Archive for October, 2013

October
31st 2013
Weld County School Districts Stand Out on Safety, Fiscal Sanity, Sound Policy

Posted under Education Politics & Rural Schools & School Board & School Finance & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers

It’s pretty rare to see a geographically-themed post like this one here. While Weld County has become a focus for some about a debate to secede and create a 51st state, more interesting to me is a series of stories that set apart a number of the county’s school districts.

The 12 school districts in northern Colorado’s mostly rural Weld County rank it second in the state to El Paso County, which has 15 different districts. Stealing the headlines a couple days ago was Weld Re-10J, better known as Briggsdale School, for adopting a student safety plan that includes enabling teachers and other staff to carry concealed firearms on school property.

About 9 months ago I told you about the defeat of Senate Bill 9, which “would have allowed school boards to authorize carrying of concealed weapons in schools.” Apparently, Briggsdale has found a loophole that the Dolores County School District devised earlier this year. Don’t ask how or why: I’m too little. Continue Reading »

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October
30th 2013
Teachers Union Leaders Miscalculate in Adams 12, Misbehave in DougCo

Posted under Education Politics & Just For Fun & School Board & Suburban Schools

The campaign silly season just got sillier. A union-backed school board candidate in Adams 12 was just ruled to be ineligible for office because she lives outside the correct district boundaries. To think, two weeks ago she was most famous for subjecting her toddler son to a Klingon language immersion program.

Yesterday’s unexpected development makes one wonder whether Amy Speers or the local teachers union that spent $39,000 on her candidacy knew she lived in the wrong district and tried to hide it, or just avoided doing their homework. Due to population changes, the Board of Education followed the law and redrew the boundaries back in May 2012. So it wasn’t exactly new or secret.

In late 2011, Speers vied for the District 4 vacancy created by Heidi Williams‘ resignation to serve as mayor of Thornton. Rico Figueroa was chosen instead and now runs unopposed to keep the seat, because no one apparently paid enough attention to the fact that the new boundaries moved Speers into another district.

Stories like this one make me worried about all those adults out there who I’m supposed to look up to. So does the underlying truth in this hilarious 3-minute video: Continue Reading »

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October
28th 2013
Lingering Doubts in Preschool Research Give Greater Pause about Amendment 66

Posted under Early Childhood & Research & School Finance

One of the honest promises put forth by Amendment 66 supporters is that a portion of the funds will go to expanding preschool access for low-income families. The publicly-funded Colorado Preschool Program touts research that shows it’s making a positive difference.

But a new Time column by Kay Hymowitz (H/T Joanne Jacobs) reminds us what the research says about the true limitations of Early Childhood Education: Continue Reading »

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October
23rd 2013
Democrat Groff Backs Dougco Reform, as Vote Fraud Talk Enters Election Fray

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & School Board & Suburban Schools

Several weeks ago I warned you about the onset of the campaign “silly season.” But then sometimes, like the last 24 hours or so, we get to see how seriously a local school board race can be taken.

So seriously, it would seem, that a supporter of the union-backed Douglas County school board candidates was describing voter fraud intent to her anti-reform compatriots on Facebook. The public leak, detected and captured by a concerned citizen, quickly caught the attention of places like Denver morning talk radio. Continue Reading »

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October
22nd 2013
Give Teachers Real Membership Choices Minus the Shame and Inconvenience

Posted under Denver & Teachers

Michigan Capitol Confidential recently featured a story about teachers union leaders apparently intimidating several educators who opted out of membership after the state adopted its right-to-work law:

The MEA 17-B/C union newsletter listed the name of 16 employees from four school districts in the U.P. who decided against paying dues or fees to the union and it also listed the services they no longer will get now that they’re not part of the union.

Kathi Moreau, a counselor at Stephenson Area Public Schools, left the union and said she was shocked to see her name in the newsletter. Continue Reading »

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October
21st 2013
Even This Post Might Be Too Much Attention on Common Core Debate

Posted under Foreign Countries & Grades and Standards & Private Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Teachers

The reason I rarely write about Common Core is the same reason why I’m writing about it today. Huh, you say? America’s fourth most influential Edu-Scholar Eric Hanushek makes a persuasive case in U.S. News:

Policymakers and reform advocates alike have rallied around introducing a set of national content standards, suggesting that this will jump-start the stagnating achievement of U.S. students. As history clearly indicates, simply calling for students to know more is not the same as ensuring they will learn more.

Bottom line (read the whole article): Common Core standards are not going to move the needle on the important content and skills U.S. students learn. For every Massachusetts that performs fairly well with high standards, there’s a California that has high standards but struggles tremendously in its educational results. Continue Reading »

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October
18th 2013
Of Course, I Can’t Talk about Anything but the Amendment 66 Billion-Dollar Tax Hike

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Research & School Finance & State Legislature

Blah, blah, blah, the whiny voice said to me. All you ever talk about is Amendment 66! Well, come on. Look. It’s been two days since the last time I wrote about it, but there are even new developments since then. Since it’s Friday afternoon, count yourself fortunate that I’m just going to dish it out in bullet-point fashion: Continue Reading »

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October
16th 2013
Greeley’s Pro-Amendment 66 Fliers Come Up Short on Eddie’s Truth Check

Posted under Education Politics & School Finance & Teachers & Urban Schools

‘Tis the season for the DVR in our house. Political ads are back in Colorado, including ones making wildly exaggerated promises about Amendment 66. You know, the billion-dollar statewide tax increase allegedly “for the kids.” Thankfully, some local TV journalists have been willing to look under the hood of the Rube Goldberg proposal and call out the misleading rhetoric.

Well, I’m too young for my own TV spot, but little old Eddie wants to give it a try with this pro-66 flier being handed out in Greeley. Let me respond to some of the points in turn:

1. For Greeley-Evans taxpayers — $3 return on $1.

They’re referring to how much new revenue local schools will get for each new tax dollar area residents will pay. It’s certainly a better deal than a .62 return in Gunnison, a .59 return in Boulder County, a .56 return in Jefferson County, a .50 return in Douglas County, or a .20 return in Steamboat Springs. But it also means, taxpayers all across the rest of Weld County will be turning over more of their hard-earned funds to low-performing District 6.

2.Good schools are fundamental for our economic future

Who can disagree with that? Except more taxes and more funding for more of the same offers no guarantee of getting us there. Look at this stunning Cato Institute graph that shows the nation’s 40-year trend, or this chart from the new book Endangering Prosperity that draws a nearly flat-line ZERO correlation for states between funding increases and improved test scores. Continue Reading »

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October
15th 2013
There’s Something to Be Said for Flipping Not Just Classrooms, But Whole Schools

Posted under High School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Teachers

You may not know what blended learning is. You probably can’t recite all the different categories of blended learning — though you would stand a better chance if you had read Krista Kafer’s paper on The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning in Colorado.

One particular passage in Kafer’s paper highlights the rise of a particular form of blended learning that certainly seems to owe its origins to Colorado: Continue Reading »

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October
10th 2013
Amendment 66 Hurts Colorado Economy, But “Where’s the Beef?” on Reform

Posted under Education Politics & Research & School Finance & State Board of Education & Teachers

Following the Independence Institute’s own analysis of the economic harms the Amendment 66 billion-dollar tax hike would inflict, the Common Sense Policy Roundtable has released a long-term forecast that shows “without substantial improvement in student performance, Amendment 66 is drag on the Colorado economy.”

The second in the pair of studies sought to estimate how much better student performance would have to be in order to make the tax increase proposal a neutral proposition. University of Colorado business school researcher Brian Lewandowski framed the question to the Denver Post in somewhat dramatic terms:

“Even when you’re the best in the nation, graduation rate alone doesn’t get to break even,” he said. “We need a lot of improvement in educational performance for it to have profound positive impact on Colorado’s economy. But it’s not unachievable.”

Continue Reading »

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