Tag Archives: Pam Benigno

Unity is Strength: Independence Institute Staff Take the Plunge and Unionize

You know, maybe I’ve been too hard on teachers unions. Just this year, I’ve celebrated their declining membership rates, poked fun at their colossal loss of money in the 2014 election cycle, and had a little too much fun reliving an extraordinarily entertaining “battleflop” by Jeffco’s local teachers union. Who can blame me? My big boy policy friends at the Independence Institute are always talking about union political spending, making sure union negotiations are required to be public, and helping teachers learn more about how they can opt out of paying union dues. Ben DeGrow did a scathing analysis of posts on the Jefferson County Education Association’s Facebook page back in January, and just this month Ross Izard published an article decrying union efforts to undermine tenure reform and accountability systems in education. I’m just a little guy, and I’ve got to follow the grownups’ lead. But now it seems like the grownups may be changing their minds. Faced with impossible expectations and the cruel management of Jon Caldara, staff members are banding together for support.

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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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School Choice, Hoosier Style: Hope for Needy Indiana Kids & the Movement?

I’m a little slow to report on this great news to you, but here goes … Kudos to Indiana for joining the ranks of states to offer private school choice to its needy students. From the June 30 Friedman Foundation announcement: Indiana lawmakers today approved a $2.5 million scholarship tax credit program in the home state of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. The new scholarship program was inserted into the state’s budget and won approval in the late hours of the special legislative session. The bill, which passed the Senate 34-16 and the House 61-36, was signed by the governor a couple hours later. “The state of Indiana today joined a growing number of states that are putting the educational needs of children before partisan politics by adopting school choice programs,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation…. The victory is especially sweet for national school choice champion Friedman, because the Foundation calls the Hoosier State home. So my Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno was delighted to be able to interview Robert Enlow about the Indiana school choice victory on this new iVoices podcast (click the play button to listen):

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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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Krista Kafer Helps You Figure Out What Makes a Charter School Good

A couple days ago I brought your attention to the closure of a struggling Denver charter school, but made the point: For every Amandla that (as far as I can tell) deserves to be shut down, there is a Cesar Chavez, West Denver Prep, Ridgeview Classical, and many other Colorado charter schools that are doing great work providing families successful alternatives to the traditional public education model. That’s great, you might say, but how can I figure out what makes a charter school good or not? Well, have no fear. My friend and Education Policy Center senior fellow Krista Kafer has co-authored a report for the Colorado Department of Education called A Typology of Colorado Charter Schools 2009 (PDF). The more dedicated among you may want to dive right into the report, but I suggest you whet your appetite for this important topic first by listening to a brand-new iVoices podcast that Krista recorded with Center director Pam Benigno: Near the end of the podcast, you also will hear Krista talk about her newly updated issue paper A Chronology of School Choice in the U.S. (PDF). If you haven’t read it already, please check it out!

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Momentous Time of Challenges and Opportunities for School Choice

I may not have been able to throw my Legos far enough to hit him, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan is taking plenty of lumps from others, reports Joanne Jacobs and Jay Greene (see here and here and here). Of course, what Duncan is allowing to happen to the Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program is perhaps just the most outrageous of the latest challenges to school choice. There’s also the recent Arizona Supreme Court decision, and continuing attacks against the Milwaukee voucher program. In a new iVoices podcast, listen to Scott Jensen from the Alliance for School Choice discuss with my Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno not only the challenges but the opportunities facing supporters of educational freedom at this momentous time: Let’s stay strong and not lose heart, folks. School choice is a major (and indispensable) part of the answer to our education woes, and there are many, many kids my age and older who are worth fighting for.

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A Parent's Voice: Terrific Source of Information for Colorado Moms & Dads

Rather than dwell on the latest anti-D.C. scholarship program developments that have me burning angry again (I hope this group stands up and does something about it), I decided to focus on the positive this Monday morning. Colorado’s charter school parents and other school choice supporters have another great resource at their disposal. If you haven’t checked out the new website A Parent’s Voice, you’re missing out on a terrific resource – one that complements our own School Choice for Kids site. Recently, my Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno sat down with A Parent’s Voice creator and charter school mom Donnell Rosenberg to discuss the background and features of the site. You can listen to their iVoices podcast conversation here: Right now, Colorado is relatively blessed by our political situation as it pertains to school choice. But none of it — whether it’s open enrollment, charter schools, or online education — should be taken for granted. To ward off potential anti-choice political attacks like what’s transpiring in Washington D.C., as well as to enhance your child’s educational opportunities (both present and future), it is very important to arm yourself with the best information tools possible. A Parent’s Voice is […]

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Boulder Valley Decision to Sue State Charter Schools Made in "Plush Times"

The Boulder Valley school board doesn’t seem to be learning too quickly. As the Boulder Daily Camera reports, at least they have put off their decision to waste more taxpayer money by continuing their lawsuit against educational opportunity through the state’s charter school authority. But they’re not making many winning arguments to justify their past actions, either. My Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno was quoted in the story: Pam Benigno, director of the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center, said Boulder Valley leaders should be held accountable for their “waste of taxpayer money.” “I’m a strong supporter of school choice,” Benigno said. “Families should have as many options as possible, and the state charter institute is a good idea for Colorado.”

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More Colorado Students and Parents Choosing the Cyberschool Option

Because of the fact that I communicate with you over the Internet, you’d probably guess I’m a big fan of online education. Well, I am. It doesn’t work for every kid, but it sure deserves to be treated fairly as another educational option. Cyberschools well may be the wave of the future, and it’s growing more popular with parents and students in Colorado all the time. In today’s Rocky Mountain News, Nancy Mitchell sheds light on the rising trend of cyberschools: Growth in the programs, which had spiked from 166 students in 2000 to 9,150 in 2006, eked up to 9,222 in 2007. But in fall 2008, that number grew to 11,641 students – an enrollment that would rank it 19th among Colorado’s 178 school districts in size…. In return for greater accountability, the law provides more funding. Before, online schools were prohibited from receiving funding for students who had been home- schooled or were in private schools the year before they enrolled in virtual classes.

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This Time It's True: Democrats for Education Reform to Air Friday

Okay, so the last time I told you Joe Williams from Democrats for Education Reform was about to appear on the Independent Thinking television program, it turned out to be a false alarm. Schedules change. Those things are beyond my control. But now I’ve been promised that this time it’s going to happen for sure. If you’re in the Denver area, you’ll want to tune in to KBDI Channel 12 this Friday, November 21, at 8:30 PM, or next Tuesday, November 25, at 5:00 PM, to watch Joe Williams and our own Pam Benigno discuss the movement to reform education in the Democratic Party and how it might play out here in Colorado. Set your VCR or TiVo, if you must, but please don’t miss it! (By the way, here’s a link to the hour-long video of the provocative discussion led by Joe Williams at our Independence Institute offices a couple months ago.) Colorado is the home of the first state chapter of Democrats for Education Reform. And after all, as our own Ben DeGrow pointed out a few days ago in the Denver Post, there is hope for more positive change in the area of school choice and other […]

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