Many Coloradans share a strong commitment to improving students’ educational opportunities and outcomes. However, Amendment 66 offers little hope of getting us there.
As Douglas County leaders continue charting the nation’s boldest course for local education innovation, political foes have taken the fight to a different front. Charges against the reform-minded school board fail in the light of truth but have the chance to catch on with many voters.
Recent reporting that appeared in The Gazette insists Colorado racial minorities are harmed by less school funding than many other states receive. However, the I-News Network’s selective peek at the facts misleads readers and distracts them from real promising solutions.
Colorado is one key step closer to distinguishing teachers who effectively help students learn from those who don’t. But we certainly haven’t overcome every obstacle to delivering top-notch instruction.The same effectiveness measures that will be used to evaluate and make tenure-related decisions ought to factor significantly into how principals and instructors are paid. This logical leap forward from rewarding educators based on years of service and academic credentials can be enhanced further by paying more for harder job and school assignments.
In a 2001 interview, a little known state senator and law school professor from Illinois cautioned that courts are “poorly equipped” for making public policy. Pointing to problems with the legitimacy and ability of courts particularly in the field of education, he advised seeking change through politics rather than litigation. Sadly, both concerns of Barack Obama were exemplified in a Colorado state court decision last December.
Technological advances are continually creating new opportunities to effectively educate Colorado’s K-12 students through online learning. Colorado needs to look forward in protecting an environment for innovation, while balancing needed accountability for cyberschool operators. As we take an honest look at the data and seek to find answers, let’s not turn back the clock on expanded educational opportunities.
Do you want government to throw even more of your tax dollars at Colorado teachers unions and their pet politicians, or do you actually want better education for Colorado children? Proposition 103 is about throwing money. Sponsored by Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), and endorsed by Colorado’s largest teachers union, the initiative would increase income tax rates by 8.0% and sales tax rates by 3.4% — both for five years. But decades of increasing school funding has not increased student test scores.
Jefferson County citizens deserve open and accountable government. If school budget and union negotiations can be hidden from view without majority approval from the Board, however, real accountability is lacking. The collective bargaining agreement that gives the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) exclusive representation more than 5,000 district teachers plainly sets transparency as the default setting. Nevertheless, the language is hollow.
Some have compared Wisconsin union protesters to the recent Egyptian street demonstrators. Superficial similarities aside, the comparison misses the point. Egyptians protested against a dictator. Union leaders protest against taxpaying citizens.
On Jan. 13 the Falcon District 49 school board set in motion a plan designed to empower families, to streamline bureaucracy and to give principals the tools and incentives to succeed. The phrase “innovation zone” at the center of the plan is more than a buzzword or an ethereal abstraction. It represents the promise of positive, transformative change for individual teachers and students.