Archive for the 'School Finance' Category

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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March
31st 2014
Colorado Ranks 21st in Per-Pupil Spending (and Other New Numbers from the NEA)

Posted under Research & School Finance & Teachers

The month of March is getting ready to go out. Not exactly sure it’s like a lamb. But there is one report released this month that some in Colorado’s education-industrial complex would just as soon see put out to pasture.

The National Education Association has released its annual “Rankings and Estimates” publication, which compares the states on a wide range of statistics directly or indirectly linked to education. A testament to the power of self-interest and private action, the NEA’s numbers are much fresher than those produced by the slow release of government agencies like the U.S. Department of Education or the U.S. Census Bureau.

A sampling of this year’s K-12 statistical fare reads like a mind-blowing episode of Myth Busters: Continue Reading »

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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
24th 2014
Colo. Digital Learning Policy Alternate Route Gives Some Spring Break Hope

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & School Accountability & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

Have you ever tried to plan a trip to an important new destination? Maybe it was a long road trip for SPRING BREAK or a family vacation or a visit to an old friend who moved to a new town. You program your GPS, or at least make a search on Google Maps first. (Back in the old days, they tell me you had to actually use a fold-up road map, plotting your way across highways from one city to the next.)

One thing those old road maps couldn’t tell you — and even sometimes the fancy technology lets you down — is about major road construction, a rush-hour traffic jam, or a bridge washed out ahead. You may have already plotted your route, but at that point an unexpected development compels you to go back, change the plan, and find a detour.

Almost a couple full years ago now, my Education Policy Center friends worked with online school leaders and other smart policy folks to help craft a Digital Learning Policy Road Map for Colorado. The brief report laid out a sequence of concrete changes that needed to happen to ensure digital technology was best used to “enhance opportunities for Colorado’s children to achieve educational success.” Continue Reading »

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March
20th 2014
Student Success Act Soap Opera Gears Up for Shift to Wilder Ride in Senate

Posted under Education Politics & Online Schools & School Finance & State Legislature

Colorado education’s political soap opera continues. But the latest episode is more about building suspense than revealing any dastardly motives or other clever plot twists. This time it’s the so-called Student Success Act (aka House Bill 1292), which cleared a key hurdle yesterday with an 11-1 vote in the House Education Committee.

The protests against the proposal have only grown louder and more concerted since it had its first hearing a few weeks ago. With near unanimity, Colorado school district superintendents have vocally clamored for more general formula dollars into their coffers and less prescriptive policies from the Gold Dome.

As Chalkbeat Colorado reports, the House is basically punting key decisions over to the Senate — where the legislation has to go eventually if it is going to prevail. Among them is an issue near and dear to my little heart: Continue Reading »

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March
14th 2014
Not Pretty: Colorado Is Getting Caught in Other States’ Digital Learning Dust

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Finance

A year ago I was just trying to figure out how to send Colorado home with its own digital learning report card. A year ago I was 5. Nearly 52 weeks later, and no progress on either front.

But our state did move up a small tick on the 2013 Digital Learning Now national report card. Last year’s D-plus has turned into a C-minus. I mean, Colorado literally climbed from 69 to 70 on the 100-point scale. Not exactly something to write home about, I know. But hey, you’ve got to mention the progress you can find. Continue Reading »

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February
27th 2014
“Student Success Act” or “Dingelhoffer”, Let’s Make Bolder School Finance Proposal

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & reading & School Choice & school construction & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked. She had a point. If I decided to call a rose a dingelhoffer, it wouldn’t affect the beauty or scent of the flower in any way. Nor should we be distracted by the name given to Colorado’s finally released HB 1292, known as the Student Success Act. I’m talking about the grand proposal to dole out some of the extra dollars built up in the State Education Fund.

I don’t want to get hung up on the names. (Some called the HB 1262 teacher incentive program — very recently killed by a party-line committee vote — the “Great Act.” I liked the idea for what it would have done, not for what it was called.) That’s why you have little old me around, to help dig beneath the surface.

Chalkbeat Colorado broke the news about HB 1292 Tuesday night. It’s clearly a plan that has been evolving since the idea was floated a couple months ago. All the shifting pieces had me tied up in knots a couple weeks ago. Not everything is clear yet, but the new and finally introduced version of the bill seems okay. Continue Reading »

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February
18th 2014
HB 1262 Incentive to Reform Educator Pay Certainly Has Caught My Attention

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Finance & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Do you want to know how to get my attention? (Besides gift-wrapping a new Star Wars Lego set, bringing home a box of piping hot pizza, or asking if I want to go to the Colorado Rockies game, that is.) Write something like this in the introduction of your education policy report:

If a rational system of teacher compensation, aimed at recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, were designed from scratch, it is unlikely it would bear any resemblance to the system that is currently in place.

Continue Reading »

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February
12th 2014
State Debate on How to Spend Extra Education Dollars Has Me Twisted in Knots

Posted under Education Politics & Elementary School & Public Charter Schools & reading & school construction & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

When it comes to the question of education funding, I take a glance over at the Golden Dome and wonder: Are we headed for a big clash, or will there be an unexpected meeting of the minds? The stage has been set with the demise of Amendment 66 and a hefty balance of more than $1.1 billion in the State Education Fund.

Apparently, one month into the 2014 legislative session, there are two distinctly different visions of what to do at the State Capitol. On one hand, some groups and legislators from both parties want to rally behind a proposal that would incorporate a lot of last year’s Senate Bill 213 ideas on a smaller scale, just not attached to a statewide tax increase. Ideas on the table include more money to: Continue Reading »

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