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 »
Archive for the 'Governor' Category
It’s a busy (code word for nice weather to play outside) Monday. But I do have enough time to run around inside and celebrate some very promising news out of Mississippi. Big news… yes, very promising news… in Mississippi? You betcha.
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”).
Today I’ve decided to borrow a page from my mom’s book. How often she has to repeat the same instruction or insight to me, several times, perhaps slightly reworded, until poor little Eddie gets the point. Hey, I’m a kid, cut me some slack! A few weeks ago — right before Christmas, in fact — I dissected a Washington Post story that made it sound like Colorado schools today lack even basic financial transparency.
Which, of course, simply isn’t the case. As I explained before, “The state’s 2010 Public School Financial Transparency Act already requires every school district and charter school in Colorado to post budgets and other key financial documents online.” While lawmakers were considering that bill, my Education Policy Center friends released a brief paper on what school district financial transparency should look like, noting: Continue Reading »
(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 »
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 »
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:
- More course-level choice and freedom for students;
- More restrictions on full-time online learning programs; and
- More steps toward the flexibility needed to embrace competency-based (rather than seat time) learning.
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 »
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.
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 »