What am I talking about? Senate Bill 191′s new (and hopefully improved) system of teacher and principal evaluations is going into place right now. We’re told the tax increase is needed to pay for the new system, though the new school finance legislation makes no guarantee funds will be spent that way and the projected increase comes in at far less than the total tax bill. Then, to top it all off, the unions who are bankrolling the Amendment 66 campaign to the tune of $4 million have promised to sue to end the reforms.
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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 »
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 »
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 »
‘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 »
We are now well into the silly season of school board campaigning, but the union leaders displaced from Douglas County sure are taking matters seriously. More than a year ago, the American Federation of Teachers lost its monopoly bargaining power when the collective bargaining agreement expired.
But as the Colorado Observer reports, their union rivals at the Colorado Education Association sure have their eyes on the prize. An email from the CEA’s vice president tried to drum up support at a recent rally protesting against the pro-reform school board. Continue Reading »
I have some ideas of what to blog about. In fact, you can probably count on more fresh and insightful commentary tomorrow. But with the initial shock of the partial government shutdown, this young and sometimes naive edublogger is trying to keep composure and not panic.
But I think the situation might even be worse for policy wonks like my friends in the Education Policy Center. Try heading over to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics to download the latest spending and enrollment data, or to run research queries on state NAEP scores, and this is what you encounter: Continue Reading »
All my education reform friends out there, you and I very likely have been getting too comfortable. Or perhaps just too naive, or maybe too lacking in ambition. Leave it to the American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess to splash a bucket of water in our faces. But trust me, we needed the dirt knocked out of our eyes and ears.
Last week, Hess penned for National Affairs his latest thoughtful piece chocked full of insights that many education policy advocates and insiders know, but few are willing to say. Given numerous observations like the following, I recommend reading “The Missing Half of School Reform”: Continue Reading »
For reasons I don’t even have time to get into, big people often call the weeks leading up to an election the “silly season.” Most think of that in terms of presidential or Congressional races. Not so much when school board elections come around, and here in Colorado that’s in the fall of odd-numbered years.
Lest you think school board elections aren’t a big deal, I have to remind you that local Colorado boards have a great deal of constitutional prerogatives and power. They just have to be ready and willing to use it. Besides, just ask a current University of Colorado Regent, a former state treasurer, and a former lieutenant governor who are all vying for positions this year. Two of them are running in three of the state’s largest districts, where the “silly season” has reached full bloom.
The former lieutenant governor is Barbara O’Brien, competing for an at-large seat on the Denver Public Schools (DPS) board. As the Denver Post reports, she just happens to be the target of an interesting attack from her opponent. Michael Kiley has heavily criticized O’Brien for her support of a short-lived statewide school voucher plan 10 years ago: Continue Reading »