Archive for the 'Teachers' Category

June
15th 2015
Fact Checking the Fact Checkers: Counting Local Teachers Unions in Colorado

Posted under Education Politics & Teachers & Union

We’ve spent an awful lot of time recently debunking (or at least very critically reviewing) stuff. We beat up a bologna study on school choice, poked holes in a school finance study that made some weird assumptions, poked some more holes in even more school finance reports,  and took a very close look at the claim that reform is causing an “exodus” of Colorado teachers. Today, we continue the trend by examining the facts about the number of local teachers unions in Colorado.

As most of you know, there’s a big fight going on in Thompson School District, where four conservative members of the district’s school board have twice shot down junky tentative agreements brought back from the negotiating table. This has led local (and, I suspect, non-local) union backers to take to the area’s biggest newspaper with a variety of vituperative letters to the editor.

Recently, a number of these letters have focused on refuting several board members’ claims that most Colorado school districts do not have recognized teachers unions. One letter in particular stands out by calling the statement a “bald-faced lie.” This letter also asserts that CEA itself states that it has 200 local associations, which is true enough. However, it goes on to argue that this automatically means every one of Colorado’s 178 (the letter incorrectly says 179) school districts must have a recognized teachers union.

Not quite. Continue Reading »

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June
11th 2015
Waiting for Dougco Choice Ruling? Florida, Kansas Serve Up Good News

Posted under Courts & Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

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.

Meanwhile, you can cheer up a bit at a tidbit of good school choice news from a different case: Continue Reading »

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June
10th 2015
Exodus or Exaggeration? A Look at Colorado’s Teacher Turnover Rates

Posted under Edublogging & Research & Teachers & Union

“Mass exodus” sounds scary, doesn’t it? It conjures images of sad, disheveled refugees limping away from burning villages with smoke billowing in the background. That image is probably exactly what anti-reformers in Colorado have been trying to convey as they loudly sound the alarm that teachers are leaving education in droves while malicious reformers try to improve student outcomes by, you know, trying new stuff.

But is that really what’s going on in Colorado? We already know the numbers thrown around in the wake of Douglas County’s reforms fell well short of the truth, but what about the scary Chalkbeat Colorado headline that “More teachers left the school districts where they work last year than at any point in the past 15 years, according to new data from the Colorado Department of Education”? Yeah. Let’s talk about that.

Let’s start by taking a look at an interesting Education Next post by Chad Aldeman on Colorado’s turnover numbers. He makes his point by reproducing a graph created by Chalkbeat with a few changes.

Continue Reading »

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May
21st 2015
Thompson Board Stands Firm on Bad Contract; Union Backers Go Haywire

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

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 »

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May
20th 2015
Thompson Gears Up for the Final (?) Battle

Posted under Education Politics & Teachers & Union

We’ve talked an awful lot about Thompson School District recently. And why wouldn’t we? The district and its reform majority are, after all, at the very forefront of Colorado’s ongoing—and increasingly nasty—education reform wars. The board’s attempt to build a smarter, better union contract that does right by both its students has been met with stiff resistance from both the Thompson Education Association and its big political brother, the Colorado Education Association.

First CEA stepped into the fray by pushing a phony petition designed to block an attempt at providing the district’s negotiating team with written guidance on how to proceed. Shortly thereafter, the board rejected a laughably bad attempt at a tentative agreement. The negotiating teams were sent back to the table to take another stab at the contract on May 12. The rejection of the first tentative agreement was quickly followed by two relatively small, sadly misinformed student “rallies” not entirely dissimilar to those we saw in Jefferson County last fall.

It’s safe to say that things haven’t been pretty in Thompson. Tonight, it all comes to a head. Continue Reading »

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May
7th 2015
Thompson Stands Up for Change

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Teachers & Transparency & Union

Some famous guy at some point in history once said that the hardest part of any effort is taking the first step. How right he was. Even at the tender age of five, I can tell you that it’s hard to do big, scary, important stuff. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Just ask the Thompson Board of Education!

Reform-minded members of Thompson’s school board took a really big first step last night when they shot down the tentative agreement coming out of the district’s months-long union negotiation process. You probably remember our discussion of that agreement a couple of weeks ago. If not, this piece by my friend Ross Izard should catch you up. The short version is this: The “new” contract stunk.

Faced with the prospect of having to sign the aforementioned stinky contract, Thompson’s reformers took a brave stand and refused to act as a rubber stamp for the union or district bureaucrats. The board members did a great job of articulating their points, and they made a whole lot of good sense to me. Continue Reading »

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May
6th 2015
Amazing Day to Appreciate Teachers and Celebrate Seven Years at Age 5

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers

With a legislative session wrapping up today, and some big school board meetings going down this week, I feel like my little head is underwater. Which makes it a perfect time to step back and briefly express my amazement.

Amazed at what, you ask? In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, it only seems fitting to take hats off and pay tribute to all the great teachers in traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, online schools, brick-and-mortar schools, private schools, and yes — even, homeschooling parents.

Little old me is taking it easy. I’ll start with a hat tip to the Association of American Educators and a statement from the group’s president Gary Beckner: Continue Reading »

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May
4th 2015
Broad Brush “Limited Impact” Claim Vindicates Progress of Prop 104

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & School Board & Teachers & Transparency & Union & Urban Schools

Last week I posted a case study from the Thompson School District, an example of how NOT to negotiate an employee agreement. Just because the popularly enacted Prop 104 has opened the door on these negotiations doesn’t guarantee that they will be conducted effectively, at least not on the first try.

That isn’t to say open negotiations have little or no impact. Unless you’re writing a Friday headline for Chalkbeat Colorado Rise and Shine:

Continue Reading »

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May
1st 2015
NEA President Reminds Us That Education Policy Belongs in Legislatures, Not Courts

Posted under Accountability & Courts & Education Politics & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits & Teachers & Union

I don’t want to write about the teachers union today. I already did that this week, and it resulted in a whole bunch of grownups calling me and my friend Ross Izard ugly names. When I told Ross, he just laughed and said “If you’re catching flak, you’re over the target.” I don’t really know what that means, but I know I don’t like meanies.

Besides, I’d much rather write about the fact that the top schools in Denver are charters, or a weird math thing called Simpson’s Paradox and how it relates to the recent release of NAEP social studies scores. Even better, I’d like to just post a video of a dinosaur and leave it at that.

Unfortunately those things aren’t in the cards (today). My friend Jason Bedrick caught my attention with a tweet too fantastic to ignore this morning:

Fine. We’ll talk about unions again. I have no choice if they’re going to make it this easy. Continue Reading »

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April
28th 2015
Compared with Real Samples, Dougco Union Survey Proves a Major Flop

Posted under Research & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

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.

Jane Reuter of the Douglas County News-Press reports on last week’s hocus pocus at the Dougco Board of Education meeting:

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 »

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