Archive for the 'Independence Institute' Category

April
17th 2014
Cheering for New Hampshire Kids to Win Their Day in (the Supreme) Court

Posted under Courts & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

Welcome aboard, Little Eddie’s Virtual Airlines. Yesterday we made a landing in Kansas while skillfully avoiding the munchkins. Today the blog wheels touch down in the Northeast, where oral arguments in an important state supreme court case very recently took place.

Back in 2012 New Hampshire became one of the 13 (soon to be 14) states that have adopted scholarship tax credits. These programs encourage more private donations that give students access to educational choices that better serve their needs. After taking an attempt to roll back the program and nipping it in the bud, school choice in the Granite State took its defense to the courts.

Last June, some “particularly odd” judicial logic shot down part of the scholarship tax credit program. Not just odd, but scary. Namely, that any money you own potentially belongs to the government. Therefore, Judge John Lewis said money that might go to the government cannot help pay for private tuition at a religious school — well, because, I guess…. Continue Reading »

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April
15th 2014
Large-Scale Class Size Reduction Doesn’t Work: More Moderation, Please

Posted under Independence Institute & Research & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers

A wise person once told me: Everything in moderation… including moderation. I’ve spent years trying to make complete sense out of that, but the point is some people can go overboard with certain ideas. That’s just as true in the education policy arena as anywhere else.

One of those discussions surrounds the happy talk of smaller class sizes. Sure, all things being equal, a relatively smaller class size offers possible benefits. But at some point, especially if implemented on a larger scale, that approach can yield negative results. Nearly four years ago when I was still 5, I drove home the point that quality instruction matters significantly more than class sizes.

But what does the research actually say? My newest Education Policy Center friend, Ross Izard, makes his published debut today with a backgrounder called “The Truth about Class Size Reduction” and a paragraph that reads: Continue Reading »

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April
1st 2014
New Independence Institute Ownership? Goodbye, Eddie; Hello, Little Ed Koch

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Public Charter Schools & School Board & Tax Credits & Teachers

Change is hard, especially when you’ve been 5 years old for so long like I have. But it can be good, too. Some of you may have seen today’s important news release from the Independence Institute about their new arrangement:

Under the terms of the agreement the Koch brothers have invested an undisclosed amount of funding into the Institute, in exchange they will receive 51% ownership of the organization. This will provide Independence with the resources necessary to continue operations and serving the cause of freedom in Colorado.

Caldara said that the change in ownership will not have a sizable change in the operations or the direction of the Institute saying, “We are thrilled about keeping the name “Independence” in the new iteration of our organization.”

Caldara declared that the newly titled “Koch Institute at Independence” pays tribute to our proud history but also points to our new and properly funded future.

Continue Reading »

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March
28th 2014
Filling In a Few Compelling Reasons to Go Watch Jeffco Open Union Negotiations

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Research & School Board & School Finance & Teachers

What a difference six weeks can make! When I last focused in on happenings at Jeffco schools, the local teachers union had taken its political spectacle from the boardroom to the classroom. Meanwhile, the school board moved ahead discussing its priorities and engaging the community in a search for a new superintendent.

It was good to see the two sides move ahead with open negotiations for the first time in recent memory. Now my parents, neighbors, and I can see the give and take of what’s going on with a giant chunk of a nearly $1 billion budget. But the big question to ask: Are the policies they’re advocating good for students? Continue Reading »

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March
25th 2014
Opponents’ Best Shot? Maybe Thompson Should Look at Innovating Educator Pay

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Principals & Research & School Board & Teachers

A month ago my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow wrote a Greeley Tribune op-ed, explaining that some local school board leaders have picked up the ball dropped by state lawmakers and are making progress on rewarding top-notch educators. He noted work going on in Jefferson County, Mesa 51, and Adams 12.

But based on a letter that appeared in last week’s Loveland Reporter-Herald, it looks like he should add Thompson School District to the list. I hesitated at first about whether to use the letter as a foil, justifiably concerned that some might wonder if I planted the meandering, logically-flawed piece in the newspaper as a straw man to beat up.

Well, let me put the rumors to rest. This 5-year-old prodigy didn’t plant the letter, but I am prepared to beat up its five fragile arguments, one by one: Continue Reading »

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March
24th 2014
Colo. Digital Learning Policy Alternate Route Gives Some Spring Break Hope

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & School Accountability & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

Have you ever tried to plan a trip to an important new destination? Maybe it was a long road trip for SPRING BREAK or a family vacation or a visit to an old friend who moved to a new town. You program your GPS, or at least make a search on Google Maps first. (Back in the old days, they tell me you had to actually use a fold-up road map, plotting your way across highways from one city to the next.)

One thing those old road maps couldn’t tell you — and even sometimes the fancy technology lets you down — is about major road construction, a rush-hour traffic jam, or a bridge washed out ahead. You may have already plotted your route, but at that point an unexpected development compels you to go back, change the plan, and find a detour.

Almost a couple full years ago now, my Education Policy Center friends worked with online school leaders and other smart policy folks to help craft a Digital Learning Policy Road Map for Colorado. The brief report laid out a sequence of concrete changes that needed to happen to ensure digital technology was best used to “enhance opportunities for Colorado’s children to achieve educational success.” Continue Reading »

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March
18th 2014
New York City Mayor’s Attack on Charter Schools Enough to Give Me Nightmares

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

As a rule, my parents aren’t too keen on letting little me watch any horror movies. Too much violence, gore, and just plain scary stuff. But they haven’t been able to shield my eyes from the horror that is the new mayor of New York City’s attack on successful public charter schools and the students they are helping.

The elected head of America’s largest city wasted no time in going after charters, apparently out of some belief that they represent some sort of corporate conspiracy rather than a means of improving results for many, many students. He has cut charter facility funding from the city budget and axed new charter proposals built on existing successful models.

Mayor de Blasio’s school chancellor Carmen farina wiped her hands of the situation, callously stating: “They’re charter schools. They’re on their own now.” My attention was brought to this disturbing issue by yesterday’s impassioned Chicago Tribune editorial saying a similar debate needs to be brought into the open: Continue Reading »

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March
17th 2014
Colorado Supreme Court Will Hear Dougco School Choice Case, More Waiting Ahead

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools

One of the fun parts of being an edublogging prodigy is the chance to be spontaneous. Sometimes my plans to write about a certain topic take a back seat when some fresh but long-awaited breaking news. The kind of breaking news that allows me to go back into the archives and stroll down memory lane, while also thinking ahead about what comes next.

This morning the Colorado Supreme Court released its list of case announcements, and what to my young and eager eyes should appear on page 5 but the case of Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District. It said “Petition for Writ of Certiorari GRANTED.”

My smart adult friends told me that means the Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear about the famous and groundbreaking Choice Scholarship Program, and settle the legal dispute. For those who need a quick refresher about the currently enjoined (inactive) local private school choice initiative: Continue Reading »

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March
5th 2014
School Choice Legislative Debates Spread Across Map; Time for Colorado Kids to Win

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

The effort to recognize and support families with wider ranges of educational choices continues to move in different states (just not Colorado… for the moment). Empowering parents with options is one side of the coin to get parents motivated and engaged. And the research continues to show choice programs help improve results in what students learn and attain. Better learning, brighter futures.

The Friedman Foundation’s Ed Choice blog highlights legislative action in 11 different states. From a proposal to expand the new scholarship tax credit program in Alabama to a “sliding-scale” voucher bill in Rhode Island, lawmakers throughout the U.S. are considering ways to empower individual students and families to take ownership of their education rather than propping up a one-size-fits-all approach. Continue Reading »

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February
27th 2014
“Student Success Act” or “Dingelhoffer”, Let’s Make Bolder School Finance Proposal

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & reading & School Choice & school construction & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked. She had a point. If I decided to call a rose a dingelhoffer, it wouldn’t affect the beauty or scent of the flower in any way. Nor should we be distracted by the name given to Colorado’s finally released HB 1292, known as the Student Success Act. I’m talking about the grand proposal to dole out some of the extra dollars built up in the State Education Fund.

I don’t want to get hung up on the names. (Some called the HB 1262 teacher incentive program — very recently killed by a party-line committee vote — the “Great Act.” I liked the idea for what it would have done, not for what it was called.) That’s why you have little old me around, to help dig beneath the surface.

Chalkbeat Colorado broke the news about HB 1292 Tuesday night. It’s clearly a plan that has been evolving since the idea was floated a couple months ago. All the shifting pieces had me tied up in knots a couple weeks ago. Not everything is clear yet, but the new and finally introduced version of the bill seems okay. Continue Reading »

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