Archive for the 'Governor' Category

23rd 2013
Can Colorado Make K-12 Dollars Clearer?

Posted under Governor & Independence Institute & Research & School Board & School Finance & State Board of Education

(H/T Ed News Colorado) Yesterday’s Washington Post posted a story under the headline “Colorado’s Hickenlooper wants to put school budgets online”:

“So far, no state’s ever had total transparency on how their tax dollars are spent to every school,” Hickenlooper said in a recent interview.

Looking ahead to 2014, it’s encouraging to read about bipartisan political will to track every dollar of school spending. Now that the smoke from Amendment 66′s smoldering wreckage has started to clear, it’s nice to see greater financial transparency as a serious policy discussion rather than a selling point for a (failed) billion-dollar tax increase. But will the governor continue to insist that creating this kind of online financial transparency would cost $18 to $20 million? Continue Reading »

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29th 2013
Arizona’s #EdDebitCard Begins Opening Doors to Choice and Personal Learning

Posted under Governor & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature

One thing I like to keep my eye on, peering to the southwest, is the progress of Arizona’s unique and intriguing Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. Last time we checked, the ESA was one of two Arizona school choice programs set for expansion (unfortunately, the Corporate Tax Credit program expansion was vetoed).

The initial pool of students eligible for ESAs was relatively small (only those diagnosed with special learning needs), and the number of families who actually signed up for one of the Accounts was even smaller. A study commissioned by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, and released this week, gives some insights into how the first families used them. Continue Reading »

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2nd 2013
Can Colorado Reach Forefront of Student-Centered Digital Learning Policy?

Posted under Education Politics & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

A little disappointed? Yes. Surprised? Not really. I’m talking about digital learning guru Michael Horn’s new Education Next breakdown of 2013 legislative policy changes affecting the world of online education. It’s a long read, but Horn essentially identifies three different trends:

  1. More course-level choice and freedom for students;
  2. More restrictions on full-time online learning programs; and
  3. More steps toward the flexibility needed to embrace competency-based (rather than seat time) learning.

Continue Reading »

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25th 2013
Big North Carolina School Choice Win Leads to Celebration, Vigilance

Posted under Courts & Governor & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Teachers

It seems like a good day to step back and savor a big school choice victory. The American Federation of Children today applauds the major new voucher program:

The new Opportunity Scholarship program was passed yesterday as part of the state budget, which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory. The bipartisan-sponsored and supported Opportunity Scholarship program is tailored to assist low-income families in obtaining high-quality educational options for their children.

Opportunity Scholarships? Sounds like the school choice program for poor students in our nation’s capital, the program that doubles as a political punching bag for some in Congress. It also happens to be the same name used in Colorado’s 2003 voucher program, later overturned by the state supreme court. Continue Reading »

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17th 2013
Good Summer News: Two Arizona Choice Programs on Verge of Expansion

Posted under Governor & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

There’s no time like summertime to focus on some good news, even if it comes from some place even hotter than home: Arizona. Thanks to Matt Ladner guest-posting on Jay Greene’s blog, I learned that the Grand Canyon State is a small step away from creating more opportunities for students and families after the legislature voted to expand two of its leading school choice programs.

The nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization offers up some key details: Continue Reading »


2nd 2013
More Than a May Day Coincidence: SB 213 Tax Hike and “Phantom” Funding Reform

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Governor & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & Research & Rural Schools & School Finance & State Legislature

There are a few possible explanations for all those shouts of “May Day” Coloradans may have heard yesterday. Some might have been the annual calls for an imaginary workers’ paradise, while others might have been desperate pleas of displaced Texans and Californians calling for relief from the late-season snow. In my education policy wonk world, though, “May Day” was code for a noteworthy coincidence. Have you heard?

As Ed News Colorado reports, the state legislature yesterday put the finishing touches on Senate Bill 213, the new school finance bill tied to some form of a billion-dollar tax increase initiative. Finishing its partisan course, the senate approved house amendments by a party-line 20-15 tally. Every legislative vote cast for SB 213 has come from Democrats; every vote against has come from Republicans. The Governor, also a Democrat, has given every indication of signing it into law.

The strict partisan divide may have something to do with all the bill’s missed reform opportunities, including continued inequities for charters and only a tiny share of total funds assigned to student “backpacks” (and in the final version of SB 213, pgs 139-140, even that small amount of principal “autonomy” is subject to district-level review). Then there’s the issue of “phantom students,” an ongoing problem of inequity left completely untouched by this new legislation.

That brings us to the May 1 coincidence. The same day as Colorado’s SB 213 received its final stamp of legislative approval, the smart people over at Education Next published a research-based commentary by Marguerite Roza and Jon Fullerton titled “Funding Phantom Students: State policies insulate districts from making tough decisions.” Continue Reading »


15th 2013
Hey, Colorado: Billion Dollar K-12 Tax Hike OR End the Education Plantation?

Posted under Denver & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & PPC & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

Often it’s very easy to get bogged down in a big education policy debate like Colorado’s SB 213 school finance reform proposal. Then along comes a Denver Post op-ed piece by a motivated citizen that exhales a breath of fresh air:

Colorado currently spends about $10,600 per student per year on K-12 education. You can get a pretty good private education for that. Sen. Johnston wants to increase school spending to nearly $12,000 per student. But without changing the design of the system, why should anyone expect different results?

Let’s stop funding the education establishment and instead fund parents and children. In a state-regulated environment, let’s give that $10,000 to parents for each child they have in school and let them decide how and where the money used to educate their children should be spent.

The author is Littleton’s own John Conlin, founder of the small nonprofit activist group End the Education Plantation. True fans may recall his appearance several months ago in an on-air interview with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow. Continue Reading »

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14th 2013
Court Upholds School Choice: Alabama Kids Win, Now Why Not Colorado, Too?

Posted under Courts & Governor & Parents & PPC & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

A little over a week ago I told you about the brilliant blindside hit for Alabama kids in failing schools and other school choice supporters. Not only did they sack the quarterback for a loss, but the reform team defense forced a fumble and returned it for a touchdown!

Well, the coaches for the education establishment didn’t like the call, I guess. Because about the same time I posted the good news, they filed a restraining order to stop the tax credit scholarship legislation from going into effect.

I don’t think true football fans would wait more than a week after the red challenge flag hit the field for the referees to make up their mind, but yesterday’s response from the Alabama Supreme Court actually came pretty quickly for the legal system. Continue Reading »

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8th 2013
Lobato Case Returns: We Need School Finance Reform, Not Constitutional Crisis

Posted under Courts & Denver & Governor & Innovation and Reform & PPC & School Finance & State Legislature

Yesterday, some attorneys got up and argued an important case affecting K-12 education before the Colorado Supreme Court. The hearing was about an appeal of the Denver district court’s Lobato decision, previously referred to by the Denver Post as the “Super Bowl of school funding litigation.” Judge Sheila Rappaport granted judgment for the plaintiffs, contending that an additional $2 billion-plus a year would be needed to fund the K-12 system.

Where the money is supposed to come from, who knows? Before the state’s highest court, the lawyer for the State of Colorado questioned one of Rappaport’s key findings:

[Jonathan] Fero, an assistant attorney general, repeatedly argued that having a thorough and uniform educational system doesn’t mean creating a system where every child is equally successful.

Continue Reading »


4th 2012
I Don’t Have Time to Tell You Why Longer School Days Aren’t Enough

Posted under Denver & Governor & Innovation and Reform & PPC & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

The concept of time is the topic of 100 proverbs and cliches. In the world of education reform, it definitely doesn’t feel like time is on our side. Every year of delay in debating, approving and implementing important policy changes — including expanded parental choice — is a year many students will not get back. But what about just making sure they are spending more time in school? Colorado is one of five states taking part in a three-year pilot program to keep thousands of students in school longer:

Spending more time in the classroom, officials said, will give students access to a more well-rounded curriculum that includes arts and music, individualized help for students who fall behind and opportunities to reinforce critical math and science skills.

“That extra time with their teachers or within a structured setting means all the world,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “It means it allows them to continue the momentum they had the day before. It means they don’t slip back over the summer. It allows them to really deliver.”

Continue Reading »

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