Archive for June, 2011

30th 2011
Sending Out an “S.O.S.” to Find a Clear Understanding of Education “Status Quo”

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

Over at the Ed News Colorado blog, progressive teacher-activist Sabrina Stevens Shupe lays out a critique against reformer types for “the intellectually lazy use of ‘status quo.’” She says that reformers like me use the term as a blunt object “meant to suggest low achievement,” but that in reality the No Child Left Behind test-based accountability regime is the true “status quo.”

Guess it all depends on your perspective. I question how truly pervasive this lazy reformer use of “status quo” is. Without a ton of time on my hands, I took to my own archives here at Ed Is Watching. The last two instances in which I used the phrase “status quo” were to talk specifically about the current states of union bargaining transparency and teacher evaluations. Going back to last October 1, though, this type of remark I made might rile up Shupe:

Funny how we forget so quickly about $100 billion of borrowed taxpayer funds shipped around the country to prop up the K-12 status quo.

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28th 2011
Hooray! Institute for Justice Stands Up for Dougco Choice Scholarship Families

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

Update, 6/28: Coverage also available from Nancy Mitchell at Ed News Colorado, including a 3-minute video clip of Tuesday’s press conference.

Very, very good news today! Both the Denver Post and Associated Press report that the Institute for Justice (IJ) has intervened to defend four Douglas County families who face potential harm from lawsuits filed by the ACLU and other groups to try to shut down the Choice Scholarship program.

But then again I already knew that, since some of my Education Policy Center friends were at this morning’s press conference at the State Capitol. IJ senior attorney Michael Bindas laid out the case and explained why the defense of the program would prevail. “The program is neutral with respect to religion, allowing both religious and non-religious schools to participate, and ensuring that it is by the private and independent choice of families where any of the scholarship funds are directed,” he said. Continue Reading »

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27th 2011
Wisconsin Makes It a Lock: 2011 Is Definitely the Year of School Choice

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

Update, 6/28: If you want a comprehensive look at all this year’s school choice bills introduced and enacted state by state, check out this memo from the Alliance for School Choice and American Federation for Children.

2011 is the Year of School Choice. I may have missed it happening, but can somebody make it official already? What more proof do we need? The doors of educational opportunity have widened more in the past six months than any comparable period I’m aware of.

The latest news comes from Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law an expansion of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) and the creation of a similar program in Racine. The American Federation for Children calls it “the largest expansion to the state’s school choice programs in history, “ while the Foundation for Educational Choice shares the details, including: Continue Reading »


24th 2011
Impatient As It Makes Me Sound, Welcome “School Choice Now!” to Edublog World

Posted under Edublogging & Just For Fun & Parents & School Choice & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

Yes, I have problems with patience. Being perpetually 5 years old kind of does that to you. I can get myself in trouble by yelling for “Legos now!” or “Let’s go to the park now!” Still, I think my parents would be less inclined to come down hard on me for proclaiming the title of the new blog “School Choice Now!”:

School Choice Now! is the official blog of the American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for school choice. We seek to improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.

Hard to disagree with that. Then again, it wasn’t much more than a year ago that I wanted to know how a kid like me could sign up to be a member of the American Federation for Children. As you can see, that’s not exactly what they’re about. It took some wise friends to talk me down from breaking the piggy bank to send an envelope full of nickels and dimes as dues money to the Federation.

Seriously, though, I’m excited to see the new School Choice Now! blog. Besides recent inspiring postings on Virginia Walden Ford and Cory Booker, the site has offered some informative updates on school choice legislation in places like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Maybe they’ll soon take notice of the latest goings-on in Douglas County, too.

In any case, I hope to see the site stick around for awhile.

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23rd 2011
Unbelievable: TWO Lawsuits Now to Stop Dougco Families’ Educational Choices

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

Has it only been two days since reactionary forces — the forces of WE know what’s best for you — dropped a lawsuit bomb to try to stop 500 Douglas County students from getting better educational opportunity? Colorado Peak Politics highlighted problems facing a couple of the plaintiffs’ relation to the legal action. And now, as the Denver Post reports, a local “me too” group known as Taxpayers for Public Education has piled on with a lawsuit of its own.

I mean, it’s their right and prerogative to do so if they please. But maybe they’d like to explain the justification and reasoning for the pair of lawsuits to parents who showed up yesterday for a lottery to try to get one of the last 25 of 500 vouchers. Take Becky Barnes, whose 7th-grade son with Aspergers syndrome secured a Choice Scholarship:

“We pulled him out last year because he was having so many problems,” she said.

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22nd 2011
Thinking About How to Approach the Education Future with Khan Academy

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Teachers

Little Eddie is on the run today, so I just want to point you to a quickie. A few months ago I told you about the glimpse into the education future known as Khan Academy. After talking about how the online curriculum was being used in a California school, I noted:

It represents a key part of the transformational movement offering students a wider variety of effective learning options. Let’s embrace it.

While generally a fan of what Salman Khan is doing, education policy guru Rick Hess warned a couple weeks ago against the tendency to make him into the “most overhyped edu-entrepreneur of the moment.” Fair enough. I very often appreciate Hess’s critical focus on toning down hype and expectations. He brings a strong, reality-based perspective to school reform. Continue Reading »


21st 2011
Legal Complaint against DougCo Vouchers Rooted in Irony, Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Posted under Courts & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & State Board of Education

It’s the first day of summer, “longest day of the year” — which may have something to do with trying to get as much attention as possible for a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and friends to try to stop Douglas County’s choice scholarship (voucher) program. Ed News Colorado was among the first to report today:

Some Douglas County parents and three civil liberties groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Douglas County’s pilot voucher program, set to launch this fall.

The suit, filed this morning in Denver District Court by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, seeks a preliminary injunction to immediately halt the plan.

Douglas County school district officials did not quickly respond to a request for comment. They have scheduled a 3:30 p.m. press conference today at Castle View High School in Castle Rock to discuss the suit. [emphasis added]

Civil liberties? Is the irony lost on anyone that they are fighting to take away educational freedoms from parents and families? Maybe only certain kinds of choice are “civil liberties.” Guess I might just be too young to grasp all the nuance. But I will be gracious enough to hold out hope that opponents could change their minds about vouchers.

Speaking of irony, after railing against a number of religious schools, the plaintiffs wrap up with a “prayer of relief” to the judge. Maybe they are just terribly confused. Reading through the complaint, you get the impression they believe that parents will be forced to send their children to schools they don’t want — especially those icky religious schools. And maybe they don’t realize, or just don’t care about, the “nativist, anti-Catholic bigotry” in the Colorado constitution on which their case is constructed. Continue Reading »


17th 2011
Spreading Carpe Diem-Like Learning Success Requires Colorado Policy Changes

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

Back in April I brought your attention to Arizona’s cutting-edge, outstanding-results “blended learning” charter known as Carpe Diem. While you might have found my post and Ben DeGrow’s School Reform News feature story interesting, this 9-minute marketing video really brings it home:

Carpe Diem Marketing Video – Final Cut from Nicholas Tucker on Vimeo.

Let’s be honest: Carpe Diem’s success didn’t happen overnight. It has taken plenty of careful design, hard work, skill and dedication. But it’s all definitely worthwhile when you ponder the results. With comparable student demographics, the stats that jump out of the video are the 92 percent academic proficiency the school has attained (vs. 57% local and 65% state averages, respectively) while spending thousands of dollars less per student than in the nation or Arizona.

Carpe Diem founder and executive director Rick Ogston wraps up the video with this compelling conclusion: Continue Reading »


16th 2011
Trimming Bureaucracy, Adding Military School?: Latest Falcon 49 Innovation

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

The state’s most under-reported K-12 education story of the year — at least under-reported outside Colorado Springs — remains the deep and fast-paced innovation efforts in Falcon School District 49. Thankfully, reporters at the Gazette continue to keep tabs on developments. I wanted to share the latest two with you.

In one key cost-saving move, the District 49 board further streamlined bureaucracy by consolidating positions and converting two key administrative posts from employees into contract jobs. Then yesterday the Gazette reported that leaders were floating the idea of opening a military academy, among the many innovations being considered and implemented. Continue Reading »

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15th 2011
Colorado K-12 Hiring Keeps Pace with Student Enrollment–At Least Through 2010

Posted under Independence Institute & Research & School Finance & Teachers

I so often enjoy reading the online work of Mike Antonucci at the Education Intelligence Agency, if for no other reason than he asks the questions and does the homework that so very few others are willing to do. On his Intercepts blog today, he adds some badly needed context and perspective on the supposed effects of the “Teacherpocalypse” crisis:

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics has updated its Common Core of Data to include last year’s workforce numbers, and they show – for the first time in ages – a decline in the number of K-12 full-time equivalent classroom teachers. But it’s difficult to connect these modest figures with the stories of overcrowded classrooms, devastated schools, and other tales of woe that accompanied the edujobs debate last summer.

I’ll post the full details in Monday’s communiqué….

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