Getting Over the Past, Looking to the (School Choice and Innovation) Future

Today I’m trying not to think about the past and focusing instead on the future. By the past, I’m referring to yesterday’s vote in Colorado’s House Education Committee that killed the “Parent Trigger” bill (aka HB 1270). This blogger Victor from the Education Action Group says the “education establishment won their fight.” Disappointed only begins to describe how I feel. Also sad for the kids trapped in the lowest-performing schools.

But it’s time to look ahead. Not that far, either. As in tonight, a huge vote is taking place in Douglas County to approve the Blueprint for School Choice — including a first-of-its-kind choice scholarship pilot program for private school students. Please note:

School choice supporters need a show of force for important Douglas County Board choice scholarship vote: 5 PM, Dougco Admin Building, 620 Wilcox St, Castle Rock, Board of Ed room (upstairs).

Hope you can make it there. (More on that later.) Looking even further into the future is a great new piece by Jonathan Schorr and Deborah McGriff at Education Next about some great examples of “hybrid” learning:

Such schools combine “face-to-face” education in a specific place (what used to be called “school”) with online instruction. (Rocketship uses the term “hybrid,” rather than the increasingly prevalent term “blended learning,” because the computers are not actually “blended” with face-to-face instruction in the same classroom.) It’s a sign of how young the hybrid and blended field is that this school at the epicenter hails all the way back to 2007. Rocketship Education, a small but burgeoning network of charter schools that serves an overwhelmingly low-income immigrant community in San Jose, has made a name through its, forgive the phrase, high-flying student performance. Two of its three schools are old enough to have test scores; they rank among the 15 top-performing high-poverty schools statewide, and the site that opened last year was the number-one first-year school in the state. But what positions Rocketship on the cutting edge of school reform is its vision for how technology will integrate with, and change, the structure of the school.

Rocketship, you say? Hey, that sounds familiar. Exactly right. The Education Next story also highlights our own Denver School of Science and Technology, and some notable others that are charting a more productive and promising educational future — using technology, flexibility and imagination. Creative centers of effective learning like Carpe Diem, High Tech High, and School of One.

Whenever I get a little down about some small setback to the efforts of education transformers, I am encouraged by refocusing on what lies ahead so we can continue to work for a bright future of learning!