May
6th 2015
Amazing Day to Appreciate Teachers and Celebrate Seven Years at Age 5

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers

With a legislative session wrapping up today, and some big school board meetings going down this week, I feel like my little head is underwater. Which makes it a perfect time to step back and briefly express my amazement.

Amazed at what, you ask? In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, it only seems fitting to take hats off and pay tribute to all the great teachers in traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, online schools, brick-and-mortar schools, private schools, and yes — even, homeschooling parents.

Little old me is taking it easy. I’ll start with a hat tip to the Association of American Educators and a statement from the group’s president Gary Beckner: Continue Reading »

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May
5th 2015
Drumroll, Please: The Great Testing Debate of 2015 Nears Conclusion

Posted under Accountability & Edublogging & Education Politics & Testing & Union

This is it, my friends. We have entered the final phase of the Great Testing Debate of 2015 as the legislature speeds toward the finish line. We’ve been talking about testing since the session began back in January (and even before then), but it looks like we’re nearing the end of the discussion.

While we may not be able to fully pull ourselves out of the testing rut, there is now hope that we will see some forward progress. Colorado’s legislators have pulled together a hasty compromise that attempts to merge the two remaining big testing bills on the docket—HB 1323 and SB 257—by amending them to be identical to one another. Both bills passed the opposite chamber’s education committee last night. Continue Reading »

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May
4th 2015
Broad Brush “Limited Impact” Claim Vindicates Progress of Prop 104

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & School Board & Teachers & Transparency & Union & Urban Schools

Last week I posted a case study from the Thompson School District, an example of how NOT to negotiate an employee agreement. Just because the popularly enacted Prop 104 has opened the door on these negotiations doesn’t guarantee that they will be conducted effectively, at least not on the first try.

That isn’t to say open negotiations have little or no impact. Unless you’re writing a Friday headline for Chalkbeat Colorado Rise and Shine:

Continue Reading »

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May
1st 2015
NEA President Reminds Us That Education Policy Belongs in Legislatures, Not Courts

Posted under Accountability & Courts & Education Politics & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits & Teachers & Union

I don’t want to write about the teachers union today. I already did that this week, and it resulted in a whole bunch of grownups calling me and my friend Ross Izard ugly names. When I told Ross, he just laughed and said “If you’re catching flak, you’re over the target.” I don’t really know what that means, but I know I don’t like meanies.

Besides, I’d much rather write about the fact that the top schools in Denver are charters, or a weird math thing called Simpson’s Paradox and how it relates to the recent release of NAEP social studies scores. Even better, I’d like to just post a video of a dinosaur and leave it at that.

Unfortunately those things aren’t in the cards (today). My friend Jason Bedrick caught my attention with a tweet too fantastic to ignore this morning:

Fine. We’ll talk about unions again. I have no choice if they’re going to make it this easy. Continue Reading »

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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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