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”:

Here’s a transcript of Bennett’s remarks, in case you need to see the words in genuine pixels:

…I have to say because I was just there a week ago – Somebody is trying to do all of the good reforms at once out in Douglas County, Colorado. We shall see. This will be challenged, but it is a remarkable group of people who are trying to do choice, accountability, high standards, and they are doing remarkable work. These kinds of things are happening, have happened in the last 30 years, and they’re encouraging. Nothing quite like Douglas County, I don’t think, and that bears watching and a lot of attention. I’m very impressed with what they are doing.

From someone who has been leading in, studying, and writing about the world of education for a long time, those words carry a lot of weight. As for choice, my Education Policy Center friends have you covered on the groundbreaking Choice Scholarship Program, not to mention the rest of the Blueprint for Choice (which often gets overlooked).

But there’s certainly more on the accountability and high standards front. While the Douglas County school board has exercised great vision and demonstrated fiscally responsible leadership, teachers and administrators are working together to craft a performance-based system that surpasses anything I’ve seen in American K-12 education.

And apparently Dr. Bennett, too. Dougco is putting together a cohesive transformation in a whole host of areas that focuses on deeper student learning, as well as empowering and rewarding instructional excellence. Components include:

  • Guaranteed and viable curriculum
  • Balanced assessment system
  • Comprehensive evaluation system
  • Market-based pay
  • Pay for performance
  • Professional pathways
  • A new professional development system
  • World-class education targets

The new system is set to be up and running for the 2013-14 school year. While there naturally will remain room for improvement and upgrades, what’s taking shape this year in Douglas County may end up being nothing short of revolutionary in K-12 education. A relatively high-performing school district is seeking to raise the bar and chart a course for others to follow.

Now is the time to stand up, take notice, and wish them well in this important endeavor.


5 Responses to “Ex-Education Secretary William Bennett Visits Dougco, “Very Impressed””

  1. Yvonne Siu-Runyan on 01 May 2013 at 11:08 am #

    What marketing company are they using?

  2. Ed is Watching » TELL-ing Dougco Results: Teacher Satisfaction Mostly High and Growing on 01 May 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    [...] told you yesterday that former Secretary of Education William Bennett is “very impressed” with the major innovative overhaul going on in Douglas County School District. The district has [...]

  3. Mark Baisley on 01 May 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    The marketing company is the Douglas County Republican Party.

  4. Ed is Watching » Dougco’s Market Pay Innovation Draws Attention, Gives Hope of Progress on 11 Jun 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    [...] novel.” Former Education Secretary William Bennett would list market-based pay among “all of the good reforms” Dougco uniquely has taken on. I just prefer to call it one of a [...]

  5. Ed is Watching » Dougco Collision on Testing and Accountability Could Rattle Reform Debate on 22 Jan 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    [...] one. Former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett, who has openly repeated that he is “very impressed” with Douglas County’s work, gave his one hesitation at this [...]

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