Tag Archives: ideas

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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Share Your Feedback on Colorado's New Draft Social Studies Standards

You’ve heard that old, old song before: “Don’t know much about history…. (And for that matter geography, civics, and economics.) Well, how true is it of Colorado public school students? And how much will the newly revised Social Studies academic standards help improve the situation? A first draft (PDF) of the Social Studies standards has been produced by a committee, and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) wants your comments. Whether you have time to read through all 128 pages of introductory material and proposed standards in the four content areas, or just select portions, any feedback you can provide is helpful. To get the context of the process behind the standards and some examples that may raise concerns, click on the play button below to listen to a new iVoices podcast discussion featuring my Education Policy Center friends Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow:

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A Glimpse at New Schools: Thomas MacLaren School (Colorado Springs)

Update, 8/18: Denise at Colorado Charters offers more information on the new Thomas MacLaren School, as well as an account of the ribbon cutting ceremony. If you live in the Colorado Springs area and have a student heading into the middle school years, you may want to take a look at the new Thomas MacLaren School. The tuition-free public charter school opens this month with classes from 6th to 9th grade. Eventually the school will serve students all the way up through high school. Many things set MacLaren apart from traditional public schools, but most prominent are: A classical education curriculum that builds from the basics of grammar (6th-8th grade) to the logic of finding “implications and relationships that exist among the ideas already learned” (9th-10th grade) to the higher-level rhetoric (11th-12th grade) “wherein students begin to synthesize and relate concepts already learned” — all students will be required to take four years of Latin Student uniforms Single-sex classrooms (that’s right: No yucky girls! I may have to look into this school….), except the fine arts classes (including choir, drama, etc.) and lunchtimes will be co-ed

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Discuss the "Rock Star" Teacher Idea While I Take a Trip to the Beach

Next week I’ll be on vacation at the beach, and blogging won’t be high on my priority list. But before taking off, I want to leave you with a glimpse into a school model based on the “rock star” teacher idea. This doesn’t mean bringing in real-life rock stars to teach. To my mom and dad, that probably would be some guy named Bon Jovi. To my gramps, maybe some ancient dude named Elvis I’ve heard him talk about. But they’d all be wrong. In a nutshell, the idea is to free up funds to pay the best teachers more by allowing for larger class sizes. The question is: Will it work? Over at Jay Greene’s blog, Dr. Matt Ladner has written about the “rock star” teacher idea several times. The latest highlights a New York Times story about a Washington Heights school scheduled to open in the fall that will pay its eight teachers each $125,000 a year, with a chance to earn more in performance incentives.

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Jay Mathews Inspires My Radical Ideas to Spend $100 Billion on Education

In today’s Washington Post, education columnist Jay Mathews raises the question: If you had $100 billion to fix our schools, what would you do? Faithful readers know I was skeptical of the federal government’s “magical money tree” a few months ago. My sentiment hasn’t changed. Some ideas for spending 100 billion (that’s a 1 followed by 11 zeroes) new smackeroos in the education bureaucracy inevitably will be better than others, and some may end up yielding some positive results. In his column, Mathews grades five proposals for spending the money, realistically noting of those who submitted the proposals: Their goal is to get the biggest change by January 2012. I think they are dreaming. The federal stimulus is designed to save jobs, not raise student achievement. But some (not all) of the ideas are so good some states might (repeat, might) be tempted to try them. To rate the five proposals yourself, as well as five others Mathews invented, check out his blog post.

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Are Education Lobbyists Handing Out Cue Cards at the Colorado Capitol?

Jay Greene’s blog has a humorous – but sad – story of how New York City teachers union operatives were caught red-handed passing out cue cards (including one with a misspelled word) to City Council members. Because we really need school boards and other policy makers to do the thoughtless bidding of adult interest groups rather than stand up for the interests of children and taxpaying citizens, right? I’m obviously being sarcastic there. But seeing that funny post made me wonder whether cue cards recently may have been passed out at the Colorado State Capitol: What cue cards were given to legislative opponents who slapped down school choice twice in the same day? Who wrote the script for the lawmaker who needed help from Grover to distinguish public from private (another legislator raised the same question on another bill at another hearing)? Who authored the cue cards for the education committee chair to ignore critical findings about school employee pensions so he could grandstand with frivolous attacks? What lobbying interest group told the same committee chair to thwart the will of the people and double-super kill school spending transparency? Or perhaps these lawmakers came up with these bad, silly, arrogant, […]

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Can Grover Help Us to Learn the Difference between Public and Private?

Yesterday one of my friends at the Colorado Spending Transparency Project wrote about a state legislator who had trouble figuring out the difference between public and private. My first thought was to call in the lovable and furry Grover, who is very good at helping to highlight contrasting words and ideas. Here’s a sample of some of his more well-known educational work: Did that help to clear up the matter? No? Sigh. I think I’m just going to fall over, too.

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