Archive for the 'PPC' Category

17th 2013
Latest Research Builds Winning Record for School Choice: Still Waiting for DougCo

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & PPC & Private Schools & Research & School Board & Suburban Schools & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

Update, 5/14: The U.S. Department of Education gave the Chingos & Peterson study its highest rating for the quality of research design, further validating a positive impact of school choice.

Gold-standard research on the positive impacts of school choice keeps rolling in. The latest work by Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson measures the results for New York City students who received modest privately-funded vouchers to attend private schools. The study directly compared how many voucher students successfully completed high school and enrolled in college compared to non-voucher peers. For one group in particular, the results are remarkable:

Among African Americans, 26 percent of the control group attended college full-time at some point within three years of expected high-school graduation. The impact of a voucher offer was to increase this rate by 7 percentage points, a 25 percent increment. Among students using the voucher to attend a private school, the estimated impact was 8 percentage points, or roughly 31 percent.

No statistically significant results were found for other groups of students. The authors speculate that the observed benefit may have occurred because “the African American students in the study had fewer educational opportunities in the absence of a voucher.” Most notably, the effect measured is greater than some of the popular, widely-used, and costlier reform efforts of smaller class sizes or improved teacher quality. Continue Reading »


15th 2013
Hey, Colorado: Billion Dollar K-12 Tax Hike OR End the Education Plantation?

Posted under Denver & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & PPC & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

Often it’s very easy to get bogged down in a big education policy debate like Colorado’s SB 213 school finance reform proposal. Then along comes a Denver Post op-ed piece by a motivated citizen that exhales a breath of fresh air:

Colorado currently spends about $10,600 per student per year on K-12 education. You can get a pretty good private education for that. Sen. Johnston wants to increase school spending to nearly $12,000 per student. But without changing the design of the system, why should anyone expect different results?

Let’s stop funding the education establishment and instead fund parents and children. In a state-regulated environment, let’s give that $10,000 to parents for each child they have in school and let them decide how and where the money used to educate their children should be spent.

The author is Littleton’s own John Conlin, founder of the small nonprofit activist group End the Education Plantation. True fans may recall his appearance several months ago in an on-air interview with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow. Continue Reading »

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12th 2013
Scholarship Tax Credits Could Help Denver, Aurora HS Students Overcome Challenges

Posted under Denver & High School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & PPC & Private Schools & Research & School Choice & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

For those who long have rolled up their sleeves to try to improve student learning, the cause of urban high school reform remains one of the most daunting tasks. Even in areas where the most concentrated and sustained efforts at reform have taken place, the promising results have been very limited. Enter a brand new report by A-Plus Denver, titled Denver and Aurora High Schools: Crisis and Opportunity.

Author Sari Levy gathered and analyzed student performance data from Colorado’s two large urban school districts, and the picture painted is not a very rosy one:

  • Based on ACT test scores, “about a third of students in [Denver Public Schools] and [Aurora Public Schools] would not qualify for basic military service”
  • On a day when Colorado college graduates are encouraged to show off their alma mater, it’s disheartening to see the rates of DPS and APS students needing college remediation are steady or rising
  • Denver’s level of success on Advanced Placement (AP) courses lags well below the national average
  • In a number of DPS schools, students in poverty have just above a zero chance of earning a 24 or higher on the ACT, which would place them at the average of their peers who will earn a 4-year college degree
  • Average ACT scores across Denver and Aurora remained flat from 2008 to 2012

Continue Reading »

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10th 2013
Parent Power in Colorado: Aiming to Join or Surpass the Dazzling Dozen

Posted under Online Schools & Parents & PPC & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Teachers

Has it really been more than six whole months since the Hollywood movie Won’t Back Down hit the Denver and national scene. While not a blockbuster success, the parent power-themed, feature-length film certainly raised the profile of K-12 education reform. Two moms took charge and took on the bureaucracy and union opposition to change the trajectory of a failing school.

At that same time last fall, the Center for Education Reform released the first-ever Parent Power Index. Colorado ranked 14th in the measurement of parent access to school choice, vibrant charter school and online learning options, quality classroom teachers, and transparent information. Continue Reading »

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8th 2013
Here’s Hoping for a Real Common Core Debate… and Some Real School Choice

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & PPC & School Choice & State Board of Education

More than two-and-a-half years ago, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards. Just this last December the State Board took another careful look at the decision, as this School Reform News article by my Education Policy Center friend notes.

For a number of reasons, the issue has gained greater national notoriety of late. I could link to a number of articles, but two very recent commentaries in the debate present a worthy read. School Reform News editor Joy Pullmann and Heritage Foundation analyst Lindsey Burke raise serious questions that need to be addressed. Continue Reading »

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4th 2013
Let’s Not Allow Test Cheating Scandals to Lead to Faulty Conclusions

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & PPC & School Choice & Teachers

Let’s go over it again: Standardized tests are far from the be-all and end-all of education. But if we’re not going to put money in student backpacks and make schools directly accountable to parents, how can such assessments NOT be used as a key component of measuring student progress, teacher effectiveness, and school quality? If the test is broken, fix it or find a new one.

Nevertheless, the predictable overreactions return as more news this week filters out of Atlanta that shows the city’s terrible cheating scandal was bigger and more systemic than previously reported. I had thought of the comparison to students cheating on tests before, but a national expert picks an even better analogy:

Abandoning testing would “be equivalent to saying ‘O.K., because there are some players that cheated in Major League Baseball, we should stop keeping score, because that only encourages people to take steroids,’ ” said Thomas J. Kane, director of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, who has received funding from the Gates Foundation.

Now my faithful readers know I’m not a naysaying, “we ain’t never done it that way before” curmudgeon. If we find a better way to assess student learning, let’s go for it. Adaptive online tests offer hope of that someday, along with the promise of more secure systems that could better prevent cheating. Continue Reading »

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3rd 2013
Well, Teachers Union Leaders Could Use a New Argument Against School Choice

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Parents & PPC & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & Teachers

Take your hats off to those teachers union officials, they sure know how to plan ahead sometimes. The Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci brings our attention to a PBS Newshour clip in which NEA president Dennis Van Roekel tried to respond to a question about why private educational choice works at the college level but should be rejected for K-12 students:

I think post-secondary education, college and university, I think you have to put that into a different category than K-12 education, because then you’re choosing between a career or college and specialized training. That definitely makes sense. But for young children, they shouldn’t have to be bussed somewhere. It should be in their neighborhood.

Huh? Giving a voucher or tax credit is bad because a kid might have to ride a bus? Antonucci presumes Van Roekel meant to say something else. Perhaps his analysis is correct. I’m not sure the Friedman Foundation will need to add this argument to its list of anti-school choice myths that need to be rebutted. Continue Reading »

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2nd 2013
Split Partisan SB 213 Vote Shifts Debate from Real Reform to Raising Taxes

Posted under Denver & PPC & Rural Schools & School Board & School Finance & State Legislature

In case you haven’t been following me on Twitter (which raises the question: Why not?), you may not have noticed that the big education bill of the 2013 Colorado legislative session has made its way through the State Senate. As a new Ed News Colorado story by Todd Engdahl highlights, Senate Bill 213 has advanced as a purely partisan piece of legislation:

The Senate approved Senate Bill 13-213 on a 20-15 preliminary vote, which is expected to be the same party-line total when a final vote is taken later.

That final vote occurred earlier today by the same 20-15 margin. And thus the 174-page legislation motors on over to the House now. Still not really much choice or backpack funding at all. Changing from a single count date to average daily membership is great, but not worth a billion smackeroos. As the Education Reform Bulletin proclaims about SB 213, raising taxes trumps reform. Continue Reading »


1st 2013
Change of Heart on Choice, Reform, Funding, and Unions: Time for Ed Is Playing!!

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Parents & PPC & Principals & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

It’s been several days since I’ve had a chance to write here. The end of my spring break provided a lot of time for reflection on some issues that really have been bothering me. Now that I’ve had time to re-evaluate my well-known positions on some key education issues, I feel it is my obligation to share with you the following:

  1. When it comes to education, I’ve come to agree with Diane Ravitch that parents don’t really know what is best for kids. They should leave it all up to the experts in the classroom and the school district administration building. (I would also like to apply this logic to the question of eating vegetables, an area in which I’m now considered an expert.)
  2. As a result, I now believe this whole idea of school choice is really overblown, and actually undermines the great work professional educators do on our behalf every day. Instead of celebrating the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision, we all should be sobbing our hearts out right along with the Hoosiers fans, whose team went down hard in the Sweet 16.
  3. I’ve also made a resolution to stop spending nearly so much time praising the innovative, transformational work going on in school districts like Douglas County and Falcon 49. In fact, I feel really bad for all the time and energy I’ve spent undermining the great traditions of public education unions and bureaucracy.
  4. Continue Reading »


27th 2013
Looking to the Next Wave of Learning Innovation, and Doing It “My Way”

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & PPC & School Board

How many education programs do you know that make Frank Sinatra songs pop into your head? At least that’s what some of the big people I know tell me. (H/T Ed News Colorado) Well, the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Carol McGraw today featured such an online program from the Widefield School District that is tailored to families looking for options:

D3 My Way, unlike some programs, allows students to take nine-week blocks, so not as many courses have to be taken at once.

It’s been a boon for military families, athletes in training, older students who must work, children with medical issues, those needing a personal learning environment, and others who find the flexible schedules and studying at their pace ideal.

Continue Reading »

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