Tag Archives: USA Today

Joe Williams Helping Charge to Push Democrats toward Education Reform

A recent USA Today article talks about how the Democratic Party’s national platform is taking small steps away from the teachers union-defended status quo: The ink is barely dry on the official document, which outlines the party’s guiding principles, but it shows that in this fall’s general election, Democrats will stake out a few positions that unions have long opposed. Among them: paying teachers more if they raise test scores, teach in “underserved areas” or take on new responsibilities such as mentoring new teachers. Hooray for small favors. But there’s one comment in the article I especially wanted to bring to your attention: “If ever there’s going to be a time for change, this is it,” says Joe Williams, who heads Democrats for Education Reform, a centrist group with ties to the Obama campaign. He says the new platform has a greater emphasis on educational equity for poor and urban students. “We feel like this is a conversation that Democrats should be in on.” Democrats for Education Reform was the group that sponsored the recent event here in Denver where Democrat leaders called the teachers union on the carpet. That was neat, but there is more to come. Even more […]


"Minimum-50" Grade Proposal: Wrong Approach for Colorado

From USA Today: In most math problems, zero would never be confused with 50, but a handful of schools nationwide have set off an emotional academic debate by giving minimum scores of 50 for students who fail…. Their argument: Other letter grades — A, B, C and D — are broken down in increments of 10 from 60 to 100, but there is a 59-point spread between D and F, a gap that can often make it mathematically impossible for some failing students to ever catch up. “It’s a classic mathematical dilemma: that the students have a six times greater chance of getting an F,” says Douglas Reeves, founder of The Leadership and Learning Center, a Colorado-based educational think tank who has written on the topic. “The statistical tweak of saying the F is now 50 instead of zero is a tiny part of how we can have better grading practices to encourage student performance.” Hey, it sure sounds good to get half-credit for doing nothing. But I think in the long run it won’t help me to have this kind of policy. I sure hope there aren’t any Colorado school boards that latch on to this idea. Students need […]