Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

November
20th 2014
Positive Movement in Jeffco: A Welcome Change

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & Elementary School & Journalism & Middle School & Urban Schools

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s Jefferson County day for yours truly. Okay, I made the Thursday thing up just now, but we are indeed going to talk about Jeffco. Don’t suit up and brace yourselves for more negativity quite yet, though; today’s post will isn’t about teacher sick-outs, student protests, or an inexplicable disdain for more representative curriculum review committees. Instead, I’d like to highlight a Denver Post article about some positive efforts by a group called the Edgewater Collective to improve educational outcomes for some of Jeffco’s most at-risk students.

As you may have noticed, many anti-reform groups try to whitewash any assertion that Jeffco may have some room for improvement by arguing that the district as a whole is doing well compared to neighboring districts. As much as I wish that rosy picture were entirely accurate, it isn’t. It masks the fact that certain areas within Jeffco are in desperate need of attention. And even when that fact is acknowledged, it is too often swept aside as “unfixable” or “out of our control.”

Nowhere is the need for change more obvious than the Jefferson Articulation Area within Edgewater, where the overwhelming majority of students are low-income and trapped in schools that are, put bluntly, failing them. Fortunately for those students, not everyone is ignoring the problem or brushing it aside. Continue Reading »

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November
10th 2014
Despite Satisfactory Resolution, Jeffco Curriculum Controversy Limps On

Posted under Education Politics & Journalism & Parents & School Board & Teachers

If there’s one thing being a perpetual five year old has taught me, it’s that you have to know when to let something go. Continually bringing up the same thing may get you some attention, but in the long run it’s likely to do more harm than good. That’s especially true when you’ve already gotten what you want. Like my dad always says, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That is, of course, assuming that there are actually any flies left to catch.

The Jeffco curriculum controversy finally drew to a reasonable close at last Thursday’s board meeting, yet a handful of Jefferson County students—or more accurately, Jefferson County families—don’t seem ready to give up the misguided fight over curriculum review in the district. Sherrie Peif, an education reporter for Complete Colorado, reports that some students went out of their way to disrupt last Thursday’s board meeting—apparently with the full blessing of many adults:

Students randomly stood and read excerpts from history books, and at one point blew a whistle and then recited the Pledge of Allegiance, all while other members of the public were attempting to speak … After blowing the whistle, the students were all sent into the hallway, where they, again, began yelling and chanting loud enough to be heard inside the boardroom. They were eventually made to leave the building. Continue Reading »

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September
12th 2014
Colorado More Leader than Laggard: A Report Card Eddie Can (Mostly) Enjoy

Posted under Edublogging & Grades and Standards & Journalism & math & Public Charter Schools & reading & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know I have a fondness for report cards. A certain kind, anyway. Just as long as it’s not my report card going home to my parents about my performance. Seriously, though, I like to talk about report cards related to education policy — some more helpful or accurate or comprehensive than others.

Today it’s a piece called Leaders and Laggards, put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the help of a couple American Enterprise scholars, that ranks states on a big slate of K-12 education measures.

The study assigns each state a letter grade for each of 11 major categories, and in a couple of cases compares them to the last release in 2007 (Colorado’s grades listed in parentheses): Continue Reading »

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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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