Archive for the 'Edublogging' Category

25th 2015
Top Secret School Board Candidate Briefing Materials Declassified

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & events & School Board

Last night, the Education Policy Center team finished the last of its five school board candidate briefings at the Independence Institute in Denver. This year’s briefings have garnered a fair amount of attention from anti-reform folks, including some pretty interesting conspiracy theories.

I am pleased to report that after talking it over with their evil right-wing overlords, the Ed Center’s staff members have been cleared to make the materials given to candidates publicly available. Not that they were really secret anyway; every school board candidate in the state was invited to the briefings regardless of his or her political opinions. All interested candidates had to do was sign a non-disclosure agreement, forfeit their firstborn children, submit to a lie detector test, and swear fealty to the Almighty Koch Brothers. No biggie, right?

Now, though, everyone can see these top secret materials without having to go through all that stuff. Admittedly, that isn’t terribly fair to the candidates who had to directly endure the aforementioned requirements–particularly those who went through our patented microchip implantation process. But I strongly suspect that others will find the information valuable, and the Education Policy Center is all about providing valuable information to those who need it.

I doubt the written materials will live up to the conspiratorial hype surrounding them, but that’s alright. Maybe the big, scary video (embedded below) featuring 24-year Jeffco teaching veteran Michael Alcorn’s advice for board members will make up for the anti-climactic shock of combing through a 40-page education policy document looking for secret codes that don’t exist.

One last note before I leave you to enjoy the video: There will be no Little Eddie posts next week. I know, I know. You’ll just have to do your best to contain your disappointment. See you in a couple weeks!

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11th 2015
Independence Institute “Indoctrinates” CO School Board Candidates with Helpful Policy Information

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & School Board & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

It’s hard to believe it’s Friday again. I’ve been scurrying around the Independence Institute office helping my policy friends get ready for their first of five 2015 Colorado School Board Candidate Briefings. This one was held in Loveland, Colorado, last night. Attendees received a presentation on Colorado education policy, and had a chance to ask questions of the policy folks. It was a great time!

But as my friend Ross Izard points out in a recent Greeley Tribune op-ed, Loveland is now ground zero for one of the most important education fights in the state. That means anti-reform forces north of the big city are busy shouting at the top of their lungs about the evils of education reform. Nowhere is that panicked shrieking more evident than on the Thompson School District Reform Watch Facebook page, which is absolutely stuffed with some of the most creative conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen.

Somewhat ironically given the page’s frequent complaints about a lack of transparency, the operators have chosen to remain anonymous. Hey, that’s their right. But because I like to talk the talk and walk the walk, feel free to check out the About Eddie page here on Ed is Watching if you’d like to learn more about me and the grown-ups who help me write these posts.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Among the Reform Watch page’s most recent posts are a number of pokes at the Loveland school board candidate briefing last night. Below are a few of my favorite snippets from posts over the last couple of days (screen captured just in case they get deleted):

The Independence Institute Saga continues…with holding regular seminars and training sessions, sometimes to unsuspecting and gullible citizens and candidates. As with their sister group, the Leadership Program of the Rockies, they are Americans for Prosperity, Friedman, KOCH and ALEC all rolled into one.

Last night the II was in Loveland with their Reform School Board Candidate Training Program. We are trying to get information on who all was in attendance at the Chop House for this event. The rumor mill has named some very interesting people who are not from the TSD communities. (See our Eye Opener post on Sep. 9th for the details of what these sessions are all about). We also know that the TSD candidates were invited.

When you take a look at the II website, remember that you are reading from the Americans for Prosperity Manual. At first, it may look good, but as they say “The Devil is in the Details”. Beware!! Continue Reading »


10th 2015
Exodus or Exaggeration? A Look at Colorado’s Teacher Turnover Rates

Posted under Edublogging & Research & Teachers & Union

“Mass exodus” sounds scary, doesn’t it? It conjures images of sad, disheveled refugees limping away from burning villages with smoke billowing in the background. That image is probably exactly what anti-reformers in Colorado have been trying to convey as they loudly sound the alarm that teachers are leaving education in droves while malicious reformers try to improve student outcomes by, you know, trying new stuff.

But is that really what’s going on in Colorado? We already know the numbers thrown around in the wake of Douglas County’s reforms fell well short of the truth, but what about the scary Chalkbeat Colorado headline that “More teachers left the school districts where they work last year than at any point in the past 15 years, according to new data from the Colorado Department of Education”? Yeah. Let’s talk about that.

Let’s start by taking a look at an interesting Education Next post by Chad Aldeman on Colorado’s turnover numbers. He makes his point by reproducing a graph created by Chalkbeat with a few changes.

Continue Reading »

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15th 2015
A Friday Reminder of What Kids Can Do

Posted under Edublogging & Just For Fun

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good, fun Friday post. All that serious edu-business just keeps getting in the way. But take heart, my friends, for today is once again a Happy Friday. As I was perusing the normal news, an interesting story caught my attention: A Colorado Springs student is about to earn an undergraduate degree in computer security from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)—before finishing high school. His name is Jacob Reichard, and he’s 17.

Check out his interview:

Continue Reading »

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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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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 »


1st 2015
Unity is Strength: Independence Institute Staff Take the Plunge and Unionize

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Transparency & Union

You know, maybe I’ve been too hard on teachers unions. Just this year, I’ve celebrated their declining membership rates, poked fun at their colossal loss of money in the 2014 election cycle, and had a little too much fun reliving an extraordinarily entertaining “battleflop” by Jeffco’s local teachers union.

Who can blame me? My big boy policy friends at the Independence Institute are always talking about union political spending, making sure union negotiations are required to be public, and helping teachers learn more about how they can opt out of paying union dues. Ben DeGrow did a scathing analysis of posts on the Jefferson County Education Association’s Facebook page back in January, and just this month Ross Izard published an article decrying union efforts to undermine tenure reform and accountability systems in education. I’m just a little guy, and I’ve got to follow the grownups’ lead.

But now it seems like the grownups may be changing their minds. Faced with impossible expectations and the cruel management of Jon Caldara, staff members are banding together for support. Continue Reading »


27th 2015
A Dandelion on a Battlefield: Taking a Timeout to Celebrate 2015′s Daniels Scholars

Posted under Edublogging & Just For Fun

Another Friday has arrived, my friends. In Colorado education, this week saw the continuation of an increasingly ugly fight over testing, accountability, and opt-outs. It will get worse before it gets better, but we don’t need to talk about that today. No, Fridays are happy days. And because I’m a stubborn young man about my happy Fridays, I’m going to (very) briefly stroll out between the trenches and pick an education dandelion that is likely to otherwise get lost in the cacophony: The new list of 2015 Colorado Daniels Scholars.

First of all, I’d like to congratulate this year’s scholars. Great work, and I can’t wait to see what you can accomplish as you move into the next stage of your lives!

For those who don’t know, the Daniels Fund provides college scholarships every year to “graduating high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional character, leadership, and a commitment to serving their communities.” These scholarship cover the gap between other financial aid sources, expected family contributions, and total tuition costs at an accredited college or university of a student’s choosing. Applicants have to meet a number of requirements that you can read more about here. Continue Reading »

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20th 2015
The Most Important Policy Field Trips Are the Ones I’m Not On

Posted under Edublogging & Just For Fun & learning

Fridays are always better when they involve policy field trips, don’t you think? This morning, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a floor debate on SB 45, which some of you will remember I wrote about a while back. SB 45 may well pass in the Senate, but it doesn’t have much chance of passing in the House. That doesn’t mean it’s insignificant, though. It is, after all, the first school choice bill to make it to the Senate floor for debate in quite some time. That means yours truly got to sit in on some pretty interesting arguments. We will discuss these arguments in more detail in the near future.

But I don’t want to talk about SB 45 today. In fact, I don’t want to talk about policy at all. Instead, I want to use today’s post to highlight the other young policy explorers at the Capitol.

Every time I take a field trip to the Capitol, the building is absolutely stuffed with little guys and girls who, like me, are excited to see democracy in action. These explorers lean toward the rail in the Senate gallery to get a better look at our state’s leaders, stare wide-eyed as lobbyists and folks with big briefcases rush around, and ask questions of their tour guides. Almost invariably, a couple almost fall over as they stare up at the ceiling.

Continue Reading »

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11th 2015
Necessary Infrastructure or Technocratic Tinkering?

Posted under Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & Tax Credits

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that debates between national education experts are good things. They are almost always interesting, often helpful, and unfailingly entertaining for little policy geeks like myself. Maybe that’s why I was so excited to see two of my favorites, Andy Smarick from Bellweather Education Partners and Jason Bedrick from the Cato Institute, spar a little over the need for “technocrats” in school choice.

Because I am five years old, I feel compelled to point out before we begin that I chuckled at the word “technocrat.” I chuckled not because it’s a funny concept, and not because I don’t like technocrats (well, generally speaking), but because it sounds very similar to “technoCATS.” And because it gave me an opportunity to finally put this in a blog post:

I certainly hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. Now, back to edu-business. Continue Reading »

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