Archive for the 'Innovation and Reform' Category

April
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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April
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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March
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 »

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March
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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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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