Archive for April, 2015

April
30th 2015
High-Stakes Game of Legislative Testing Chicken Nears Point of No Return

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Just For Fun & School Accountability & State Legislature & Testing

There’s nothing quite like the last-minute drama of a Colorado legislative session to fire up the creative juices. Last year at this time, I imagined the crazy showdown over transparency in the Student Success Act as an old gangster film.

This time around, the big looming education issue is what to do about testing. No need to rehash it all, since it’s ground I’ve covered here thoroughly in recent days.

A couple weeks ago, I pointed out that Colorado seems to be stuck in a testing rut. With less than a week to go in the legislative session and both remaining testing bills (HB 1323 and SB 257) stalled in their respective houses, it sure looks like that rut is getting even deeper.

Denver Post education reporter Eric Gorski had a great piece yesterday about how the debate is stuck in limbo, and I’m not just praising him because he included one of my Tweets in the story: Continue Reading »

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April
29th 2015
How Not to Negotiate: Thompson’s Tepid Tentative Agreement

Posted under Edublogging & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Union

Last week, we dove into the ongoing ugliness in Thompson School District. The highlight of that post was CEA’s bogus petition against the board majority’s attempts to draft clearer MOU for negotiation. Certainly, CEA’s involvement in the district is a major issue and seriously alters the calculus as negotiations move forward. Reform board members were escorted to their cars by police after a recent meeting. The president of the Thompson Education Association (TEA) responded by saying that although he encourages union members to be professional, “passions will be passions.” Nice.

So yeah, that’s a little concerning. Yet maybe the union isn’t the only thing reformers in Thompson have to worry about. The district’s own bureaucrats may be serious obstacles themselves.

My education policy friend Ross Izard published a new column today about the tentative agreement that has emerged from the district’s negotiations with the local union, the Thompson Education Association. The tentative agreement is… far from promising. And that’s putting it kindly. Continue Reading »

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April
28th 2015
Compared with Real Samples, Dougco Union Survey Proves a Major Flop

Posted under Research & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

Ironically, regular blogging here can make me grow up fast. While remaining perpetually 5 years old, I have learned the need to develop a healthy sense of skepticism. Otherwise, it might be time to start believing in time warps and magical survey fairies.

Jane Reuter of the Douglas County News-Press reports on last week’s hocus pocus at the Dougco Board of Education meeting:

Douglas County School Board members lambasted the recent staff survey funded by the teachers’ union, calling it an attack on staff, pointing out its low response rate and questioning the objectivity of the agency that conducted it.

The survey showed low morale and dissatisfaction with recent education reforms and policies in the Douglas County School District, among other findings.

As the article points out, the survey was sponsored by the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and conducted by Strategies 360, which Denver office is run by the former political director for the Colorado AFL-CIO. Continue Reading »

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April
23rd 2015
Yes, It’s Hard to Be Humble — for Education Reformers and for This Blog

Posted under Accountability & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Parents & Teachers & Testing & Union

There have been more than a few times when I’ve gloated about an awesome blog idea that came to life here. On some occasions, my Education Policy Center friends warned me not to “get a big head.” At first, I was worried they meant little Eddie might turn out like this guy.

Later I figured out they were just warning me about my edublogging ego getting out of control. Recently I bragged to my Grandpa about one of my awesome blog posts, when he laughed and started singing this song to me about how hard it is to be humble. Turns out he wasn’t just making it up: Continue Reading »

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April
22nd 2015
If You Want Something Done Right: CEA Steps into Thompson’s Union Negotiations

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Union

After observing many of them on the playground, I can say that bullies are interesting creatures. Usually, they figure they can just push you around without any resistance. But stand up to them just a little, and they have to reevaluate.

That reevaluation usually involves a two-step process. First, they try out nasty underhanded tactics like those used by the Jefferson County Mean Girlz. If that doesn’t work, or they meet more resistance (as the Mean Girlz certainly did), they often run off to find bigger, meaner friends to back them up.

It appears that the Thompson Education Association has been paying attention to the Jeffco edu-blob’s failures on step one of the bullying handbook. The district’s union and its supporters have skipped straight to step two and called in reinforcements from the Colorado Education Association, our state’s powerful and extremely political teachers union. Continue Reading »

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April
20th 2015
Due to Choice Fight, Florida Adds School Board Member Choice: What Next?

Posted under Courts & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Tax Credits

If I had a nickel for every time the word choice was used on this blog, my college fund would be well on its way. (Of course, it’s not clear when or how a perpetual 5-year-old pursues postsecondary education, but that’s a conundrum to unpack on another day.) Well, it’s about time to make a few more clinks in the piggy bank.

Check out what EdFly blogger Mike Thomas’s story about a Florida official who wanted to give his fellow school board directors more choice of representation, partly because his views were not being represented on (you guessed it) choice: Continue Reading »

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April
17th 2015
New CTBA Report on School Choice Smells Like Bologna

Posted under Research & School Choice & Tax Credits

The last few Fridays have been absolutely lovely. They were sunny, warm, and filled with delicious new stops on the school choice train. Today is different. It’s cold, rainy, and all around a little icky outside. If I were older and knew what the word “foreshadow” meant, I might say that I should have expected today to involve reading something like a yucky, choice-bashing report from the heavily left-leaning Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA).

Unfortunately, I didn’t see it coming. And after reading through the report’s findings, I have to say I walked away pretty irked about the report’s tilted observations and the motivations driving them. But just as I was warming up my little fingers for a vigorous defense of choice, I noticed that my good pal Jason Bedrick beat me to the punch. Jason has said pretty much everything that needs to be said, but I’m also going to stick my nose into the debate on a couple of the biggest issues anyway. Continue Reading »

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April
16th 2015
“Twin” Studies Add More Pieces to Teacher Effectiveness Puzzle

Posted under Elementary School & International & Research & Teachers

Apparently, there has been some rampant speculation that little Eddie is actually little Eddies, that there is more than one of me. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Now I find that sort of talk a little disturbing. Who am I anyway?

Maybe someone has seen my doppelganger out there. I’d also given consideration to the possibility that my parents have locked an evil Eddie twin in a basement closet, only to be let out at inopportune times. Let me here and now assert my firm belief that such a notion was nothing more than the phantom of an overactive imagination.

Still, my curiosity is piqued at the potential boon to educational research that having a twin would provide. The National Council on Teacher Quality today brought my attention to a pair (!) of studies — one in the Netherlands, one in the United States. The idea? Take a set of twins and put them in different teachers’ classrooms to test the effect. Continue Reading »

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April
15th 2015
Little Eddie’s Wednesday Triple Play: Dougco, School Choice, and Accountability

Posted under Accountability & School Choice

I feel like we have few distinct tracks here on Little Eddie’s edu-blog. We often talk about Jeffco and its ongoing struggles, I always love to talk about school choice in any form, and I’ve been known to get into financial issues from time to time. But what happens if—don’t freak out me here—what happens if we blend three of our favorite tracks into a single blog post? Oh yes, it can be done. In fact, I’m going to do it right now.

Let’s start with our good friends in Douglas County, who you will remember we’ve talked frequently about in recent months. Back in August, I highlighted an amicus brief co-authored by my edu-buddies Ben DeGrow and Ross Izard in support of Douglas County’s local voucher program. I also spent some time pumping you up for oral arguments in the related Supreme Court case (no decision yet, I’m afraid), celebrating the district’s return to the state’s top accreditation rating, and deconstructing some attacks against Douglas County’s pay system.

That, my friends, covers both Douglas County and school choice. Now for the third track: Accountability. Continue Reading »

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April
14th 2015
Whichever Way You Look, Colorado Seems to be Stuck in a Testing Rut

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Accountability & State Legislature & Testing

I came across a story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times under the headline: “Majority of California’s Latino voters highly value school testing.” Given the state of affairs in Colorado, how could something like that escape my attention?

A majority of Latino voters, 55%, said mandatory exams improve public education in the state by gauging student progress and providing teachers with vital information. Nearly the same percentage of white voters said such exams are harmful because they force educators to narrow instruction and don’t account for different styles of learning.

The survey, sponsored by the Times, found that even higher percentages of Californians (77% Latino, 56% White, 64% Total) agreed that “students’ achievement and progress on standardized tests” should be an important or the most important factor in teacher pay and evaluations. That finding casts even more doubt on the suspect poll finding trumpeted by the National Education Association last year.

Especially interesting, given this is the state that gave us last year’s earth-shattering Vergara ruling. Though no one seems to have consulted the Colorado Education Association president, who recently told legislators that “all teachers do the same job.” Continue Reading »

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