Archive for the 'Independence Institute' Category

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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April
7th 2015
Middle-Income Families Have Long Track Record in Building Colorado Charters

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice

Even someone as young as me has heard the familiar expression, “Everything old is new again.” That’s what I couldn’t help thinking today when my Education Policy Center friends told me about Richard Whitmire’s new Education Next piece titled “More Middle-Class Families Choose Charters.”

Maybe that’s just because I’m so attuned to watching these things that I fail to see the surprising element in the headline. But then again, maybe it’s just my fault for being in Colorado. Whitmire does raise an interesting point, framing the issue as follows: Continue Reading »

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April
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 »

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March
24th 2015
RIP, C-FLEX? This Year Perhaps, But Bring Back the Debit Card ASAP

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & State Legislature

Yesterday I celebrated the fantastic news that Alabama has become the 43rd charter school state. In that post I noted that Alabama is behind the curve (and way behind Colorado) on public school choice, but beat us to the punch on scholarship tax credits.

Still, as good as it is, welcoming new states into the charter fold wasn’t at the forefront of my mind when I contemplated that 2015 could become the official Year of School Choice sequel. I made that observation based on the number of states pursuing new or expanded Education Savings Account (ESA) programs.

For example, I’m not the only waiting with bated breath to see if and when Alabama’s next door neighbor, Mississippi, will become the third ESA state. (My elders keep advising me to be patient, but that’s just really hard!) Continue Reading »

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March
10th 2015
“The Education Debit Card: It’s Everywhere You Want to Learn”

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice

Not long ago, my mom came along with me to the toy store to buy a new set of Legos. When it came time to pay, mom pulled out a piece of plastic from her wallet and handed it to the cashier. It was like magic! The store treated the card like real money, and I got to take home the Legos.

I later had a talk with my parents, and realized it wasn’t quite as magical as I first thought. That debit card my mom used was just keeping track of the money that’s already there.

What if Colorado gave students and parents a debit card they could use just for education-related expenses? Well, enter my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow: Continue Reading »

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February
16th 2015
Harrison: More About Real Performance Pay than Former Presidents

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Middle School & Public Charter Schools & Rural Schools & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Urban Schools

What kind of a holiday is Presidents Day anyway? For many kids, it’s just a great excuse to stay home from school. Speaking of which, yours truly decided to dig up eight little factoids about Colorado public schools named after former U.S. presidents:

  1. Hardly a shock, “Lincoln” is the most popular presidential school name with 10 across the state.
  2. The most recent president so honored is John F. Kennedy, for which a Denver high school is named.
  3. Denver also has high schools named after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, which come in as the next most popular choices.
  4. Colorado Springs 11 has a slew of elementary schools named after former presidents: James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Woodrow Wilson.
  5. Continue Reading »

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February
6th 2015
Overcoming the Gloom, Focusing on the Sunshine of #SchoolChoice

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Parents & Research & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Well, the Brookings Institution this week released its latest edition of the Education Choice and Competition Index. Might I add the acronym ECCI (ecky?), awash in a sea of edu-acronyms through which yours truly has to doggy paddle day after day, is just a bit too much fun to say. And say. And say again. (Sorry, I’m getting a dirty stare from my Education Policy Center friends.)

Back to the point. I thought about writing a whole new blog post about the scoring system that strangely underrates Douglas County, arguably the most choice-friendly school district in America. Instead, I’m just going to send you back to last year’s soapbox on the same topic. Deja vu all over again, to quote a famous American.

The only difference is that this year Dougco’s C-plus was good enough for a 13th place tie with Pinellas County (Florida), San Francisco Unified, and next-door neighbor Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek?, you say. Yes, just go back and read last year’s edition. But it doesn’t all have to be naysaying and gloom. It’s Friday, so why not a video? Continue Reading »

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February
3rd 2015
Should I Get My Hopes Up about Colorado Course Choice Once More?

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

Hopes were a little high last May when I offered K-12 online pilot program ideas in the wake of House Bill 1382′s adoption. My Education Policy Center friends have been talking about the promise of Course Choice and course-level funding for a few years now.

It sure would be nice to see Colorado take even a small, clear step in the direction of greater flexibility and student access to learning opportunities. But reading the recently released HB 1382 task force report and its underwhelming recommendations gave me the deep sense that even my modest hopes may have been misplaced.

Sigh. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again…. It’s hard for a kid my age to be patient and persist rather than to quit. Continue Reading »

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January
30th 2015
Testing Issue Isn’t as Easy as “1, 2, 3,” But You’ve Got to Start Somewhere

Posted under Independence Institute & Principals & School Accountability & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers & Testing

Have you ever watched a big person prepare to do some public speaking behind a microphone? Or maybe you’ve done it yourself. Almost always, when someone asks if the microphone is working, the person leans into the device and says something like, “Testing, testing… 123, testing.”

Well, I’m worried that little rote phrase may take on a new meaning with Colorado’s Great Testing Debate. At least five K-12 assessment bills have been introduced thus far in the state legislature, with many more promised to come. Some issues may have clear and solid answers readily available, but to say that isn’t the case with this particular issue would be putting it mildly.

After all, we have several worthy competing goals to consider. Standardized tests done right are an important tool that provides some genuine, transparent, and comparable information about how well teachers, principals, and schools — heavily funded by public tax dollars — are doing in meeting important goals to help students.

At the same time, testing ought to measure authentic knowledge and skills, to provide prompt and useful feedback to teachers, and to differentiate meaningfully based on student abilities, all without posing too great a burden of instructional time lost. No problem, right? Continue Reading »

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January
28th 2015
After School Choice Week, How About Educate the Reporters Week?

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice

Last Friday I was overflowing with enthusiasm at the kickoff of the 5th annual National School Choice Week.

I got even more excited Monday morning for the big Denver celebration at our own State Capitol, where hundreds of school kids and others came to wear their yellow scarves, show their support. There was even some singing and dancing!

I may get even more excited yet when my Independence Institute friends assemble and edit their footage of the rally for a sure-to-be-great video. Stay tuned for that! Continue Reading »

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