Category Archives: Homeschooling

Heartbroken by Choice Bill Defeats, Hoping for Some Scholarship Tax Credit Love

I tend not to get into all the icky Valentine’s Day stuff (flowers, pink hearts, greeting cards), except to the extent I can stuff my face with candy. Even so, some events that transpired yesterday at the Capitol nearly broke my heart. Ed News Colorado reports on the Thursday afternoon state senate committee hearing that resulted in the sad and awkward — but given political realities, not terribly surprising — death of two tax credit bills that would have increased students’ educational options. Senate Bill 131 would have provided up to a $500 credit for families who pay for an outside “education or academic enrichment service.” The only downer on SB 131 was the small negative impact forecast for the state budget. Also going down on a 4-4 vote, Senate Bill 69 would have provided a direct credit to families paying private school tuition (up to 50 percent of state per pupil revenue) or home school expenses (up to $1,000). The Colorado Education Association lobbyist expressed skepticism at the nonpartisan fiscal analysis showing the proposal would save tax dollars, claiming instead that research of an Arizona program showed a negative impact on that state’s treasury.

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Opponent Arguments Batted Down, HB 1048 Stuck in Legislative Sausage Maker

A few weeks ago I told you about the “voucher bogeyman” fearmongering around Colorado House Bill 1048 (PDF) — which would provide non-refundable tax credits to parents or donors supporting a student’s private school tuition or home education. (And therefore, not a “subsidy” as was headlined and reported with a strong anti-choice slant on the Denver Post‘s blog. To expound further by quoting from said post might get me in legal trouble, and I’m too young to be able to afford a lawyer.) Well, the bill finally got a hearing yesterday afternoon before the House Finance Committee. A fairly long one. And ultimately an indecisive one. Education News Colorado has the best account I’ve seen: After dark had fallen and the witness list was exhausted, [committee chair Rep. Brian] DelGrosso said, “I think we have raised several questions” and that “trying to piecemeal some amendments might not be the wisest decision.” “I’m going to lay it over a couple of weeks,” he told [bill sponsor Rep. Spencer] Swalm. “Maybe you can give the committee a couple of different options.” So now it’s time to hurry up and wait again. I’m learning that’s just sometimes how it goes in the big […]

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Colorado Voucher Bogeyman Story Makes Me Laugh… and Ask Serious Questions

Update: Thanks to quick help from staff at the Colorado Dept. of Education, I can tell you that Colorado public school agencies spent $7.9 million in 2008-09, and at least $6.9 million in 2009-10, on “tuition paid to private schools or non-approved agencies.” Now to figure out if that changes the nuance of CEA’s opposition to a private school tax credit program. Hey, there, don’t look now, but I think there’s something behind you… like the bogeyman!! Not really, it’s just the impression I got from reading yesterday’s Colorado Independent story titled “Colorado private school vouchers are back, disguised as tax credits.” (H/T Complete Colorado) You’ve got to watch out for those pesky vouchers in disguise. You never know what they might sneak around to do: haunt your house (Vouchergeist!), drink your blood (Vouchers or Vampires?), or worst of all, maybe steal some of your Legos! About that story in the Independent, guess what? Did you know that teachers unions and public school establishment groups are opposed to private school choice? I had no idea before reading it that groups like the Colorado Education Association or Colorado Association of School Boards might not like Rep. Spencer Swalm and Sen. Kevin […]

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Speaking Out for Douglas County's Important Private School Choice Proposal

So last night the Douglas County Board of Education hosted an hour of public comment on proposals made by the community’s School Choice Task Force. Of course, the testimony overwhelmingly was about the “Option Certificates,” or voucher, proposal. The Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer reports that public comments “were evenly split for and against the plan.” Ed News Colorado’s Nancy Mitchell says the comments were about 60/40 against the private school choice proposal, though their embedded five-minute video dedicates 80 percent of airtime to opponents. In addition to the Ed News video, you should watch the local 9News report, including a great comment from Douglas County resident and task force member Charcie Russell: “It’s not about private versus public, it’s really about more choice, and I see that great for kids, great for parents, and great for the district,” Russell said. It’s not surprising to see passion on both sides. The opposition, though, should consider the merits of their arguments. Drawing from resources at the Foundation for Educational Choice and the Institute for Justice, my Education Policy Center friends have compiled the following document to address concerns about effects on public school performance, fiscal impact and constitutionality:

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Let's Shed Light, Not Heat, on Douglas County School Choice Reform Efforts

Update, 11/9: Blogger Ben Boychuk at Somewhat Reasonable gives a plug to Douglas County and to little ol’ Eddie. He echoes our remarks and raises a great point: “Indeed, what if the public schools in Douglas County, Colorado served the interests of taxpayers and parents, and not those of the unions and ranking members of the establishment with a vested interest in preserving the status quo?” I love it when the Denver Post brings big attention to issues I’ve covered here weeks before. It tells me little Eddie is ahead of the curve. It was true of this summer’s Common Core standards debate, and today it’s true of the Douglas County school board looking to expand the boundaries of parental choice. I wrote on October 18 about the DCSD School Choice Task Force: The Task Force has looked at a range of changes for possible recommendation and adoption — everything from improving open enrollment policies to enhancing services available to home schoolers to ensuring equitable treatment of charter schools to considering a local private school choice program. I wrote that after the Board itself publicly reasserted in a public memo: We believe that informed parents, not Board members, are best […]

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Douglas County School Board Making Strong Statement for Parental Choice

How often do you see a local school board proactively promoting school choice — including choices inside and outside the district, for the sake of satisfying the local education customers? Let’s be honest: It’s pretty rare. So maybe it’s time to introduce you to the Board of Education for the Douglas County School District, the third largest in Colorado. Last Thursday the DCSD board sent out a memo that included this interesting passage: We also want to address the perception that the Board of Education prefers one type of school over another. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put, your Board supports choice. We believe that informed parents, not Board members, are best suited to determine which schools will best serve the needs of their individual students. Under our Superintendent’s leadership, schools are making efforts to define themselves clearly. We strongly support these efforts so that parents have the best information to choose which school will meet the unique learning needs and goals of their children. This work will also provide choices for teachers to match their professional styles with the school’s learning environment. Our role will be properly limited to ensuring that all schools operate on a […]

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R.I.P., Senator Al Meiklejohn

I pause from my regularly scheduled juvenile opining to acknowledge the passing of someone who gave many years of service to the state of Colorado — including many on behalf of public education. He and I wouldn’t have agreed on every issue, but there’s no doubt he was independent in thought, well-informed in his views, and passionate in his work. I’m talking about former Arvada state senator Al Meiklejohn, who died Monday at age 86 and will be put to final rest today. As reported in this week’s Denver Post obituary, Meiklejohn served six years on the Jefferson County Board of Education and “constantly pushed for public-school reform and better salaries for teachers.” For his service he has a Jeffco elementary school named after him. You know Senator Meiklejohn was a man of influence and stature when in the week of his death he has received such high praise from two very different sides of the education spectrum.

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I Guess Some People Are Still Offended Parents Can Choose to Homeschool

It’s important to recall from time to time that there are so-called intellectual elitist types out there who are uncomfortable with families exercising an educational choice they don’t agree with. Such appears to be the case with Robin L. West who wrote an article titled “The Harms of Homeschooling” (PDF) for a university publication. There isn’t much left for me to say in response to this shoddy and prejudiced piece of work. Big Journalism’s Izzy Lyman and the American Enterprise Institute’s Jay Richards already have effectively skewered it. Let me just add: As Education Next writer Milton Gaither clearly showed a little over a year ago, people choose homeschooling for a wide variety of reasons. The caricature West tries to draw is simply a figment of someone’s imagination.

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A Glimpse at New Schools: Westgate Community School (Northglenn)

You don’t think I would be considered a “gifted and talented” student, do you? Because if so, and if I lived in the north Denver metro area, I would take a really close look at getting into the new Westgate Community School. Chartered by the Adams 12 School District and located in Northglenn, Westgate serves students from kindergarten to 6th grade. According to the school’s main web page: Our school offers an innovative, stimulating learning environment to all students, including the twice-exceptional, visual-spatial, and highly/profoundly gifted learners. We specialize in gifted learners whose needs diverge from traditional educational models. Our instruction is organized to support diverse learning styles by using methods that match the strengths of alternative learners. We believe the social and emotional needs of gifted students are as important as their intellectual needs. While making our high expectations clear to all students, we also offer a loving learning environment where it is safe to take risks among peers. Our goal is to make our students feel successful, understood, and appreciated for who they are.

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Event at CCU for Homeschoolers & High Schoolers: Economics and Environment

I wanted to take a moment to let all you Colorado homeschoolers and high school students out there about a great opportunity coming up on Saturday, September 12. You’ll want to check out the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) seminar, hosted by Colorado Christian University (CCU) and titled “Reforming Federal Environmental Policy: Entrepreneurs, Enterprises, and the Environment”: This seminar, which will feature FEE president Lawrence Reed and author Gregory Rehmke, is specifically designed for Christian high school and home-school students who want to seriously explore this complex economic issue. FEE is a great organization, and Dr. Lawrence Reed is an excellent thinker, speaker and gentleman. If you’re anywhere near the Denver metro area, and you get a chance to go, I highly recommend it! You can register online here.

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