Tag Archives: Peter Groff

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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House Education Committee Kills Choice for Autistic Kids, Angers Cap'n

I love rollercoasters, but not when my emotions are riding on them. This morning is the bottom of the hill, and the ride has been fast. I just found out that the House Education Committee has killed (though not “double-super-killed” this time) a chance to expand educational opportunity for Colorado’s autistic students. Colorado Senate News has the sad details: Senate Bill 130, authored by Senate GOP Whip Nancy Spence, was a groundbreaking proposal to create the state’s first charter school specifically serving children with autism. Spence, of Centennial, the GOP’s ranking member on the Senate Education Committee, won support for her bill on both sides of the aisle, including from Senate President Peter Groff. Groff, a Denver Democrat, has often made headlines with his advocacy of wide-ranging school reforms and is leaving his post at the end of the 2009 legislative session to help guide education policy in the Obama administration. Yet, Spence says, it ironically was some of Groff’s fellow Democrats in the House who killed the bill this afternoon in the House Education Committe. Spence said she had been told earlier that if she didn’t agree to water her bill down, it likely couldn’t pass the House. “This […]

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Kudos to the Commish, But Parents Also Have Important Reform Role to Play

Yesterday, in a Denver Post guest commentary, Colorado’s commissioner of education Dwight Jones weighed in with some thoughts about our “race to the top” for innovative and effective education reform: Innovation is more than just a good idea, it’s about putting that good idea into practice. The Colorado Department of Education is presently pursuing a wide variety of innovative education models, including new approaches to teacher preparation, leadership development, school choice and the way in which education is funded. We are organizing strategies and directing resources in ways to innovate intentionally, and, in so doing, increase capacity to take to scale what improves education for Colorado’s students.

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New Opportunity for Colorado's Autistic Students a Little Closer

The challenge of being able to help all kids shouldn’t be a reason not to help some kids. That’s why I’m excited that Colorado is one step closer to having legislation that will provide new options for students with autism. Senator Nancy Spence, truly one of the legislature’s champions for educational choice and opportunity, has sponsored Senate Bill 130. In its original form (PDF), the bill would have created a new scholarship program so parents of autistic kids could choose to enroll them in a private school to meet their special needs. If you look in the Alliance for School Choice’s brand-new School Choice Yearbook 2008-09 (PDF), you will learn – among many other things – that five different states have some sort of special-needs scholarship program. In fact, Ohio has an existing Autism Scholarship Program that in its fifth year (2007-08) had more than 1,000 students and 200 schools participating. Bills that include private school choice tend not to do so well these days at the Colorado State Capitol, though there is some support among members of both parties. At the hearing Senator Chris Romer came up with an amendment so the bill would create a special pilot program […]

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Ben DeGrow's Denver Post Piece an Important Reminder of Priorities

If you’re someone who reads the Denver newspapers on the weekend, you likely noticed an op-ed in the Denver Post written by our own Ben DeGrow. The title of the piece is “Putting Education – Not Unions – First”. (You’d almost think Ben has been reading a thing or two that I write here.) But never mind that. I just wanted to share with you one section that I particularly liked and hope that you check out the whole thing: Sometimes, the interests of the Democratic Party and teachers union officials align closely. The Colorado Education Association and Colorado Federation of Teachers together give Democrats about $50 in contributions for every $1 they give Republicans. Of course, not all Democratic legislators are in the pockets of the teachers union hierarchy. It is remarkable, though, to see not one but two legislators without union connections assume the highest positions at our state Capitol. Peter Groff’s Democratic peers voted to re-elect him as state Senate president, and Rep. Terrance Carroll was selected to become the new speaker of the House. Supporters of public school parental choice could find no better friends in the Democratic caucus than Groff and Carroll. Both men have […]

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Colorado Might Just Be Getting Even Smarter about Education Reform

I hope that I get smarter as I go through school some day. Likewise, despite its success with advancing school choice and accountability so far, Colorado also needs to Get Smart(er) about education reform. At least that’s the premise behind a new group called Get Smart Schools Colorado. As the Rocky Mountain News reports: The idea behind Get Smart Schools is similar to school initiatives in Chicago and New York – one group pooling expertise and funding to help promising new school models get off the ground. That’s because research shows it’s typically more effective to start good new schools than it is to transform existing schools that are failing. In Colorado, the focus will be on importing quality school models that have been successful elsewhere and on helping promising new schools find facilities, an obstacle for many. Believe it or not, this sort of group really is needed. We know the importance of smaller schools, autonomy (big word!), strong leadership, high-quality instruction, research-based curricula, parental involvement (i.e., choice), and focus on student improvement. But with an experienced and qualified staff of its own, a group like Get Smart Schools Colorado can show new schools how to get it done […]

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Some Democrats in Denver Are Willing to Challenge the Teachers Unions

There’s a big political party known as the Democratic National Convention going on in the heart of our state this week. Maybe you’ve heard of it. My parents say there’s lots of crazy stuff going on there – things that I’m too young to see, things that could warp my young, impressionable mind or worse. But I guess there also was a serious and “inspirational” event yesterday in Denver, an event that should give real “hope” to education reformers that “change” might come: For too long, panelists agreed, the Democratic Party has walked in lockstep with the teacher unions, and has shown little will to take them on. “As Democrats, we have been wrong on education, and it’s time to get right,” said Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, a rising political star. Booker said he was “practically tarred and feathered” by his local union for even broaching the subject of school choice. “This is my wildest dream,” Booker said during a panel discussion, looking out at an overflowing Denver Art Museum auditorium. “I never thought I’d see a room full of Democrats interested in doing this (taking on the unions).” Among those in attendance was National Education Association President Reg […]

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A Cautious Hooray for the Newly-Signed Innovation Schools Act

It’s always a little scary when the legislature is in session making new laws that affect education. But one bill the governor signed yesterday gives a little hope for some real positive changes: Bruce Randolph Middle School led the way and now all schools in Colorado will have the opportunity to become autonomous. “A status quo approach is no longer working and in fact is hindering our ability to graduate our students with skills they need to succeed in a global economy,” said Colorado Senate President Peter Groff. Wednesday morning, Gov. Bill Ritter was joined by staff members and students at Bruce Randolph during a bill signing that would allow schools to break free of a certain district to have more decision making power as it relates to students, staff, and budget. National education reform writer Joe Williams took the opportunity to send “bigtime kudos” to Senator Groff for his leadership in bringing forward this bill – known as the Innovation Schools Act. The bill certainly didn’t end up as strong as it could have, after being watered down by the teachers union. But it should be easier now for schools to break free from some of the red tape […]

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