Archive for the 'Innovation and Reform' Category

18th 2015
Performance-Based Learning, Strategic Compensation Keep My Eyes on Mesa 51

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Testing & Union

When it comes to K-12 education, I tell you a lot about what’s going on in the Denver area and along the Front Range. That’s where most people in our state live. But Colorado is a big place, and it’s good for me to keep expanding my horizons.

One of those places is called the Western Slope. The largest school district out there is Mesa Valley 51. A lot of times it’s just hard for little me to get a good look at what’s taking place on the other side of the mountains.

I appreciate the big step ladder provided by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, which includes an Emily Shockley article yesterday that points to big things happening in Mesa 51, namely a forward-thinking system of competency-based (or “performance-based”) learning. It will launch in seven schools this fall: Continue Reading »

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16th 2015
Great Minds Assemble to Promote ESA Success for Nevada Students

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

A couple weeks ago I giddily danced to the national news of this year’s growing momentum behind educational choice. Foremost among recent developments is Nevada’s breakthrough adoption of a nearly universal ESA program in Nevada.

This snippet from Leslie Hiner’s new column in The Hill puts the new Education Savings Account in perspective:

During the 2014-15 school, more than 377,000 pupils utilized vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and ESAs. With recent action in the states, that number will grow exponentially. In Nevada alone, over 453,000 students will be eligible to use an ESA in 2016.

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11th 2015
Waiting for Dougco Choice Ruling? Florida, Kansas Serve Up Good News

Posted under Courts & Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

Education policy and the courts: Usually not a match made in heaven. Though often there’s a very good reason to pay close attention. Like six months ago, when I proclaimed my excitement that the landmark Douglas County school choice case finally reached a hearing at the Colorado Supreme Court.

Sorry if I got anybody’s hopes up. We’re into the summer months, closing in on the fourth anniversary of when the complaint was first filed against the Choice Scholarship Program, and here we are still waiting for the big decision from the seven justices.

Meanwhile, you can cheer up a bit at a tidbit of good school choice news from a different case: Continue Reading »

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29th 2015
How Not to Negotiate: Thompson’s Tepid Tentative Agreement

Posted under Edublogging & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Union

Last week, we dove into the ongoing ugliness in Thompson School District. The highlight of that post was CEA’s bogus petition against the board majority’s attempts to draft clearer MOU for negotiation. Certainly, CEA’s involvement in the district is a major issue and seriously alters the calculus as negotiations move forward. Reform board members were escorted to their cars by police after a recent meeting. The president of the Thompson Education Association (TEA) responded by saying that although he encourages union members to be professional, “passions will be passions.” Nice.

So yeah, that’s a little concerning. Yet maybe the union isn’t the only thing reformers in Thompson have to worry about. The district’s own bureaucrats may be serious obstacles themselves.

My education policy friend Ross Izard published a new column today about the tentative agreement that has emerged from the district’s negotiations with the local union, the Thompson Education Association. The tentative agreement is… far from promising. And that’s putting it kindly. Continue Reading »


23rd 2015
Yes, It’s Hard to Be Humble — for Education Reformers and for This Blog

Posted under Accountability & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Parents & Teachers & Testing & Union

There have been more than a few times when I’ve gloated about an awesome blog idea that came to life here. On some occasions, my Education Policy Center friends warned me not to “get a big head.” At first, I was worried they meant little Eddie might turn out like this guy.

Later I figured out they were just warning me about my edublogging ego getting out of control. Recently I bragged to my Grandpa about one of my awesome blog posts, when he laughed and started singing this song to me about how hard it is to be humble. Turns out he wasn’t just making it up: Continue Reading »

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22nd 2015
If You Want Something Done Right: CEA Steps into Thompson’s Union Negotiations

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Union

After observing many of them on the playground, I can say that bullies are interesting creatures. Usually, they figure they can just push you around without any resistance. But stand up to them just a little, and they have to reevaluate.

That reevaluation usually involves a two-step process. First, they try out nasty underhanded tactics like those used by the Jefferson County Mean Girlz. If that doesn’t work, or they meet more resistance (as the Mean Girlz certainly did), they often run off to find bigger, meaner friends to back them up.

It appears that the Thompson Education Association has been paying attention to the Jeffco edu-blob’s failures on step one of the bullying handbook. The district’s union and its supporters have skipped straight to step two and called in reinforcements from the Colorado Education Association, our state’s powerful and extremely political teachers union. Continue Reading »


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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2nd 2015
One Week’s Progress Gives Hope for Another Year of School Choice

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

Awhile back I asked the pertinent and hopeful question: Could 2015 turn out to be the Year of School Choice: Part II? Now that your split sides have had ample time to recover from yesterday’s laugh-out-loud April Fool’s posting, let’s look back on the updates from just the past week.

To do so, we really need go no further than the American Federation for Children website, just to rehash the developments of the past seven days: Continue Reading »

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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 »


18th 2015
What’s a “Bedfellow”? New Article Takes a Look at Weird Alliances and Tenure Reform

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers & Union

Late last year, I wrote about the sticky testing issue knot. After a series of weird events on the State Board of Education and the early prospect of a strange alliance between Republicans and teachers unions during the ill-fated effort to reauthorize ESEA, we may be looking at more of a sticky testing issue black hole. Now, though, things are beginning to reach maximum weirdness, with the same strange alliances seen in Congress being observed in Colorado.

So yeah, stuff’s complicated. It’s getting tough to make sense of it all. That’s why I was glad to see my Independence Institute friend Ross Izard’s new article, “Strange Bedfellows: Teachers Unions, Conservatives, and Tenure Reform.” I’m pretty sure I’m too young to know what a “bedfellow” is, but I think I see what Ross is trying to convey.

The article takes a long, hard look at the differing motivations behind the oddly aligned conservative and union pushes against testing and for opt-outs. We’ll just do a brief overview of the highlights here in order to avoid unnecessary brain damage, but the article is stuffed with links and references for those whose nerdy proclivities drive them to dig a little deeper into the debate. Continue Reading »


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