobody in the education world is talking about anything else, so why not just make it official and call this “Race to the Top week”? The fallout continues. In an exclusive interview on Tuesday, State Board of Education member Marcia Neal told my Education Policy Center friends that we might see an effort to slow down or roll back Senate Bill 191: Colorado’s landmark teacher tenure and evaluation reform.

I’m not sure if she was thinking it would happen this week, but open up the opinion section of today’s Denver Post, and you’ll see a guest column written by Cherry Creek educator Brian Kurz titled “Go back and fix SB 191.” My modest suggestion would be for the author to go back and check some of his facts and assumptions. First:

[Bill sponsor] Michael Johnston authored SB 191 and pushed its passage as a way to better position Colorado for Race to the Top money. Johnston knew first-hand the obvious flaws with both the language of [sic] bill and the ambiguity of how to achieve its goals. Despite the lack of specifics, the bill was Colorado’s chance at a $175 million lottery.

While Johnston certainly expressed hopes of winning Race to the Top, I don’t know how many times he scrupulously stated that SB 191 was the right thing to do regardless of Race to the Top — something he expressed in public legislative meetings and on widely-heard radio interviews. By the same token, I can’t say we’ve heard Johnston expound on the “obvious flaws” and “ambiguities” in SB 191, but Mr. Kurz seems to know the bill sponsor’s mind.

What “obvious flaws” and “ambiguities”? Check out this rhetorical sleight of hand: Continue Reading »

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26th 2010
The Politics of Federal Education Funding? Questions about Race to the Top Judgments

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

The new school year is underway, and I’m just trying to keep my head above water while this giant wave of reaction to the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grant announcements keeps rolling in. Seriously, one of these days my mom or dad is going to have to teach me how to swim.

But since I can’t get my mind off being aghast that Colorado missed out on its chance at $175 million, you just really need to check out some of these reactions. First, a trifecta from our friends over at EdNews Colorado:

  1. Alexander Ooms reminds us not to overreact, that outcomes are important and we can effect positive change without the $175 million
  2. Robert Reichardt points out that Colorado and other Western states can’t win until we effectively explain how local control really works
  3. Ben DeGrow from our own Education Policy Center notes how Colorado’s RTTT loss could open the door for the unions’ “politics of blocking”

Continue Reading »

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24th 2010
Colorado Loses Race to the Top: State Board’s Bob Schaffer, Marcia Neal Respond

Posted under Federal Government & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & School Finance & State Board of Education

Update, 3 PM: State Board member Randy DeHoff also added some comments. Scroll to the end of the post to read them.

At my age, I figured I knew pretty well how the world works. I told you that Colorado’s green light from the National Council on Teacher Quality made them practically a sure thing to win a share of Race to the Top round two federal dollars. Was I wrong or what? Instead of Colorado becoming one of the 10 winners, our state finished 17th out of 19! Let me tell you what: I can’t wait to see the explanation for this one. It’s not just me. Education policy guru Rick Hess says it’s ludicrous that Colorado and Louisiana were “left out in the cold.”

Curious themselves, my Education Policy Center friends asked some Colorado State Board of Education members for their reactions to the surprising news.

“It’s a shame funds purloined from Colorado taxpayers will now head to other states, in greater quantities, for the education of other people’s children,” said State Board chair Bob Schaffer, R-Fort Collins. “Nonetheless, accepting cash from the federal bureaucracy always comes at a competing price. In this case, the attached strings and red tape are considerable. In the end, the opinions of Washington, D.C.’s government workers are not what matters most when it comes to the quality and direction of Colorado’s schools.” Continue Reading »


23rd 2010
Colorado Ranks #5 in Non-Teaching School Employees Per Student

Posted under Research & School Finance & Teachers

So this morning I ran across an interesting posting from Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner, based on a little research “to see which states have the public school districts with the most top-heavy bureaucracies.” As Tapscott explains, he took U.S. Census Bureau data to build a table and find out which states have the most “non-instructional employees” as a share of the state’s population.

Who qualifies as a “non-instructional employee”? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, anyone who works for a K-12 public school but does NOT have one of the following positions:

[C]lassroom teachers, principals, supervisors of instruction, librarians, teacher aides, library aides, and guidance and psychological personnel.

Anyway, here are the top 10 states with the highest per capita ratios of “non-instructional employees”: Continue Reading »

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20th 2010
A Physical Education Revolution?

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun

Since Friday is here, time for some lighter fare… maybe as in having a lighter body weight? You don’t see me writing a lot about physical education — maybe because you typically can’t get P.E. credit for blogging or Legos. But maybe I could get credit for all the times I go crazy running around in my (fenced in) backyard when my mom can’t stand me being in the house anymore.

As Marci Kanstoroom reports at Education Next, traditional P.E. courses aren’t doing much at all to curb the problem of childhood obesity. But some schools are experimenting with innovative new ways to offer P.E.: Continue Reading »

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19th 2010
New Colorado Charters to See Funding Boost; Liberty Common High Opens Doors

Posted under Federal Government & High School & Principals & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & State Board of Education

I learned some good news today: While Colorado K-12 public schools expect to receive $160 million in Edujobs money to save more jobs than were lost and to preserve the status quo, some good news arrived: Colorado also will receive a 3-year, $40.8 million federal grant to help innovative charter schools with start-up expenses. Denise at Colorado Charters has posted the official CDE press release.

While certainly some of the new schools I’ve highlighted will be eligible for funding, there’s another new school featured today in the Fort Collins Coloradoan: Continue Reading »

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18th 2010
Ben DeGrow’s Denver Post Edujobs Critique Riles Up Some Responses

Posted under Federal Government & Independence Institute & School Finance & Teachers

I’m pleased to report that my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow’s guest column in the Denver Post taking on the edujobs bailout has garnered some attention — you know, the one I told you about a couple days ago. Without further ado, here they are:

Finally, although he doesn’t link to the Denver Post op-ed (looks like they were posted online about the same time), education policy guru Rick Hess elaborates with some excellent points about why he sees the Edujobs bailout as “harmful, not just wasteful”. Once you’ve read Ben’s column, follow it up by perusing what Rick Hess has to say. Maybe painful, but also important, to read.

With the midterm elections fast approaching — and jobs, the economy and government spending at the forefront of most voters’ minds — this issue is likely to remain a heated topic of discussion for awhile.

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17th 2010
Video: Some Colorado Unions Abuse Non-Union Teacher Paychecks

Posted under Independence Institute & Teachers

My Education Policy Center friends truly have done it this time. They produced a 4-minute video about a Colorado school employee’s story that highlights an unjust policy:

Thank you, Colorado teachers unions. From the YouTube summary: Continue Reading »

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