Education Transformers may get impatient at the pace of progress. Douglas County may be unique among school districts in taking the commonsense approach of differentiating teacher pay based on how hard it is to find someone to fill the position. While the rarity of such policies in K-12 may be frustrating, it’s encouraging to see national attention on the plan, like the new Reuters story.
Understandably, some emotions have run high in the wake of the 8-year Lobato school funding case shot down by the Colorado Supreme Court. Taxpayers can be thankful that judicial sanity prevailed and a constitutional crisis was avoided, though, as the moment finally has come to look forward. Some say we need a billion-dollar education tax increase, but given a careful look at the funding facts, it’s time instead to take on the cause of real school finance reform.
The latest results of Colorado’s TELL teacher survey are out, and reported satisfaction among Douglas County teachers is high and growing. The news is especially remarkable in light of the fact that in the past two years Dougco has expanded school choice, has ended the union contract, and is pushing ahead with a slate of ambitious performance-based innovation. Challenges lie ahead, but bold school reformers should be heartened.
In response to the Adams 12 school board asking all employees to share a little more in paying for their pension contributions, teachers union leaders have organized protests and worked with a local TV news reporter to trump up phony, easily debunked charges. To help clear the air the board has asked to open bargaining negotiations to public view, but union leaders say they aren’t interested.
As it rushes through the state legislature, many questions remain about SB 213, the major school finance reform legislation tied to a billion dollar tax hike. A document from Senator Michael Johnston’s office suggested the proposal might include “vouchers” for high school students, but alas it isn’t so. Not only is it not “vouchers,” but the designated funds remain in district control, not student backpacks. I wish the bill had more reform.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Alabama legislators overwhelmingly passed a scholarship tax credit program to enhance aid for students in failing schools. The surprising sack of the status quo has Alabama poised to become the 12th state with this kind of school choice. As national momentum grows, Colorado ought to look carefully at this policy that can help kids win!
It was heartbreaking to see the death of a couple more Colorado bills that would have expanded choices for parents and opportunities for students. But we would love to see leaders embrace scholarship tax credits, for all the benefits they have been shown to bring in other states. Those benefits Colorado might enjoy include improved achievement, satisfied parents, and tax dollar savings.
Believe it or not, Digital Learning Day is upon us again. A day to celebrate Colorado blended learning innovations like Rocky Mountain Prep and to look forward to more options in the future. Not just “school choice,” but “course choice.” Colorado leaders have a policy road map to follow that can help generate such an effective liberating change for students. Will we make progress in 2013?
National School Choice Week is almost here! This year the big celebration, spotlighted by a national cross-country Whistle Stop Tour, features more than 1,000 events from coast to coast. Denver events include two education reform movie showings (including one in Spanish) and a discussion about how school choice affects teachers. You also can learn the School Choice Week flash mob dance, and join in the big Tweet Up.
Run for cover, and hold onto your wallets! The first session of the 69th Colorado General Assembly is underway. While school finance reform (and an accompanying tax increase referral) stands at the head of the line, a slew of other K-12 issues can be expected to receive consideration — everything from teacher licensure to collective bargaining and a number of bureaucratic regulations. Supporters of school choice and reform ought to buckle up for a bumpy ride!