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.
Archive for the 'Journalism' Category
Today we move beyond the growing annual celebration of National School Choice Week (and fun pictures from my Education Policy Center friends’ Thursday night event). Now right in front of us stands Digital Learning Day and the growing reminder that we need to expand the notion of school choice to include course choice!
Nearly two years ago now, my senior education policy analyst buddy wrote a paper calling for Colorado to adopt a system of course-level funding. Back then, Utah was the pioneer model for creating such a system to offer students more flexibility and access to quality learning options. Now Louisiana, Florida, and even Michigan are on board with course choice programs, too. Continue Reading »
Well, that’s new. You get used to the name, and to the appearance, of a website you visit almost on a daily basis. Then one day, a Tuesday early in January, it changes. Ed News Colorado as we knew it is no more, but now is part of a four-state online education news service. From now on, I turn to Chalkbeat Colorado as a vital source to find out what’s going on in schools, districts, and of course, at the State Capitol.
Oh yes, the Capitol. Tomorrow after all is the beginning of another legislative session, a time for parents and taxpayers to hold their breath and, if need be, get ready to do battle. A good place to start is reading the Legislative Preview 2014 by
Ed News Chalkbeat Colorado’s Todd Engdahl. Continue Reading »
Yes, these are crazy days. But a short blog post is better than none at all. And I felt compelled to reply when I read this new Denver Post column by Alicia Caldwell. Not because she is entirely wrong, but because she errs by coming so close to, but missing, a critical breakthrough:
But the truth is — listen up, my free-market friends — enticing top-notch teachers means competing and paying for them. The average teacher salary in Colorado in 2012 was just under $50,000. That’s not much.
Paying teachers more isn’t a popular idea. But getting rid of the mediocre — a non-negotiatiable [sic] first step — and hiring smart people who are star teachers should be.
As usual, read the whole thing. She writes earlier in the piece that, due to challenging student demographics, we should celebrate Colorado’s small gains on national tests because of being so “poorly” funded. (Close to $10,000 per student.) Continue Reading »
Several weeks ago I warned you about the onset of the campaign “silly season.” But then sometimes, like the last 24 hours or so, we get to see how seriously a local school board race can be taken.
So seriously, it would seem, that a supporter of the union-backed Douglas County school board candidates was describing voter fraud intent to her anti-reform compatriots on Facebook. The public leak, detected and captured by a concerned citizen, quickly caught the attention of places like Denver morning talk radio. Continue Reading »
An old baseball player from a long time ago once famously said, “It’s deja vu all over again” (or so my Education Policy Center friends would have me believe). Little voices have been asking me when I’m going to write something about the latest round of TCAP results — Colorado’s annual state testing for different grades in math, reading, writing, and science. But first, I had to figure out what year it was.
Wednesday’s headline at Ed News Colorado started out “State TCAP scores mostly flat….” In August 2012, the same publication reported the release of state test results under the headline “State scores mostly flat….” So I didn’t know how worthwhile it would be to write about last year’s news on a blog that’s already two days behind the curve. Continue Reading »
Let the head-scratching commence. If you read this article by Yesenia Robles in today’s Denver Post, you’d think that Adams 12 school district had been hoarding money and just started to fix the problem, thanks to the watchful eye of the teachers union:
After a year of deflecting accusations of questionable and unethical budget practices, Adams 12 Five Star Schools officials say they are changing the way they develop district budgets.
Unfortunately, the story just doesn’t add up. First of all, it was only a week ago we learned about the Colorado Department of Education’s latest school district fiscal health report. The auditors gave Adams 12 and four other districts a risk indicator for “spending down fund balances.” So how can it be hoarding and overspending at the same time? Continue Reading »
I work hard to spread the word about options and innovations in education. But once in awhile, the summertime heat provides a great chance to sit back and dream, too. Today I dreamed that this Herald Bulletin article, “Parents have more school choices,” was appearing in a Colorado newspaper:
With an expansion approved by the Indiana Legislature, students now have more options when it comes to eligibility for vouchers. But it’s not just vouchers they have access to.
Oh, how tempted I was to go through the article and replace every reference to “Indiana” with “Colorado.” Yes, we have one of the stronger open enrollment laws in the country, and one of the most thriving charter sectors, too. You can learn about the options that do exist at the fabulous School Choice for Kids website. But there are still many students out there in need of better learning options, so “more school choices” would be great! Continue Reading »
The education establishment in Alabama doesn’t seem to have recovered from the big blindside victory for kids four months ago, when the state adopted a scholarship tax credit program. It’s made for a lot of fodder in the local media, including today’s gem from the Times Daily Montgomery Bureau:
Several [state board of education] members have been outspoken against the Accountability Act and lack of input they had into it.
“How in the world are we allowing corporations to pay for children to go to private schools?” said Ella Bell, of Montgomery. “Is there any legal ramifications of this?
“I am going to seek legal advice on this because it is unfair to the children of my district.”
Summertime is catch-up time. Recently, I missed the chance to comment on the new CREDO national charter school study. The report’s predecessor, released four years ago, caught on in the national press as a sign that charters were faring badly. That report generated serious criticisms from researchers about the methods used to draw its conclusions. This time, however, the news is better, though not outstanding:
Across the charter schools in the 26 states studied, 25 percent have significantly stronger learning gains in reading than their traditional school counterparts,
while 56 percent showed no significant difference and 19 percent of charter schools have significantly weaker learning gains. In mathematics, 29 percent of charter schools showed student learning gains that were significantly stronger than their traditional public school peers’, while 40 percent were not significantly different and 31 percent were significantly weaker.
So, looking at a bigger sample, CREDO finds overall small charter advantages in reading and a wash in math. Many of the most disadvantaged — “[s]tudents in poverty, black students, and those who are English language learners” — reap the greatest benefits. Despite the better news, the pro-charter Center for Education Reform showed its integrity by publicizing very similar concerns about CREDO’s matching method that they did four years ago. Not that they especially need this particular study to confirm the positive outcomes generated by public charter schools and strong state policies that support them. Continue Reading »