Saturday, October 30, 2010
Charter school founder Kim Coleman has renewed her legal quarrel with Utah education officials in a multimillion-dollar suit alleging that the State Charter School Board violated state and federal law in ousting her last year as director of West Valley City’s Monticello Academy.
The board acted “maliciously” when it barred Coleman from serving Monticello in any capacity, according to Coleman’s suit, filed Tuesday in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court. In formal findings issued in early 2009, the board found that Coleman failed to adequately provide special-education services and withheld pertinent information during a compliance review. Coleman, whose husband, Joel Coleman, hopes to be elected to the State Board of Education next week, alleges those findings have no basis in fact or law.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
In an unusual move, teachers at Englewood on the Palisades Charter School unionized this week and so joined a national debate about how well union rules can co-exist with charter schools' push for autonomy.
Several teachers at the cozy enclave for 200 elementary school children said they joined the American Federation of Teachers to gain a stronger voice in school policy after the charter's board unilaterally extended the school day this fall.
The AFT says it hopes to give more charter teachers negotiating power through collective bargaining — especially as the number of charters seems poised to grow.
"If we don't organize charter schools we'll represent a smaller percentage of teachers and have less ability to bargain for market wages and hours," said Shaun Richman, deputy director of organizing at the AFT. "Every teacher deserves a union."
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Up front, let me make clear that the charter schools in Albany I helped establish have long embraced the key principles of Race to the Top, including the extensive use of classroom data to inform classroom instruction and also to serve as a very large factor in teacher evaluations. And all of the schools happen to exceed the standards set by the Department’s memorandum of understanding, including that at least 40 percent of teacher and principal evaluations should be based on student achievement measures. We didn’t need Race to the Top or SED to implement these best practices.
But, that does not get around the inappropriateness of what SED is attempting. The New York charter-school law very specifically prohibits the State Education Department and Board of Regents from imposing additional requirements on charter schools outside of health, safety, civil rights, and student assessments.
Charter schools are exempt from these one-size-fits-all mandates. The fact that many charter schools, including those in Albany, already do much of what SED proposes is no excuse for mandating that it be done the SED way. Charter schools were authorized to innovate with a great variety of approaches, not to follow mandates from SED.
Friday, October 22, 2010
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (preparing for Nov 20)
- Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
- Trophy Hunt by CJ Box
But the bottom-line issue is teachers. While Utah has many fine teachers, it has far too many mediocre teachers and some who should not be allowed in a classroom. And while Utah unions don’t officially embrace the concept of tenure — protecting teachers from dismissal for life — every parent knows that incompetent teachers are seldom fired once they’ve passed an initial probation period. And the unions consistently resist rewards based on performance.
Utah is not immune from failure. And we can’t wait for Superman.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
- When Michelle Rhee, chancellor of DC Public Schools, offered teachers the chance to choose a dual track system, one that kept tenure and one that eliminated it but provided performance bonus potential of double their salary, the union wouldn't even allow it to come to a vote. Instead they mobilized and voted out the mayor who appointed her, and Michelle Rhee resigned.
- While the dropout rate is lower in suburban districts, the failure is just as obvious. Students leave high school unprepared for college or the workforce. Society continues to look at poor inner city schools and believes it to be someone else's problem, when the problems are rampant throughout the system and affect all of society.
- If you take 100 district schools, a few will be failing schools, most will be above that to mediocre, and about one will be excellent, the kind of school everyone wants to attend. If you take 100 charter schools, the majority will still be mediocre, but 20 will be at the level of high achievement and excellence. If you're investing in public education and wanted the best results and return available, where would you put your money? Since charters make this 2000 percent improvement on less funding per student, why in the world do we use that as an excuse to cap and underfund charters? Charters get better results for less money. Funding them more and allowing them to grow is a no-brainer. That is, if the priority is on the children instead of the system and the adults in it.
- When a system's structure is as flawed and full of the wrong incentives as the traditional public school system, good people adapt to the system, respond to the incentives in it, and behave differently than they would in a system with the proper incentives. It's simply human nature. If we want to change the outcomes we get from the system, we must change the structure and incentives in it. No amount of money, spent on the same failed structure will get any better result. Since 1970, funding, adjusted for inflation, has increased more than 300 percent, but results have not improved at all.
Adams proposed boosting the state sales tax by 1 percent to generate $533 million, reinstating the full sales tax on food to raise $150 million, or a combination of both. School districts would get a share based on their enrollment and growth rates and be required to slash their property taxes by an equivalent amount.
Attorneys for state school board member Denis Morrill had asked the judge to consider issuing a preliminary injunction to keep votes for the two candidates running for Morrill’s seat from initially being counted, certified or publicly revealed. Morrill, of Taylorsville, had hoped to run again for his District 9 seat, but a governor-appointed nominating committee voted in May, initially by secret ballot, not to forward his name to the governor for ballot consideration.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Location: Broadway Centre Cinemas @ 111 East 300 South SLC, UT
Validated parking is available just east of the of the Broadway Centre Cinemas. Just bring your parking ticket in the theater with you.
- 5:10 - Movie Screening
- Between Shows - Pizza and Popcorn
- 7:20 - Second Movie Screening
*Register for Free Tickets Here
*Tickets available on a first-come basis. Limit two tickets per person through online registration.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The transformative changes needed to truly prepare our kids for the 21st-century global economy simply will not happen unless we first shed some of the entrenched practices that have held back our education system, practices that have long favored adults, not children. These practices are wrong, and they have to end now.
For too long, we have let teacher hiring and retention be determined by archaic rules involving seniority and academic credentials. The widespread policy of "last in, first out" (the teacher with the least seniority is the first to go when cuts have to be made) makes it harder to hold on to new, enthusiastic educators and ignores the one thing that should matter most: performance.
A 7-year-old girl won't make it to college someday because her teacher has two decades of experience or a master's degree -- she will make it to college if her teacher is effective and engaging and compels her to reach for success. By contrast, a poorly performing teacher can hold back hundreds, maybe thousands, of students over the course of a career. Each day that we ignore this reality is precious time lost for children preparing for the challenges of adulthood.
The glacial process for removing an incompetent teacher -- and our discomfort as a society with criticizing anyone who chooses this noble and difficult profession -- has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future.
There isn't a business in America that would survive if it couldn't make personnel decisions based on performance. That is why everything we use in assessing teachers must be linked to their effectiveness in the classroom and focused on increasing student achievement.
District leaders also need the authority to use financial incentives to attract and retain the best teachers. When teachers are highly effective -- measured in significant part by how well students are doing academically -- or are willing to take a job in a tough school or in a hard-to-staff subject area such as advanced math or science, we should be able to pay them more.
Let's stop ignoring basic economic principles of supply and demand and focus on how we can establish a performance-driven culture in every American school -- a culture that rewards excellence, elevates the status of teachers and is positioned to help as many students as possible beat the odds. We need the best teacher for every child, and the best principal for every school.
Just as we must give teachers and schools the capability and flexibility to meet the needs of students, we must give parents a better portfolio of school choices. That starts with having the courage to replace or substantially restructure persistently low-performing schools that continuously fail our students. Closing a neighborhood school -- whether it's in Southeast D.C., Harlem, Denver or Chicago -- is a difficult decision that can be very emotional for a community. But no one ever said leadership is easy.
We also must make charter schools a truly viable option. If all of our neighborhood schools were great, we wouldn't be facing this crisis. But our children need great schools now -- whether district-run public schools or public charter schools serving all students -- and we shouldn't limit the numbers of one form at the expense of the other. Excellence must be our only criteria for evaluating our schools.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Waiting for Superman shows several examples of successful charter schools that serve some children but do not have enough spaces for all children to receive a quality education. The reason they don’t have enough spaces is that education unions have stood in the way and opposed increasing the number of charter schools. This is just sad and unacceptable.
The most dramatic and heartbreaking part in the film was witnessing the charter school lotteries, which are held to determine which few students of the many who applied will be accepted to schools known to successfully educate and graduate students. Sitting with their parents in crowded auditoriums, you can see and feel the children’s profound disappointment as they realize that they have lost something special that they and their families badly wanted: brighter hope for their future.
We need to provide parents and children with a full range of choices now—not wait for the broken education system to heal itself. Charter schools and voucher initiatives are succeeding. We know the solution—now it’s time to open the path of opportunity across this land, not just in a few pockets where reform has broken through the union lines.
- The students don't exist for the sake of the district. If a new option means that students withdraw from the school district, it's because their parents believe that the district isn't providing those children with the right education for that child. Our public schools (all of them) exist to provide quality education for children. It's not reasonable to expect a single system to be the best for all students, and we should applaud when families find an option that meets their child's needs better.
- The article makes the point that PCSD students receive about $10,000 in taxpayer funding per child, but skips out mentioning that WSD students get by on thousands less. If we are really concerned about financial impact of a charter on the taxpayers, we should applaud when charter schools can demonstrate greater efficiency.