Archive for February, 2013

11th 2013
Rick Hess Slam Dunks for Colorado with Call for Cage-Busting Can-Do

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Principals & Public Charter Schools & School Board & Teachers

Local education leaders want to transform a rigid, bureaucratic system — re-imagining the delivery of instruction, giving more freedom, flexibility, and accountability to teachers and principals at the school level. But then some interest groups or just plain old naysayers come along to protest, saying “We’ve never done it that way before.” Or maybe a little self-doubt creeps in and the leader wonders if that’s really something he or she should do.

Well, into the fray comes American Enterprise Institute (AEI) education scholar and guru Rick Hess with an Education Next essay to help infuse a little can-do attitude into the discussion: Continue Reading »

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8th 2013
Substitute Teacher Policies? No One Else Could Cover It Quite the Same

Posted under Elementary School & Research & School Board & Teachers

Truth be told, I tried to find someone else to fill in and do the blogging for me today — a substitute, if you will. It’s Friday, one of the more common days for teachers to get a classroom substitute, at least according to a Harvard study cited in a new Education Week piece by June Kronholz titled “No Substitute for a Teacher.”

That’s just one of numerous interesting findings brought up in the article. More likely to take days off are teachers in traditional district schools, in larger schools, or in elementary schools; teachers of low-income students; teachers without a master’s degree; teachers with tenure; or female teachers under age 35. For each of those, I’m sure there are a variety of factors and trends to provide some broad explanations.

Kronholz lays out the problems associated with lost learning caused for students when they are under the supervision of a substitute. While many of my peers may find it fun to act up and pick on the substitute, they may not realize that over the course of their K-12 career they could spend six full months in class without a regular instructor!

To be fair, classroom teachers do have less flexibility than positions in some other fields, because so many students depend on them. What if their own child gets sick? What if they have an extremely important daytime appointment they can’t miss? Etc. Drafting a policy that is fair and flexible — one that honors students and taxpayers by deterring those who would abuse the privilege of taking extra days off while not unduly punishing those with legitimate needs — cannot be an easy task. Can it? Continue Reading »

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6th 2013
Digital Learning Day Could Help Propel Colorado to Student Course Choice

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

It’s been a whole year since the last Digital Learning Day, and somehow I’m still 5… Go figure! There is so much going on with digital learning innovations in Colorado, but I just wanted to hone in on one of them.

In December, my Education Policy Center friends visited Denver’s Rocky Mountain Prep charter school. Because of the school’s innovative use of the blended learning rotation model, I said it “may be at the cutting edge of an important trend in Colorado.” To get a clearer picture of how learning and instruction looks different at Rocky Mountain Prep, listen to school founder James Cryan’s radio interview yesterday on the Amy Oliver Show.

Depending on Rocky Mountain Prep’s level of success, families should demand more such options to emerge in the future. For those looking to start an effective new school that combines online instructional delivery, customized student-centered learning, and traditional brick-and-mortar supervision (in Colorado or elsewhere), Digital Learning Now has just released the Blended Learning Implementation Guide. Continue Reading »

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5th 2013
Rhee’s “Radical” Book Sparks Renewed Interest in Her Support of Choice

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

You can forgive a blogger if once in awhile he decides to rehash a little old news, can’t you? Especially if he’s a cute little kid like yours truly? Anyway, long-time readers may be aware of my longtime edu-crush on former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. You also may recall how excited I was to report in 2011 her Denver speech when she declared she had changed her mind in favor of private school choice.

Well, I’m all smiles to relive that moment again in this newly-published piece Rhee did for The Daily Beast, titled “My Break with the Democrats,” in which she explains the transformation. She talks about numerous meetings she had with parents who were seeking Opportunity Scholarships to get their kids out of failing DC schools: Continue Reading »

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4th 2013
New AAE Member Survey Shows More Teachers Embrace Education Options

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & Teachers

It wasn’t so long ago I pointed you to the results of an Association of American Educators (AAE) member survey to drive home the point that teacher opinion is far from monolithic. Well, the good folks at AAE have done it again, releasing a snapshot of members’ perspectives on a number of school reform issues.

Not only do strong majorities back a variety of different school choice programs, but they also show themselves to be supportive of policies that would enhance their own professional options: Continue Reading »

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1st 2013
National School Choice Week Simply Means More Reasons to Celebrate

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

I’m sad to see a successful School Choice Week winding down. There are almost too many different options of what to blog about. Rather than exercise a choice and just do one of the items, I’ve decided instead to blitz you with a bunch of neat items to bring to your attention: Continue Reading »

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