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.
Archive for the 'Independence Institute' Category
Without a doubt, it’s easy for us Education Transformers to get impatient at the pace of progress, and that’s when any positive change appears to be taking place at all. Some days it just seems easier to put your head down on the desk and daydream, or maybe go count your pennies to see how much more you need to buy the new set of Legos.
Today offers a somewhat subtle example, but a very important one nonetheless. Douglas County School District’s innovative work of adopting market-based pay, recognizing the economic realities of supply and demand for different teaching specialties, got a national write-up by Reuters’ Stephanie Simon. I’m already tuned into what’s going on in Colorado’s third-largest district, so more than the information itself, it was this reaction that caught my eye:
“It’s quite novel,” said Eric Hanushek, an education economist at Stanford University.
That would be the same Eric Hanushek who is rated as the third-most influential “Edu-Scholar” in the country. And what’s his honest reaction? Dougco’s work in this area is “quite novel.” Former Education Secretary William Bennett would list market-based pay among “all of the good reforms” Dougco uniquely has taken on. I just prefer to call it one of a kind. Continue Reading »
Just a short one today. Because it all has to do with things that happened in the way-back long ago dark ages of 1993 (before my time), I defer to my Education Policy Center friends. What better place to start than today’s Denver Post column by Vincent Carroll, who writes about when the good guys in education reform prevailed.
Twenty years ago on Monday, then-Gov. Roy Romer signed into law Colorado’s Charter Schools Act, the third of its kind in the country. Carroll captures the essence of it well and, importantly, also points readers to a great new Independence Institute non-fiction story: Continue Reading »
You may have heard old adages like “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Well, here comes the young whippersnapper again, questioning longstanding wisdom. When it comes to tax credits for private school choice, I have to say the old adages just don’t work. So the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick points out on a new posting.
Bedrick looks at states with scholarship tax credit (STC) programs before 2010 that later expanded those programs. He compares eight legislative votes in four different states, before and after, and finds that the vote margin grew significantly and dramatically in all but one case. The Cato analyst concludes: Continue Reading »
According to my stressed-out-looking Education Policy Center friends, we are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of Colorado officially approving charter schools as a means of public school choice. At the time, we were the third state to do so (after Minnesota and California). Today, 42 states have some form of a charter school law. As being one of the pioneers, it’s great to see Colorado’s charter law today ranks among the strongest nationwide.
Not far behind us was Arizona, where charters became law of the land in 1994. Yesterday the Goldwater Institute’s Jonathan Butcher took the opportunity to explain why lawmakers in his state should continue to preserve charter freedoms while also pointing out improvements the state could make to ensure equity. Butcher’s accompanying new report also provides a detailed picture of the growth made in Arizona’s charter sector and the results their students have achieved. Continue Reading »
Has Colorado taken another step toward providing students with greater choice and opportunity through access to digital learning options? If so, how big and effective a step has been taken? Let’s look at a piece of education legislation that was overshadowed by the likes of the “Future School Finance Act” and others, Senate Bill 139.
A great classic novel my big friends tell me I need to read someday starts with a famous line. I’m talking about Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.
I’m told Dickens was contrasting conditions in the major cities London and Paris during the tumultuous French Revolution more than 200 years ago. On a more modest scale, one could do a lot to distinguish Colorado’s two biggest education stories this year based on a pair of new public opinion surveys. Read on to find the information and draw your own conclusions. Continue Reading »
Writing over at Hot Air, Mike Antonucci came up with some new ways to measure how much is spent annually on public education. He digs into the data from 2010 to make some interesting calculations at a national level. Well, using the help of my Education Policy Center friends, here are comparable numbers for Colorado, looking at the year 2010: Continue Reading »
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 »
For those who long have rolled up their sleeves to try to improve student learning, the cause of urban high school reform remains one of the most daunting tasks. Even in areas where the most concentrated and sustained efforts at reform have taken place, the promising results have been very limited. Enter a brand new report by A-Plus Denver, titled Denver and Aurora High Schools: Crisis and Opportunity.
Author Sari Levy gathered and analyzed student performance data from Colorado’s two large urban school districts, and the picture painted is not a very rosy one:
- Based on ACT test scores, “about a third of students in [Denver Public Schools] and [Aurora Public Schools] would not qualify for basic military service”
- On a day when Colorado college graduates are encouraged to show off their alma mater, it’s disheartening to see the rates of DPS and APS students needing college remediation are steady or rising
- Denver’s level of success on Advanced Placement (AP) courses lags well below the national average
- In a number of DPS schools, students in poverty have just above a zero chance of earning a 24 or higher on the ACT, which would place them at the average of their peers who will earn a 4-year college degree
- Average ACT scores across Denver and Aurora remained flat from 2008 to 2012