Archive for the 'Innovation and Reform' Category

February
26th 2015
Reading New ETS Report on Millennials Not Likely to Cheer You Up

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

A few weeks ago I raised the question: Should I get my hopes up about Colorado course choice again? Today, it seems more appropriate to ask whether I should get my hopes up at all.

Yeah, you might think that sounds kind of depressing. But dare I say you haven’t yet had the chance to drink deep the dose of melancholy that flows through Robert Pondiscio’s new Flypaper post “America’s Millennials: Overeducated and Underprepared.” To his credit, he tries to soften the blow with some lighthearted old sports announcer allusion, but the damage cannot be escaped.

What’s the big downer? Pondiscio points readers like you and me to a new Educational Testing Service (ETS) report America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future. The bottom line? While American Millennials are on track to reach the highest level of educational attainment EVER, they are less literate and numerate than both prior U.S. generations and to their international peers. There are also apparent implications about growing inequality in skills between the privileged and the less privileged.

Yikes! I feel Pondiscio’s pain. Even though trailing behind the Millennials in vaguely defined Generation Z, my fellow kids and I will reap some of the consequences. So yes, I do care. Continue Reading »

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February
25th 2015
Exciting Stuff: Jeffco’s Jefferson Area Plan Moves Closer to a Vote

Posted under Innovation and Reform & innovation schools & Middle School & Principals & School Board

Many moons ago, in a long-lost time known only as “November,” I highlighted some positive efforts for change in the Jefferson Articulation Area, one of Jefferson County School District’s most challenging regions. The wheels have been somewhat quietly grinding since then, and I’m happy to report that a plan for the area will come up for a board vote on March 5.

In February, a number of principals from schools in the Jefferson Articulation Area—all of whom have been intimately involved with the development of a plan for their schools—presented a plan of action to the board. The plan is the culmination of a massive process that pulled together district officials, school leaders, community members, and parents. I took a fun field trip to one of the community meetings, and I have to say it was very cool to see. Continue Reading »

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February
23rd 2015
In K-12 “Education Reform” Debates, Blind Spots, Blind Spots Everywhere

Posted under High School & Innovation and Reform & Journalism

Welcome to a new week. With all the snow and cold outside, it seems like a good time to pause and reflect on the big picture of improving K-12 education. Which takes me straight to a Thursday thought piece by Andy Rotherham, titled “Education Reformers Have a Big Blind Spot.”

What is the big blind spot? The subtitle spells it out: “The people trying to fix today’s public schools were overwhelmingly good at school themselves.” As I see it, the piece raises two key points for discussion: one directly and one indirectly.

But first, allow me a brief moment of personal privilege to note that it’s been a full 2 years and 3 months (back when I was still 5 years old) since Rotherham has appeared on the blog (which by the way, highlights a report that speaks directly to Harrison School District’s powerful Effectiveness and Results program). The long hiatus is over. Continue Reading »

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February
19th 2015
Education Reform Policy Online Boot Camp Just Might Want You!

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning

If you’re anything like me (and for your sake, be thankful if you’re not), the idea of a free and open online course on the inner workings of education reform is kind of like Christmas and birthday all rolled into one. I didn’t even ask Santa for such a thing, but lo and behold, the Foundation for Excellence in Education delivered.

Unveiled today, it’s called EdPolicy Leaders Online: Access to Top Education Experts. Assemble some great minds, put their content online, take the free course at your own pace, and Voila!

It’s almost like magic. Well, not exactly. But thanks to technology, and some visionary thinking, you too could become a smarter, more effective Education Reformer starting as soon as March 23. According to Patricia Levesque on the Ed Fly blog, the first three courses are as follows: 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
10th 2015
New ESA Momentum Could Make 2015 “Year of School Choice: Part II”

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

One bit of wisdom I’ve gleaned in my young life is that when it comes to movies, the sequel is most often not as good as the original. There are exceptions, yes, but it’s a good rule of thumb. When it comes to education policy, though, I fully hope and expect the trend to be bucked.

For those who don’t remember, back in 2011 when I was 5 years old (just like I am now) we had the fabulously successful “Year of School Choice,” with lots of new and expanded legislative programs across the nation. A Politico article last Friday caught my attention by strongly suggesting that history may repeat itself in 2015 — sort of: 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
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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January
22nd 2015
Survey Highlights Importance of Keeping State Tests off Private Schools

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Choice

Update: I should have looked at this post by Matt Ladner first. He largely makes the same point, but with a little more zing at Louisiana.

Though not so much this time of year, my Dad and I like to play catch in the backyard occasionally. It sounds kind of cliched, but my Dad starts talking about how he used to do the same thing with his dad. Then almost inevitably, he starts talking about this old movie called “Field of Dreams.” (After finally seeing this movie, I’m a little scared about wandering into cornfields, but that’s a different story.)

Anyway, there’s this famous line in “Field of Dreams”, where the guy keeps hearing the voice say: “If you build it, they will come.” People in the movie thought he was kind of crazy, sort of like some readers of this blog think I’m crazy.

But at least I’m here to tell you that when it comes to establishing private school choice in a state or community — and is there any doubt I’m a huge fan? — there’s a lot more to the matter than just building the program and expecting people to come. Hence, I encourage you to take a look at the American Enterprise Institute’s new study called “Views from Private Schools.” Continue Reading »

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January
15th 2015
N’Orleans Research Highlights the Importance of Smart Choice Programs

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice

There are days when I think I’ve found the single, universal answer to all of my five-year-old problems. Like the time I used chewing gum to stick a loose sole back to my shoe. When I figured the same approach would also help me hang a cool Spiderman posted on my bedroom wall, I got in big trouble. Then there was the time I discovered that I could use the microwave to create nachos. It worked less spectacularly when I used it as a towel drier. I think I finally understand what my dad means when he pats me on the head and says, “Son, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet.”

As it turns out, the same thing holds true in education reform. I love school choice, but that doesn’t mean that just any choice policy will fix all of our woes automatically. It has to be done right, and one has to remember that no system (and especially not the current school system) is perfect.

Yet perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good when we’re talking about school choice programs. That’s why I get a little sad when I read stories like this one from KUNC about a big, fancy report from an outfit called The Education Research Alliance of New Orleans. Continue Reading »

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