Archive for December, 2012

21st 2012
Tyrell’s Story Focuses Us on 2013 Education Reform Struggle Ahead

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Suburban Schools

A few weeks ago I was one of the first to share the bad news that a judge had struck down one of Louisiana’s school choice programs that offered hope and opportunity to so many students. Well, I couldn’t think of a better way to end a year of blogging — yep, this is the last one from me for 2012 — than to share a powerful story of a young life negatively affected by the ruling.

The American Federation of Children brought my attention to a piece written by school choice champion Kevin Chavous about 14-year-old Louisiana voucher scholarship recipient named Tyrell. This young man’s outlook improved greatly at the private school he’s been able to attend the past few years. Troubled so much by a lawsuit against the program that enabled his turnaround that he was losing sleep, Tyrell showed up at the courthouse where the program’s fate was being decided: Continue Reading »

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20th 2012
Denver’s Rocky Mountain Prep Opens Door to Cutting-Edge Learning Success

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

Last week a couple of my Education Policy Center friends had the privilege of visiting an innovative Denver charter school that’s serving kids close to my age: Rocky Mountain Prep. This new school is following in the footsteps of successful forebears that serve high-need student populations — placing a foundational emphasis on high expectations with competent, caring and dedicated teachers. But at the same time Rocky Mountain Prep is also pioneering a blended learning model for delivering instruction to enhance the number of students who can be effectively reached.

Currently, the southeast Denver school serves students in pre-kindergarten through 1st grade, but is slated eventually to go through 8th grade. Classrooms use a rotation model in which some students at a given time will be learning on specialized software (including Dreambox), receiving small group instruction, or more focused attention on areas identified where they are struggling. Special grant funding enables a teaching apprentice, rather than an aide, to join the classroom’s lead instructor. The idea enables class sizes to be a little larger while maximizing the impact on student learning during these important formative years. Continue Reading »

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19th 2012
Adams 12 Interview Raises Case to Stop Underwriting Union Officers

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers

I love anniversaries, don’t you? Exactly one year ago I commented on a front-page Denver Post story documenting the use of taxpayer-funded union release time in Colorado school districts. Without taking a comprehensive look, the Post reporter found $5.8 million in subsidies to teacher unions.

So on this not-quite-historic 1st anniversary, it’s interesting to see a new video posted of a recent interview with one of the union officers paid by taxpayers to take leave from the classroom. In the Spotlight on Corruption production, the District Twelve Educators Association (DTEA) official discloses some of what she does: Continue Reading »

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18th 2012
Colorado School Grades Website Returns to Inform Parents for Second Year

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Independence Institute & Middle School & Parents & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since the launch of the Colorado School Grades website? My friends at the Independence Institute are proud to be one of the 18 sponsoring partners of this helpful resource.

The passing of 12 months means a whole new set of data, and a lot of curious parents searching through the user-friendly Colorado School Grades site to see where their child’s school rates. Grades are assigned to all Colorado public schools based on objective measures of academic achievement and academic growth. Congrats to the top-rated schools at each level for this year: Continue Reading »

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17th 2012
Ridgeview Classical Continues Exceptional Approach in Pursuit of Excellence

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Independence Institute & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Recently I told you about my Education Policy Center friends’ visit to Liberty Common High School in Fort Collins — which principal just so happens to be outgoing State Board of Education chair Bob Schaffer (whose farewell dinner earned a nice tribute in the Colorado Statesman). Well, if you’re going to make the 2-hour round trip from Denver, does it not make more sense to visit two great schools in one fell swoop?

I might say visiting Ridgeview Classical Academy — a rigorous K-12 charter school — was a no-brainer. But the truth is you need all the brains you can get to succeed there. Talk about a place where knowledge, intellectual curiosity, and academic work are neither repressed nor scorned, but embraced by students as part of the school culture? How many other high schools you know would see as the norm three sophomore-level students solving advanced geometry proofs as an elective activity? Continue Reading »

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14th 2012
Ed Reform Super Bowl Would Have Been Nice, But Florida Gets Tony Bennett

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & School Choice

Really quick for a Friday, the good news for the education reform movement this week is that “Indiana’s loss turned out to be Florida’s gain.” What am I talking about? The sad news that the Hoosier State’s commissioner of education Tony Bennett lost his re-election bid is quelled by the fact he agreed to take over the same position in the only state with a longer, more comprehensive history of reform: Florida.

Bennett sat down with national education guru Rick Hess for an interview to explain how it all came together, and what sort of challenges and opportunities face him in the Sunshine State. Anyone who hoped that Bennett might have become commissioner here in Colorado can be consoled by Hess’ reminder comparing Florida’s education reform acquisition with our state’s football acquisition:

After all, it’s been a tough year for Indiana; they keep shipping homegrown stars elsewhere. This spring, the Indianapolis Colts cut ties with all-world quarterback Peyton Manning, with the Denver Broncos outbidding several other franchises for his services….

In a perfect world, I’d take both Manning and Bennett. Winning Super Bowl XLVII would be exciting enough. Winning the Super Bowl of education reform — providing more choice, opportunity, accountability, and excellent learning opportunities — would be even better! But good luck to Florida as they seek to continue their successful track record.

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13th 2012
Eddie Picks Up Slack on Media Misses, Including Teacher Pension Costs

Posted under Edublogging & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

I love lists, I love education, and I love to tell people about things. So it should be no surprise that my attention was caught by yesterday’s news release from Stanford: “Hoover Institution Education Experts Identify News Media Hits and Misses in 2012 Education Coverage.” The Koret Task Force on Education named five stories that were well-covered and five that were neglected. First, the hits:

  1. Charter schools
  2. Teachers’ unions
  3. Special education
  4. Pre-Kindergarten education
  5. No Child Left Behind

Next, the misses: Continue Reading »

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12th 2012
Are Colo. School Districts Really Doing Better on New Global Report Card?

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Research & Sciences

When confronted with the question of how well our schools are doing, too often we lack the full context needed to compare and understand what knowledge and skills students are acquiring to be strong citizens, competent workers, and trailblazing entrepreneurs for the next generation. Last year I told you about the Global Report Card, which found an effective way to compare the performance of school districts across America with national and international benchmarks.

This week the George W. Bush Institute launched GRC version 2.0 with fresh data from 2009. Taking a look at the data, Atlantic senior editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz asks “How Does Your Child’s School Rank Against the Rest of the World?” She examines a couple districts as an example to frame the question: Continue Reading »

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11th 2012
Unions Set Michigan Students Aside to Protest Workplace Freedom

Posted under Education Politics & State Legislature & Teachers

Thousands of kids in Michigan are missing school today. Can you guess why? It is December, so you might be tempted to think a snow day or some other inclement weather situation explains all the absences…. Sorry, try again. Maybe some sort of influenza or chicken pox epidemic, you might say?… Well, if you did, you’d be wrong once more. And no, it’s not “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” either, so don’t even bother with that guess. The real answer is a union-orchestrated political protest against legislation that would give workers more freedom in the workplace.

Michigan Capitol Confidential tells the story Continue Reading »

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10th 2012
Can CEA Leaders Fight for Kids without Advocating Entitlement Reform?

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Parents & School Finance & Teachers

All the big people are talking about these days seems to be the coming “fiscal cliff,” and some tough decisions leaders in Washington, D.C., have to make. For anyone who has common sense, a big part of the solution has to be for Congress to stop spending more money than it takes in. You know, the kind of balanced budget people like my parents have to use?

In one of his more provocative pieces (and that’s really saying something), education guru Rick Hess writes that many so-called education advocates are essentially saying: “Let’s push kids off the fiscal cliff!” What does he mean? He does a good job crunching some numbers to show that, in order for politicians to stop racking up bills that kids like me will have to pay someday, our country needs significant reforms to old-age entitlement programs (Social Security and Medicare).

So you’d expect the education advocates to be pushing for entitlement reform to help spare kids like me a massive debt burden? Not so fast, Hess points out: Continue Reading »

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