Archives for category: Colorado

The school board of Colorado Springs District 11 has voted to opt most students out of Common Core state testing and to seek permission from the state to administer sample tests.

“The Board of Education in Colorado Spring District 11 is taking a different approach than Lee. It voted to opt most students out of Common Core testing and then ask the state government for permission to assess a randomly selected group of students — enough to meet federal requirements. The tests involved the Common Core test created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success.

“The resolution that passed unanimously this week also gives permission to parents to opt their own children out of these tests. KOAA-TV quoted Superintendent Nicolas Gledich as saying the district hopes to devise its own assessment system within the next three years.”

Read the full link for the resolution.

A new group called Voices for Public Education has organized in Douglas County, Colorado. This is a district whose elected board favors market reforms and hired Bill Bennett to speak before the last election ($50,000), as well as paying Rick Hess to write a laudatory paper about its policies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Innovation Schools Do Not Mean Less Testing

Highlands Ranch, Colorado -September 15, 2014 – Voices For Public Education (Voices) opposes the Douglas County Board of Education (BoE) resolution authorizing the submission of innovation waivers to the Colorado Board of Education and the BoE’s use of the Innovation Schools Act of 2008 to waive state assessments. The resolution passed at the September 2nd board meeting.

This resolution authorizes schools to submit waivers from testing required by the READ act to the Colorado Board of Education. These waivers will be submitted under provisions from the Innovation Schools Act. Voices for Public Education supports fewer high-stakes, state and district-mandated tests, but they do not support this resolution.

Amy DeValk, co-founder of Voices for Public Education, believes this resolution will not result in less testing. State-mandated tests will be replaced by district-mandated tests.

“Passing this resolution has nothing to do with standardized testing. The board is using testing as a distraction to the real intent of submitting Innovation Waivers. These waivers will allow the BoE to get out of state requirements they do not agree with, ultimately giving them the ability to implement their own agenda and testing with little to no oversight from the state. Teachers and parents need to learn what this really means for their school.”

Voices urges parents to demand community meetings regarding this resolution and to oppose its implementation. Voices also encourages parents to oppose all standardized testing, whether it is mandated by the state or the district. Parents should demand testing that supports learning and helps teachers to guide instruction.

About Voices for Public Education:

Voices for Public Education is dedicated to educating the community to empower individuals to act and take back our public schools.

We educate by:

• Bringing in national education experts to discuss education reform and offer alternatives

• Building personal relationships to tell our story

• Supporting other community groups fighting education reform

We empower by:

• Working with our school communities to develop actions to take back our schools

• Giving teachers, parents, students and community members a voice in decision-making

We act by:

• Creating actions for both quick “wins” and long term goals

• Providing the resources and information for people to take individual actions

• Partnering with and supporting other grassroots organizations

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesForPublicEducation

Contact:

Amy DeValk, Voices for Public Education co-founder
wasnoyes@comcast.net
303-350-7206
Stefanie Fuhr, Voices for Public Education co-founder
tutucker@comcast.net
303-483-1196

Another Douglas County group–the Douglas County Parents– objects to the local school board’s proposals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

++++++++++++++++

September 15, 2014

Today, Douglas County Parents (DCP) announced their concerns regarding the resolution passed by the Board of Education (BOE) on September 2, 2014, authorizing the submission of Innovation Waiver requests to the State Board of Education (SBE).

Grounded in the Innovation Schools Act of 2008, which gives local schools the ability to apply for a waiver from the SBE to opt out of state mandated standardized tests, this resolution could also transform the Douglas County School District into a “District of Innovation.”

Harmful consequences of becoming a “District of Innovation” include:

The Douglas County BOE would have the power to terminate non-core teachers and staff at will, and to waive teacher licensing requirements.

The Douglas County BOE would have the ability to dictate curriculum.

Innovation schools would have the same autonomies as charter schools, without the full responsibilities for operations and human resources that charter schools have. This would drive the demand for charter school enrollment down, potentially hurting the charter school communities in Douglas County.

DCSD would join “turnaround” districts such as Denver, Pueblo and Kit Carson, whose innovation schools have failed to achieve the intended goals of the program. DCSD would no longer be compared with districts such as Cherry Creek, Boulder, Littleton and JeffCo.

High schools would no longer be eligible to compete for “top lists” which are measured by state standardized tests.

Millions of public tax dollars would be spent to create yet another new system to comply with state and federal accountability measures.

As mandated by the Innovation Schools Act, “it is required that the prospective innovation school receives majority support from teachers, administrators and School Accountability Committee (SAC) members; as well as a statement of the level of support from classified school staff, parents, students and the surrounding community.” Because this resolution was passed without public community input, DCP believes that this majority of support was not sought, received, or proven.

“We firmly believe that the parents, teachers, staff and community of Douglas County have the right to choose whether or not they want this designation for our district,” said Cristin Patterson, spokesperson for DCP. “There are grave, irreversible consequences for choosing this path, and we implore the district to hold a public discussion on what this would mean for our schools and community. Upcoming state legislation may provide changes in state testing procedures, so we do not understand why district leaders would risk so much when the state is already pursuing a viable solution.”

About Douglas County Parents:

DCP is a growing local advocacy group made up of over 1,350 parent, teacher, student, and community member volunteers of all political affiliations, ages and professions who are concerned about the policies that the Douglas County Board of Education and district administration have forced upon our community. DCP’s community outreach efforts include sharing facts backed by documentation garnered through the school district and Colorado Department of Education websites and publications, Colorado Open Record Requests, and attending a variety of meetings. Please contact spokesperson, Cristin Patterson, at cristin@douglascountyparents.com for updates and statements relating to DCSD issues. You may also find more information at DouglasCountyParents.com.

Thank you for your time,

~ Cristin Patterson ~
Douglas County Parents
Spokesperson/Media Contact
cristin@douglascountyparents.com
http://www.DouglasCountyParents.com

Dr. Nicholas Gledich, Superintendent of Colorado Springs School District 11 has proposed a three year moratorium on high stakes standardized testing. This takes courage in test-happy Colorado.

Dr. Gledich understands that high-stakes testing cheapens education, demoralizes teachers, and makes testing far more important than it should be. Tests should be used periodically to see how students are doing and if they need extra help. But today they have become the be-all and end-all of schooling. That’s not what the best private schools do. That’s not what public schools should do.

Thank you and congratulations, Dr. Gledich! Welcome to the honor roll!

Jeannie Kaplan, a former member of the Denver Board of Education, has written about the poor results of a decade of corporate reform. Here she explains the word “chutzpah” to define the desperate efforts of school officials and “reformers” to convert poor results into good news.

She writes:

“At noon Thursday, August 14, 2014 the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) released Colorado’s 2014 standardized tests results, TCAPs, (Transitional Colorado Assessment Program) at its monthly meeting. Shortly after the release, “reform” State Board Member Elaine Gantz Berman spoke and said what has turned out to be one of the most honest assessments of the latest results. “Not acceptable….To see this kind of flat result is more than troubling. It’s like, ‘Where do we go from here?’

“Since the release of the results, the spin from Denver Public Schools and its friends has been dizzying. Their defense of the failing status quo has given new meaning to the Yiddish word “chutzpah.” A few examples: recognition that new strategies are needed to change the trajectory of the District but offering no concrete details of what that would look like; slight recognition that professional educators do make a difference when it comes to teaching children but continuing to hire short term teachers at the expense of teaching professionals; no recognition or admittance that a business model is not transferable to education. No attempts have been made to answer Ms. Berman’s question. Instead the status quo has chosen to defend the ten year performance with confusing, misleading and manipulated data.

“THE SPIN

“Six emails from the Superintendent, 2 articles and one editorial in the Denver Post, a Board of Education work session featuring a 67 page PowerPoint presentation with more charts, graphs, acronyms, and meaningless analysis than one thought possible. And Thursday, August 21 at noon an email from the favorite national organization of “reformers.” DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), makes its way into computer inboxes. The email’s subject, “Denver Plan 2020 Fights for Great Schools in Every Neighborhood,”praises the new Denver Plan and closely mimicks two of the six emails the superintendent has sent this week. The email’s author: Jennifer Walmer, former chief of staff for the Denver Public Schools, current state director of Colorado DFER. Could it be that the Denver Public Schools District is so worried about its lack of progress and its failing education “reform” that it has to inundate the public with reams of insignificant and deceptive information? Unfortunately, I was correct when I wrote in my post of last week, growth is pretty much all the District will talk about. The state losses of 1% in each of the three subjects have translated into disingenuous DPS growth scores.”

She then summarizes “the flood of writing that has occurred after the release of the pathetic data…”

In 2010, Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston took credit for a piece of legislation called Senate Bill 191, which he said would produce “Great Schools, Great Teachers, Great Principals.” Its main feature was tying teacher evaluation to their students’ scores, which counted for 50%. But it included other time bombs. One allowed districts to lay off teachers for various reasons. Now seven teachers and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association is suing.

One of those who lost her job was Cynthia Masters, a special-education teacher in a K-8 school. She was one of only 3,000 to lose their job.

“In the four years since the law was passed, nearly 3,000 DPS teachers have lost their positions due to what the district calls “reduction in building,” or RIB for short. The reasons that teachers are RIBed vary: Some lose their jobs because their schools are “turned around” or closed. Others are cut because school enrollment drops. In Masters’s case, she was RIBed due to a decrease in the number of special-ed students.

Of those 3,000 teachers, 1,240 had at least three years’ worth of positive evaluations, including Masters. And not all of them have been able to find new jobs. According to the law, still widely referred to as Senate Bill 191, RIBed teachers with three years of positive reviews — officially known as “nonprobationary” — who can’t find a position within a certain time frame are put on unpaid leave, a move that both unions believe violates the state constitution……”

“Brad Bartels, an attorney with the Colorado Education Association, says these teachers are victims of DPS’s brand of musical chairs. They didn’t lose their positions because they were bad teachers, he insists: “They just didn’t have a chair when the music stopped.”

“Seven DPS teachers and the DCTA have now sued the district. (The statewide CEA is representing the DCTA in the matter.) The lawsuit is a class action, and the plaintiffs represent several different classes, including all teachers in Colorado who were considered nonprobationary prior to the passage of Senate Bill 191 and all nonprobationary DPS teachers who were RIBed and ended up on unpaid leave.

“Westword spoke with five of the seven plaintiffs and found that they have several things in common: All are older than 45 and have good teaching records. Upon losing their positions, all five applied for hundreds of teaching assignments within DPS but, inexplicably to them, received just a few interviews. Only one managed to avoid being put on unpaid leave or being forced into early retirement.

“I applied for over 700 positions in the district,” says plaintiff Michelle Montoya, who got RIBed in the fall of 2010. “I thought, ‘I can deal with this. I’m going to go get a job. My skills are definitely needed.’ And I just never got a second interview.”

Will Senator Michael Johnston live long enough to declare that Colorado now has great teachers, great principals, great schools, thanks to Senate Bill 191?

Jeanne Kaplan served on the Denver school board for years and watched with a heavy heart as fake “reformers” took over Denver and Colorado. Now Colorado has the most punitive teacher evaluation law in the nation, thanks to Arne Duncan and Colorado’s State Senator Michael Johnston. When the NEA voted a resolution calling on Duncan to resign, the reporter didn’t speak to a teacher. No, the call went to Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform, the organization of hedge fund managers. When did DFER become the spokesman for Democrats or teachers or regular voters?

Jeanne Kaplan recently retired as an elected member of the Denver school board. She has started her own blog where she will keep track of education in Denver.

Here is her inaugural post, where she lays out the facts about “reform” in Denver. The biggest “success” has been the steady increase in privately managed charter schools, most of which get free public space. The educational gains are harder to find.

She writes:

“My name is Jeannie Kaplan. I had the honor and privilege of serving on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education for 8 years, from 2005 through November 2013. Michael Bennet was superintendent, having been selected in June of 2005. Mr. Bennet served until January 2009 when he was selected to be the junior Senator from Colorado. His replacement was and continues to be Tom Boasberg, Michael’s childhood friend and former DPS Chief Operating Officer.

“I believe today as I did when I first ran for the school board that public education is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. I am starting a blog to explore and hopefully shed some light on the complicated issues challenging public education today. I am going to be writing about my passion, public education, with a focus on Denver Public Schools. I will try to provide a voice for a side of this debate that is often overlooked by the main stream media.”

Jeanne Kaplan is one of our nation’s strongest voices for public education and for democracy.

Veteran educator Val Flores pulled off a stunning upset when she beat a well-funded candidate for a seat on the state board. No one thought it could happen.

Val spent $20,000. Her opponent spent $135,000. Val won by a margin of 59-41.

Jeanne Kaplan, a former member of the Denver school board, explains what happened.

Valentina (Val) Flores, a career educator, won a surprising and decisive victory for a seat on the state board of education in Colorado.

Flores won by a margin of 59-41, beating a candidate who was supported by the hedge funders’ Democrats for Education Reform, Stand for Children, and Education Reform Now. Her opponent had two years experience in Teach for America.

Flores has more than 40 years experience in education.

In my post about this electoral contest, I asked “Will big money win again?” The answer in Colorado is a loud and decisive NO!

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