Archive for the 'Teachers' Category

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
6th 2014
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day! Let’s All Cheer for Performance Pay!

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Board & Teachers

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day! Note that I say “Teacher,” not “Teachers” — and not just because it sounds much less awkward that way. Many, many teachers no doubt are worthy of appreciation. But they should be appreciated, and treated, as the diverse and skilled individuals they are. They bring different backgrounds to the profession, serve different groups of students in different kinds of schools, and teach different subjects in different styles.

And guess what? Many of them get different results! So why not talk about appreciating them as individuals? It’s healthy for us all to be reminded that teachers aren’t widgets. It’s safe to say that #TeachingIs something that varies in different contexts.

Thankfully, when it comes to how teachers are paid, we also see some innovative diversity in Colorado. Take a look at Harrison’s Effectiveness and Results program, pay-for-performance in Dougco, and Eagle County Schools’ “Professional Excellence, Accountability, and Recognition.” While the three look somewhat different, they share in common the feature of dropping altogether automatic pay raises based on seniority and degree credentials. Continue Reading »

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May
5th 2014
North Carolina to Follow Colorado’s K-12 Open Enrollment Policy Standard?

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Choice & State Legislature & Teachers

Update, 4:30 PM: The Friedman Foundation blog notes the “Friday Freakout” reaction against the proposed North Carolina program is largely based on fears that open enrollment would lead to administrative chaos. That hardly seems like a compelling argument to me.

Giving parents more say and students more options in K-12 education should be a no-brainer, win-win policy. Allow any student to cross district boundaries and enroll in any public school that has room for him? You mean there are states that still don’t do that?

Guess not. Or at least in one significant case, at least not yet. Last week the Charlotte Observer reported: Continue Reading »

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April
29th 2014
Teachers vs. the Public on K-12 Education: Scratching the Surface

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Tax Credits & Teachers

Earlier today one of my Education Policy Center friends got to watch most of an online telecast of a panel discussion titled Teachers versus the Public: What Americans Think about Schools and How to Fix Them. One of the co-authors of a recently released book by the same name, Dr. Paul Peterson, led the discussion.

The book and the discussion are essentially a reflection on some of the more interesting results like those released in the 2013 Harvard/Education Next survey. Many months ago I offered readers some examples of how this poll cast skepticism on the findings of the more widely touted PDK/Gallup education survey. Continue Reading »

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April
25th 2014
Is It Time to Rethink the Colorado Department of Education’s Role?

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers

A Friday is as good a time as any to step back, survey the education reform landscape, and question some underlying assumptions. The new Fordham Institute report The State Education Agency: At the Helm, Not the Oar summons us to rethink the role of a major player in the K-12 policy world.

Here’s the question: Are we asking, or expecting, too much from our state education agencies (SEAs)? Here we’re talking about the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Andy Smarick and Juliet Squire lay out the scope of the problem, and then offer a solution.

On the first count, it’s hard to disagree: The current approach of trying to do too much is having some bad results. The Fordham authors cite an example close to home: Continue Reading »

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April
22nd 2014
Could Stopping a Teachers Union Vote Make a New “Hammer” Celebrity?

Posted under Education Politics & Just For Fun & Teachers

Last Friday I told you about some Maryland teachers standing up to the union machine and seeking the chance to represent themselves. According to the Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci, the story about the Wicomico County Education Association (WCEA)’s attempted breakaway from the state and national union just grows more and more interesting:

Upset by the actions of WCEA’s board, Gary Hammer, a union site representative at Bennett Middle School, began circulating petitions to recall all the WCEA officers and members of the board, and to suspend them from office until the recall took place. Hammer and his supporters claim to have gathered 700 signatures, which would constitute a majority of the bargaining unit.

Last Tuesday, Hammer and others “entered the WCEA offices, changed the locks and codes, removed or altered office equipment and purported to illegally fire the Association’s only employee.”…

Continue Reading »

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April
18th 2014
Breath of Fresh Air: Teachers Stand Up Against Tenure Lawsuit, Union Bullying

Posted under Education Politics & Teachers

It’s a special Friday. For various reasons, you probably have, or at least should have, other things to think about than what I might tell you about the world of K-12 education. But here are a couple observations to share that remind us all teachers are not in lockstep with a certain group’s efforts to focus on narrow interests and defending the lowest common denominator.

It was just two days ago I shared with you a few thoughts on tenure reform and how to avoid the munchkins. While Kansas is contemplating ways to weaken tenure, Colorado’s largest teachers union is fighting to strengthen the practice that often hurts students and costs taxpayers.

Thankfully, as a Westword piece by Melanie Asmar pointed out yesterday, some teachers do not agree with the CEA lawsuit and are willing to speak out about it: Continue Reading »

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April
16th 2014
How to Avoid the Munchkins: A Little Tenure Reform Advice for Kansas

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

The teachers union may have ordered the death of its own bill to weaken mutual consent for teacher placement. But HB 1268‘s twin, the CEA’s lawsuit to enshrine tenure protections as a state constitutional right, lives on.

Meanwhile, a glimpse across the eastern border reveals the winds surrounding this debate are blowing in a very different direction. A weekend article from the Kansas City Star reports that Kansas leaders are having a heated debate about some late-developing significant tenure reform:

For generations, the state promised that before getting canned teachers could get an appeal. If a hearing officer disagreed with the teacher’s bosses, the instructor stayed in the classroom.

Continue Reading »

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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
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.

Continue Reading »

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