Archive for the 'Innovation and Reform' Category

March
17th 2015
K-12 Bureaucratic Barriers a Problem? Who Ya’ Gonna Call? Cage-Busters!

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Online Schools & Research & Teachers

It’s not a completely unfair characterization to suggest that a specialty for 5-year-old boys is busting things. Or at least enjoying watching others bust things. This post won’t help disabuse anyone of that impression.

Last week I cheered to see Marcus Winters flex his charter school myth-busting muscles. Today I bring your attention to a different kind of bustin’ going on.

Two years ago American Enterprise Institute (AEI) education scholar Rick Hess made waves calling for a greater can-do attitude among school and district administrators with his book Cage-Busting Leadership. Now he highlights the same sort of opportunities for teachers. Continue Reading »

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March
11th 2015
Necessary Infrastructure or Technocratic Tinkering?

Posted under Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & Tax Credits

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that debates between national education experts are good things. They are almost always interesting, often helpful, and unfailingly entertaining for little policy geeks like myself. Maybe that’s why I was so excited to see two of my favorites, Andy Smarick from Bellweather Education Partners and Jason Bedrick from the Cato Institute, spar a little over the need for “technocrats” in school choice.

Because I am five years old, I feel compelled to point out before we begin that I chuckled at the word “technocrat.” I chuckled not because it’s a funny concept, and not because I don’t like technocrats (well, generally speaking), but because it sounds very similar to “technoCATS.” And because it gave me an opportunity to finally put this in a blog post:

I certainly hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. Now, back to edu-business. 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
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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