Archive for the 'Education Politics' Category

May
21st 2015
Thompson Board Stands Firm on Bad Contract; Union Backers Go Haywire

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

Yesterday I prepped you for the big vote and showdown at last night’s Thompson school board meeting on whether to accept the proposed union contract update. I told you it could go one of two ways: Either the return to the drawing board 1) resulted in some reasonable solutions to board director concerns that could be adopted, or 2) the board would take the historic step of rejecting the contract.

In case you haven’t heard, the city of Loveland witnessed Option #2 unfold. By a vote of 4-3, the union contract failed again. By collaborating to ignore nearly all the concerns raised, union leaders and district bureaucrats effectively dared the school board to stand firm or fail. The Reporter-Herald‘s Pamela Johnson quoted remarks from most of the board members, including president Bob Kerrigan: Continue Reading »

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May
20th 2015
Thompson Gears Up for the Final (?) Battle

Posted under Education Politics & Teachers & Union

We’ve talked an awful lot about Thompson School District recently. And why wouldn’t we? The district and its reform majority are, after all, at the very forefront of Colorado’s ongoing—and increasingly nasty—education reform wars. The board’s attempt to build a smarter, better union contract that does right by both its students has been met with stiff resistance from both the Thompson Education Association and its big political brother, the Colorado Education Association.

First CEA stepped into the fray by pushing a phony petition designed to block an attempt at providing the district’s negotiating team with written guidance on how to proceed. Shortly thereafter, the board rejected a laughably bad attempt at a tentative agreement. The negotiating teams were sent back to the table to take another stab at the contract on May 12. The rejection of the first tentative agreement was quickly followed by two relatively small, sadly misinformed student “rallies” not entirely dissimilar to those we saw in Jefferson County last fall.

It’s safe to say that things haven’t been pretty in Thompson. Tonight, it all comes to a head. Continue Reading »

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May
19th 2015
Tuesday Twofer: More Legal Victories for School Choice

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Union

This year has been a big year for school choice, and a decidedly bad year for teachers unions. First, a red tidal wave surged across the country in the 2014 elections despite record union spending in an effort to stop it. Then, the school choice aftershocks started. Alabama became America’s 43rd charter state, Nevada passed a very strong scholarship tax credit program that was subsequently signed into law, and Arkansas said yes to a new voucher program for special needs kids. To round things out, Montana took a step in the right direction by passing a small school choice pilot program. Wow!

We recently talked about the NEA president’s recent comment that education policy should be left “… where it belongs: The legislature.” As I highlighted then, this is an interesting statement given a number of union-led legal attacks on school choice programs around the country (including Douglas County). I cynically posited then that I suspected the unions would challenge policies they don’t like anywhere they can win. As it turns out, they may not be able to win anywhere at all. Continue Reading »

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May
12th 2015
Little Eddie Digs Out After the 2015 Legislative Session

Posted under Education Politics & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & Rural Schools & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Tax Credits & Testing

The 2015 legislative session ended last week, and I have no doubt you are all eagerly awaiting a report on the progress made—or lack thereof. Luckily for you, I have been diligently digging through the aftermath of 2015’s education battles just as I help dad shovel snow after a big storm. With a whopping 119 education bills introduced, this is no easy task. The work is ongoing. But we can certainly pause to provide a quick overview of the session’s highlights.

Fortunately, a discussion of actual legislative movement this year is relatively straightforward because very little noteworthy stuff passed at all. In fact, it’s fair to say that the single most important thing that happened this year was a compromise on the testing issue, which we discussed last week after observing a protracted and almost humorous (if it weren’t so serious) game of legislative testing chicken. As I predicted then, the compromise was amended before final passage. The bill currently awaits Governor Hicklenlooper’s signature. But we’ll cover the testing compromise in more depth later this week. For now, let’s talk other highlights. With lists! Because everyone loves lists! Continue Reading »

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May
7th 2015
Thompson Stands Up for Change

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Teachers & Transparency & Union

Some famous guy at some point in history once said that the hardest part of any effort is taking the first step. How right he was. Even at the tender age of five, I can tell you that it’s hard to do big, scary, important stuff. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Just ask the Thompson Board of Education!

Reform-minded members of Thompson’s school board took a really big first step last night when they shot down the tentative agreement coming out of the district’s months-long union negotiation process. You probably remember our discussion of that agreement a couple of weeks ago. If not, this piece by my friend Ross Izard should catch you up. The short version is this: The “new” contract stunk.

Faced with the prospect of having to sign the aforementioned stinky contract, Thompson’s reformers took a brave stand and refused to act as a rubber stamp for the union or district bureaucrats. The board members did a great job of articulating their points, and they made a whole lot of good sense to me. 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
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
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
14th 2015
Whichever Way You Look, Colorado Seems to be Stuck in a Testing Rut

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Accountability & State Legislature & Testing

I came across a story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times under the headline: “Majority of California’s Latino voters highly value school testing.” Given the state of affairs in Colorado, how could something like that escape my attention?

A majority of Latino voters, 55%, said mandatory exams improve public education in the state by gauging student progress and providing teachers with vital information. Nearly the same percentage of white voters said such exams are harmful because they force educators to narrow instruction and don’t account for different styles of learning.

The survey, sponsored by the Times, found that even higher percentages of Californians (77% Latino, 56% White, 64% Total) agreed that “students’ achievement and progress on standardized tests” should be an important or the most important factor in teacher pay and evaluations. That finding casts even more doubt on the suspect poll finding trumpeted by the National Education Association last year.

Especially interesting, given this is the state that gave us last year’s earth-shattering Vergara ruling. Though no one seems to have consulted the Colorado Education Association president, who recently told legislators that “all teachers do the same job.” Continue Reading »

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