Archive for the 'School Finance' Category

July
25th 2014
1000s Embrace Florida K-12 Choice: When Can Colorado Kids Win, Too?

Posted under Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance & Tax Credits

I hope you haven’t forgotten about helping Colorado Kids Win (including giving the Facebook page a “Like”). After all, it’s been two whole weeks since I’ve reminded you about the benefits of K-12 scholarship tax credits that our state’s kids could really use.

And you know that this particular little kid will use almost any excuse he can to get you speaking out for more school choice right here in the great Centennial State. Take for instance some intriguing news from the nation’s largest (and second oldest) scholarship tax credit program:

Students using school choice scholarships now make up nearly a third of K-12 students in Florida private schools.

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July
22nd 2014
Can’t Get Enough Productivity: Charter Schools Doing More with Less

Posted under Innovation and Reform & learning & math & Public Charter Schools & reading & Research & School Choice & School Finance

If “productivity” is really a dirty word for education, as some critics would like us to believe, maybe that explains why I feel the overwhelming urge to write about it for the second time in less than a week. A kind of “forbidden fruit” thing, you know. Or maybe the connection just was too easy to make during these hot and lazy, hazy days of summer.

Last Friday I took a look at the productivity of Colorado school districts, as measured in a new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP). A couple of this blog’s favorite topics — Douglas County and Falcon 49 — emerged with flying colors.

So right on cue, here comes a first-of-its-kind analysis, comparing the productivity of public charter schools to other public schools in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The University of Arkansas’s “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools” made an across-the-board finding that shouldn’t exactly startle anyone who pays attention. Not only is charter productivity higher in every state: Continue Reading »

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July
18th 2014
Douglas County, Falcon 49, Eaton Top Colorado in K-12 Productivity

Posted under High School & Innovation and Reform & Research & Rural Schools & School Board & School Finance & Suburban Schools

For some people, the term “productivity” doesn’t belong in K-12 education discussions. They think it’s too scary because it sounds like businesses that make money by selling goods or services. And we know that while education could learn a few more things from the competitive world of independent businesses, the two spheres don’t perfectly equate.

But let’s not freak out here. We’re talking about large sums of public tax revenues in K-12 education. Having a good way to measure how effectively that money is being spent recognizes an important reality. It’s not the be-all and end-all of the K-12 world, by any means, but it does provide a valuable indicator.

Come on now, don’t think it’s just me harping on about measuring “productivity” in education. Ask the Center for American Progress (CAP), which just released the 2014 update of “Return on Educational Investment: A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity”: Continue Reading »

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July
8th 2014
Colorado Starts New School Finance Lawsuit: How Different than Lobato?

Posted under Courts & Denver & Education Politics & Governor & Independence Institute & School Finance & State Legislature

Back at the end of May I told you about another school finance lawsuit looming in Colorado. Even as my Education Policy Center friends were helping me write that, I could almost hear the distant strains of anguish. Lobato was floating out there for nearly eight years… do we really have to endure the same excruciating twists and turns again?

The answer is “Sort of.” On Friday, June 27, the same law firm that brought you Lobato made it official when they filed Dwyer v State in Denver District Court. The good news is this time they’re not asking to break the bank:

The plaintiffs ask that the negative factor section be stricken from the state’s school funding law and that the legislature be barred from reinstating the factor in another form. The suit does not ask that lost funding be restored.

After all, National Education Association data indicates that Colorado ranks 21st in per-pupil spending. So cries for an extra $2 billion a year in the wake of Amendment 66‘s decisive electoral conflagration might just be scoffed at this point. Continue Reading »

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June
16th 2014
Title I Funds Closer to Following Colorado Kids after State Board Vote

Posted under Federal Government & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

Last week the Colorado State Board of Education took a relatively quiet action that may have profound results in years to come. The Board voted 6-1 to take steps toward redirecting a particular pot of federal Title I funds based not primarily on where students live, but rather on where they attend school. Title I money is allocated to support high-poverty schools.

As Chalkbeat Colorado reports, the decision means reshuffling more than a half million dollars to the benefit of the suburban Douglas County School District:

The two-year pilot is intended to account for students who attend the HOPE Online Learning Academy – Elementary but who live in other districts that now receive the Title I funding for those children. The $547,072 is the estimated shift of funds in 2014-15. A similar amount likely would be allocated in 2015-16.

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June
6th 2014
Jeffco Board Member Offers Tax Hike as Charter Funding “Compromise”

Posted under Education Politics & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

Another Jeffco school board meeting, another set of fun or crazy things to talk about. These meetings have become a regular kind of twisted entertainment for my family, I think. As best as I can tell, three big items went down last night.

The Denver Post and some other major media focused on the finalized contract for Dan McMinimee — which meets my expressed hopes of sending “the right message to tie a significant portion of the new superintendent’s pay to measures of performance.”

Chalkbeat reporter Nic Garcia covered a second important development, namely that the school board rejected the teachers union contract proposal Continue Reading »

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May
27th 2014
A Year without Lobato Means Another School Finance Case Looms in Colorado

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Governor & School Finance & State Legislature

Life here in Colorado just isn’t the same without a pending school finance lawsuit. For about eight years, the Lobato case lingered in the background — sometimes drearily, sometimes dramatically — as students and teachers, principals and parents, school boards and state lawmakers went about the work associated with their various roles in the K-12 education world.

It was almost exactly one year ago today that the Colorado Supreme Court issued its final Lobato ruling, and I began clinging to a ray of hope for true school finance reform.

What we got instead was the Amendment 66 tax hike, soundly defeated by Colorado voters. In the election’s aftermath, the state legislature came back with the so-called Student Success Act — which gave us a couple small advances but left some real opportunities for student-focused funding off the table.

Then today we read in the Boulder Daily Camera: Continue Reading »

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May
23rd 2014
Hoping for Better than Political School Finance Kumbayah Next Year

Posted under Education Politics & Governor & Independence Institute & Public Charter Schools & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

It’s that time of year in Colorado. I’m not talking about the crazy weather, with all the wind, rain, and hail. No, I mean schools are getting out, graduations are taking place seemingly every day, and (hooray!) summer vacation is here at last.

It’s also time for politicians to take a victory lap on the school funding issue. Because that’s what they do. Chalkbeat Colorado reporter Todd Engdahl covered a recent ceremony at Cherry Creek’s Ponderosa Elementary, where Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a pair of school funding measures into law.

Specifically, the regular school finance act (HB 1298) and the thoroughly debated Student Success Act (HB 1292) were the featured objects of enactment. Differences may appear to be forgotten, but little Eddie’s elephant-like memory clings to recent events surrounding HB 1292: Continue Reading »

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May
7th 2014
Student-Based Budgeting: Part of Colorado K-12 Future that Can Work

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Principals & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Many years ago, someone famously said: “I have seen the future, and it works.” Ironically, Lincoln Steffens said that about the Soviet Union, and he ended up being grossly incorrect.

What I see included in the future of Colorado K-12 education is considerably more modest and considerably less likely to backfire. When it comes to positive and promising development in Colorado K-12 education, I don’t need to be quite so brash — nor expect to be just plain wrong — as Mr. Steffens was.

I’m talking about student-based budgeting, which directs money to schools based on the needs of individual students attending there rather than on (often secretly) negotiated staffing formulas. As students exercise their choices within our K-12 public education system, the dollars as much as possible should be portable along with them. This move in turn puts more autonomy at the local school level, where decisions can better be made to benefit students. 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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