Archive for February, 2014

February
28th 2014
Three Online Learning Items Blended Together for Your Friday Enjoyment

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

It’s Friday, time for my version of the Dagwood sandwich, the supreme pizza, or burrito with everything (please!). The only difference is this hodgepodge is going to be about online and blended learning. I’ll leave it up to you to find a way to “blend” all the pieces together before pouring some chili sauce on top. Okay, not literally.

First, one of the most successful and noteworthy blended learning providers is expanding to another major city. Blast off with me in celebration at the news that Rocketship Education will be opening a school in the nation’s capital in 2015: Hooray!! Add Washington, D.C., to the list of Milwaukee and Nashville as expansion sites from the original California launching pad. Continue Reading »

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February
27th 2014
“Student Success Act” or “Dingelhoffer”, Let’s Make Bolder School Finance Proposal

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

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked. She had a point. If I decided to call a rose a dingelhoffer, it wouldn’t affect the beauty or scent of the flower in any way. Nor should we be distracted by the name given to Colorado’s finally released HB 1292, known as the Student Success Act. I’m talking about the grand proposal to dole out some of the extra dollars built up in the State Education Fund.

I don’t want to get hung up on the names. (Some called the HB 1262 teacher incentive program — very recently killed by a party-line committee vote — the “Great Act.” I liked the idea for what it would have done, not for what it was called.) That’s why you have little old me around, to help dig beneath the surface.

Chalkbeat Colorado broke the news about HB 1292 Tuesday night. It’s clearly a plan that has been evolving since the idea was floated a couple months ago. All the shifting pieces had me tied up in knots a couple weeks ago. Not everything is clear yet, but the new and finally introduced version of the bill seems okay. Continue Reading »

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February
25th 2014
Choice Media: Experts Set President Straight on School Voucher Research Claims

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Private Schools & Research & School Choice

I know it’s kind of a cute novelty to have a little kid talk to the leader of the free world. It’s not surprising, though, that when I joined the Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Riley a few weeks ago in asking President Obama if he would set the record straight on how school choice has helped kids, I received no answer.

The President is a very busy and important person, and we’re just hanging out here in one of those little flyover states. No important elections are pending. Still, when the U.S. Chief Executive declares on national television that “every study that’s been done on school vouchers…says that it has very limited impact if any,” it merits a clear response. Choice Media TV interviewed three of the leading national experts on the topic: Continue Reading »

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February
20th 2014
Give Me Colorado, Not California: A Tale of Two Teacher Tenure Court Cases

Posted under Courts & Denver & Independence Institute & State Legislature & Teachers

“It was the best of education lawsuits, it was the worst of education lawsuits….” Well, not exactly. Some well-publicized legal action in California is trying to achieve a (much better) policy goal that runs counter to a Colorado lawsuit I’ve talked about before. Still, there is the fundamental problem of trying to change education policy through the courts.

Prof. Joshua Dunn, a Colorado-based expert on education court cases, makes the point much more eloquently. He talked with one of my Education Policy Center friends on a radio interview for the Amy Oliver Show. The good news is how he handicaps the Colorado Education Association’s chances of success using the courts to overturn a law that protects students from poor performing teachers.

Unfolding on the West Coast is a different tale, the case of Vergara v. California, filed several years ago against the state teachers union. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur, through his group Students Matter, is seeking to change tenure and dismissal policies that keep ineffective instructors in classrooms and on payrolls. Continue Reading »

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February
18th 2014
HB 1262 Incentive to Reform Educator Pay Certainly Has Caught My Attention

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Finance & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Do you want to know how to get my attention? (Besides gift-wrapping a new Star Wars Lego set, bringing home a box of piping hot pizza, or asking if I want to go to the Colorado Rockies game, that is.) Write something like this in the introduction of your education policy report:

If a rational system of teacher compensation, aimed at recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, were designed from scratch, it is unlikely it would bear any resemblance to the system that is currently in place.

Continue Reading »

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February
17th 2014
A Beautiful Day to Celebrate Coming Major School Choice Victory in Mississippi

Posted under Governor & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & State Legislature

It’s a busy (code word for nice weather to play outside) Monday. But I do have enough time to run around inside and celebrate some very promising news out of Mississippi. Big news… yes, very promising news… in Mississippi? You betcha.

First, a quick reminder for those who may not be up to speed. The most cutting-edge of cutting-edge school choice programs in America is Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts: Continue Reading »

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February
13th 2014
McShane is Right: Choice Team Needs to Do More Than Cry about “Bad Schools”

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

This morning I’m going to be like that geeky kid at the front of the class, eagerly raising his hand and exclaiming, “Ooh, ooh, I know! Call on me!” The question the imaginary teacher is asking: “What one education policy article do you need to read this week?”

If I sit here and wait until you call on me, the post will never get written. So allow me to blurt out my recommendation: “We need to stop obsessing about ‘bad’ schools, by Michael McShane!” If the teacher hasn’t read it yet, do I get even more brownie points?

The article starts with an honest criticism: Continue Reading »

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February
12th 2014
State Debate on How to Spend Extra Education Dollars Has Me Twisted in Knots

Posted under Education Politics & Elementary School & Public Charter Schools & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

When it comes to the question of education funding, I take a glance over at the Golden Dome and wonder: Are we headed for a big clash, or will there be an unexpected meeting of the minds? The stage has been set with the demise of Amendment 66 and a hefty balance of more than $1.1 billion in the State Education Fund.

Apparently, one month into the 2014 legislative session, there are two distinctly different visions of what to do at the State Capitol. On one hand, some groups and legislators from both parties want to rally behind a proposal that would incorporate a lot of last year’s Senate Bill 213 ideas on a smaller scale, just not attached to a statewide tax increase. Ideas on the table include more money to: Continue Reading »

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February
11th 2014
Jeffco Teachers Union Takes Political Spectacle from Boardroom into Classrooms

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers

It’s ugly moments like what took place Saturday that can make me squeamish about watching this world of education policy. A staged spectacle of adult interests, where accusations of disrespect are bolstered by a loud and visible display of public disrespect. This 2-minute Revealing Politics video of Saturday’s Jefferson County school board meeting paints the unpleasant picture:

Continue Reading »

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February
7th 2014
Open Negotiations in Jeffco Schools? That Old Momentum Looks Like It’s Back

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

It’s that time of year again, so it must mean that old Colorado school district open negotiations momentum is back. Last year our hopes were raised in Thompson and Adams 12, but the same old closed-door procedures carried the day. This little edublogger learned a lesson in patience.

Two years ago House Bill 1118 proposed requiring open negotiations for K-12 unions across Colorado. It passed the House but died in the Senate. About the same time, Douglas County led the way locally with the state’s most transparent school-union bargaining sessions ever. Continue Reading »

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