Archive for the 'Innovation and Reform' Category

April
21st 2014
HB 1292 Transparency Headed for Happy Ending? Good Solution Still Needed

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

Sometimes it’s fun to be the odd man out in a heated discussion, to throw up your arms, and shout, “You’re all wrong!” Whether you’re able to change any minds, well, that’s another story.

This time it’s my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow writing a short response to the Denver Post‘s glowing editorial in favor of HB 1292 (the so-called “Student Success Act”). The piece argued that the version of the bill just approved by the Colorado House would make our state “a national leader in transparency.”

Chalkbeat Colorado reported Friday that in taking its first crack at the legislation, the Senate Education Committee passed a bipartisan amendment to that part of the bill, particularly the “elimination of funding for a proposed state website that would link users to information about district and school spending. Instead, districts would post that data on their own websites.” Continue Reading »

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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
16th 2014
How to Avoid the Munchkins: A Little Tenure Reform Advice for Kansas

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

The teachers union may have ordered the death of its own bill to weaken mutual consent for teacher placement. But HB 1268‘s twin, the CEA’s lawsuit to enshrine tenure protections as a state constitutional right, lives on.

Meanwhile, a glimpse across the eastern border reveals the winds surrounding this debate are blowing in a very different direction. A weekend article from the Kansas City Star reports that Kansas leaders are having a heated debate about some late-developing significant tenure reform:

For generations, the state promised that before getting canned teachers could get an appeal. If a hearing officer disagreed with the teacher’s bosses, the instructor stayed in the classroom.

Continue Reading »

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April
9th 2014
Another ADM Study? HB 1292 Student Success Act Soap Opera Plays Rerun

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Board & School Finance & State Legislature

The political soap opera of Colorado K-12 education is hard enough to watch. When you add in a rerun, it’s even harder to stomach.

Today the state house adopted on 2nd reading House Bill 1292, known popularly as the “Student Success Act.” My modest hopes for this proposal focused on moving Colorado to a student-focused Average Daily Membership (ADM) system, which promotes equity and is the basis for more customized learning.

Legislators couldn’t even follow through on this one essential element, which as proposed would have phased the state into ADM over the next four years. Instead, the version that has nearly passed its final hurdle in the House has commissioned another study of implementing ADM in Colorado. Continue Reading »

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April
8th 2014
School Choice Programs Growing Fast; Kansas Looks Like Next State to Join

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

If 2011 was christened the Year of School Choice, what should we call 2013? At the time that year dawned, I worried that it wouldn’t exactly be smooth sailing.

But given the recent news headlined by the release of the Alliance for School Choice’s annual yearbook, it must be that even my young, healthy eyes couldn’t see the great trend developing: Continue Reading »

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April
7th 2014
Jeffco Board Makes More Money Follow Students, Brings a Jan Brady Smile

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & learning & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools

Once upon a time, say two years ago, I felt the heat for focusing a lot of extra attention on a certain large school district between Denver and Colorado Springs. You could almost hear a number of nearby Jan Bradys crying out in frustration: “Dougco, Dougco, Dougco!” Back then I said:

But hey, don’t complain at me! Get your school board and district to set the bar high by making some bold reform moves, and I’ll give them some attention, too.

While Dougco’s Marcia continues moving along, Jefferson County’s Jan can crack a smile. And not just because 10 days ago I filled you in with some compelling reasons to keep an eye on the suburban district’s open union negotiations (Hint: another session starts today at 4 PM in the fifth floor board room at 1829 Denver West Drive).

Jeffco gets more attention now, though, because of two big items from Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. Clearly, the new majority not only has made a laudable push for transparency but also has begun setting the bar high with its own brand of bold reform moves. 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
21st 2014
Time to Go Wild: Legal Win for Kids Helped by Arizona’s Cutting-Edge ESAs

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

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 »

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