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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March
17th 2014
Colorado Supreme Court Will Hear Dougco School Choice Case, More Waiting Ahead

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools

One of the fun parts of being an edublogging prodigy is the chance to be spontaneous. Sometimes my plans to write about a certain topic take a back seat when some fresh but long-awaited breaking news. The kind of breaking news that allows me to go back into the archives and stroll down memory lane, while also thinking ahead about what comes next.

This morning the Colorado Supreme Court released its list of case announcements, and what to my young and eager eyes should appear on page 5 but the case of Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District. It said “Petition for Writ of Certiorari GRANTED.”

My smart adult friends told me that means the Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear about the famous and groundbreaking Choice Scholarship Program, and settle the legal dispute. For those who need a quick refresher about the currently enjoined (inactive) local private school choice initiative: Continue Reading »

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March
14th 2014
Not Pretty: Colorado Is Getting Caught in Other States’ Digital Learning Dust

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Finance

A year ago I was just trying to figure out how to send Colorado home with its own digital learning report card. A year ago I was 5. Nearly 52 weeks later, and no progress on either front.

But our state did move up a small tick on the 2013 Digital Learning Now national report card. Last year’s D-plus has turned into a C-minus. I mean, Colorado literally climbed from 69 to 70 on the 100-point scale. Not exactly something to write home about, I know. But hey, you’ve got to mention the progress you can find. Continue Reading »

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March
13th 2014
Whoa… Are the Wheels Starting to Come Off Common Core in Colorado?

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & State Board of Education & State Legislature

The more the pro-Common Core crowd doubles down, the more traction the opposition gains. And I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed. Snarky online quizzes that studiously avoid the term “Common Core” aren’t helpful for making the case to back national standards.

On the other hand, Rick Hess’ clever and insightful satire (I hope that debating federal policy with a UFO is indeed satire) sheds some real light on why their effort is spinning its wheels at best, and more likely starting to spin out of control: Continue Reading »

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March
11th 2014
Virtual Learning Success Story Inspires

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Online Schools & School Choice

Some days you get tongue-tied (or finger-tied?), there’s a lot of background noise, and you can’t decide what in the world of K-12 education to share with people. There’s plenty going on, but nothing just seems… quite… right. Continue Reading »

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March
10th 2014
Colorado Education’s Political Soap Opera Almost Makes Me Want to Change Channels

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & State Legislature & Teachers

I’m much too young for soap operas (hopefully, for the rest of my life). But the politics at the Capitol around SB 191, educator effectiveness, teacher tenure, and K-12 education accountability at large… well, it seems kind of like a soap opera these days. Call it General Assembly, or The Young and the Tested, or As the Education Committee Turns.

Last week, in an op-ed co-authored with the head of the state teachers union, the architect and champion of Senate Bill 191 announced that he was agreeing to a timeout of sorts in implementing the new educator effectiveness regime: Continue Reading »

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