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Demand for Scholarships Crashes Website

Last year Illinois passed a scholarship tax credit program. The demand was so high for scholarships, the number of applications crashed the website. Meanwhile, opponents run a bill to kill the program.

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Student Shares Her School Choice Story

During National School Choice Week, the youngest member of the Independence Institute Education Policy Center’s team, Arrupe Jesuit High School Junior, Diana De La Rosa, had her first op-ed published in a Colorado newspaper.

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House Bill 17-1375 Moves Colorado Up in Charter Law Rankings

Just today, I was awarded “most creative in the household” for my crayon depiction of my mom on the living room wall. Though it seems like she had some mixed feelings about my work, it’s still nice to be acknowledged. Being distinguished for your hard work and triumph is rewarding–which is why charter school advocates in Colorado should feel good that the Centennial State was ranked as having the second-best charter school laws in the nation by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) in its recent report titled Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws, 2018. The NAPCS’ ranking system utilizes 21 criteria that define their ideal charter school laws. The better a state’s laws clearly align with the NACPS’ model standards, the higher the state is rated. The criteria stress autonomy, clarity, responsibility, and several other facets commonly emphasized in charter school laws. The only state ranked higher than Colorado was Indiana, which retained its number-one spot from 2017. House Bill 17-1375–which created the potential of $ 34 million in additional funding from mill levy overrides for charter schools–served as the predominant factor that lifted Colorado up from the NAPCS’ rankings number […]

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Charter School Champion Becomes Headmaster of Liberty Common School

Last week was National School Choice Week but today we are still celebrating! Our friend, The Honorable Bob Schaffer, has been appointed to the position of Headmaster of Liberty Common School, a charter school in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Liberty Common School is one of the top public schools in the entire state. Bob Schaffer was a champion for school choice while he served as a state legislator and in Congress. We congratulate Bob on his new position! I like to continue to celebrate school choice!  

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Colorado Union Censors Independent Teacher Voice

To prepare for their role in the upcoming election, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) sent out a survey to find out what their members want from their ideal future governor. Well, maybe we should say CEA’s ideal governor, as the survey questions featured an unabashed favoritism of anti-reform measures and a lack of alternatives for those who want to express their support of reforms, as shown below: In this survey, there is no option for those who support anything the union opposes. The questions are loaded to skew the responses in a single direction; even if one tried to mark “other,” the survey mandates two responses per question, forcing the answerer to agree with at least something that the union desires. Any educator not in complete compliance with the CEA will have a hard time taking this survey without sacrificing their values, that is of course considering that they don’t want the CEA to define their values for them. This poll will give way to nothing but a confirmation bias for the union, and is blatantly unmindful of Colorado’s educators who support education reform and see the positive influence various reforms have made such as charter schools. It’s equivalent to […]

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National School Choice Week 2018

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2018 National School Choice Week, one of the most fun and joyful weeks of the year for us school choice supporters. Throughout the course of this week, there will be gatherings, speeches, parades, and numerous other events held to celebrate all forms of choice in education. In Colorado specifically, there we be a variety of events held around the state. My friends at the Independence Institute and their partner organizations are holding an event in Denver on Saturday for families to celebrate school choice and to learn about scholarship organizations that help low-income children attend private schools. You are welcome to join us! In Colorado Springs, our friends from Parents Challenge have organized an event at City Hall on Wednesday. They would love to see you too!   This week, it’s important to remember that school choice is about giving every child the opportunity to succeed and reach their best self–not political partisanship. There is no one universal truth or omnipotent solution in education; each option provides a distinguished benefit or focus that may or may not be the best fit approach to teaching a particular student the critical thinking and academic skill set they […]

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Talent Pipeline Report Confirms that Eddie is a Very Wise Little Boy

Now that the holiday season has passed, students across the nation are settling back into their school routines. Despite the snow outside, for many college and high school students summer is fast approaching and with it the desire to gain professional skills through an apprenticeship or internship. These students recognize that industry experience is vital to a complete and well-rounded education. To back their claim, the Colorado Workforce Development Council has released its newest Talent Pipeline Report. The report’s number one recommendation?   “Accelerate and Deepen partnerships between education, business and industry to develop Colorado talent.”   That’s right, just as my friend Connan Houser at the Independence Institute claimed, It’s time for more public-private cooperation in education. I wish my school would consider this idea–I could design buildings for a company using Legos or help the accounting department with my abacus.   As exemplified by one of the movements leading enterprises, the effort to vitalize the relationship between business and education in Colorado is proving to be successful.   CareerWise, a Colorado nonprofit apprenticeship program, has had over half of its partner companies renew and agree to bring aboard a second group of students this coming fall. It has […]

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New Evidence Reveals Why 19th Century Bans on Sectarian Aid are Unconstitutional

I misinterpret things my mom tells me to do all the time. Somehow “pick up your toys” sounds a lot like “go watch T.V.” when my favorite show is on. Those phrases are interchangeable to me. But, treating words that aren’t synonyms as interchangeable can have consequences–as I find out when my mom catches me watching Nickelodeon instead of doing my chores. In recent years, the meaning of sectarian has been conflated with the meaning of religious–especially in the debate surrounding Blaine Amendments. In his article in the Federalist Society Review, “Why Nineteenth Century Bans on ‘Sectarian’ Aid Are Facially Unconstitutional: New Evidence on Plain Meaning,” the Independence Institute’s constitutional jurisprudence expert Rob Natelson defines the critical difference between “sectarian” and “religious,” and the consequences this misinterpretation has led to in private school choice. Mr. Natelson’s article is comprised of three primary sections that support his claim: 1. Nineteenth Century Constitutional Provisions Show that “Sectarian” Had a Meaning Separate from “Religious” or “Denominational” This section focuses on the drafting of state constitutions and how the terms religious, denominational, and sectarian are used separately. Each has a distinguished meaning and are not used interchangeably in their respective clauses. 2. The Nineteenth […]

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Wisconsin ESA Bill to Help Low-income Gifted Students

To start off the New Year, Wisconsin legislators have introduced an education saving account (ESA) bill for gifted and talented, low-income families in an effort to aid gifted students who are less likely to receive recognition and support. Two-thousand low-income students will have access to an ESA, with a limit of $1,000 that can be used for additional education services. While I fill my piggy bank up with money for candy and Legos, these families will be able to fill their account with tax-exempt funding for AP testing and college courses. There are an estimated three million K-12 students in the U.S. who are considered gifted. While we have a federal savings fund for students with learning disabilities, we lack a savings option for our gifted students. I think it’s time we acknowledge that there are students whose promise is being overlooked and potential underutilized and give them the opportunity to reach their best–Wisconsin’s proposal may prove to be a critical step in doing so. In a recent op-ed published in the Washington Examiner titled Is school choice 2.0 coming?, the authors clearly define how our education system undermines gifted students’ education: “Mass education presents a difficult balance for teachers, […]

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Oracle Builds 43 Million-dollar STEM Charter School

I recently took a road trip to California for the holidays. I passed through Silicon Valley, and boy was there some cool stuff to see–the most interesting thing? Well, aside from the Winchester Mystery House and people wearing scarves in 70-degree weather, I marveled at the sight of a 43 million-dollar public charter school campus being built into the side of a behemoth tech company. Oracle, a computer software company based out of California, is just finishing the construction of a new campus designated to Design Tech High School. The campus will be integrated into Oracle’s estate, placing 550 students and an enormous tech company in a shared proximity. Design Tech is a public charter school that emphasizes STEM courses and Stanford Universities’ design thinking. Now, it will act as a leading model for partnerships between technology companies and public education. Students at Design Tech will not only benefit from the brand new high-tech campus gifted by Oracle, but also from the opportunity for internships and mentoring from their neighboring organization. The price that Oracle is charging for rent? One dollar per-year. Even I could afford that with my allowance. While some are concerned that Oracle may exercise excessive power […]

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