Archive for July, 2013

July
31st 2013
Report Begs Question: Why did Colo. SB 213 Neglect Performance-Based Funding?

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Accountability & School Finance

The list of substantive reforms ignored by backers of SB 213 and the billion-dollar statewide tax hike continues to grow. Today it’s the idea of Performance-Based Funding (PBF), promoted in a brief new Lexington Institute paper. Noting that Florida, Michigan, and Arizona have undertaken steps in this direction, the authors note:

What all these efforts have in common is the recognition that the current practice of funding schools based almost exclusively on attendance taken several times a year is a fundamentally flawed model that misaligns incentives, rewards sub-par performance, and diminishes the imperative for significant and sustained educational outcomes.

So why didn’t the School Finance Partnership that led to SB 213 and the tax hike take on a truly innovative, even transformational, idea like this one? Continue Reading »

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July
30th 2013
Heads Up, Colorado: Demand for Florida Scholarship Tax Credits Growing Fast

Posted under Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

Check out this great story from yesterday’s Miami Herald, which shares some spectacular news about the growing number of families taking advantage of Florida’s scholarship tax credit program:

The number of students attending private schools on tax-credit scholarships jumped 27 percent last year, reaching a record high of 51,075 kids, according to the state Department of Education. The dramatic spike was the result of 2012 legislation increasing the amount of tax credits available. The bill prompted corporations to donate more money.

There was also a surge in parent demand, said Doug Tuthill, of Step Up for Students, the non-profit that administers the scholarships.

“So many parents are interested that we’re struggling to keep up,” Tuthill said. [link added]

Continue Reading »

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July
29th 2013
School Choice Enhances Results, Expands Understanding of “Public Education”

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits

Okay, all you education transformers out there, I’ve got something for you to take to heart. Seriously, here’s your opportunity to pay attention, ponder, process, and personalize. If someone asked you to define or explain what public education is, what would you say?

For that purpose, I urge you to read a great new essay piece by James Shuls of the Show-Me Institute titled “Redefining Public Education.” Though the idea isn’t original with Shuls by any means, his piece deserves a few minutes of your time. The execution is very good, because it’s rooted in a compelling true story of a young man from St. Louis named Korey Stewart-Glaze: Continue Reading »

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July
25th 2013
Big North Carolina School Choice Win Leads to Celebration, Vigilance

Posted under Courts & Governor & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Teachers

It seems like a good day to step back and savor a big school choice victory. The American Federation of Children today applauds the major new voucher program:

The new Opportunity Scholarship program was passed yesterday as part of the state budget, which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory. The bipartisan-sponsored and supported Opportunity Scholarship program is tailored to assist low-income families in obtaining high-quality educational options for their children.

Opportunity Scholarships? Sounds like the school choice program for poor students in our nation’s capital, the program that doubles as a political punching bag for some in Congress. It also happens to be the same name used in Colorado’s 2003 voucher program, later overturned by the state supreme court. Continue Reading »

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July
24th 2013
Think Outside the Box, Young Man: Greeley Takes Interest in K-12 Innovation

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & School Board & Teachers & Urban Schools

There’s a growing appetite to change the way schools run and learning is delivered at the local level. The forward-thinking innovative programs of Douglas County and Falcon 49 have raised interest in a number of areas. One of those school districts is Greeley 6 in northern Colorado, which my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has just highlighted in a brief new issue backgrounder:

Northern Colorado’s Greeley Public Schools serves a challenging population of nearly 20,000 enrolled students. Receiving nearly $9,000 per student, the district has achieved unacceptable academic results–including low performance on state assessment tests, high remediation rate for graduates, and a decline in the district’s accreditation rating.

Continue Reading »

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July
23rd 2013
Adams 12 Doesn’t Need to Remain the Misreported Media Punching Bag

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

Let the head-scratching commence. If you read this article by Yesenia Robles in today’s Denver Post, you’d think that Adams 12 school district had been hoarding money and just started to fix the problem, thanks to the watchful eye of the teachers union:

After a year of deflecting accusations of questionable and unethical budget practices, Adams 12 Five Star Schools officials say they are changing the way they develop district budgets.

Unfortunately, the story just doesn’t add up. First of all, it was only a week ago we learned about the Colorado Department of Education’s latest school district fiscal health report. The auditors gave Adams 12 and four other districts a risk indicator for “spending down fund balances.” So how can it be hoarding and overspending at the same time? Continue Reading »

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July
18th 2013
Indiana is Inspirational, But Let’s Not Just Dream about More Colorado School Choice

Posted under Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits

I work hard to spread the word about options and innovations in education. But once in awhile, the summertime heat provides a great chance to sit back and dream, too. Today I dreamed that this Herald Bulletin article, “Parents have more school choices,” was appearing in a Colorado newspaper:

With an expansion approved by the Indiana Legislature, students now have more options when it comes to eligibility for vouchers. But it’s not just vouchers they have access to.

Oh, how tempted I was to go through the article and replace every reference to “Indiana” with “Colorado.” Yes, we have one of the stronger open enrollment laws in the country, and one of the most thriving charter sectors, too. You can learn about the options that do exist at the fabulous School Choice for Kids website. But there are still many students out there in need of better learning options, so “more school choices” would be great! Continue Reading »

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July
16th 2013
Jeffco Schools Earns Unwelcome Financial Distinction from State Ed Department

Posted under Research & School Board & School Finance & Suburban Schools

Danger, Will Robinson… danger! Ed News Colorado today brings our attention to the latest edition of the state education department’s “Fiscal Health Analysis of Colorado School Districts.” Agency workers take a look at five key indicators to see if a school board is undertaking risks that lead a district into financial stress.

This year, 48 of 178 Colorado school districts earned at least one of the five warning lights — which are based on careful looks at things like assets, expenditures, fund balances, and debt. Nine of the 48 districts picked up two indicators. Two of the nine districts earned two indicators for the second straight year: Jefferson County and Trinidad.

But Jeffco, the state’s largest school district, stands alone in having multiple fiscal health indicators for three consecutive years (only Trinidad and tiny Hoehne Reorganized 3 had even one indicator throughout that time span). Continue Reading »

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July
11th 2013
Scholarship Tax Credits and the Bizarre Scapegoating of Corporate Philanthropy

Posted under Courts & Independence Institute & Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & School Finance & State Board of Education & Tax Credits

The education establishment in Alabama doesn’t seem to have recovered from the big blindside victory for kids four months ago, when the state adopted a scholarship tax credit program. It’s made for a lot of fodder in the local media, including today’s gem from the Times Daily Montgomery Bureau:

Several [state board of education] members have been outspoken against the Accountability Act and lack of input they had into it.

“How in the world are we allowing corporations to pay for children to go to private schools?” said Ella Bell, of Montgomery. “Is there any legal ramifications of this?

“I am going to seek legal advice on this because it is unfair to the children of my district.”

Continue Reading »

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July
9th 2013
Somebody’s Got to Expose the Tax Hikers’ “49th in Education Funding” Deception

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & School Finance

Some may look at the Fourth of July as an occasion to celebrate an important event in ancient history (hey, it’s ancient to me, ok?). But this year in Colorado, it also provided the opportunity to relive a different kind — a more frustrating kind — of history. I’m talking about the need to debunk a phony statistic… again. Once upon a time it may have been a real but misleading figure; today it’s a complete fabrication. Where’s the shame?

As a Complete Colorado original editorial shows, proponents of the billion dollar tax increase have dredge up the “49th in education funding” canard to pitch their initiative: Continue Reading »

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