Archive for the 'Urban Schools' Category

18th 2014
New York City Mayor’s Attack on Charter Schools Enough to Give Me Nightmares

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

As a rule, my parents aren’t too keen on letting little me watch any horror movies. Too much violence, gore, and just plain scary stuff. But they haven’t been able to shield my eyes from the horror that is the new mayor of New York City’s attack on successful public charter schools and the students they are helping.

The elected head of America’s largest city wasted no time in going after charters, apparently out of some belief that they represent some sort of corporate conspiracy rather than a means of improving results for many, many students. He has cut charter facility funding from the city budget and axed new charter proposals built on existing successful models.

Mayor de Blasio’s school chancellor Carmen farina wiped her hands of the situation, callously stating: “They’re charter schools. They’re on their own now.” My attention was brought to this disturbing issue by yesterday’s impassioned Chicago Tribune editorial saying a similar debate needs to be brought into the open: Continue Reading »

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28th 2014
Three Online Learning Items Blended Together for Your Friday Enjoyment

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

It’s Friday, time for my version of the Dagwood sandwich, the supreme pizza, or burrito with everything (please!). The only difference is this hodgepodge is going to be about online and blended learning. I’ll leave it up to you to find a way to “blend” all the pieces together before pouring some chili sauce on top. Okay, not literally.

First, one of the most successful and noteworthy blended learning providers is expanding to another major city. Blast off with me in celebration at the news that Rocketship Education will be opening a school in the nation’s capital in 2015: Hooray!! Add Washington, D.C., to the list of Milwaukee and Nashville as expansion sites from the original California launching pad. Continue Reading »

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13th 2014
McShane is Right: Choice Team Needs to Do More Than Cry about “Bad Schools”

Posted under Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

This morning I’m going to be like that geeky kid at the front of the class, eagerly raising his hand and exclaiming, “Ooh, ooh, I know! Call on me!” The question the imaginary teacher is asking: “What one education policy article do you need to read this week?”

If I sit here and wait until you call on me, the post will never get written. So allow me to blurt out my recommendation: “We need to stop obsessing about ‘bad’ schools, by Michael McShane!” If the teacher hasn’t read it yet, do I get even more brownie points?

The article starts with an honest criticism: Continue Reading »

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30th 2014
Lawsuit to Protect Tenure Over Students Makes CEA Not Only Wrong But Lonely

Posted under Courts & Denver & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Teachers & Urban Schools

Being a little kid and all, I can be sensitive to what my peers think sometimes. Have you ever stuck your neck out there, the only one in the crowd choosing something different from everyone else? If it’s a flavor of ice cream, that’s no big deal. But if it’s a True or False question, and you are the only one who chooses the wrong answer, that can be a little bit harder to take. If it’s big people making the wrong choice on something that doesn’t help students, then it’s even worse.

In case you missed it, the big news around here yesterday was the teachers union’s lawsuit and legislative attack on Senate Bill 191. The bottom line is they don’t like part of the law that gives principals the authority to keep ineffective teachers out of classrooms (known as “mutual consent”).

My Education Policy Center friends quickly responded: Continue Reading »


21st 2014
Colorado and Washington, DC: A Tale of Two School Principal Evaluation Systems

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Accountability & Teachers & Urban Schools

Crafting policy often can be much more art than science. Several years back research showed us that educator evaluation systems were not making meaningful distinctions, and that 98 or 99 percent of teachers were rated effective on a two-tier scale. As a result of such findings, the move to update evaluations has been a big agenda item in many states, with Colorado one of the pioneers.

You know what I’m talking about… SB 191? Right. A core piece of the legislation required that at least 50 percent of the evaluation must be tied to measures of student academic growth (including multiple measures beyond the state assessment regime). School districts could use their own systems that abide by the standard. But most districts adopted the state’s model plan, which clearly defines the other 50 percent of the evaluation.

One of the great strengths of SB 191 was that it focused on upgrading evaluations for school principals, parallel with teachers. Union officials thrive off the fear that building leaders might subjectively and unfairly target instructors. That (real or apparent) threat is greatly diminished if a principal is rated on the same standard. Continue Reading »

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6th 2014
Easy for Me to Help Point Colorado Parents to Timely Info on Open Enrollment

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

I love it when people make my job easier. (What? Ok, no, blogging here isn’t a “job,” child labor laws being what they are and all.) It’s even better when that aid comes from one of my Education Policy Center friends. Marya DeGrow has written two timely posts for the new Colorado School Grades blog — an innovation after the third year of data released rating schools across Colorado from A to F.

Marya’s first post explains how student learning styles may fit certain types of programs. The second highlights some of the great tools on the fabulous School Choice for Kids website: Continue Reading »

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2nd 2014
Colorado K-12 Policy and Trends: Eddie’s Eight Emerging Questions for 2014

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Online Schools & Parents & Preschool & Principals & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Tax Credits & Teachers & Urban Schools

Unbelievably, another new year is already underway, and I’m left to ponder what kind of hopes it holds out for Colorado kids and families seeking the best educational opportunities and outcomes possible. While I recover from the blissful batch of toys, games, and goodies, it seems like a perfect time to ponder what might emerge out of the chaos in 2014: Continue Reading »

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5th 2013
Weighted Student Formula Yearbook Highlights Better K-12 Funding Approaches

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & Urban Schools

When I hear “yearbook,” my thoughts turn to a page full of photos (including the goofy ones, you know who you are) of kids in the same class at school. But the Reason Foundation’s Weighted Student Formula Yearbook is somewhat different.

This yearbook is a one-of-a-kind look at 14 different school districts that use “portable student funding” (I like the term “backpack funding”) to make sure dollars are distributed fairly and transparently to serve real students’ needs. It also gives building principals more autonomy and responsibility to make budgetary decisions. Reason’s research gets updated every year, kind of like a school yearbook, but instead helps us to see which school systems are setting the pace in this area. Continue Reading »


16th 2013
Greeley’s Pro-Amendment 66 Fliers Come Up Short on Eddie’s Truth Check

Posted under Education Politics & School Finance & Teachers & Urban Schools

‘Tis the season for the DVR in our house. Political ads are back in Colorado, including ones making wildly exaggerated promises about Amendment 66. You know, the billion-dollar statewide tax increase allegedly “for the kids.” Thankfully, some local TV journalists have been willing to look under the hood of the Rube Goldberg proposal and call out the misleading rhetoric.

Well, I’m too young for my own TV spot, but little old Eddie wants to give it a try with this pro-66 flier being handed out in Greeley. Let me respond to some of the points in turn:

1. For Greeley-Evans taxpayers — $3 return on $1.

They’re referring to how much new revenue local schools will get for each new tax dollar area residents will pay. It’s certainly a better deal than a .62 return in Gunnison, a .59 return in Boulder County, a .56 return in Jefferson County, a .50 return in Douglas County, or a .20 return in Steamboat Springs. But it also means, taxpayers all across the rest of Weld County will be turning over more of their hard-earned funds to low-performing District 6.

2.Good schools are fundamental for our economic future

Who can disagree with that? Except more taxes and more funding for more of the same offers no guarantee of getting us there. Look at this stunning Cato Institute graph that shows the nation’s 40-year trend, or this chart from the new book Endangering Prosperity that draws a nearly flat-line ZERO correlation for states between funding increases and improved test scores. Continue Reading »


24th 2013
Campaign “Silly Season” Starts to Emerge in Colorado’s Largest School Districts

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

For reasons I don’t even have time to get into, big people often call the weeks leading up to an election the “silly season.” Most think of that in terms of presidential or Congressional races. Not so much when school board elections come around, and here in Colorado that’s in the fall of odd-numbered years.

Lest you think school board elections aren’t a big deal, I have to remind you that local Colorado boards have a great deal of constitutional prerogatives and power. They just have to be ready and willing to use it. Besides, just ask a current University of Colorado Regent, a former state treasurer, and a former lieutenant governor who are all vying for positions this year. Two of them are running in three of the state’s largest districts, where the “silly season” has reached full bloom.

The former lieutenant governor is Barbara O’Brien, competing for an at-large seat on the Denver Public Schools (DPS) board. As the Denver Post reports, she just happens to be the target of an interesting attack from her opponent. Michael Kiley has heavily criticized O’Brien for her support of a short-lived statewide school voucher plan 10 years ago: Continue Reading »


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