Education policy and the courts: Usually not a match made in heaven. Though often there’s a very good reason to pay close attention. Like six months ago, when I proclaimed my excitement that the landmark Douglas County school choice case finally reached a hearing at the Colorado Supreme Court.
Sorry if I got anybody’s hopes up. We’re into the summer months, closing in on the fourth anniversary of when the complaint was first filed against the Choice Scholarship Program, and here we are still waiting for the big decision from the seven justices.
Now that Memorial Day is past, and the unofficial start of summer has arrived, it’s time to start thinking about taking that fun family vacation. For me, it has to include going to the beach, or at least staying cool at a splashing fun water park. While I would enjoy swimming at the lake or at the kiddie pool, I don’t think anyone enjoys swimming through a pile of paperwork.
Yet as a new American Enterprise Institute report explains, too many public charter school authorizers are overloading applicants with questions and tasks that just aren’t necessary at getting to the bottom line of creating innovative, effective educational opportunities.
Michael McShane, Jenn Hatfield, and Elizabeth English specifically surveyed the application processes of 40 non-school-district authorizers, and found some upsetting results. School districts — which make up all the Colorado authorizers, except for the Charter School Institute — tend to lard up the process with obstacles to make it more difficult for new charters to emerge. But as AEI’s new research shows, even many of the alternatives have trouble getting it correct. Continue Reading »
Yesterday I prepped you for the big vote and showdown at last night’s Thompson school board meeting on whether to accept the proposed union contract update. I told you it could go one of two ways: Either the return to the drawing board 1) resulted in some reasonable solutions to board director concerns that could be adopted, or 2) the board would take the historic step of rejecting the contract.
In case you haven’t heard, the city of Loveland witnessed Option #2 unfold. By a vote of 4-3, the union contract failed again. By collaborating to ignore nearly all the concerns raised, union leaders and district bureaucrats effectively dared the school board to stand firm or fail. The Reporter-Herald‘s Pamela Johnson quoted remarks from most of the board members, including president Bob Kerrigan: Continue Reading »
Ironically, regular blogging here can make me grow up fast. While remaining perpetually 5 years old, I have learned the need to develop a healthy sense of skepticism. Otherwise, it might be time to start believing in time warps and magical survey fairies.
Douglas County School Board members lambasted the recent staff survey funded by the teachers’ union, calling it an attack on staff, pointing out its low response rate and questioning the objectivity of the agency that conducted it.
The survey showed low morale and dissatisfaction with recent education reforms and policies in the Douglas County School District, among other findings.
As the article points out, the survey was sponsored by the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and conducted by Strategies 360, which Denver office is run by the former political director for the Colorado AFL-CIO. Continue Reading »
What’s in a grade? Strange question, I know. From my perspective, a good report card means praise and, if I’m lucky, a cookie or a new toy. Bad grades mean I get a “talkin’ to” from my parents. Those aren’t all that fun. For my parents, report cards are an important way to track how I’m doing, see where I might be struggling, and quantify my improvements. But do the grades on my report card tell a fully accurate story?
Some districts don’t think so. Across the country, schools and school districts are experimenting with something called standards-based grading. This system of grading ties student grades not to a percentage of points earned in a class, but to competence when it comes to specific standards. Check out the video below for a brief overview of the arguments for standards-based grading.
Sounds pretty good, right? But as with all things related to education, stuff may be more complicated than it seems. While some districts in other states are happy to sing the praises of standards-based grading, a recent Colorado Spring Gazette article indicates that Falcon High School parents in Falcon 49, one of Colorado’s most innovation-minded districts, may not feel the same. Continue Reading »
What kind of a holiday is Presidents Day anyway? For many kids, it’s just a great excuse to stay home from school. Speaking of which, yours truly decided to dig up eight little factoids about Colorado public schools named after former U.S. presidents:
Hardly a shock, “Lincoln” is the most popular presidential school name with 10 across the state.
The most recent president so honored is John F. Kennedy, for which a Denver high school is named.
Denver also has high schools named after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, which come in as the next most popular choices.
Colorado Springs 11 has a slew of elementary schools named after former presidents: James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Woodrow Wilson.
Well, the Brookings Institution this week released its latest edition of the Education Choice and Competition Index. Might I add the acronym ECCI (ecky?), awash in a sea of edu-acronyms through which yours truly has to doggy paddle day after day, is just a bit too much fun to say. And say. And say again. (Sorry, I’m getting a dirty stare from my Education Policy Center friends.)
Back to the point. I thought about writing a whole new blog post about the scoring system that strangely underrates Douglas County, arguably the most choice-friendly school district in America. Instead, I’m just going to send you back to last year’s soapbox on the same topic. Deja vu all over again, to quote a famous American.
The only difference is that this year Dougco’s C-plus was good enough for a 13th place tie with Pinellas County (Florida), San Francisco Unified, and next-door neighbor Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek?, you say. Yes, just go back and read last year’s edition. But it doesn’t all have to be naysaying and gloom. It’s Friday, so why not a video? Continue Reading »
It’s hard to believe, but another long year of being age 5 is nearly past. January doesn’t seem that long ago, but here we are again, on the brink of new calendars and check-dating confusion. The year 2015 is just around the corner. But for now, it’s time for a little reflection on some of the big Colorado education stories I’ve mused on in 2014.
What better way to wander quickly down Recent Memory Lane than to hit the highlights? I’ve picked a favorite blog post of mine on Colorado education happenings from each month, to relive a year that took us through everything from the throes of a Common Core backlash and a dramatically contrived backlash against the Jeffco school board to the initial defeat of a union-pro tenure lawsuit and the long-awaited arrival of Dougco’s Choice Scholarship Program before the Colorado Supreme Court.
Because we’re in the middle of the holiday malaise and most of you already have short attention spans to begin with, I’ve decided to break it up into two parts. Tomorrow I’ll bring you home with the second half of 2014, but today join me as we meander from January through June: Continue Reading »
It’s days like today that bring home the fact little Eddie is sort of, well, unique. While I didn’t exactly hang my stocking by the chimney with care last night, or try to overcome insomnia with dreams of sugar plums (which are what exactly?), I have been looking forward to today with considerable excitement. Don’t get me wrong: Christmas will be great when it comes in a couple weeks, but there’s only one Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program hearing before the Colorado Supreme Court!
Today at 1:30 PM, to be exact. You can bet little Eddie and many of his bigger friends will be in the vicinity of Denver’s courthouse building. The Denver Post‘s Eric Gorski set the stage with an article earlier this week: Continue Reading »
While 27 districts, including Douglas County, earned recognition for topping the state’s accreditation system, today I particularly would like to bring attention to the school-level results from 2013-14 in three major categories: Continue Reading »