Tag Archives: policy makers

Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien Highlights Colorado Charter Success to Congress

Updated for accuracy (6/9) For 15 years we’ve had charter schools around in Colorado. By giving strong accountability along with a new level of freedom, our state has been one of the leaders in fostering innovation through charters. Going along with that, charter schools have now established themselves with strong bipartisan political support. Witness our own Democrat lieutenant governor Barbara O’Brien, who offered testified before a Congressional committee on Thursday. Denise at Colorado Charters highlighted the factors O’Brien pointed out as reasons for charter school success. But I thought this was the most interesting part of what Lt. Gov. O’Brien had to say:

Read More...

Teacher Pay & Tenure System Like Pounding Square Peg into Round Hole

Have you ever tried to pound a square peg into a round hole (or vice versa)? How about after that doesn’t work a couple times, you go out and buy 100 of the same square pegs to keep trying what already failed? It makes about as much sense as most systems we have today for training, developing, paying, and retaining teachers. Sure, we’ve seen some progress with performance pay programs — Colorado has produced some leading examples — but the old-fashioned salary schedule still persists. Pay teachers based on seniority and academic credentials. Never mind, as the Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer observes from Urban Institute education director Jane Hannaway (with supporting evidence compiled here), that teachers overwhelmingly improve during the first four years of their career and then just stop: “It’s one of our very consistent findings,” said Hannaway, presenter last week at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in San Diego, citing at least two recent studies of teacher effectiveness. “The reason of course is not clear, but it’s in study after study,” she said. “Teachers do get better (in the beginning). If you look at the same teacher at Year One, they look a lot better at […]

Read More...

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, […]

Read More...

The Real World Would Recognize (and Deal with) Both Good and Bad Teaching

Every child is always a winner … Children just need better self-esteem … We only need to use positive incentives to help children learn more … Let’s reward the good but pretend like the bad doesn’t exist … I’m only 5 years old, and I get that this is marshmallow world nonsense. In fact, it’s the kind of silliness that makes many people question (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) the value of much of what goes on in public education. It gets even worse when the principle is applied not only to students, but also to teachers. At least if the union has its way. Witness the evidence from Chicago, a city with many failing schools: principal evaluations found only 3 out of every 1,000 teachers had unsatisfactory performance. While unions thrive on fears of bogeyman administrators who take out their vindictiveness on good teachers they don’t like, this evidence at least indicates the problem tips in the other direction. In any case, wouldn’t a more objective data system be better?

Read More...

Frivolous Attacks on Pension Reform Draw Attention (For Me, Detention?)

Yesterday morning some of my Education Policy Center friends were down at the State Capitol (now, like me, they can hardly get out of their driveways… snow day!). They joined Dr. Michael Mannino, author of the Independence Institute report Deferred Retirement Compensation for Career K-12 Employees: Understanding the Need for Reform (PDF), for his informational presentation to the joint House and Senate Education Committee. New Ed News Colorado reporter Nancy Mitchell provided some colorful coverage of yesterday’s unusually well-attended proceedings (hey, I don’t even want to get out of bed at 7:30 AM): Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, drew applause from a standing-room only crowd when he closely questioned Michael Mannino, a University of Colorado professor who helped write the report. “Is it possible that your phrases like drastic tax increases and meltdowns could be fear-mongering on your part … in support of your political agenda?” Merrifield asked, an apparent reference to the report’s sponsor, the Independence Institute, which bills itself as a “free market” think tank based in Golden. “Could it be that you’re making an assumption to support your personal views that teachers shouldn’t have a defined benefit plan?” Merrifield asked at another point. “I want people to […]

Read More...

Outside Education Experts Help Point the Way to Get Colorado On Track

Education policy is often as much art as it is science. But Colorado’s education policy still can benefit from the informed perspectives of non-Colorado experts. Denver’s own Piton Foundation convened a panel of six national education experts who observe what Colorado has done in many reform areas, and asked for their honest assessments. The result is a brand new report Colorado’s 2008 Education Reforms: Will They Achieve the Colorado Promise? (PDF). In today’s Denver Post, education writer Jeremy Meyer sums up the findings: Six national education experts took a look at Colorado’s education landscape and found the state is on track in some areas but has a long way to go in others.

Read More...

Leaner Budget Times Call for Colorado Schools to Post Finances Online

It’s going to be a tough fiscal year for education officials used to managing ever-expanding tax-funded budgets. 2009 just might be a year in which policy makers and administrators find ways to cut out the fat and focus the lean spending on classroom success. One way to help is to empower everyday citizens – like my mom and dad, and thousands of other Colorado taxpayers – with detailed financial information online so they can help find cost savings. What am I talking about? It’s called online financial transparency. Can you imagine if school districts and other local education agencies all had searchable databases on their websites that allowed you to see exactly how money is being spent? What once was a distant dream is fast approaching reality. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow explains it all in his new backgrounder Shining the Light on Colorado School Spending. Transparency promote greater public accountability and confidence that local schools are being run efficiently and effectively. In many cases it also pays for itself. Today’s technology means it requires little time and cost to put up these databases. Hopefully, some Colorado school district will take the lead and do this on its […]

Read More...

Student Growth Model Enlightens Public … Financial Transparency Next?

More clear, accurate, available and usable information about public education is a good thing – good for parents, teachers, policy makers, and taxpayers — and ultimately for students like me. One good example of a step forward in this area is the Colorado Department of Education (CDE)’s new student growth model, featured in today’s Denver Post: The model shows how students have grown academically compared with peers in the same grades with similar scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program over the past two years. “The bottom line is, the model tells us how much growth the child has made and whether that growth is good enough to meet state standards,” said Richard Wenning, associate education commissioner. Other states have adopted growth models, but Colorado is the nation’s first to use percentiles to describe the growth, Wenning said. Fortunately, the growth model doesn’t just compare students with their peers. It also uses an objective standard:

Read More...