Archive for September, 2010

15th 2010
Hey, Betcha Didn’t Even Know Obama Addressed Students Yesterday

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Urban Schools

Flash back to last September. Remember the big brouhaha about President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren? I commented on it a few times. To me the big deal was the creepy notes created by the Department of Education for teachers that promoted a sort of worshipful, service-oriented attitude toward the President. But no need to rehash the past.

Did you even notice President Obama spoke yesterday to school children across the country? Probably not, and that’s a good sign. Look at a copy of his remarks (H/T Sean Cavanagh, K-12 Politics). I like the heart of the President’s message, delivered at Philadelphia’s Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School:

But here’s your job. Showing up to school on time. Paying attention in class. Doing your homework. Studying for exams. Staying out of trouble. That kind of discipline and drive – that kind of hard work – is absolutely essential for success.

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14th 2010
NEA Backs Anti-Amendment 63 Campaign: How Does This Help Members?

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & School Finance & Teachers

Back in March I pointed out how school teachers and other union members who belong to the National Education Association (NEA) have financially supported Obama Care whether they like it or not. This week brings an important update to the story. The NEA donated $50,000 to the committee opposing Colorado’s Amendment 63 “Right to Health Care Choice” Initiative, which would:

Write into the Colorado Constitution that the State of Colorado cannot force its citizens to purchase a public or private health insurance product, either on its own, or on behalf of the federal government. In other words, Colorado would not be able to implement a Massachusetts-style insurance mandate (otherwise know as Romney Care).

Interesting. Especially when the same kind of mandates in the federal health care legislation have had this sort of impact: Continue Reading »


14th 2010
New Education Book Raises Questions about School Selection, Carpentry

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & School Choice

As a young edublogger, I hear from a lot of people and groups with their new education book. Some look more interesting than others, including this one that crossed my desktop today from the Capital Research Center (CRC):

The Neighbor’s Kid tells the story of what twenty-four year-old Philip Brand discovered regarding American education when he drove his car cross-country during the 2008-09 school year visiting two schools in each of forty-nine states. The schools were public and private, religious and secular, urban and rural, typical and unusual. Brand wanted to learn first-hand what students, parents, teachers, and principals think about their elementary and secondary schools and what they expect from education. His principal discovery: When it comes to picking a school parents care most about the kids with whom their own children associate. Not the curriculum, not the teachers, but the other kids. That concern has important consequences for how school districts, states and the federal government set education policy. A second conclusion: Government policymakers cannot set standards of educational “achievement” because true education is intimately tied to the cultural and civic experiences of families and communities.

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13th 2010
Video: Lamb Basted? NJ Gov. Chris Christie Takes on Teacher Unions Again

Posted under Education Politics & Governor & School Finance & Teachers

Monday has rolled around, and some of you are still dragging from the weekend. Well, let me tell you, it’s time to wake up. What will do it? Watch this clip of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie schooling a teacher on the big picture of his state’s budget, and unraveling some of the myths and propaganda laid out by the state’s teachers union (H/T This Week in Education):

Why do I feature this video? To make sure readers have the chance to witness a startling example of bold, direct and effective education leadership in action. Sometimes the truth hurts, and this kind of blunt talk is very rare in a world too often dominated by politically correct platitudes. New Jersey may be an especially extreme case, but Colorado has plenty of its own examples of teachers union obstruction and abuses. When union leadership is to blame, they need to be called on it — plain and simple.

By the way, did that teacher lady say lamb basted? Color me confused what that had to do with anything they were talking about at the public meeting. Sounds like something my parents would like to eat. As for me, I’ll stick with mac & cheese. But no bologna. Frankly, I doubt either Gov. Christie or I will be taking any of that for awhile.

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10th 2010
5280 Magazine Highlights 1st-Year Teacher at Cole, Denver Innovation School

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & Independence Institute & Teachers & Urban Schools

Seeing as it’s Friday, rather than laying on the analysis really thick or going off on one of my infamous tangents, I wanted to make sure you saw a long but very interesting article that came out this week. In the September edition of Denver’s 5280 Magazine is a feature by Robert Sanchez titled “The Education of Ms. Barsallo” — which highlights on a very personal level the challenges and rewards of a first-year teacher in a high-poverty public school.

The reason why I decided to give the article some special attention? Ms. Barsallo taught last year at Cole Arts and Science Academy, an Innovation School in Denver that my Education Policy Center friends had the privilege of visiting last November. So I guess you could say it has somewhat of a special place in their hearts.

But anyway, please go ahead and read Ms. Barsallo’s story in 5280 Magazine. It may pull at your heartstrings, and it also may provoke you to think a little more deeply about urban education reform. Have a great weekend, everyone!


9th 2010
Edujobs Bailout Looks Even More Like Ill-Advised Policy as Time Passes

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Public Charter Schools & School Finance

Hey, remember Edujobs? The $10 billion chunk of federal taxpayer change doled out to states for the express purpose of hiring and re-hiring teachers and other employees affected by a nationwide trend of crippling layoffs. What could be wrong with that? (Besides being fiscally irresponsible?)

Yesterday, the inimitable Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency highlighted even more evidence — including data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — to undercut Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s claims that the money was needed to save 161,000 jobs: Continue Reading »

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8th 2010
Ben DeGrow Shines Light on Union Opt-Out Periods in Liberty Ink Journal

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & Teachers

Did you know that in many Colorado school districts teachers and other employees can opt into union membership and automatic dues payments at any time but that opting out is a much trickier business? It gets even worse: Did you know in a few Colorado school districts non-union teachers and other employees have a brief window of time each year to opt out of paying unwanted fees worth the full amount of union dues? (Congrats if you already knew. You probably saw the video about Colorado teachers unions.)

Especially if these facts are new to you, I invite you to check out a newly-published article by my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow. The September edition of Liberty Ink Journal features his article titled “Hotel California for Colorado Teachers” (on page 15 of the print edition, page 17 of the electronic issue). To find out more about union opt-out processes and periods, including local details, visit our Independent Teachers website. Continue Reading »

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7th 2010
A Glimpse at New Schools: G.A.L.S. for Girls in Denver

Posted under Denver & Middle School & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

If the Denver Post can take a glimpse, so can I. Not that I am excited by the prospect of taking a glimpse at a school full of icky girls. But here goes anyway….

About 120 sixth- and seventh-grade girls who enrolled in the Girls Athletic Leadership School now inhabit the third floor of Calvary Temple, near Cherry Creek mall.

G.A.L.S. is the only single-gender public school in Colorado, aimed at empowering girls and providing them opportunities denied in a co-ed setting.

Interesting factoid about the Girls Athletic Leadership School. What a clever acronym, too. Maybe it’s time for an all-boys charter school. Let’s call it the Gents United Youth School (G.U.Y.S.). I’m all about equity and balance, you know. Anyone with me on starting G.U.Y.S.? Continue Reading »

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2nd 2010
Latest on EduJobs: Rhode Island to Spend Down Budget Deficit with Fed Funds?

Posted under Federal Government & School Finance & Teachers

My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow made the case against the education jobs bailout two weeks ago in the Denver Post. The problem? It’s “excessive, shortsighted and fiscally irresponsible.” In that spirit, a new blog post from Education Week‘s Alyson Klein brings attention to the planned use of Edujobs funds in Rhode Island. She cites a Providence Journal story that shows another element of the fiscal irresponsibility:

A new law aimed at saving millions of teaching jobs and protecting school programs across the country may not accomplish either goal here in Rhode Island.

Instead, Governor Carcieri intends to use the $32.9 million Rhode Island is eligible to receive to plug an estimated $38-million deficit in this year’s budget.

Now, let me be clear: I don’t necessarily see this same sort of scenario happening in Colorado. But how many other states will use the federal printing presses and the public sympathies “for the children” to take some of the education jobs money in order to cover general shortages in their budgets?

Because we still don’t know the extent of how many teacher and other school employee positions actually have been cut, much less how many of those cuts are needful corrections of past hiring binges as opposed to serious shortages. Somehow, I have a very difficult time believing there are $10 billion worth of the latter. And Rhode Island is just doing what it can… with your federal tax dollars.

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1st 2010
Gauging the Latest Public Opinion, Reform Policies and Results in K-12 Education

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Teachers

There a couple new education-related publications out there that shed some light on current debates. When it comes to K-12 education, public opinion, policies and results are interconnected, though the relationship often is not so apparent. If we want to help improve and maximize student learning, it’s good to be informed on all fronts.

First, Education Next recently released the results of its 2010 annual survey. The bottom line?

With the exceptions of school spending and teacher tenure, the divisions between ordinary Democrats and Republicans on education policy matters are quite minor. To be sure, disagreements among Americans continue to linger. Indeed, with the exception of student and school accountability measures, Americans as a whole do not stand steadfastly behind any single reform proposal. Yet the most salient divisions appear to be within, not between, the political parties. And we find growing support for several strategies put forward in recent years by leaders of both political parties—most notably online education and merit pay.

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