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It’s National School Choice Week!!!

Today I joined fellow students at the Colorado State Capitol Building to watch the legislative process! It was really cool because I heard a legislator talk about National School Choice Week! I even met a real live legislator named Senator John Cooke from Weld County. He is really tall! Before he was a state senator he was the Weld County Sheriff. My friend, and intern at the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center, Grace Atchison-Reynolds, wrote a spectacular op-ed about her own school choice story. Also, in celebration of National School Choice Week, Grace starred in a video! Once again the National Alliance for Charter Public Schools ranked Colorado 2nd for the best charter school laws. I was hoping we would take first this year but maybe we will next year! It is the time of year when many students open enroll into a public school other than their neighborhood school. You can learn more by going to SchoolChoiceforKids.org Enjoy celebrating school choice! You have three more days to celebrate!

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Are State Education Rankings Accurate?

State education rankings are commonly used in conversations about the U.S. education system. One of the most popular ranking systems is from the U.S. News and World Report.  The Cato Institute conducted a study which focused on the U.S. News and World Report’s education measurement, and set out to assess the bias behind this ranking system. The determined bias was due to the lack heterogeneity (demographic diversity) from state to state and subsequently skewed data.

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The Fight for the Best Charter Schools in the Nation

The recently released book by Cara Stillings Candal, The Fight for the Best Charter Public Schools in the Nation, examines the case of charter schools in Massachusetts. Candal is an education policy expert and a senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute with an extensive background in education policy. In her book, she discusses the success of the Massachusetts charter system and the political and perceptual challenges the charter schools continue to face.

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How Do We Stop Bullying and Violence in Schools?

Most of us remember where we were on the day of the Columbine massacre—almost two decades ago. How Do We Stop Bullying and Violence in Schools? Like so many of the challenges within K-12 education, it is a complex subject.

The Independence Institute recently hosted a presentation by two organizations that are making a difference. Jennie Jarratt, project manager of The Heartland’s Institute’s Center for Transforming Education and Rob Unger, CEO of Rachel’s Challenge provided us with statistics, policy recommendations, and highlights of a prevention program that is saving lives.

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New Colorado Report Reveals Public School Open Enrollment Trends

Colorado has been a leader in public school choice for decades. Legislative bills to allow students to cross neighborhood school zones and school district boundaries were first introduced in the late 1980s. Legislation passed in 1990 and 1994 to open the doors to a new public school choice frontier.

Ready Colorado, an education reform organization, recently published a first-of-its-kind report about Colorado’s public school open enrollment system.

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New Teacher Evaluation Systems are Improving Student Outcomes

An October 2018 report examines how initially controversial teacher evaluation systems have led to improved student outcomes. The report, Making a Difference: Six Places where Teacher Evaluation Systems are Getting Results was published by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The study analyzes several transformational teacher evaluation systems and how each impacted student achievement. A decade’s worth of reform has helped Tennessee climb from near the bottom, to the middle of the pack on the benchmark national education scores, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In Dallas, a teacher evaluation system has helped increase student proficiency seven percentage points in all grades and subjects. In Denver, students have consistently outpaced the average Colorado state student in English and math since the inception of their teacher rating system. Innovative teacher evaluation systems in the District of Columbia, Newark, and New Mexico have also benefited both students and teachers. These effective teacher evaluation systems are tied to incentives and supports and are designed to distinguish between teachers at different performance levels; reward effective teachers and keep them teaching; identify consistently less-effective teachers in order provide supports or end their contracts; create tailored teacher improvement strategies; recruit new effective teachers; and most […]

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Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Releases Report on Colorado’s Blaine Clauses

A newly released report entitled “The Colorado Constitution’s No Aid To Sectarian Institutions Clause and its Impact on Civil Rights,” examines the origins of the Colorado Constitution’s No Aid Clause (known as Blaine Amendments), and the historical and modern applications.

The report was authored by members of the Colorado Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Independence Institute’s Research Director, David Kopel, serves on the committee as the Vice-Chair.

Nineteenth century Blaine clauses banned public dollars from supporting sectarian-religious organizations which society viewed unfavorably, including Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism, and Islam. Mainstream Protestant denominations were not considered to be sectarian.

The report details how the clause impacts civil rights in education, students with disabilities, higher education scholarships, and lists eight state-funded voucher-like programs that provide funding for programs at religious institutions.

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Research Indicates that Amendment 73 will not Improve Educational Outcomes

Study after study has highlighted how additional funding rarely leads to improved educational outcomes, yet another state ballot measure raising taxes for education has made it onto the ballot.

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Basis Charter School Network Tops US News Best High School Rankings

The Arizona centered BASIS charter school network sweeps the top five national high school rankings in the US News & Reports Annual Ranking. BASIS charter schools have no admission requirements and openly accepts students based on a random lottery system due to the high demand for the public charter school.

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Let’s Celebrate National Employee Freedom Week!

This week is National Employee Freedom Week and there is certainly reason to celebrate! On June 27, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court released hundreds of thousands of non-union public employees from the burden of paying agency fees via the Janus v. AFSCME decision.

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