Archive for February, 2011

28th 2011
Innovation Alert: Glenwood Springs Schools and Students “Moving On” Up?

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Principals & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Board & Teachers

I’ve been to Glenwood Springs before with my parents. It’s a neat place, with the caves and the rides and, of course, the hot springs. But this has got to be the first time I’ve blogged about it here. The local Post Independent reports that the Roaring Fork School District looks like they are about to forge ahead with something quite innovative:

At tonight’s meeting, principals and teachers from Glenwood Springs and Sopris elementary schools, Glenwood Springs Middle School and Glenwood Springs High School, as well as district officials, will all be on hand to explain the concept and answer questions.

Called “Moving On,” the new levels approach to student placement is the next step in district’s ongoing effort to adopt a standards-based learning model.

The standards approach is intended to ensure that students achieve a certain degree of proficiency in a subject area, primarily reading, writing and math, before they move on to the next level.

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25th 2011
Would Merit Pay Work Better If More Schools Didn’t See It Like Brussel Sprouts?

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Research & Teachers

It’s Friday, so allow me to tease you a bit. Na na nanny boo boo. No, not like that. I mean “tease,” as in the broadcast media lingo for giving you just a little bit of info and a heads-up, while making you wait for the real deal.

But first, my own curiosity was drawn in by this new Education Next article by Stuart Buck and Jay Greene, who both come from that bastion of education reform intelligence at the University of Arkansas. Taking a look at data from Vanderbilt’s National Center on Performance Incentives, they provide some interesting perspective on the whole teacher merit pay debate: Continue Reading »

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24th 2011
Kudos to Colorado Springs District 11 for Shining Sunlight on Union Negotiations

Posted under Independence Institute & School Accountability & School Board & School Finance & Teachers

Just when I start to think I can keep up with what’s going on in the world of education, something sneaks up on me almost in my own backyard. I’m talking about a vote by the school board in Colorado Springs District 11 — the state’s eighth-largest school district (nearly 30,000 students) — to do teachers union collective bargaining in the light of day. One of my Education Policy Center friends was quoted in the story:

Benjamin DeGrow, education labor policy analyst with the Golden-based Independence Institute, wrote a policy paper on the subject two years ago that concluded that negotiations should be public.

“We are talking about taxpayer money and the future of children, it shouldn’t be done behind closed doors,” he said in an interview.

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23rd 2011
Waiting Has Been Hard, So I’m Glad to See Douglas County School Choice Details

Posted under Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Suburban Schools

I think a lot of the policy makers, experts and officials out there don’t get how little patience a little kid like me has. (Or maybe they just don’t care.) But there’s only so many hours I can spend playing Legos, or running around the house screaming and getting on my parents’ nerves, without knowing the details of what’s going to happen with Douglas County School District’s groundbreaking private school choice idea.

The last news we heard, my Education Policy Center friends reported on the GoBash blog back in early December. That was right after the DCSD board unanimously adopted a resolution to increase parental choice. A few weeks before that, I told you about the public debate and shared informative arguments in favor of the school choice proposal.

At last, today the Denver Post is reporting that district officials have released their first draft including details about their groundbreaking private school choice program (known as the Option Certificate Program): Continue Reading »


22nd 2011
MacLaren School and K-12 Class Sizes: Finding the Sunday Perspective Section

Posted under Journalism & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

In a high-tech media world, it’s still lots of fun to get an actual print copy of the Sunday newspaper. That’s what my parents do. Sunday afternoon as I was digging through the newest edition of the Denver Post to find the color comics, I ran across something called the “Perspective” section.

What did I find, but two (not just one) very interesting pieces on K-12 education in our state — things I have told you about before right here on the blog. How exciting is that! Continue Reading »

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21st 2011
If I Showed This Union Leader’s Attitude, No Way I Would Have Gotten Off So Easy

Posted under Education Politics & Just For Fun & Teachers

I guess that United Federation of Teachers political director Paul Egan is too old to get sent to his room without dinner. Because if I tried his attitude with my mom, that would be the least of my problems: Continue Reading »

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18th 2011
Momentum Growing to Expand Private School Choice in Many States in 2011

Posted under Parents & Private Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & State Legislature

Friday seems like a good time to take a step back and look around the country at a slate of school choice legislation. Writing on the Flypaper blog, Jamie Davies O’Leary highlights a number of proposals in Ohio that are being given serious consideration, including:

  • Expanding the Cleveland voucher program statewide, removing all enrollment caps and the “failing school” requirement
  • Establishing a scholarship program available to all special-needs students, not just those with autism
  • Creating education “savings accounts” that would empower parents to save additional scholarship funds for future educational use

Meanwhile, Amy Graham at redefinED has provided updates on bills advancing in Indiana and Pennsylvania — states that already have school choice programs but are taking some serious looks at expanding opportunities. She also takes note of Arizona, which among other school choice enhancements is looking to develop “Empowerment Accounts” for special-needs students. Georgia has several bills to strengthen its special-needs scholarship program, while Oklahoma is considering a Parental Choice in Education Act.

Maybe I’m a bit partial, but it seems like Colorado’s HB 1048 tuition tax credit legislation should be added to the list, too. While it faces a steep and uphill battle this year, the idea has begun to gain some traction here. Regardless of whether one counts Colorado, 2011 definitely has brought progress nationwide to expand the boundaries of school choice.

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17th 2011
Threatened by Tighter Budgets, More States Challenge Teacher Union Perks

Posted under Governor & Innovation and Reform & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

It was exactly two years ago today that President Obama flew to town to shake lots of bills off the magical money tree for Colorado public schools. Now the federal dollars (borrowed from my future) have dried up. Our new governor John Hickenlooper bore the news to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) on Tuesday: $332 million in direct cuts from this year’s School Finance Act for 2011-12.

The two main culprits? One is a projected decline of 7 percent in property tax assessments, which will cut well over $100 million from school budgets statewide. The other, as I hinted at the beginning, is the end of more than $200 million in one-time federal funds. Rather than cushion the blow, the ARRA and Edujobs money just delayed the pain. Continue Reading »

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15th 2011
Don’t Shoot, But Is the Parent Trigger Idea Ready to Giddy Up in Colorado?

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & State Legislature

Here we are waist-deep into Colorado’s legislative session (at least I’m waist-deep, most big people are probably more like knee-deep). Pretty soon I may not be able to see the forest for the legislative bills. But there’s one policy idea from more than 1,000 miles away that has my attention right now. A few days ago Education Week reported that Georgia lawmakers have introduced a “parent trigger” bill (SB 68).

“Trigger?” I hear you say. “Whoaaaa, horsey!” (Some of you old-timers might get that one.)

Calm down. Don’t get your saddle in a bunch. The bill doesn’t have anything to do with guns or Second Amendment issues, or you might see the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel writing about this rather than yours truly. The good folks at the Heartland Institute, who have widely promoted the parent trigger concept, explain it well: Continue Reading »


14th 2011
Ben DeGrow (and Cookie Monster?) Talk Falcon Innovation on Jeff Crank Show

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & School Board & School Choice & School Finance

It’s been more than a week since my last update about the cost-saving, cutting-edge innovation going on in Colorado’s Falcon School District 49. Last Thursday, after the Ed News Colorado feature was republished on the Education Week site, one of the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper bloggers reacted favorably by noting Falcon’s innovation could serve as a model for Ohio schools.

The secret (figuratively speaking) about the Colorado Springs school district’s innovation proposal is out. So it’s hardly surprising my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow would follow up his op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette with a Saturday morning appearance on the hometown Jeff Crank Show.

AM 740 KVOR has re-posted the full audio from the two-hour program. The 10-minute interview about Falcon 49 starts about a third of the way into the show, right after the host plays some clips about global warming. At first, Ben thought his on-air performance was what made me so excited to listen to his interview.

I hated to bust Ben’s bubble, but the real reason for my excitement was the fact that host Jeff Crank sounded like the Cookie Monster (you’ve got to listen to know what I mean). On this mushy and yucky Valentine’s Day, there are three redeeming factors: Cookies and candy are the first two. But the groundbreaking innovation going on Falcon is just as sweet.

What the district is seeking to do to serve students more effectively by empowering school leaders, enhancing choice and spending a lot less nickels and dimes is certainly “good enough for me.”


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