Archive for the 'School Board' Category

April
15th 2014
Large-Scale Class Size Reduction Doesn’t Work: More Moderation, Please

Posted under Independence Institute & Research & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers

A wise person once told me: Everything in moderation… including moderation. I’ve spent years trying to make complete sense out of that, but the point is some people can go overboard with certain ideas. That’s just as true in the education policy arena as anywhere else.

One of those discussions surrounds the happy talk of smaller class sizes. Sure, all things being equal, a relatively smaller class size offers possible benefits. But at some point, especially if implemented on a larger scale, that approach can yield negative results. Nearly four years ago when I was still 5, I drove home the point that quality instruction matters significantly more than class sizes.

But what does the research actually say? My newest Education Policy Center friend, Ross Izard, makes his published debut today with a backgrounder called “The Truth about Class Size Reduction” and a paragraph that reads: Continue Reading »

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April
9th 2014
Another ADM Study? HB 1292 Student Success Act Soap Opera Plays Rerun

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Board & School Finance & State Legislature

The political soap opera of Colorado K-12 education is hard enough to watch. When you add in a rerun, it’s even harder to stomach.

Today the state house adopted on 2nd reading House Bill 1292, known popularly as the “Student Success Act.” My modest hopes for this proposal focused on moving Colorado to a student-focused Average Daily Membership (ADM) system, which promotes equity and is the basis for more customized learning.

Legislators couldn’t even follow through on this one essential element, which as proposed would have phased the state into ADM over the next four years. Instead, the version that has nearly passed its final hurdle in the House has commissioned another study of implementing ADM in Colorado. Continue Reading »

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April
7th 2014
Jeffco Board Makes More Money Follow Students, Brings a Jan Brady Smile

Posted under Denver & Innovation and Reform & learning & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools

Once upon a time, say two years ago, I felt the heat for focusing a lot of extra attention on a certain large school district between Denver and Colorado Springs. You could almost hear a number of nearby Jan Bradys crying out in frustration: “Dougco, Dougco, Dougco!” Back then I said:

But hey, don’t complain at me! Get your school board and district to set the bar high by making some bold reform moves, and I’ll give them some attention, too.

While Dougco’s Marcia continues moving along, Jefferson County’s Jan can crack a smile. And not just because 10 days ago I filled you in with some compelling reasons to keep an eye on the suburban district’s open union negotiations (Hint: another session starts today at 4 PM in the fifth floor board room at 1829 Denver West Drive).

Jeffco gets more attention now, though, because of two big items from Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. Clearly, the new majority not only has made a laudable push for transparency but also has begun setting the bar high with its own brand of bold reform moves. Continue Reading »

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April
3rd 2014
Yes, Fordham, Colorado School Boards Matter; Let’s Encourage True Local Control

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & learning & Research & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

A long, long two-and-a-half years ago I shared with you my thoughts about school boards going the way of the horse and buggy. The article written by education reform senior statesman Checker Finn prompted me to weigh in:

Unlike many other areas of education reform, this is one in which Colorado would not figure to be a leader. Why? Finn himself points out that Colorado is in a small, select group in which school districts “are enshrined in the state constitutions.” And with that comes some measure of more power to effect positive, effective change within each of our state’s 178 school districts. That might help explain why Douglas County is such a shining light in the area of choice-friendly policies.

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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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March
28th 2014
Filling In a Few Compelling Reasons to Go Watch Jeffco Open Union Negotiations

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Research & School Board & School Finance & Teachers

What a difference six weeks can make! When I last focused in on happenings at Jeffco schools, the local teachers union had taken its political spectacle from the boardroom to the classroom. Meanwhile, the school board moved ahead discussing its priorities and engaging the community in a search for a new superintendent.

It was good to see the two sides move ahead with open negotiations for the first time in recent memory. Now my parents, neighbors, and I can see the give and take of what’s going on with a giant chunk of a nearly $1 billion budget. But the big question to ask: Are the policies they’re advocating good for students? 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
17th 2014
Colorado Supreme Court Will Hear Dougco School Choice Case, More Waiting Ahead

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools

One of the fun parts of being an edublogging prodigy is the chance to be spontaneous. Sometimes my plans to write about a certain topic take a back seat when some fresh but long-awaited breaking news. The kind of breaking news that allows me to go back into the archives and stroll down memory lane, while also thinking ahead about what comes next.

This morning the Colorado Supreme Court released its list of case announcements, and what to my young and eager eyes should appear on page 5 but the case of Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District. It said “Petition for Writ of Certiorari GRANTED.”

My smart adult friends told me that means the Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear about the famous and groundbreaking Choice Scholarship Program, and settle the legal dispute. For those who need a quick refresher about the currently enjoined (inactive) local private school choice initiative: Continue Reading »

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March
3rd 2014
More Time to Study the K-12 Testing Issue Would Be Greatly Beneficial

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & School Board & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

I’m not sure whether to breathe a grateful sigh of relief, or to sit on the edge of my seat in curious anticipation. Maybe I can do both. Several weeks ago I told you about a possible approaching education reform collision, as the outside-the-box thinkers in Douglas County pushed a bill to give high-performing districts waivers from certain state tests.

Well, a little negotiation and compromise later, and I’m relieved to say that House Bill 1202 was transformed from a head-on policy change to a sit-down study. Given that there are a number of conflicting claims and questions about the state of testing, the time to examine and analyze would be greatly appreciated. Continue Reading »

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February
11th 2014
Jeffco Teachers Union Takes Political Spectacle from Boardroom into Classrooms

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers

It’s ugly moments like what took place Saturday that can make me squeamish about watching this world of education policy. A staged spectacle of adult interests, where accusations of disrespect are bolstered by a loud and visible display of public disrespect. This 2-minute Revealing Politics video of Saturday’s Jefferson County school board meeting paints the unpleasant picture:

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