April
3rd 2014
Yes, Fordham, Colorado School Boards Matter; Let’s Encourage True Local Control

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & learning & Research & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

A long, long two-and-a-half years ago I shared with you my thoughts about school boards going the way of the horse and buggy. The article written by education reform senior statesman Checker Finn prompted me to weigh in:

Unlike many other areas of education reform, this is one in which Colorado would not figure to be a leader. Why? Finn himself points out that Colorado is in a small, select group in which school districts “are enshrined in the state constitutions.” And with that comes some measure of more power to effect positive, effective change within each of our state’s 178 school districts. That might help explain why Douglas County is such a shining light in the area of choice-friendly policies.

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April
1st 2014
New Independence Institute Ownership? Goodbye, Eddie; Hello, Little Ed Koch

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Public Charter Schools & School Board & Tax Credits & Teachers

Change is hard, especially when you’ve been 5 years old for so long like I have. But it can be good, too. Some of you may have seen today’s important news release from the Independence Institute about their new arrangement:

Under the terms of the agreement the Koch brothers have invested an undisclosed amount of funding into the Institute, in exchange they will receive 51% ownership of the organization. This will provide Independence with the resources necessary to continue operations and serving the cause of freedom in Colorado.

Caldara said that the change in ownership will not have a sizable change in the operations or the direction of the Institute saying, “We are thrilled about keeping the name “Independence” in the new iteration of our organization.”

Caldara declared that the newly titled “Koch Institute at Independence” pays tribute to our proud history but also points to our new and properly funded future.

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March
31st 2014
Colorado Ranks 21st in Per-Pupil Spending (and Other New Numbers from the NEA)

Posted under Research & School Finance & Teachers

The month of March is getting ready to go out. Not exactly sure it’s like a lamb. But there is one report released this month that some in Colorado’s education-industrial complex would just as soon see put out to pasture.

The National Education Association has released its annual “Rankings and Estimates” publication, which compares the states on a wide range of statistics directly or indirectly linked to education. A testament to the power of self-interest and private action, the NEA’s numbers are much fresher than those produced by the slow release of government agencies like the U.S. Department of Education or the U.S. Census Bureau.

A sampling of this year’s K-12 statistical fare reads like a mind-blowing episode of Myth Busters: Continue Reading »

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March
28th 2014
Filling In a Few Compelling Reasons to Go Watch Jeffco Open Union Negotiations

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Research & School Board & School Finance & Teachers

What a difference six weeks can make! When I last focused in on happenings at Jeffco schools, the local teachers union had taken its political spectacle from the boardroom to the classroom. Meanwhile, the school board moved ahead discussing its priorities and engaging the community in a search for a new superintendent.

It was good to see the two sides move ahead with open negotiations for the first time in recent memory. Now my parents, neighbors, and I can see the give and take of what’s going on with a giant chunk of a nearly $1 billion budget. But the big question to ask: Are the policies they’re advocating good for students? Continue Reading »

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March
27th 2014
Watching Student Data Privacy Issue Means Not Watching Student Data

Posted under Education Politics & Parents & State Legislature

Let the truth be known, I have a larger online footprint than your average youngster. There’s plenty you can glean about Eddie just from this site, including that I’m a fictional longtime 5-year-old who likes Legos, football, and video games; considers myself an exceptionally gifted blogger; and has a unique obsession with keeping an eye on the world of education.

But just exactly how much is the world of education keeping an eye on little old me? Fueled by growing concerns about the Common Core and the federal role in education, the issue of student data privacy in this fragile Internet age has taken on a life of its own. Continue Reading »

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March
25th 2014
Opponents’ Best Shot? Maybe Thompson Should Look at Innovating Educator Pay

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Principals & Research & School Board & Teachers

A month ago my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow wrote a Greeley Tribune op-ed, explaining that some local school board leaders have picked up the ball dropped by state lawmakers and are making progress on rewarding top-notch educators. He noted work going on in Jefferson County, Mesa 51, and Adams 12.

But based on a letter that appeared in last week’s Loveland Reporter-Herald, it looks like he should add Thompson School District to the list. I hesitated at first about whether to use the letter as a foil, justifiably concerned that some might wonder if I planted the meandering, logically-flawed piece in the newspaper as a straw man to beat up.

Well, let me put the rumors to rest. This 5-year-old prodigy didn’t plant the letter, but I am prepared to beat up its five fragile arguments, one by one: Continue Reading »

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March
24th 2014
Colo. Digital Learning Policy Alternate Route Gives Some Spring Break Hope

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & School Accountability & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

Have you ever tried to plan a trip to an important new destination? Maybe it was a long road trip for SPRING BREAK or a family vacation or a visit to an old friend who moved to a new town. You program your GPS, or at least make a search on Google Maps first. (Back in the old days, they tell me you had to actually use a fold-up road map, plotting your way across highways from one city to the next.)

One thing those old road maps couldn’t tell you — and even sometimes the fancy technology lets you down — is about major road construction, a rush-hour traffic jam, or a bridge washed out ahead. You may have already plotted your route, but at that point an unexpected development compels you to go back, change the plan, and find a detour.

Almost a couple full years ago now, my Education Policy Center friends worked with online school leaders and other smart policy folks to help craft a Digital Learning Policy Road Map for Colorado. The brief report laid out a sequence of concrete changes that needed to happen to ensure digital technology was best used to “enhance opportunities for Colorado’s children to achieve educational success.” Continue Reading »

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March
21st 2014
Time to Go Wild: Legal Win for Kids Helped by Arizona’s Cutting-Edge ESAs

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

Most Fridays I just want to get up, stick my tongue out, yell, and run around like a wild man. Hey, I’m a kid, it’s okay to be crazy. Sometimes it’s a frustrated, “I can’t take it any more”-kind of crazy. Today, it’s a feeling of relief turned into exhilaration. The Federation for Children delivers the great news that the Arizona Supreme Court upholds the state’s cutting-edge Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) as constitutional: Continue Reading »

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March
20th 2014
Student Success Act Soap Opera Gears Up for Shift to Wilder Ride in Senate

Posted under Education Politics & Online Schools & School Finance & State Legislature

Colorado education’s political soap opera continues. But the latest episode is more about building suspense than revealing any dastardly motives or other clever plot twists. This time it’s the so-called Student Success Act (aka House Bill 1292), which cleared a key hurdle yesterday with an 11-1 vote in the House Education Committee.

The protests against the proposal have only grown louder and more concerted since it had its first hearing a few weeks ago. With near unanimity, Colorado school district superintendents have vocally clamored for more general formula dollars into their coffers and less prescriptive policies from the Gold Dome.

As Chalkbeat Colorado reports, the House is basically punting key decisions over to the Senate — where the legislation has to go eventually if it is going to prevail. Among them is an issue near and dear to my little heart: Continue Reading »

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March
18th 2014
New York City Mayor’s Attack on Charter Schools Enough to Give Me Nightmares

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

As a rule, my parents aren’t too keen on letting little me watch any horror movies. Too much violence, gore, and just plain scary stuff. But they haven’t been able to shield my eyes from the horror that is the new mayor of New York City’s attack on successful public charter schools and the students they are helping.

The elected head of America’s largest city wasted no time in going after charters, apparently out of some belief that they represent some sort of corporate conspiracy rather than a means of improving results for many, many students. He has cut charter facility funding from the city budget and axed new charter proposals built on existing successful models.

Mayor de Blasio’s school chancellor Carmen farina wiped her hands of the situation, callously stating: “They’re charter schools. They’re on their own now.” My attention was brought to this disturbing issue by yesterday’s impassioned Chicago Tribune editorial saying a similar debate needs to be brought into the open: Continue Reading »

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