Tag Archives: paper

New Finance Paper Sheds Light on Complicated Issues

Just last week, we were talking about the record number of local school-related tax increases on the ballot and how those increases fit in the context of school finance overall. I even had a reader named Larry write in to correct me on a misspelling of Michael Phelps’ name. I incorrectly thought his name was Michael Phelp (with no “s”). I suppose that’s what I get for not watching swimming. I am dreadfully ashamed of the error, and hope Mr. Phelps (and Larry) can find it in his heart to forgive me. Fortunately, I won’t need to make any swimming references today. Instead, I’d like to continue the conversation on Colorado school finance by briefly highlighting a new issue paper published by my Independence Institute policy friend Ross Izard.

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Studies Bring Bad News for Vouchers… With Lots of Caveats

We’ve covered quite a bit of positive research regarding private school choice in recent months. Back in May, I wrote about a meta-study by researchers at the University of Arkansas that found positive effects from vouchers in the U.S. and a couple of other countries. The following month, we dug into the Friedman Foundation’s latest review of random-assignment studies on private school choice programs in the United States. Fourteen of the 18 studies included in that review found positive effects for at least some groups of students. Two found no visible effects, and two more—both from Louisiana—found significant negative effects. As I’ve said before, there are good reasons to believe that program design and implementation issues played a role in the negative findings in Louisiana. Now, though, I’m sorry to report that I’ve become aware of less easily explained bad news on voucher programs in Ohio and Indiana. But don’t fret just yet; there are some major caveats that need to be considered before we start jumping to broad conclusions. Buckle up, today’s post will be a long and nerdy one.

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I'll Learn Cursive if I Can Use Crayons (or Maybe Type in a Script Font)

When not typing like I do for the blog, I use crayons (especially my favorite colors blue and green) to write in large block letters. On paper, mind you, not walls. I’ve learned that lesson! Anyway, that’s why I found interesting the new article in the Denver Post “Cursive increasingly out of loop in schools”: West Virginia’s largest school system teaches cursive, but only in the third grade. “It doesn’t get quite the emphasis it did years ago, primarily because of all the technology skills we now teach,” said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary education in Kanawha County schools. For Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University, cursive writing is a lifelong skill, one she fears could become lost, making many historic records hard to decipher and robbing people of “a gift.” Gulp. Not sure what different Colorado schools do about teaching handwriting, but I’m curious to know. Does anybody out there teach cursive with crayons? Or maybe I can just use one of those “script” fonts here on WordPress. Does anybody know how to do that?

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Please Don't Let Unions Play Hide-and-Seek with Teachers' Money

Hide-and-seek can be a lot of fun, but not when someone else — especially some big group — is playing it with your money. That’s why my friends at the Independence Institute make such a big deal about government spending transparency. But what about transparency for teachers who belong to, or have to pay fees to, a union? Following the story of the Indiana state teachers union that lost millions of dollars of members’ money through gross mismanagement, James Sherk and Dan Lips from the Heritage Foundation wrote a great piece for yesterday’s National Review Online called “Shady Dealings”. They explain how teachers unions have fought having to shine light on their financial activities:

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Homeschool Day at the Capitol: Marya DeGrow Spreads Message of Vigilance

A week ago I told you what a big school choice week it was going to be at the Colorado State Capitol. And it was. Ed News Colorado has a short video recap of Thursday’s charter school rally. It was left to one of my friends at the Education Policy Center – namely Marya DeGrow – to cover Friday’s Homeschool Day at the Capitol. Several legislators showed up to show their support and appreciation. Marya handed out hundreds of flyers about her new, exciting paper Colorado’s Homeschool Law Turns Twenty (PDF). And she let me be an honorary homeschooler for a day! Maybe you don’t have time to sit down and read the whole paper, or maybe you need to be persuaded why the paper is so important.

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A Big School Choice Week Down at the Colorado State Capitol

This week brings a couple of big days for supporters of school choice. First of all, bet you didn’t know that it’s 2009 Colorado Charter Schools Week, celebrating the 15th anniversary of charter schools in Colorado. The big day to commemorate the occasion is this Thursday, April 2 – as charter school families and supporters rally at 11:30 am at the State Capitol. Public charter schools represent an important educational option that has established itself in our state. If you want to keep track of charter school issues here, you absolutely have to bookmark two sites: the Colorado Charters blog and the new A Parent’s Voice. The very next day – Friday, April 3 – is the annual Homeschool Day at the Capitol, with a chance to meet elected state representatives and senators, to participate in two workshops, and to join in a noon rally. And younger homeschooled kids can participate in the Future Statesmen Program, which sounds pretty neat to me. Show up at the Homeschool Day at the Capitol, and you might just meet one of my Education Policy Center friends there with information on the new, exciting paper Colorado’s Homeschool Law Turns Twenty (PDF) – a real […]

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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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"Will President Obama's School Reform Bring the Change Kids Need?"

Things are changing in Washington, DC, and my friends in the Education Policy Center are wondering what the new presidential administration will mean for school reform. That’s why they agreed to publish a paper by a really smart group of people – three professors from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. The new paper is called The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Will President Obama’s School Reform Bring the Change Kids Need? (PDF). The authors are Robert Maranto, Gary Ritter, and Sandra Stotsky. You really need to read this paper if you care about education and the future of America. As a candidate, Barack Obama gave a lot of different messages about education reform. The authors of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly sort out the different competing proposals, and encourage the President-elect to “appoint a Democratic reformer who embraces the good, opposes the bad, and avoids the ugly, to serve as the nation’s next Secretary of Education.” The Fordham Institute’s Education Gadfly has its ears to the Beltway grapevine, running a daily line to see who the favorites are to fill the Cabinet-level post. The latest entry has Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan […]

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