Tag Archives: Public Charter Schools

State Board Candidates Marcia Neal, Jill Brake Discuss Choice, Innovation

Last week, I introduced you to two candidates for Colorado’s State Board of Education from the 3rd Congressional District – Democrat Jill Brake and Republican Marcia Neal – but had to close with an important question about them: I know I can sound like a broken record at times, but wouldn’t it be good to know where Ms. Brake and Ms. Neal stand on school choice (e.g., charter schools, online schools, open enrollment)? What about expanding local innovation? The students and parents of Colorado – especially those trapped in failing schools – deserve to know. So my friends in the Education Policy Center went back and did a little research, and followed up with emails to each of the candidates to give them a fair chance to explain themselves on where they stand on school choice and local innovation.

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State Board of Education Candidates Have Very Different Views on Reform

The big election is less than a month away. A few of the races that get little attention – but many Coloradans will have to decide – are the contests for the State Board of Education. Few Colorado voters are aware that this elected body is about to become more important, as Rocky Mountain News reporter Berny Morson pointed out on Saturday: The Colorado Board of Education labored in obscurity for years, setting rules that were mostly of interest to teachers, superintendents and other insiders. That’s about to change. A law adopted last spring with the backing of Gov. Bill Ritter gave the board broad authority over school reform. The result could put the board’s mark on everything from statewide achievement tests to high school graduation requirements. The article goes on to highlight the two candidates vying to represent the 3rd Congressional District (southern and western Colorado) on the State Board. These two candidates have some clearly different views. Democrat Jill Brake wants to spend more money on early childhood education, and supported the automatic education funding increase of Amendment 23 and Gov. Bill Ritter’s unconstitutional property tax hike. On the other hand, Republican Marcia Neal – a retired Grand […]

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A Glimpse at New Schools: AXL Academy

I took a short vacation, but I’m back now. Thanks for your patience while I was gone. Now seems like a good time to continue our introduction to new charter and option schools in Colorado. The AXL Academy in Aurora, starting with 240 students in Kindergarten to 5th grade next month, is promoting what it calls a “Revolution in Learning”: All college prep schools expect students to excel in a rigorous academic program. But AXL asks more: that students discover how they learn, that they take intellectual delight and responsibility in their education, and that they gain the courage and integrity to negotiate the futures they create. AXL is committed to preparing all students to succeed in college and careers of their choosing. Eventually, AXL Academy will grow to serve students up through the 8th grade. Each grade will receive an emphasis in experiential and project-based learning, in addition to character education, from a smiling faculty and staff – including head of school Audra Philippon. What is different about AXL Academy? While the school is co-ed, the classrooms will be divided between boys and girls. And students will attend on a year-round basis with shorter breaks between each of the […]

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CNN's Roland Martin is Right: School Choice Shouldn't Be Partisan Issue

CNN commentator Roland Martin hits the nail on the head today by proclaiming the need for more school vouchers, and highlighting the interest group politics that has blocked or slowed down the needed reform (H/T Mike Antonucci). His article is titled “McCain right, Obama wrong on school vouchers,” but the larger point is that it’s time to move school choice beyond partisan politics on a national scale. Here’s some of what Martin has to say: I fundamentally believe that vouchers are simply one part of the entire educational pie. There simply is no one sure-fire way to educate a child. We’ve seen public schools do a helluva job — I went to them from K through college — and so have private schools, home schooling, charter schools and even online initiatives. This is the kind of innovation we need, not more efforts to prevent a worthy idea from moving forward. Obama’s opposition is right along the lines of the National Education Association, and the teachers union is a reliable and powerful Democratic ally. But this is one time where he should have opposed them and made it clear that vouchers can force school districts, administrators and teachers to shape up […]

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Inspirational School Success Story from Harlem Right for Colorado, Too?

Not all kids are as blessed as I am, yet their families have opportunities to find a successful education, too. Business Week has such an inspirational story from Harlem. Former media executive Deborah Kenny has created the successful Village Academies charter schools to reach a population of mostly black and Latino kids in an area where other schools are failing: A former Time Warner executive herself, Kenny has applied a business management style to running her schools, focusing on attracting smart teachers, nurturing talent, using reams of data to improve performance, and putting a huge emphasis on rewarding results. In June, she announced that 100% of Village Academies’ eighth grade students had passed the state math test, a first for Harlem that was lauded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I was proud,” says Kenny. “But this should not be some historic, amazing achievement. It should be a given.” You really ought to read the whole story. It tells why Ms. Kenny left the business world for education, how she carefully studied the practices of successful schools, and how she views the parents of her students: Kenny also tells her staff, which now numbers more than 65, that they need […]

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Give Your Charter School a Unique Name … Just Like Everybody Else

Colorado needs more charter schools. We have about 140 now. But many of them are full, and parents keep asking for more. Thousands of families across the state are on wait lists to get into charter schools. On a lighter note today, Denise at Colorado Charters tells us how all those new charter schools we’d like to see could avoid confusion by steering clear of duplicating names. She gives plenty of Colorado examples. After reading through her list, your head will spin. With all the Academies, Pioneers, Frontiers, Excels, and Vanguards, you might think you’re on a car dealer’s lot (or maybe just shopping for car insurance). Denise concludes: In my dream world new charter schools select names that are unique and easy to differentiate. The founders check the Secretary of State’s website to make sure the legal name is available. And, of course, my dream world includes charter founders asking about the feasibility of using a school name before making it official. So here’s a challenge to all those aspiring charter school founders: Pick a name that really sets you apart. How about naming the school after an inspiring national or Colorado historical figure? Whatever it is, find that […]

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