Tag Archives: Ben DeGrow

Arizona Lawmakers' Quick, Creative Work Makes Me So Happy for Lexie

Sometimes even shameful things can work out for good, with good people working hard to make sure kids can keep the quality education options they have received through school choice. In Arizona, thankfully they worked very quickly. Things went awry on March 25, when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on a shameful lawsuit by shutting down two voucher programs that served special-needs and foster care kids. Even then, though, as my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow reported for School Reform News, there was a ray of light: [Executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice Tim] Keller said that remains a possibility in Arizona, where it could be accomplished by popular vote either through a legislatively initiated referendum or a citizens’ petition drive. “Right now, every conceivable legal option is still on the table,” he said. Fast forward 65 days to this monumental press release from the Alliance for School Choice:

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Fixing How Colorado Teachers Are Evaluated an Important Reform Piece

Hooray for Nancy Mitchell, and so glad she is working at Ed News Colorado these days. Her latest investigation probes the value of our current teacher evaluation system at identifying effective teachers, weeding out ineffective teachers, and providing support where necessary. The results? Not very good: Education News Colorado requested teacher evaluation data from the six largest districts, all in the metro area, which serve more than 40 percent of public school students statewide. The analysis found little difference between the results of evaluations given in affluent, high-performing Douglas County and those doled out in urban Denver Public Schools, where large numbers of students perform below average on state exams. Fewer than 2 percent of teachers in either district – or in Adams Five-Star School District or in Jefferson County Public Schools – were told they needed to improve their instructional skills.

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Kansas Teacher Independence Story Makes National Headlines Again

A couple months ago I told you about the Kansas teachers local that fought for and won its independence from the state and national union. I’m excited, because the podcast I posted up there was quoted in the latest edition of School Reform News: In a March 30, 2009 interview with the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank based in Golden, Colorado, [Riley County Educators] spokesman Gary [sic] Sigle explained that last year only 14 of the county’s 56 teachers were NEA members, which gave those 14 members exclusive bargaining power. Others wanted a greater say in what was going on locally. Sarah McIntosh, the writer of the story, also interviewed my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow to get his take on the issue:

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Talking Temper Tantrums & Teacher Pay

Following the Boulder teacher “sickout” that roiled the community recently, my Education Policy Center friends Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow discuss the problem of public employee strikes and the need to reform teacher pay in a brand-new iVoices podcast: Whatever you think about how teachers ought to be paid, trying to make a point through a collective temper tantrum was not the way to go. If I tried that, I’d at least get sent to my room without dessert. Even worse, I might be grounded and not allowed to play with my Legos or Gameboy Advance. Though they haven’t gone down the path Boulder teachers have taken (at least not yet), similar disputes in Jeffco and Greeley look like they may go unresolved into the next school year.

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Research Shows Information Changes Public Opinion on School Funding

One of the main things my friends here at the Education Policy Center do is to shed light on the public debate with information. It’s good to see in scientific terms that information makes a difference with people’s opinions about important policy issues related to education. The new issue of Education Next highlights the research of University of Chicago Professor William Howell and Brown University Professor Martin West — who tested this idea in the area of whether schools should receive more funding. Here’s a sample of what they learned: The average per-pupil spending estimate from respondents to the 2008 Education Next/PEPG survey was $4,231, and the median response was just $2,000; but for these respondents, local average spending per pupil at the time exceeded $10,000. When told how much the local schools were spending, support for increased spending dropped by 10 percentage points, from 61 percent to a bare majority of 51 percent. Howell and West find that these differences in opinion based on exposure to key information are consistent across a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, views about the local public schools, and political ideologies. “It’s clear that the American public is quite willing to update its views […]

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Professional Pay and Behavior in Jefferson County Contract Impasse?

Update , 12:45 PM: It looks like Jeffco isn’t alone with the impasse problem. Some teachers in Boulder Valley School District have taken it even further, staging a sick-out at Broomfield High School (H/T Complete Colorado). And it’s not the first time. Five years ago — when I was just a wee baby — the Boulder Valley Education Association staged a major “sick-out”. Then, as now, the terms of their collective bargaining contract read: There will be no strikes or other individual or concerted action designed to deprive the youth in the schools of services of Unit B employees [ed note: teachers and other certified professional non-administrative employees]. Any employee who engages in such actions during the term of this Agreement shall be subject to severe disciplinary action. Such disciplinary action shall be subject to the Grievance Procedure contained in this Agreement, except where applicable the state statute will apply. Earlier this week I pointed you to a breaking story from my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow about teacher contract negotiations breaking down in Colorado’s largest school district. Well, the online journalists at Face The State picked up the ball with a full-length story today, including quotes from a […]

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Brad Jupp the Latest Reformer Off to D.C.: Who Will Fill His Shoes?

Education Week‘s political blogger Alyson Klein wrote yesterday about another one of Denver’s education reform leaders being exported to the nation’s capital: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has a new teacher quality adviser … and he’s got a foot in both the merit pay and union camps. Brad Jupp is formerly a senior policy adviser to Denver-schools-superintendent-turned-U.S.-Senator Michael Bennet. In that role, he worked on school and district performance improvement and accountability, teacher effectiveness, and school choice, among other issues. After being on the short list for the job Duncan now holds, DPS superintendent Michael Bennet was appointed U.S. Senator. More recently, state senate president Peter Groff was appointed to direct an office in the U.S. Department of Education. Now Jupp joins Groff in the Department in the special role of teacher quality adviser. I would be remiss not to observe that when it comes to Brad Jupp, Denver’s loss is D.C.’s gain. He has a tough job cut out for him — that’s usually the case when it comes to effecting change in the Beltway bureaucracy. But he brings a rare combination of professional experiences coupled with a keen mind, determination, and a track record of some success. One […]

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Ben DeGrow Breaks Story about Jeffco Teachers Union Contract Impasse

My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow is breaking a story about a serious disagreement in collective bargaining negotiations in Colorado’s largest school district: “Jeffco Teachers Union Calls for Impasse over Pay Dispute”. Check it out.

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Blaming Kids Like Me for 20 Sick Days a Year in Hartford Public Schools

It seems the local teachers union in Hartford, Connecticut, resents outside experts from the National Council on Teacher Quality looking at the effect their collective bargaining contract has on school performance and student learning. One issue in particular made me chuckle. From the Hartford Courant: [Hartford Federation of Teachers president Andrea] Johnson also disliked the recommendation that Hartford teachers be given fewer sick days. According to the report, many large districts and most business-sector jobs have an average of 10 sick days a year, while a Hartford teacher gets 20. On average, Hartford teachers use 11 of the 20 sick days each year, according to the report. If all the allotted sick and personal time (an additional five days) was taken, teachers would miss 14 percent of the school year, the report says. Johnson said that working with children every day requires more sick time because teachers are more susceptible to catching illnesses from the students and also passing along an illness to a room full of children. *Cough, cough.*

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A Little NAEP for a Busy Day

I have a busy day planned today. I was going to tell you all about the latest news from the Nation’s Report Card, specifically about what has changed (and what hasn’t) in student achievement since even before my parents were in school. Wow, that’s a long time ago! But instead of telling you myself, I decided that you should just read what my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has to say on the Schools for Tomorrow blog: “NAEP scores encourage, narrowly”. Have a great day!

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