Archive for the 'Suburban Schools' Category

June
19th 2014
Accelerating Quality Colorado Charter Growth a Wise Idea, Not Just for Wonks

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Are you more likely to think of policy wonks as “wild and crazy” OR as “wise”? I know, it’s a difficult call. The Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli apparently has enough optimism to lean toward the latter. His new Flypaper post, “The wise wonks’ hierarchy of charter school quality” distills the insights of the blog’s recent Charter Wonk-a-Thon participants into a grand “unified theory.”

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up. But if nothing else, the exercise gave Petrilli the opportunity to draw a big triangle (three angles, three sides!) that represents a hierarchy of which states are doing chartering right, and which — well, not so much. Continue Reading »

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June
18th 2014
Study Gives Another Jeffco Anti-Charter Myth a Serious Blow

Posted under Denver & Parents & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Tomorrow the Jeffco school board is set to cast a final vote on the 2014-15 budget. At the forefront of the discussion is the 3-2 majority’s proposal to share an extra $3.7 million of local property tax funds with public charter schools. Even though that would cut the gap in half, some still seem to find it disturbing that charter students should be treated even somewhat more fairly.

Two weeks ago, one of the two other board members suggested a “compromise.” Instead of the extra $3.7 million, Jill Fellman said, the board should allocate a smaller amount of dollars already approved by the state for charter facilities, and that if charter parents didn’t like it, they should go work for another tax hike.

Today, the Denver Post editors stepped in again and urged Jeffco to get over it already. Rather than seriously considering ridiculous phony compromises, approving the $3.7 million should be a no-brainer. On this front, the Post says Jeffco should emulate Denver Public Schools. Continue Reading »

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May
29th 2014
Past Jeffco Superintendent Hires Shine Light on McMinimee Process

Posted under Grades and Standards & Journalism & math & Parents & reading & School Board & Suburban Schools

I was sitting on grandpa’s lap Tuesday night when mom let out an exasperated sigh. Unusually, it had nothing to do with me failing to clean up after dinner or leaving my Legos on the living room floor. No, as a good active and concerned mom would do, she was watching the Tweets coming out of the Jeffco school board meeting.

I asked my mom why she looked kind of sad. Apparently, the board meeting had become very contentious — some would say downright nasty — over the hiring of a Jeffco dad, Dan McMinimee, to be the next superintendent. It ended up turning into a brief but important history lesson.

Grandpa reminded us that it has been a long time since Jeffco had a superintendent search. Most parents of students in classes today weren’t around during the previous hiring processes. It was exactly 12 years ago this month when the school board last hired someone for the top position in the district: Cindy Stevenson.

Grandpa helped dig out an ancient article from a former newspaper called the Rocky Mountain News — dated May 23, 2002, with the headline “SURPRISE PICK WAS MADE IN ONLY A WEEK – JEFFCO SCHOOLS’ ATTORNEY: QUICK ACTION WAS LEGAL.” He read us the whole piece, including this part of reporter Nancy Mitchell’s story: Continue Reading »

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May
13th 2014
How Can Jeffco Union Leaders’ Bad Faith Bargaining Be Good for Kids?

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

Once upon a time not so long ago in a land very close by occurred historic open negotiations between the Jeffco school board and the Jefferson County Education Association. Then union leaders staged an impasse and slammed the door shut. Transparency gone. Citizens were left in the dark.

The open negotiations went away as the process moved to mediation, which made me sad. But I didn’t expect things to go awry so quickly. Apparently, union negotiators unilaterally decided to go public with a tentative agreement they quickly learned the school board would not support. From a Jeffco Public Schools press release: Continue Reading »

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May
8th 2014
Newly Reported Test Scores Bring (Mostly) Disappointing News

Posted under Grades and Standards & learning & math & reading & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Urban Schools

The good news from yesterday is summed up in two words: Sine Die. Near as I can tell, that’s Latin for “The legislature gets out of town, productive everyday citizens breathe a sigh of relief.” (But maybe I need to enroll in one of Colorado’s fine classical schools to find out for sure.)

The not-so-good news comes from a pair of test results that leave me sadly shaking my head. First, Colorado’s critical 3rd grade reading TCAP scores took a slight dip this year. We’re talking about 71.5 percent passing the proficiency bar in reading, as opposed to 73 percent last year.

The Denver Post story mentions one metro district that has bucked the trend, with Colorado Public Radio’s Jenny Brundin shining the spotlight on Westminster: 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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May
2nd 2014
Adams 14 Troubles Revealed; Jeffco, Colorado Can Work to Overcome

Posted under Federal Government & Independence Institute & Journalism & Parents & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Yesterday I got to share some good education news. Today it’s something different. I probably should have done it the other way around, because it’s better to end the week on a high note (why is it that lately when I use the term “high note,” some big people start laughing and telling jokes about Colorado?).

When looking at this April 25 report from the U.S. Department of Education, the laughter stops. According to the report, Adams County School District 14 leaders spent four years disregarding serious claims about hostile discrimination against Hispanic students, parents, and staff members.

Zahira Torres shone the light on the extent of the problem in Wednesday’s Denver Post. The story contains more examples than I can recount in this space. But they include incidents such as: Continue Reading »

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May
1st 2014
Outperforming International Peers: A Delicious Piece of Dougco PISA News

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & math & reading & Research & Sciences & Suburban Schools

Nearly a year ago I pointed readers to an enlightening report from a group called America Achieves. The report showed how, based on international tests, even our nation’s middle-class students were falling behind their socioeconomic peers in many other countries. The findings reminded us why the bold innovators in Douglas County have been working to raise the bar.

But how do Dougco students themselves compare with their international counterparts? We have a fresh sample that offers a clear glimpse. Yesterday the district released 2012 PISA results for 15-year-olds in the two participating Dougco high schools: Continue Reading »

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April
28th 2014
Denver Post: “Fundamental Fairness” in Jeffco Charter Student Funding Plan

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & School Finance & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

When the Center for Education Reform (CER) released this year’s Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard in March, I didn’t take time to give you an update. Colorado scooted up from 10th place to 9th place, not for any improvements of its own but because one state (ahem… Missouri) took a small step back.

But it’s action on the local front that soon may show Colorado outperforming the ranking of our law, at least in one important respect.

CER uses a 55-point scale to rate the quality of state laws related to public charter schools. The formula takes into account the availability of different entities to authorize charters, various restrictions on the number of charters that can open statewide, and to what extent these schools can operate free from a number of different regulations.

More than a quarter of the total scorecard, however, is tied to the issue of funding equity — whether charter students have access to the same share of operating funds and relevant facilities dollars as their counterparts in district-run schools. In this regard, a significant number of states top Colorado, though only by small margins. (Even the best states have a ways to go.) 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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