Archive for the 'Just For Fun' Category

August
7th 2014
Backpacks for Poudre

Posted under Elementary School & High School & Just For Fun & Middle School

Very soon, I’ll be heading to the store with mom and dad to pick up this year’s school supplies. Pencils, pens, highlighters, a new backpack—we’re going to need a pretty big cart (especially if I want to ride in it). But as back-to-school week approaches for most of Colorado, it’s important to remember that there are some families for whom supply shopping is stressful, not fun.

In 2013, roughly 42 percent of Colorado’s public K-12 students qualified for free- or reduced-lunch programs. And while Colorado has made great progress in serving low-income students on a policy level, it’s also important to acknowledge street-level efforts to provide disadvantaged K-12 students in Colorado with the supplies they need for a successful school year.

And so, my friends, today I will eschew the usual policy discussion in order to highlight a feel-good story in the Coloradoan about organizations working to provide school supplies for low-income kids in the Poudre School District in northern Colorado. Continue Reading »

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July
14th 2014
Union Leaders Miss Bus as Union Bus (Thankfully) Misses Me

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Federal Government & Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Teachers

Usually I’m reluctant to cross into the intersection of education policy and national politics. But when I do, I lean heavily on the trusted big people in my life to walk me across the busy lanes of scary-looking traffic. The aftermath of the NEA Assembly in Denver is one of those times when I’m reaching out and reaching up for a hand.

My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow took on the matter with a Greeley Tribune op-ed last week. He set up the 2009 NEA Assembly as a point of comparison, with candidly expressed union priorities put on center stage.

Retiring NEA counsel Bob Chanin laid down the line that better results for students “must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, or collective bargaining.” As Ben wrote in his column, that line in the sand expresses why union leaders are so concerned about a couple of court cases that threaten their status and bottom line. 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.

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April
22nd 2014
Could Stopping a Teachers Union Vote Make a New “Hammer” Celebrity?

Posted under Education Politics & Just For Fun & Teachers

Last Friday I told you about some Maryland teachers standing up to the union machine and seeking the chance to represent themselves. According to the Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci, the story about the Wicomico County Education Association (WCEA)’s attempted breakaway from the state and national union just grows more and more interesting:

Upset by the actions of WCEA’s board, Gary Hammer, a union site representative at Bennett Middle School, began circulating petitions to recall all the WCEA officers and members of the board, and to suspend them from office until the recall took place. Hammer and his supporters claim to have gathered 700 signatures, which would constitute a majority of the bargaining unit.

Last Tuesday, Hammer and others “entered the WCEA offices, changed the locks and codes, removed or altered office equipment and purported to illegally fire the Association’s only employee.”…

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April
16th 2014
How to Avoid the Munchkins: A Little Tenure Reform Advice for Kansas

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

The teachers union may have ordered the death of its own bill to weaken mutual consent for teacher placement. But HB 1268‘s twin, the CEA’s lawsuit to enshrine tenure protections as a state constitutional right, lives on.

Meanwhile, a glimpse across the eastern border reveals the winds surrounding this debate are blowing in a very different direction. A weekend article from the Kansas City Star reports that Kansas leaders are having a heated debate about some late-developing significant tenure reform:

For generations, the state promised that before getting canned teachers could get an appeal. If a hearing officer disagreed with the teacher’s bosses, the instructor stayed in the classroom.

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April
1st 2014
New Independence Institute Ownership? Goodbye, Eddie; Hello, Little Ed Koch

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Public Charter Schools & School Board & Tax Credits & Teachers

Change is hard, especially when you’ve been 5 years old for so long like I have. But it can be good, too. Some of you may have seen today’s important news release from the Independence Institute about their new arrangement:

Under the terms of the agreement the Koch brothers have invested an undisclosed amount of funding into the Institute, in exchange they will receive 51% ownership of the organization. This will provide Independence with the resources necessary to continue operations and serving the cause of freedom in Colorado.

Caldara said that the change in ownership will not have a sizable change in the operations or the direction of the Institute saying, “We are thrilled about keeping the name “Independence” in the new iteration of our organization.”

Caldara declared that the newly titled “Koch Institute at Independence” pays tribute to our proud history but also points to our new and properly funded future.

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February
28th 2014
Three Online Learning Items Blended Together for Your Friday Enjoyment

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

It’s Friday, time for my version of the Dagwood sandwich, the supreme pizza, or burrito with everything (please!). The only difference is this hodgepodge is going to be about online and blended learning. I’ll leave it up to you to find a way to “blend” all the pieces together before pouring some chili sauce on top. Okay, not literally.

First, one of the most successful and noteworthy blended learning providers is expanding to another major city. Blast off with me in celebration at the news that Rocketship Education will be opening a school in the nation’s capital in 2015: Hooray!! Add Washington, D.C., to the list of Milwaukee and Nashville as expansion sites from the original California launching pad. Continue Reading »

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February
13th 2014
McShane is Right: Choice Team Needs to Do More Than Cry about “Bad Schools”

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

This morning I’m going to be like that geeky kid at the front of the class, eagerly raising his hand and exclaiming, “Ooh, ooh, I know! Call on me!” The question the imaginary teacher is asking: “What one education policy article do you need to read this week?”

If I sit here and wait until you call on me, the post will never get written. So allow me to blurt out my recommendation: “We need to stop obsessing about ‘bad’ schools, by Michael McShane!” If the teacher hasn’t read it yet, do I get even more brownie points?

The article starts with an honest criticism: Continue Reading »

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January
31st 2014
Charter Schools Continue to Grow; We Need More #SchoolChoice Now

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Parents & Public Charter Schools & Research & Rural Schools & School Choice & Teachers

Where did the time go? Unbelievably, National School Choice Week is coming to a close. It’s been a fun ride. Last night, a bunch of kids and parents showed up at the Independence Institute to watch Waiting for Superman in Spanish (more about that later). And today at Noon-1 PM local time (2-3 PM Eastern) you can join me and others for a #schoolchoice Tweet-Up.

To suit the occasion, think about the possibilities that more high-quality charter schools could offer students and families in Colorado. Yesterday the Center for Education Reform released the latest edition of the Survey of America’s Charter Schools. What a great place to go to get the “30,000-foot view” of charter trends across the nation.

Continue Reading »

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January
16th 2014
I’ll Stick My Toe into the Fordham-Cato School Choice Argument… for Five Minutes

Posted under Grades and Standards & Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits

There’s nothing quite like taking a step into no man’s land, wandering into an argument between friends. A lot of us are on the school choice bandwagon together, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone has the same views of what a program should look like. The Fordham Institute this week unveiled its “public accountability and private-school choice” toolkit. It called for administering state tests to all voucher / scholarship recipients, and reporting school-by-school test results if at least 10 kids participated.

It took very little time for the argument to begin: Continue Reading »

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