Archive for April, 2013

30th 2013
Ex-Education Secretary William Bennett Visits Dougco, “Very Impressed”

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Colorado’s non-union teacher group PACE today posted some more of the results from their recent member survey. Roughly 3 out of every 4 expressed support for “a pathway for career advancement outside of the traditional, seniority-based salary schedule,” often known as a career ladder. One of their members hit the nail on the head:

A high school math teacher in Harrison School District commented, “I think a seniority-based salary schedule is a horrible way to pay teachers and should be eliminated, not tweaked.

A very interesting (and not terribly surprising) observation coming from a school district that has pioneered true pay-for-performance and as of a year ago showed tremendous signs of front-line support.

But even more noteworthy, there is a Colorado district that is pushing change even further. Interestingly, given yesterday’s topic here, it came from the lips of former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. William J. Bennett, who spoke Friday at a Fordham Institute event on “A Nation at Risk: 30 Years Later”: Continue Reading »


29th 2013
Three Decades After “A Nation at Risk,” Incredible Theories Live On: Who Knew?

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun

Talk about ancient history for a kid like me. On Friday the Fordham Foundation and American Enterprise Institute commemorated the 30th anniversary of the landmark A Nation at Risk education report with this 23-minute video documentary:

Continue Reading »


25th 2013
Adams 12 Negotiations Reconsider Tax-Funded Teachers Union Release Time

Posted under Courts & School Board & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Interesting news this week out of Phoenix, Arizona, where a judge ruled it unconstitutional for taxpayers to fund police union “release time” activities, and put an injunction on the practice. We’re talking about two different states, and two different sectors of government, but one has to wonder whether a similar case could be made about underwriting Colorado teachers’ union business?

It may not be happening through the courts, but it appears officials in Colorado’s fifth-largest school district are taking a second look at a policy that in 2009-10 cost taxpayers more than $187,000 to release three union officers. The District Twelve Educators Association (DTEA) recently announced to its members that the Adams 12 school board is proposing changes to the part of the union contract that grants the tax-paid release time. Continue Reading »


24th 2013
Don’t Punish Students in American Indian Charter Success Story for Controversy

Posted under Education Politics & High School & Parents & Principals & Public Charter Schools & School Board & School Choice & Urban Schools

A sad education story is emerging from Oakland, California. Poor kids soon could be deprived of the option of attending the city’s top-performing high school and producing some of the best results nationwide. Why? Because a state audit found financial mismanagement by Ben Chavis, charismatic leader of the successful American Indian Charter, and lack of proper controls by the school’s board.

The Oakland Unified School Board narrowly voted 4-3 in favor of shutting down the school that has topped California’s charts with its test scores. You’d be right to say the situation must be pretty bad for a school that successful to be shuttered down.

Nationally-renowned libertarian investigative journalist John Stossel says American Indian Charter’s amazing academic track record for students so poorly served throughout most of the traditional K-12 system should overshadow the fact that Chavis and his wife made so much money off the school: Continue Reading »

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23rd 2013
A Different Way to Look at Coloradans’ Financial Contributions to K-12 Education

Posted under Independence Institute & Research & School Finance

Writing over at Hot Air, Mike Antonucci came up with some new ways to measure how much is spent annually on public education. He digs into the data from 2010 to make some interesting calculations at a national level. Well, using the help of my Education Policy Center friends, here are comparable numbers for Colorado, looking at the year 2010: Continue Reading »

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22nd 2013
New Hampshire School Choice Defensive Victory Brightens Hopes for Colorado

Posted under Education Politics & Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

Parent educational power has made some great strides in a number of states in recent years, prompting not only 2011′s aptly-named “Year of School Choice” but also the rapidly-growing National School Choice Week phenomenon.

That doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels nor expect opponents to sit back and do nothing. We’ve seen the anti-school choice Empire Strike Back before. This time, as the result of a political power change, certain legislators undertook an effort to repeal the state’s scholarship tax credit program enacted just last year.

No school choice program has been shut down legislatively after being adopted. If New Hampshire lawmakers could revoke the Corporate Education Tax Credit, it would represent a blow not only to the choice movement but also to the opportunities of many Granite State students. The House passed the repeal, but that only got the measure halfway across the legislative finish line. Last week then brought good news out of Concord: Continue Reading »

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19th 2013
Dishing Up a Little Friday Irony, American Federation of Teachers-Style

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Just For Fun & School Finance & Teachers

It’s a busy Friday at the end of a sad and difficult week. So I’m happy just to follow Mike Antonucci’s witty lead. Today on his Intercepts blog he pointed out some true “Hedge Fund Hilarity” in a Wall St. Journal column about national teachers union president Randi Weingarten “trying to strong-arm pension trustees not to invest in hedge funds or private-equity funds that support education reform.”

(That’s the same Randi Weingarten who has stepped forward as the face of the opposition to Douglas County’s bold agenda of innovating and re-imagining public education.)

To which Antonucci cuttingly replied:

Am I the only one who sees the irony in the American Federation of Teachers bellyaching about people using teachers’ money for causes they might not support?

At the risk of sticking my neck out there by responding to a rhetorical question, even this naive young edublogger has to answer, No, you’re not alone. Sigh. Is it the weekend yet?


18th 2013
Of Broken Records or Repeating MP3 Files: Colorado Remediation Rate Still Too High

Posted under High School & Research & School Finance

I was going to say that sometimes my blog can sound like a broken record, but I’m too young to know what a record even is. So how about, please forgive me in advance if this post sounds like an MP3 file on a repeat loop. (Someone else can figure out how to smooth out the metaphor so it rolls off the tongue.)

Even so, the news to be shared is too significant to put on the shelf just because it sounds like something you may have read here last year. I’m talking about too many Colorado high school graduates needing extra academic help in college:

I’m sure almost no one is satisfied with the progress or the results in the area of remediation. Any suggestions that more money simply be poured into the status quo model need to be greeted with a hefty dose of skepticism, though.

I wrote that in 2012 when the newest data showed a remediation rate for Colorado high school graduates of about 32 percent. Well, here we go again. As the Denver Post‘s Anthony Cotton reports, the situation really hasn’t improved much at all: Continue Reading »

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17th 2013
Latest Research Builds Winning Record for School Choice: Still Waiting for DougCo

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Board & Suburban Schools & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

Update, 5/14: The U.S. Department of Education gave the Chingos & Peterson study its highest rating for the quality of research design, further validating a positive impact of school choice.

Gold-standard research on the positive impacts of school choice keeps rolling in. The latest work by Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson measures the results for New York City students who received modest privately-funded vouchers to attend private schools. The study directly compared how many voucher students successfully completed high school and enrolled in college compared to non-voucher peers. For one group in particular, the results are remarkable:

Among African Americans, 26 percent of the control group attended college full-time at some point within three years of expected high-school graduation. The impact of a voucher offer was to increase this rate by 7 percentage points, a 25 percent increment. Among students using the voucher to attend a private school, the estimated impact was 8 percentage points, or roughly 31 percent.

No statistically significant results were found for other groups of students. The authors speculate that the observed benefit may have occurred because “the African American students in the study had fewer educational opportunities in the absence of a voucher.” Most notably, the effect measured is greater than some of the popular, widely-used, and costlier reform efforts of smaller class sizes or improved teacher quality. Continue Reading »


15th 2013
Hey, Colorado: Billion Dollar K-12 Tax Hike OR End the Education Plantation?

Posted under Denver & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

Often it’s very easy to get bogged down in a big education policy debate like Colorado’s SB 213 school finance reform proposal. Then along comes a Denver Post op-ed piece by a motivated citizen that exhales a breath of fresh air:

Colorado currently spends about $10,600 per student per year on K-12 education. You can get a pretty good private education for that. Sen. Johnston wants to increase school spending to nearly $12,000 per student. But without changing the design of the system, why should anyone expect different results?

Let’s stop funding the education establishment and instead fund parents and children. In a state-regulated environment, let’s give that $10,000 to parents for each child they have in school and let them decide how and where the money used to educate their children should be spent.

The author is Littleton’s own John Conlin, founder of the small nonprofit activist group End the Education Plantation. True fans may recall his appearance several months ago in an on-air interview with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow. Continue Reading »

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