Archive for the 'Teachers' Category

March
18th 2015
What’s a “Bedfellow”? New Article Takes a Look at Weird Alliances and Tenure Reform

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers & Union

Late last year, I wrote about the sticky testing issue knot. After a series of weird events on the State Board of Education and the early prospect of a strange alliance between Republicans and teachers unions during the ill-fated effort to reauthorize ESEA, we may be looking at more of a sticky testing issue black hole. Now, though, things are beginning to reach maximum weirdness, with the same strange alliances seen in Congress being observed in Colorado.

So yeah, stuff’s complicated. It’s getting tough to make sense of it all. That’s why I was glad to see my Independence Institute friend Ross Izard’s new article, “Strange Bedfellows: Teachers Unions, Conservatives, and Tenure Reform.” I’m pretty sure I’m too young to know what a “bedfellow” is, but I think I see what Ross is trying to convey.

The article takes a long, hard look at the differing motivations behind the oddly aligned conservative and union pushes against testing and for opt-outs. We’ll just do a brief overview of the highlights here in order to avoid unnecessary brain damage, but the article is stuffed with links and references for those whose nerdy proclivities drive them to dig a little deeper into the debate. Continue Reading »

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March
17th 2015
K-12 Bureaucratic Barriers a Problem? Who Ya’ Gonna Call? Cage-Busters!

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Online Schools & Research & Teachers

It’s not a completely unfair characterization to suggest that a specialty for 5-year-old boys is busting things. Or at least enjoying watching others bust things. This post won’t help disabuse anyone of that impression.

Last week I cheered to see Marcus Winters flex his charter school myth-busting muscles. Today I bring your attention to a different kind of bustin’ going on.

Two years ago American Enterprise Institute (AEI) education scholar Rick Hess made waves calling for a greater can-do attitude among school and district administrators with his book Cage-Busting Leadership. Now he highlights the same sort of opportunities for teachers. Continue Reading »

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March
6th 2015
How Do We Get the Student Data Coin to Land on Both Sides?

Posted under Education Politics & Parents & State Legislature & Teachers

Have you ever had a day where it just seemed like “Heads they win, Tails you lose”? On those days it may not seem like it, but the truth remains that there are two sides to the coin. (And no, I’m not talking about the coin flip required in Jeffco’s union contract to determine which teacher of equal seniority gets let go.)

The same holds true for the role of data in education. Certain kinds of student data are appropriate for school districts and state agencies to collect, mostly related to academic performance and attainment. But in my humble opinion, the subject matter of some questions is inappropriate. There’s also the issue of whom the data is being shared with.

If you remember last year, I brought your attention to some great work being done by some Colorado parents to tighten up laws that protect student data privacy from local or state breaches, or other misuse. Continue Reading »

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February
16th 2015
Harrison: More About Real Performance Pay than Former Presidents

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & High School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Middle School & Public Charter Schools & Rural Schools & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Urban Schools

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:

  1. Hardly a shock, “Lincoln” is the most popular presidential school name with 10 across the state.
  2. The most recent president so honored is John F. Kennedy, for which a Denver high school is named.
  3. Denver also has high schools named after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, which come in as the next most popular choices.
  4. 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.
  5. Continue Reading »

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February
2nd 2015
Tom Coyne’s Smart Jeffco Whistle Bomb

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

Every now and then, an op-ed drops from the sky like one of those whistle bombs in the movies. The resulting explosion gets folks all riled up, and usually leads to some highly entertaining (though not terribly productive) conversations. Today is one of those days, with a Denver Post op-ed that sees Jeffco’s Tom Coyne outlining one of Colorado education’s biggest issues: The difficulty of removing ineffective teachers from the classroom.

Coyne smartly argues that despite spending enormous amounts of money, Colorado districts haven’t been able to achieve their academic goals. Coyne quantifies these shortcomings in Jeffco at some length using some pretty convincing data. As he puts it:

As taxpayers, we spend an enormous amount of money each year to achieve these goals. For example, based on the most recent Colorado Department of Education data, in the 2012-13 school year, total revenue per student in Jeffco was $10,420, or over $260,000 for every classroom of 25 students. In aggregate, total revenue in Denver’s most affluent suburban school districts (Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek, Douglas County, Jefferson County, and Littleton) was about $2.5 billion in 2012-13.

Despite this spending, we aren’t coming close to reaching our student achievement goals. Continue Reading »

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January
30th 2015
Testing Issue Isn’t as Easy as “1, 2, 3,” But You’ve Got to Start Somewhere

Posted under Independence Institute & Principals & School Accountability & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers & Testing

Have you ever watched a big person prepare to do some public speaking behind a microphone? Or maybe you’ve done it yourself. Almost always, when someone asks if the microphone is working, the person leans into the device and says something like, “Testing, testing… 123, testing.”

Well, I’m worried that little rote phrase may take on a new meaning with Colorado’s Great Testing Debate. At least five K-12 assessment bills have been introduced thus far in the state legislature, with many more promised to come. Some issues may have clear and solid answers readily available, but to say that isn’t the case with this particular issue would be putting it mildly.

After all, we have several worthy competing goals to consider. Standardized tests done right are an important tool that provides some genuine, transparent, and comparable information about how well teachers, principals, and schools — heavily funded by public tax dollars — are doing in meeting important goals to help students.

At the same time, testing ought to measure authentic knowledge and skills, to provide prompt and useful feedback to teachers, and to differentiate meaningfully based on student abilities, all without posing too great a burden of instructional time lost. No problem, right? Continue Reading »

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January
29th 2015
Little Eddie’s Wet Blanket: What Rise in Teacher ACT-SAT Scores Tells Us

Posted under Research & Teachers & Testing

Earlier this week, we talked about a National Council on Teacher Quality report on teacher pension systems. Today, we get to talk about an article from the Hechinger Report regarding the “quality” of teachers entering the teaching force as measured by scores on the SAT and ACT. The article highlights some new research that supposedly refutes a 2010 McKinsey and Company report. The report argued that pulling in teachers with higher scores could help the U.S. achieve the same results as countries like Finland.

The good news is that new research apparently (some of it has not been officially published) shows new teachers’ college entrance exam scores have risen. Much larger numbers of teachers are coming from the top third of the SAT score distribution. And of course, this is fantastic. But the better news is that this means we can now safely say that we have  a great deal more confidence in teachers than TV reporters. The bad news is, so what?

Sadly, Eddie has to be the wet blanket today by pointing out that aside from providing an admittedly well-deserved feel-good piece for teachers (who are frequently and wrongly attacked for their profession) and poking at the 2010 Mckinsey report, the article doesn’t accomplish much. Yeah, that’s a little cranky of me. But as the article’s last paragraph points out, the increase in teacher “quality” hasn’t done much to improve outcomes for kids overall. Continue Reading »

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January
16th 2015
Ding Ding Ding! JCEA’s Round Two Battleflop

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

Not too long ago, John Ford of the Jefferson County Education Association told us that “the fight would start in January” (I humbly contend that the fight started back in September and that JCEA already lost the first round). I wrote about his inspiring speech recently, but here’s the video in case you forgot:

And if that weren’t enough to get this little guy scared, Complete Colorado broke the story that he’s been discussing the “unique opportunity to beat these bas***** back” with his “brothers and sisters” in Boulder Valley (yeah, I find that language creepy too).  I’m still not too sure what that blanked-out word is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not friendly.

Jeffco’s board meeting last night was supposed to be the big kick off, or the opening bell, or some other vaguely applicable sports metaphor. Instead, the effort flopped harder than Shamoo in a lap pool. Continue Reading »

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January
8th 2015
JCEA Says the Fight Is On, So It Doesn’t Hurt for Me to Stay in Shape

Posted under Education Politics & Journalism & Just For Fun & Teachers

My Grandpa occasionally likes to watch boxing on TV, something he once told me was a “stress reliever.” My dad says when he was younger, he used to have a punching bag in the basement that he would use for working out, maybe for some of the same purposes.

I’m still only 5 years old, but beginning to think that maybe it’s time for this little edublogger to don the gray sweatsuit and do some jump-roping or running through the park. Why? Because John Ford, the president of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), said “the fight’s going to start in January”: Continue Reading »

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December
31st 2014
Eddie’s Top Posts of 2014: Part Two

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & School Board & School Choice & Teachers

Yesterday, we embarked on a fun little tour of your favorite policy explorer’s best 2014 blog posts. Knowing that you’re still trying to work through all the holiday tryptophan, however, I limited myself to covering just the first half of the year. (Fun make-you-sound-smart-at-your-next-holiday-party factoid: The turkey-tryptophan thing is actually a myth.) As promised, we’ll wrap up the rest of 2014’s highlights today.

Without further ado, I present Little Eddie’s favorite blog posts from July through December 2014: Continue Reading »

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