Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

July
17th 2014
Blended Learning Takes Flight in Colo. Districts: How High Will It Soar?

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & learning & Online Schools & Rural Schools & Suburban Schools & Teachers

The great blended learning experiment continues its historic ascension in our beautiful Rocky Mountain state. Independence Institute education senior fellow Krista Kafer has documented it better than anyone. Last year it was The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning in Colorado.

Apparently, the not-so-long-ago, cutting-edge sphere of blended learning has not just made it past the ground level but is heading into the lofty (or should I say friendly?) skies. Just this week my Education Policy Center friends released Krista’s awaited sequel School District Partnerships Help Colorado K-12 Blended Learning Take Flight.

Take flight? Can’t you picture me wearing my goggles, flying a World War I-era Sopwith Camel? Better yet, behind the controls of a state-of-the-art Rocketship heading to explore strange new worlds in outer space? Or maybe just playing in the back yard (away from power lines) with my new kite? Seriously, though, Krista’s report follows the action in some key places in various parts of the state: Continue Reading »

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June
25th 2014
Holyoke’s Pursuit of Innovation Status Raises Real Questions to Answer

Posted under Innovation and Reform & innovation schools & Journalism & Rural Schools & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers

Among the big people around me, there’s a fair amount of cheering and groaning and Monday morning quarterbacking. Apparently, that’s what the day after a primary election does to you. I’ll leave the politics to them, and spend just a few moments on an interesting story that slipped in last week.

Chalkbeat Colorado’s Kate Schimel reports that a second rural Eastern Plains school district is taking a serious look at applying for innovation status. In a nutshell, Holyoke district leaders would draft a plan requesting waivers from specific state laws that they believe are holding them back, and would come to the State Board of Education for a nod of approval.

The 2008 Innovation Schools Act was primarily designed for high-need urban (read: Denver) schools. About two-thirds of the state’s innovation schools are in fact in Denver. The freedom to innovate does not guarantee success. Challenges remain for schools that pursue and adopt the status, and overall the academic track record has been mixed. Continue Reading »

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May
29th 2014
Past Jeffco Superintendent Hires Shine Light on McMinimee Process

Posted under Grades and Standards & Journalism & math & Parents & reading & School Board & Suburban Schools

I was sitting on grandpa’s lap Tuesday night when mom let out an exasperated sigh. Unusually, it had nothing to do with me failing to clean up after dinner or leaving my Legos on the living room floor. No, as a good active and concerned mom would do, she was watching the Tweets coming out of the Jeffco school board meeting.

I asked my mom why she looked kind of sad. Apparently, the board meeting had become very contentious — some would say downright nasty — over the hiring of a Jeffco dad, Dan McMinimee, to be the next superintendent. It ended up turning into a brief but important history lesson.

Grandpa reminded us that it has been a long time since Jeffco had a superintendent search. Most parents of students in classes today weren’t around during the previous hiring processes. It was exactly 12 years ago this month when the school board last hired someone for the top position in the district: Cindy Stevenson.

Grandpa helped dig out an ancient article from a former newspaper called the Rocky Mountain News — dated May 23, 2002, with the headline “SURPRISE PICK WAS MADE IN ONLY A WEEK – JEFFCO SCHOOLS’ ATTORNEY: QUICK ACTION WAS LEGAL.” He read us the whole piece, including this part of reporter Nancy Mitchell’s story: Continue Reading »

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May
22nd 2014
Arizona, Florida ESAs Show How Colorado Could Help Kids Like Nathan

Posted under Courts & Journalism & learning & Parents & Research & School Choice

A couple months ago I was going wild and crazy (in a good way) with the news that the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the fabulous and liberating Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).

We remember a very important reason why a cutting-edge program like this one is so great when we hear directly from the families who benefit. Thanks to the Foundation for Excellence in Education, I came across a terrific letter by Arizona mom Amanda Howard. Her autistic son Nathan struggled in a regular kindergarten classroom, and still wasn’t talking at age 6, when they received an ESA: Continue Reading »

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May
19th 2014
Denver Post on School Safety Reporting Shows What’s Old Is New Again

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & Research & State Legislature

Yesterday the Denver Post featured a lengthy story on troubles with school safety reporting. When I hear about a student being stabbed, beaten up, or having some property stolen, it makes me mad. Of course, those things happen. But then to see that a lot of these incidents aren’t being publicly reported with consistency, I get even more frustrated.

My Education Policy Center friends told me it’s nothing new. Or as former baseball player Yogi Berra once famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” Continue Reading »

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May
2nd 2014
Adams 14 Troubles Revealed; Jeffco, Colorado Can Work to Overcome

Posted under Federal Government & Independence Institute & Journalism & Parents & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Yesterday I got to share some good education news. Today it’s something different. I probably should have done it the other way around, because it’s better to end the week on a high note (why is it that lately when I use the term “high note,” some big people start laughing and telling jokes about Colorado?).

When looking at this April 25 report from the U.S. Department of Education, the laughter stops. According to the report, Adams County School District 14 leaders spent four years disregarding serious claims about hostile discrimination against Hispanic students, parents, and staff members.

Zahira Torres shone the light on the extent of the problem in Wednesday’s Denver Post. The story contains more examples than I can recount in this space. But they include incidents such as: Continue Reading »

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April
30th 2014
Forget HB 1292 Transparency Soap Opera: Make it an Old Gangster Film

Posted under Education Politics & Journalism & Just For Fun & School Finance & State Legislature

Update, 5/1: Looks like no knees had to be broken after all….

Did you see that post I did a little over a week ago: “HB 1292 Transparency Headed for Happy Ending? Good Solution Still Needed”? Given last night’s events, I thought about just publishing that all over again today and hoping nobody would notice. When some adults try to teach me about the importance of recycling, I don’t think that is what they had in mind.

As usual, Chalkbeat Colorado does an unparalleled job of bringing readers the latest Student Success Act scoop from the Capitol:

The bill left the House with a central website in it. That provision has been amended in various ways as HB 14-1292 traveled through three Senate committees, which basically contradicted each other.

Bill sponsors thought they’d finessed a compromise on Tuesday night, but they hadn’t. Discussion on the bill was repeatedly interrupted for huddles on the side of the Senate chamber. At one point sponsor Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and other senators went outside the chamber for a vigorous exchange with a big scrum of district lobbyists (sometimes known as the “K-12 mafia.”)

Shortly after that, Heath announced consideration of the bill had been delayed.

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
11th 2014
Virtual Learning Success Story Inspires

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Online Schools & School Choice

Some days you get tongue-tied (or finger-tied?), there’s a lot of background noise, and you can’t decide what in the world of K-12 education to share with people. There’s plenty going on, but nothing just seems… quite… right. Continue Reading »

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February
6th 2014
Will President Obama Set Record Straight on How School Choice Has Helped Kids?

Posted under Education Politics & Federal Government & Journalism & Research & School Choice

I guess being president means you get to say whatever you want. Now let’s be clear: Most of the big-people politics goes over my head, and I don’t bother to get into all that. But when the leader of the free world chimes in on school choice, it can’t help but capture my attention.

(H/T Choice Media) Cue Jason Riley’s Wall Street Journal political diary from yesterday, highlighting Bill O’Reilly’s recent exclusive interview with President Obama: Continue Reading »

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