Archive for the 'Denver' Category

April
7th 2014
Jeffco Board Makes More Money Follow Students, Brings a Jan Brady Smile

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & learning & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools

Once upon a time, say two years ago, I felt the heat for focusing a lot of extra attention on a certain large school district between Denver and Colorado Springs. You could almost hear a number of nearby Jan Bradys crying out in frustration: “Dougco, Dougco, Dougco!” Back then I said:

But hey, don’t complain at me! Get your school board and district to set the bar high by making some bold reform moves, and I’ll give them some attention, too.

While Dougco’s Marcia continues moving along, Jefferson County’s Jan can crack a smile. And not just because 10 days ago I filled you in with some compelling reasons to keep an eye on the suburban district’s open union negotiations (Hint: another session starts today at 4 PM in the fifth floor board room at 1829 Denver West Drive).

Jeffco gets more attention now, though, because of two big items from Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. Clearly, the new majority not only has made a laudable push for transparency but also has begun setting the bar high with its own brand of bold reform moves. Continue Reading »

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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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February
20th 2014
Give Me Colorado, Not California: A Tale of Two Teacher Tenure Court Cases

Posted under Courts & Denver & Independence Institute & State Legislature & Teachers

“It was the best of education lawsuits, it was the worst of education lawsuits….” Well, not exactly. Some well-publicized legal action in California is trying to achieve a (much better) policy goal that runs counter to a Colorado lawsuit I’ve talked about before. Still, there is the fundamental problem of trying to change education policy through the courts.

Prof. Joshua Dunn, a Colorado-based expert on education court cases, makes the point much more eloquently. He talked with one of my Education Policy Center friends on a radio interview for the Amy Oliver Show. The good news is how he handicaps the Colorado Education Association’s chances of success using the courts to overturn a law that protects students from poor performing teachers.

Unfolding on the West Coast is a different tale, the case of Vergara v. California, filed several years ago against the state teachers union. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur, through his group Students Matter, is seeking to change tenure and dismissal policies that keep ineffective instructors in classrooms and on payrolls. Continue Reading »

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January
30th 2014
Lawsuit to Protect Tenure Over Students Makes CEA Not Only Wrong But Lonely

Posted under Courts & Denver & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers & Urban Schools

Being a little kid and all, I can be sensitive to what my peers think sometimes. Have you ever stuck your neck out there, the only one in the crowd choosing something different from everyone else? If it’s a flavor of ice cream, that’s no big deal. But if it’s a True or False question, and you are the only one who chooses the wrong answer, that can be a little bit harder to take. If it’s big people making the wrong choice on something that doesn’t help students, then it’s even worse.

In case you missed it, the big news around here yesterday was the teachers union’s lawsuit and legislative attack on Senate Bill 191. The bottom line is they don’t like part of the law that gives principals the authority to keep ineffective teachers out of classrooms (known as “mutual consent”).

My Education Policy Center friends quickly responded: Continue Reading »

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January
27th 2014
School Choice Week Kicks Off; Good Luck Trying to Contain My Excitement

Posted under Denver & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits

The excitement around here is palpable (that means you can feel it). The fun, wild ride known as National School Choice Week has kicked off with a big bipartisan rally in Texas and big kids donned in yellow scarves ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange:

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January
15th 2014
Denver State’s New Largest School District; Falcon 49 Open Enrollment Soars

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & School Choice & Suburban Schools

Yesterday we officially learned how many students showed up to Colorado public schools at the beginning of October. The enrollment figures made a little bit of a splash. Why? The news that for the first time in many years Jefferson County R-1 no longer serves the most students. But just barely:

As expected, the new count put Denver Public Schools in the top spot with 86,043 students, ahead of the 85,983 in Jeffco, which has been the state’s largest district for several years.

Guess that means I have to start getting used to saying that DPS is Colorado’s largest school district — at least for this year. Chalkbeat interestingly points out that Denver didn’t have the largest percentage gain from 2012-13. It was another district I’ve told you about quite a bit. Continue Reading »

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January
9th 2014
Shouldn’t Dougco Score Higher on Brookings’ Choice and Competition Index?

Posted under Denver & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools

A story in yesterday’s Chalkbeat Colorado brought my attention to a newly released Brookings Institution study called the 2013 Education Choice and Competition Index. Well, that certainly got my attention.

Rather than rate states, Brookings developed a rubric to grade 100 of the nation’s largest districts on “thirteen categories of policy and practice” related to school choice. While Chalkbeat highlighted Denver Public Schools’ impressive fifth-place finish on the survey, you’d also think that Colorado’s own Douglas County — a forward-thinking, cutting-edge bastion of parental choice — would also be near the top, right? Continue Reading »

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October
23rd 2013
Democrat Groff Backs Dougco Reform, as Vote Fraud Talk Enters Election Fray

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & School Board & Suburban Schools

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 »

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October
22nd 2013
Give Teachers Real Membership Choices Minus the Shame and Inconvenience

Posted under Denver & Teachers

Michigan Capitol Confidential recently featured a story about teachers union leaders apparently intimidating several educators who opted out of membership after the state adopted its right-to-work law:

The MEA 17-B/C union newsletter listed the name of 16 employees from four school districts in the U.P. who decided against paying dues or fees to the union and it also listed the services they no longer will get now that they’re not part of the union.

Kathi Moreau, a counselor at Stephenson Area Public Schools, left the union and said she was shocked to see her name in the newsletter. Continue Reading »

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September
24th 2013
Campaign “Silly Season” Starts to Emerge in Colorado’s Largest School Districts

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

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 »

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