Menu
Paid Advertisement
view counter

What We’re Reading: Chicago’s union chief weighing a mayoral bid

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 18:32
  • The head of Chicago’s teachers union is considering running against Rahm Emanuel for mayor. (Sun-Times)
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is losing allies over his opposition to the Common Core standards. (Politico)
  • Opposition to the Common Core is a vote-getter for critics in a way that support isn’t for proponents. (Talking Points Memo)
  • An alumnus whose former school is once again facing closure mulls the past — and the future. (Washington Post)
  • A satirical obituary says close reading, a central focus of the Common Core, was killed by “buzzwordification.” (Teaching the Core)
  • A report released this week argues for treating principals like CEOs — in responsibility and pay. (Atlantic)
  • Venture capital investment in education technology fell by more than half since the first quarter of the year. (TechCrunch)
  • Ed tech also seems to be growing achievement gaps, not closing them. (Slate)
  • A new study finds that students who are struggling in math don’t need fun activities to engage them. (Curriculum Matters)
  • A Philadelphia educator reflects on a year of building a school from scratch. (Philly Teacher)
  • New York City high schools take a variety of approaches to closing the college guidance gap. (City Limits)
  • What did the last day of school look like? A photo gallery. (EdWeek)
Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Teacher training programs adjust to new evaluations

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:31

Finance fight

A group of parents and school districts plans to file suit today to have a portion of the school finance law which reduces the amount districts are given stricken from the books. It does ask for the return of lost funds. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

money money money

Three Adams County school districts are facing cuts, in spite of an influx of state money, and may go to the voters this fall to ask for more money. ( Denver Post )

The school board for Montezuma-Cortez is expected to adopt a budget that includes substantial cuts, alongside wage increases. ( Cortez Journal )

teaching the teachers

Teacher training programs are gearing up to prepare teacher candidates to cope with the state's new evaluation system. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Summer fun

Incoming high school freshman got a taste of college life at a camp intended to jumpstart the process of getting ready for high school and thinking about college. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

In Boulder Valley schools, students can participate in a patchwork of summer academic activities from getting a taste of the IB program to using a 3D printer. ( Daily Camera )

And Colorado Springs students recently travelled to a national conference to show off the water purification system they designed for developing countries. ( Gazette )

First Person

A parent at Denver's George Washington High School weighs in on the coming changes to the school, including GW's respected International Baccalaureate program. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Healthy schools

Three charter schools from across the state have joined an initiative intended to foster health and wellness work in schools. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

history lesson

Boulder County schools will start teaching Latino history in their classrooms. It's a big part of the area's history but hasn't previously been taught at area schools. ( Times-Call )

Saying goodbye

Pueblo's departing superintendent got praise for her leadership and work last night at a celebration for her retirement. ( Chieftain )

Categories: Urban School News

In the News: Karen Lewis "seriously thinking" of running for mayor

Catalyst Chicago - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:01

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who blamed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the more than 1,100 layoffs announced Thursday, said she is “seriously thinking” about mounting a mayoral run. A Sun-Times poll earlier this year put Lewis behind Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is running for her own reelection. Emanuel, meanwhile, has raised more than $7.4 million in his campaign. (Sun-Times)

RAUNER REDUX: It appears gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner can't go too long without facing questions about how his daughter got into an elite Chicago school. After initially being rejected in 2008 to Walter Payton College Prep because she didn't meet attendance requirements, Rauner's daughter later got in. Rauner's foundation later gave $250,000 to a school initiative. The money and Rauner's conversations with officials have led to allegations of clout. Now an outgoing Chicago Public Schools official says Rauner's daughter's overall admission score wasn't high enough. (State Journal-Register)

AFFLUENT PARENTS VS CPS: The Chicago Board of Education sat through its monthly tongue-lashing Wednesday, listening to speaker after speaker denounce their decision-making processes. But one group stood out: Affluent parents from Lincoln Park saying that CPS spends money on schools that are not the most in need. Talk about a reality check. (WBEZ)

 

IN THE NATION
PARENTS SAY TESTING A TIME SUCK: A new survey says parents think their kids spend too much time preparing for and taking exams. The annual Schooling in America Survey, released today by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, shows that 44 percent of parents think test prep takes too much time. Twenty-two percent of parents say their children don't spend enough time and 30 percent say they spend the right amount of time. More than six in 10 Americans also support vouchers, the survey says, with the most support coming from black parents at 74 percent and Hispanic parents at 72 percent. The Friedman Foundation, a school choice proponent, also noted that support for vouchers grew. In 2012, 56 percent of parents supported vouchers compared to 63 percent this year. The American Enterprise Institute is hosting a talk about the survey starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

D.C. CONSIDERS GUARANTEED PRESCHOOL: The District of Columbia proposed an idea that appears to have strong support: guaranteeing access to pre-kindergarten for students who live in-bounds for high-poverty schools. (The Washington Post)

STUDENT DEBT DEBATE: A debate is raging about whether rising student-loan debt constitutes an existential crisis in American higher education or the natural outcome of more Americans' pursuing a college degree. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

WHO'S AT THE CHALKBOARD: A recent New Orleans high school graduate says the school district hires too many white teachers. (The News Tribune)

Categories: Urban School News

In the News: Karen Lewis "seriously thinking" of running for mayor

Catalyst Chicago - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:01

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who blamed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the more than 1,100 layoffs announced Thursday, said she is “seriously thinking” about mounting a mayoral run. A Sun-Times poll earlier this year put Lewis behind Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is running for her own reelection. Emanuel, meanwhile, has raised more than $7.4 million in his campaign. (Sun-Times)

RAUNER REDUX: It appears gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner can't go too long without facing questions about how his daughter got into an elite Chicago school. After initially being rejected in 2008 to Walter Payton College Prep because she didn't meet attendance requirements, Rauner's daughter later got in. Rauner's foundation later gave $250,000 to a school initiative. The money and Rauner's conversations with officials have led to allegations of clout. Now an outgoing Chicago Public Schools official says Rauner's daughter's overall admission score wasn't high enough. (State Journal-Register)

AFFLUENT PARENTS VS CPS: The Chicago Board of Education sat through its monthly tongue-lashing Wednesday, listening to speaker after speaker denounce their decision-making processes. But one group stood out: Affluent parents from Lincoln Park saying that CPS spends money on schools that are not the most in need. Talk about a reality check. (WBEZ)

 

IN THE NATION
PARENTS SAY TESTING A TIME SUCK: A new survey says parents think their kids spend too much time preparing for and taking exams. The annual Schooling in America Survey, released today by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, shows that 44 percent of parents think test prep takes too much time. Twenty-two percent of parents say their children don't spend enough time and 30 percent say they spend the right amount of time. More than six in 10 Americans also support vouchers, the survey says, with the most support coming from black parents at 74 percent and Hispanic parents at 72 percent. The Friedman Foundation, a school choice proponent, also noted that support for vouchers grew. In 2012, 56 percent of parents supported vouchers compared to 63 percent this year. The American Enterprise Institute is hosting a talk about the survey starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

D.C. CONSIDERS GUARANTEED PRESCHOOL: The District of Columbia proposed an idea that appears to have strong support: guaranteeing access to pre-kindergarten for students who live in-bounds for high-poverty schools. (The Washington Post)

STUDENT DEBT DEBATE: A debate is raging about whether rising student-loan debt constitutes an existential crisis in American higher education or the natural outcome of more Americans' pursuing a college degree. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

WHO'S AT THE CHALKBOARD: A recent New Orleans high school graduate says the school district hires too many white teachers. (The News Tribune)

Categories: Urban School News

In the News: Affluent group chides CPS on spending choices

Catalyst Chicago - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:01

The Chicago Board of Education sat through its monthly tongue-lashing Wednesday, listening to speaker after speaker denounce their decision-making processes. But one group stood out: Affluent parents from Lincoln Park saying that CPS spends money on schools that are not the most in need. Talk about a reality check. (WBEZ)

RAUNER REDUX: It appears gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner can't go too long without facing questions about how his daughter got into an elite Chicago school. After initially being rejected in 2008 to Walter Payton College Prep because she didn't meet attendance requirements, Rauner's daughter later got in. Rauner's foundation later gave $250,000 to a school initiative. The money and Rauner's conversations with officials have led to allegations of clout. Now an outgoing Chicago Public Schools official says Rauner's daughter's overall admission score wasn't high enough. (State Journal-Register)

LEWIS CONSIDERS A RUN: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who blamed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the more than 1,100 layoffs announced Thursday, said she is “seriously thinking” about mounting a formal challenge to Emanuel.

IN THE NATION
PARENTS SAY TESTING A TIME SUCK: A new survey says parents think their kids spend too much time preparing for and taking exams. The annual Schooling in America Survey, released today by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, shows that 44 percent of parents think test prep takes too much time. Twenty-two percent of parents say their children don't spend enough time and 30 percent say they spend the right amount of time. More than six in 10 Americans also support vouchers, the survey says, with the most support coming from black parents at 74 percent and Hispanic parents at 72 percent. The Friedman Foundation, a school choice proponent, also noted that support for vouchers grew. In 2012, 56 percent of parents supported vouchers compared to 63 percent this year. The American Enterprise Institute is hosting a talk about the survey starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

D.C. CONSIDERS GUARANTEED PRESCHOOL: The District of Columbia proposed an idea that appears to have strong support: guaranteeing access to pre-kindergarten for students who live in-bounds for high-poverty schools. (The Washington Post)

STUDENT DEBT DEBATE: A debate is raging about whether rising student-loan debt constitutes an existential crisis in American higher education or the natural outcome of more Americans' pursuing a college degree. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

WHO'S AT THE CHALKBOARD: A recent New Orleans high school graduate says the school district hires too many white teachers. (The News Tribune)

Categories: Urban School News

Lawsuit claims school funding reduction mechanism unconstitutional

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 01:18

Updated 9 a.m. - A group of school districts and parents filed a lawsuit Friday arguing that the device used by the legislature to control annual K-12 spending, the so-called negative factor, is unconstitutional.

The suit, filed against the state in Denver District Court, argues that the negative factor violates Amendment 23, the constitutional provision that requires school funding to increase by inflation and enrollment growth every year.

The suit has been expected for some time and opens a new front in the policy war over the negative factor, a conflict that intensified during the 2014 legislative session. It’s estimated that use of the negative factor has cut about $1 billion a year from what school districts otherwise would have received for basic operating costs. (See text of suit here.)

The plaintiffs ask that the negative factor section be stricken from the state’s school funding law and that the legislature be barred from reinstating the factor in another form. The suit does not ask that lost funding be restored.

Lead lawyers in the case are Timothy Macdonald of Arnold and Porter and Kathleen Gebhardt of Children’s Voices, a Boulder public interest law firm. She was the lead lawyer in the long-running Lobato v. State school funding suit, which was thrown out by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2013. (Get full background on the Lobato case here.)

Kathleen Gebhardt / File photo

Gebhardt told Chalkbeat Colorado that the final decision to file was made on Tuesday, partly because recent state revenue forecasts (see story) indicate continued improvement in state finances.

“It’s a simple claim, just that the negative factor violates Amendment 23,” Gebhardt said, describing it as a very different case from the complex Lobato suit.

The plaintiffs in the new case include the Colorado Springs 11, Boulder Valley, Mancos, Holyoke and Plateau Valley school districts, along with the East Central Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Other plaintiffs are the Colorado Rural Schools Caucus and the Colorado PTA. Four sets of parents with children in the Kit Carson, Lewis-Palmer and Hanover districts also have signed on to the suit.

The lead plaintiffs are Lindi and Paul Dwyer, who have four daughters in the Kit Carson district, and the case takes their name, Dwyer v. State. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Education Commissioner Robert Hammond are the named defendants in the suit.

Lawyers from four Denver law firms have agreed to assist Gebhardt with the case without charge.

What Amendment 23 does

Passed by voters in 2000, A23’s backers intended for it to provide a predictable and growing source of funding for schools. The amendment’s goal was to restore per-pupil funding to 1988 levels over time. For the first 10 years after passage the amendment required that funding increase an additional 1 percent a year on top of the increases for inflation and enrollment.

State funding for schools comes in two chunks. The larger amount, base funding, provides an identical per-student amount to every district. The second chunk, called factor funding, gives districts varying additional per-student amounts based on district characteristics such as numbers of at-risk students, low enrollment and cost of living for staff.  Local property and vehicle tax revenues also contribute to what’s called total program funding for schools.

(A third, smaller pot of state support known as categorical funding provides money to districts for programs such as special education, gifted and talented and transportation. While A23 requires overall categorical funding to increase by inflation every year, the money is not distributed by the same formula that governs total program funding.)

The key fact is that up until the 2010-11 school year, the legislature applied the inflation-and-enrollment increase to both base and factor funding. (Because of the recession, in 2008-09 and 2009-10 the legislature cut school funding by other means.)

Behind the negative factor Source: Colorado legislative staff. Click for larger view

With the economy still squeezing state revenues, in 2010 the legislature created the negative factor (originally called the stabilization factor) to control school spending as lawmakers continued to struggle with the overall state budget. It applied to the 2010-11 K-12 budget and has been in effect ever since.

The legal reasoning behind the negative factor is that A23 applies only to base funding, not to factor funding. And while the original A23 factors are intended to increase school funding, the negative factor gives lawmakers a tool for reducing it. This is the key issue under attack in the new lawsuit. The negative factor hasn’t been tested in court before. Its rationale is based on a 34-page 2003 memo issued by the Office of Legislative Legal Services at the request of then-Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs. (Read memo here.)

“Amendment 23 precludes the General Assembly from purporting to grow the base but then slashing overall education funding by fundamentally revamping or jettisoning the [finance] formula as in effect in 2000,” the suit argues.

The policy debate

Negative factor impact

  • $5.9 billion K-12 funding in 2014-15 with
  • $6.8 billion without

A23 isn’t the only constitutional provision that applies to the state budget. Among other things, the constitution requires a balanced state budget every year, limits the amount of new revenue that can be spent even in years of high growth and restricts property taxes in a way that has reduced growth of local district revenues.

Because of those restrictions, policymakers who support the negative factor argue that it’s necessary to prevent K-12 spending from consuming larger and larger shares of the state’s general fund budget and squeezing out other state programs.

With state revenues improving, reduction of the negative factor was the top priority for education interest groups during the 2014 legislative session. Their proposals ranged as high as $275 million. In the end lawmakers agreed to a $110 million reduction.

The Hickenlooper administration and legislative budget experts resisted a larger buy down, arguing that a bigger amount would put too much pressure on the state budget in future years. That can happen because reducing the negative factor puts more money into K-12 base funding, which is subject to A23’s multiplier in the future.

Lawsuit backers met with key lawmakers near the end of the session, but legislators reportedly refused to be swayed by any possibility of a suit.

What happens next

As usually happens in these kinds of constitutional cases, the attorney general is expected to ask the district court to dismiss the suit. If that happens, the plaintiffs would appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Assuming the case stays alive in district court one way or another, both sides could file their written arguments by the end of the year – creating a pile of legal documents for the 2015 legislature to ponder as lawmakers consider the 2015-16 budget and how big a negative factor to include.

Interest groups already are gearing up to push for additional factor buy downs in 2015, and a live lawsuit will provide additional fuel and tension for the debate.

 

Categories: Urban School News

The larger issues at stake in the fight over an IB program: a parent’s view

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 19:57

This is the third in a three-part series of First Person essays in which members of the George Washington High School community present their takes on the proposed changes to the school’s International Baccalaureate program. Read the previous pieces in the series here and here, and read all of Chalkbeat’s coverage of the proposed changes here

During the past six years of his tenure, Denver Public Schools’ Superintendent Tom Boasberg has been told repeatedly that George Washington High School needs the support of the district to provide better academic programs for its students, particularly in regard to the development of a solid Advanced Placement (AP) program. He has heard it consistently from students, parents, and teachers.

Why has nothing been done to improve all academic programs at GW until now? Improving the academic offerings at schools should have been among our superintendent’s highest priorities.

GW’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program is a well-respected academic program. It is the best IB program in the state of Colorado, and one of the best in the country. It provides its students the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond, but it is a difficult program and requires many hours of study beyond classroom time.

The program is demanding and it is unrelenting, so it is not an academic program for any student. It is for those able and willing to do high level work in six subject areas for two complete years, followed by comprehensive final examinations at the end of the senior year administered by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Access to strong academic programs at every Denver high school should be a priority for the DPS’ leadership team. Sacrificing one program to benefit another is a poor alternative to building up two or more strong programs that serve larger groups of students.

Why does our superintendent want to take the chance that he might destroy a small, highly successful magnet program on the chance of making that program accessible to all?  Were he to use the same logic with the program offerings at Denver School of the Arts (DSA), then DSA’s stellar arts program would be similarly compromised.

Perhaps these ill-advised actions by our superintendent are the result of his lack of vision for our traditional public schools and his inability to collaborate with those schools’ stakeholders. It might be that these shortcomings translate into the diminished and ineffective leadership at the school level.

If consistent and strong leadership were as important to our superintendent as he purports, one would expect GW to have had only one principal with an excellent team of competent administrators during the six years that my daughters attended GW. Instead, there were three different principals, each with his/her own team of assistant principals. The result was no continuity and no ability for the staff to build on any previous accomplishments.

George Washington is my family’s neighborhood high school, but most families in GW’s boundaries send their children to East High School.  They believe, with ample evidence to support their beliefs, that East’s AP program is better than GW’s.  Since East has a much larger student population than any other Denver high school, it receives more money and therefore can provide more academic and athletic offerings.

East has a wide range of courses and can field the largest and best athletic teams in Denver, as well as offer outstanding music programs.  Our superintendent’s district-wide implementation of the “choice” enrollment tool, combined with the ability of each principal to decide enrollment numbers for his/her school allows East to increase its student numbers while other high schools struggle to meet enrollment projections.  Resources follow students through Student Based Budgeting (SBB), thus East thrives while other schools suffer.

Surely our superintendent understands those economics, yet somehow his strategic focus on “equity” does not extend to schools with declining populations. He should use the “choice” tool to positively influence the “choosing” of schools, and to drive the resulting allocation of financial resources toward making the budgets of competing schools equitable.

Our superintendent’s greatest failing, however, is that he does not listen to communities. He does not hear student voices, he does not respond to parent concerns, and he does not collaborate with teachers. In fact, he dictates rather than leads. Communities care about kids. Communities care about each other. Communities can bring about enduring and positive change.  However, when the GW community speaks, our superintendent pretends to listen, then tells us what he wants us to hear. There is community engagement, but no community collaboration.

All over Denver our communities have argued for strong neighborhood public schools. They have not clamored for charter schools to replace those schools. Our superintendent’s actions, however, follow the national trend of declaring urban public schools to be “failing” schools and then to replace them with charter schools.

Perhaps that is the ultimate plan for George Washington High School – to make it a “failing” school by destroying its best academic program and initiate a downward spiral for the school. That is a strategy that just might work for our superintendent and our federal government.

Now think about this. If George Washington can fail, maybe East High School will be next. Our superintendent has already announced that change is coming to East High School, as well.

We at GW now know that Tom Boasberg is not listening.  Do you?

Categories: Urban School News

Layoffs of 1,150 teachers, school workers announced

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 18:08

Even before releasing next year’s proposed budget, CPS officials announced minimal details Thursday on plans to lay off 550 teachers and another 600 employees, such as clerical support staff and teaching assistants.

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the cuts are directly related to projected declines in enrollment at many schools, although those projections have not been released. This year principals and local school councils (LSCs) were responsible for proposing their own cuts – which were then approved by CPS -- based on the district’s new per-pupil budgeting system. (Read a CPS fact sheet on the cuts.)

“It is difficult for schools that have sustained substantial enrollment decreases to avoid impact,” Byrd-Bennett said during a conference call with reporters. Still, she added, “this is the lowest number of impacts in the last five years.”

The district did not provide any information on which schools or job categories will be affected, or a racial breakdown of laid-off employees. It was unclear when that information would be provided, as not all teachers themselves had been officially notified. The district’s talent chief, Alicia Winckler, said principals were calling affected staff Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis called the layoffs "yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago."

"In a little over a year, CPS student-based budgeting has led to the removal of close to 5,000 teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, technology coordinators and instructional aides from classrooms as severe cuts cause principals to make the difficult decisions that the district cannot," Lewis said in the statement.

Although the district did not provide any information on the schools that would lose employees, Winckler noted that 171 schools would not lose a single worker. She said only one-third of affected schools would lay off teachers; the remainder would be losing non-teaching personnel, ranging from clerks to security guards.

The layoffs come two months after CPS announced a budget miracle that would allow the district to claim an additional $70 million toward next year’s budget. Through an unusual accounting maneuver, CPS says it plans to borrow two months’ worth of property tax revenue from the 2015-16 school year, and start using it a year early. Board of Education president David Vitale – a banker – has defended the accounting gimmick, saying it would help CPS avoid massive layoffs. 

Thursday’s layoffs don’t include about 60 teachers whose jobs are on the line because of plans announced earlier this year to turnaround Gresham, Dvorak and McNair elementary schools. As part of the turnaround process, CPS hands over management duties to the non-profit teacher training program Academy for Urban School Leadership, which can rehire some of the laid-off staff.

Byrd-Bennett bristled at the use of the word “layoffs” to describe what would happen to the employees, explaining that CPS expects to rehire many of them in the coming months to fill vacancies opened up by retirements, resignations, turnover and new positions created at schools with higher enrollment.

At the same time 550 teachers are getting the pink slip, CPS officials said that another 1,780 teaching positions will be vacant by the end of this year. Last year, CPS rehired 68 percent of the same teachers it had laid off, including a majority of teachers laid off from closed schools, district officials said.

Categories: Urban School News

Layoffs of 1,150 teachers, school workers announced

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 18:08

Even before releasing next year’s proposed budget, CPS officials announced minimal details Thursday on plans to lay off 550 teachers and another 600 employees, such as clerical support staff and teaching assistants.

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the cuts are directly related to projected declines in enrollment at many schools, although those projections have not been released. This year principals and local school councils (LSCs) were responsible for proposing their own cuts – which were then approved by CPS -- based on the district’s new per-pupil budgeting system. (Read a CPS fact sheet on the cuts.)

“It is difficult for schools that have sustained substantial enrollment decreases to avoid impact,” Byrd-Bennett said during a conference call with reporters. Still, she added, “this is the lowest number of impacts in the last five years.”

The district did not provide any information on which schools or job categories will be affected, or a racial breakdown of laid-off employees. It was unclear when that information would be provided, as not all teachers themselves had been officially notified. The district’s talent chief, Alicia Winckler, said principals were calling affected staff Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis called the layoffs "yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago."

"In a little over a year, CPS student-based budgeting has led to the removal of close to 5,000 teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, technology coordinators and instructional aides from classrooms as severe cuts cause principals to make the difficult decisions that the district cannot," Lewis said in the statement.

Although the district did not provide any information on the schools that would lose employees, Winckler noted that 171 schools would not lose a single worker. She said only one-third of affected schools would lay off teachers; the remainder would be losing non-teaching personnel, ranging from clerks to security guards.

The layoffs come two months after CPS announced a budget miracle that would allow the district to claim an additional $70 million toward next year’s budget. Through an unusual accounting maneuver, CPS says it plans to borrow two months’ worth of property tax revenue from the 2015-16 school year, and start using it a year early. Board of Education president David Vitale – a banker – has defended the accounting gimmick, saying it would help CPS avoid massive layoffs. 

Thursday’s layoffs don’t include about 60 teachers whose jobs are on the line because of plans announced earlier this year to turnaround Gresham, Dvorak and McNair elementary schools. As part of the turnaround process, CPS hands over management duties to the non-profit teacher training program Academy for Urban School Leadership, which can rehire some of the laid-off staff.

Byrd-Bennett bristled at the use of the word “layoffs” to describe what would happen to the employees, explaining that CPS expects to rehire many of them in the coming months to fill vacancies opened up by retirements, resignations, turnover and new positions created at schools with higher enrollment.

At the same time 550 teachers are getting the pink slip, CPS officials said that another 1,780 teaching positions will be vacant by the end of this year. Last year, CPS rehired 68 percent of the same teachers it had laid off, including a majority of teachers laid off from closed schools, district officials said.

Categories: Urban School News

Comings and Goings: New CPS communications chief

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 17:59

Three months after the departure of CPS’s most recent communications chief, the Board of Education on Wednesday approved the hiring of a longtime communications executive from the corporate world to fill the high-pressure political job.

Ron Iori, who started his career in newspapers, says protecting “the brand and reputation of an organization is the hallmark of my work,” according to his LinkedIn profile. “My background in crisis management extends across a spectrum of short-term incidents (plane crashes, factory deaths, Firestone tire crisis) and perennial issues (prolonged financial distress, multiple executive departures over time, tax refund loans)."

His LinkedIn and company profiles indicate no previous experience working for government.

Iori was unavailable for comment on Thursday. He started earlier this week, said CPS spokesman Joel Hood, who was unable to provide Catalyst Chicago with a copy of his contract or salary on Thursday. Iori will oversee a department that is currently undergoing a reorganization but includes media relations, online, internal communications and speech writing components.

He replaces Becky Carroll, who was hired after the election of Mayor Rahm Emanual in 2011 and headed CPS communications during the tumultuous 2012 teacher strike and last year’s contentious school closures. Carroll left her post in March, after returning from maternity leave, and now heads a super PAC that intends to raise big bucks in support of Emanuel and his aldermanic allies, according to a recent report in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Iori has been based in Chicago, most recently as senior counselor of the Chicago-based communications firm, Iori Communications. He has worked in communications for a variety of companies, including Kaplan Higher Education and Ford Motor Co., according to his company profile.

His stints in journalism included the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Cincinnati Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, as did former CPS schools chief Ron Huberman.

The proposal to hire Iori was not included in Wednesday’s agenda, but was voted on after the board’s closed-door session. State law allows public bodies to discuss personnel items behind closed doors, and to consider items that are not included on the agenda.

Categories: Urban School News

Comings and Goings: New CPS communications chief

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 17:59

Three months after the departure of CPS’s most recent communications chief, the Board of Education on Wednesday approved the hiring of a longtime communications executive from the corporate world to fill the high-pressure political job.

Ron Iori, who started his career in newspapers, says protecting “the brand and reputation of an organization is the hallmark of my work,” according to his LinkedIn profile. “My background in crisis management extends across a spectrum of short-term incidents (plane crashes, factory deaths, Firestone tire crisis) and perennial issues (prolonged financial distress, multiple executive departures over time, tax refund loans)."

His LinkedIn and company profiles indicate no previous experience working for government.

Iori was unavailable for comment on Thursday. He will be paid a yearly salary of $165,000, according to an index of board actions posted several days after the meeting.* His official title is "Chief Communications Marketing Officer."

Iori will oversee a department that is currently undergoing a reorganization but includes media relations, online, internal communications and speech writing components.

He replaces Becky Carroll, who was hired after the election of Mayor Rahm Emanual in 2011 and headed CPS communications during the tumultuous 2012 teacher strike and last year’s contentious school closures. Carroll left her post in March, after returning from maternity leave, and now heads a super PAC that intends to raise big bucks in support of Emanuel and his aldermanic allies, according to a recent report in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Iori was most recently the senior counselor of the Chicago-based communications firm, Iori Communications. He has worked in communications for a variety of companies, including Kaplan Higher Education and Ford Motor Co., according to his company profile.

His stints in journalism included the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Cincinnati Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, as did former CPS schools chief Ron Huberman.

The proposal to hire Iori was not included in Wednesday’s agenda, but was voted on after the board’s closed-door session. State law allows public bodies to discuss personnel items behind closed doors, and to consider items that are not included on the agenda.

* This story was updated on June 30, 2014, to include Iori's salary, which CPS did not provide before this story was initially posted.

Categories: Urban School News

Teacher training programs contemplate how to adapt to teacher evaluations

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 17:51

Even though Mary Young is just in the final weeks of her training to become a new teacher, she’s already become an expert in Colorado’s complex stack of standards for good teaching that will one day be used to decide whether she should stay in the classroom.

On a late spring afternoon, she pored over the standards — which rolled out to schools around the state this year — and speculated on where she’d rank on each piece.

In some areas, like building a strong classroom culture, Young said expected to excel. But she also realized she had little to no experience practicing other areas of expectation, like incorporating technology in the classroom.

“I have no idea if I will be good at it,” she said.

And the guide that lays out all of the standards, which runs to 20 pages, is daunting for a new teacher.

“How do you balance all of these?” she asked.

But Young is already ahead of the game in getting ready for her first evaluation. Her training program, Stanley Teacher Preparation Program, is one of just two in the state selected to be part of a pilot program figuring out how to train teaching candidates on the new evaluation system.

For teacher preparation programs, the incentive to graduate students who will do well under the new evaluation system is strong: eventually, the state’s teacher trainers will be graded based on how well their students do in their first years of teaching.

But the pilot has revealed just how far programs have to go to prepare teaching candidates for the new system and has illuminated a system still in flux as officials gradually introduce a complex series of laws governing teaching practices.

“They’re not going to be done by the time I’m done with my job,” said Jennifer Arzberger, who supports the grant-funded pilot program, which is entering its second and final year and was formed as a collaboration between the two state offices overseeing Colorado’s higher education and K-12 systems.

Teacher preparation programs also have a dilemma: school districts, which have to teach according to the new evaluation standards, want their incoming teachers trained on those. But the higher education system still holds the programs accountable to teaching the old standards, so prep programs must meet those expectations as well.

Moreover, teacher prep programs often work closely with individual school districts, many of which have developed their own variations on the state’s evaluation system to meet the requirements of the law. But programs must prepare new teachers for classrooms anywhere in the state.

And the implementation of the new standards has raised a number of practical questions for teacher trainers, including ones as simple as exactly how advanced young teaching candidates should be when they first enter the profession.

No answers, yet

One of the biggest problems for teacher training programs is that there is still no clear consensus on how skilled teachers should be, within the framework of the new evaluation system, when they graduate and enter classrooms for the first time on their own.

Young and her fellow students received training on how they would be evaluated and assessed themselves on the standards. But when Stanley instructors prepared to evaluate Young and others on the standards, it became obvious that no one knew where they should score if the program was doing its job. Should they be proficient on every standard? Or are some areas impossible for students who don’t run their own classroom to demonstrate mastery of?

Stanley, which puts teaching candidates to work immediately in a classroom under a mentor, polled their mentor teachers on where students should fall early in their careers. The program leaders also broke down the standards by what candidates are taught in the program.

“In most cases, they are going to be around basic, proficient or partially proficient,” said Sue Sava, who heads the Stanley program. Few recent graduates will rank in the top tiers on the evaluation.

Right now, those designations carry no consequences for teaching candidates. But eventually, under legislation likely to come forward next year, teacher candidates’ rankings on the evaluations could be tied to whether or not they receive their teaching licenses.

That’s a move Sava isn’t so sure about.

“Does state model rubric even make sense for teachers [in training]?” Sava said. Using it as a training tool works well, but to demonstrate mastery, she said, a candidate would really have to have their own classroom.

Other remaining questions are as basic as exactly which variation on the state’s system programs should use to train their students, since many of the largest districts have designed their own evaluation systems.

Both Stanley and the other participating program, University of Colorado-Denver’s Urban Community Teaching Education Program, collaborate closely with districts to place teachers-in-training in classrooms and prepare them for the needs of the specific districts. But most smaller districts use the state’s model system, whose language and structure can differ significantly from Denver’s LEAP evaluation tool and other district-designed systems.

While these questions and others linger, Arzberger hopes their work will help inform other teacher preparation programs statewide as they grapple with the new system.

Caught in the middle

As Sava and her team spend the next year totally redesigning Stanley’s preparation program to align with the standards of the evaluations, they will have to confront the side effects of a set of teacher accountability policies that have been stitched together piecemeal.

While their teachers will be evaluated on one set of standards after they graduate and enter the classroom, the teacher training programs themselves are still held accountable for teaching an old set of standards. And to make things more complex, teacher preparation programs will soon be ranked based on how well their candidates perform on evaluations during their first three years of teaching.

Sava believes that the old guidelines, known as “performance-based” standards and dating back to 1991, are antiquated and burdensome. The strain the old standards place on programs like Stanley takes physical form in a document called Big Bertha — a stack of papers several inches thick that contains all of the compliance information on just one of the standards, literacy instruction.

“[The new standards] are much more concise,” said Sava.

And she thinks they do a better job of pushing teachers to get better. “They do a good job of articulating this is what highly effective teaching looks like.”

Stanley is currently attempting to comply with both sets of standards, but Sava hopes to abandon the old standards entirely and discard Big Bertha. But that would require new legislation.

“We hope that’s going to happen,” said Sava. In the meantime, Sava said she has been encouraged to continue their work with the new standards.

“All they’ve known”

While programs are grappling with how to comply with the policies, the teachers they train are facing them fresh. New teachers like Young won’t have to deal with the transition many veterans have.

It’s a fact Young is acutely aware of. Her mother is also a teacher in Denver Public Schools. This year, Young received more training on the standards than her mother did.

“I feel better knowing what’s going to be expected and that [Stanley] is a safe place where I can ask questions,” said Young. While she finds some aspects of the standards daunting, that’s more hopeful than her mother’s response: “How are we supposed to do this?”

According to Arzberger, the teachers in training on whom so much of the difficulties center may emerge relatively untouched.

“It’s all they’ve known,” Arzberger said.

Categories: Urban School News

Incoming high school freshmen get taste of college life

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 17:42

For about 55 Denver incoming high school freshman, the idea of using engineering software and a 3-D printer to transform their drawings into three-dimensional models seemed daunting.

Devi Kalla, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Metropolitan State University, asked a group of the students if they had doubts about their ability to accomplish the task. Hands shot into the air.

Brent Dysart, one of the mentors in the program and a student at MSU, said that despite the ninth-graders’ initial doubts, the students pushed through the classes. “We couldn’t be more proud of your achievement,” he said.

It’s that kind of mindset — the realization that despite their initial nervousness, the students could achieve seemingly unreachable goals — that this camp intends to nourish in the students. And the end goal is for these ninth-graders to apply that mindset further down the road, when they start thinking about becoming the first in their families to attend college.

Esther Rodriguez, director of the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Urban Education, led the third annual College Readiness Camp. Rodriguez said the main goal of the program is to get students — all recent graduates from a number of DPS middle schools including  KIPP Montbello College Prep, CEC Middle College, Martin Luther King and the Denver Center for International Studies — thinking about college early.

“We want classes that are developmentally appropriate for incoming freshman, while also being culturally relevant,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about preparing them to be successful in high school, but also to get them in a college mindset.”

Karen Frazier, a former Martin Luther King Middle School student, said the program shattered her stereotypes on what college would be like.

“I thought college would be boring and just a bunch of lectures,” she said. “But this made me see that college was something that I could get into, that there was interesting stuff to do.”

Clara Megallanes, a former Kepner Middle School student and rising freshman at Abraham Lincoln High School, said college-readiness talk and programs are scarce. The camp, she said, is going to give her and her peers a leg up on other high school students when it comes time to apply to colleges.

That is exactly what Rodriguez hopes the students take away from the experience.

“Being on campus, interacting with college students as mentors — it’s creating a visual of what their future could be,” she said.

 

Categories: Urban School News

Three new charters join wellness initiative

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 13:36

Three additional charter schools recently joined a one-year-old initiative aimed at fostering health and wellness in charter schools across Colorado.

Sponsored by the Colorado League of Charter Schools and funded with a $705,000 three-year grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, the “Building Healthy Charter Schools Initiative” will include a total of nine schools for the 2014-15 school year. The new additions this year include High Point Academy in Aurora, Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and Children’s Kiva Montessori Charter School in Cortez.

Under the program, visiting wellness advisors work with participating schools to conduct needs assessments, create wellness policies and promote wellness activities. Schools pay about $4,000 to participate in the program. Besides helping participating schools become healthier, the program is intended to help organizers determine what wellness efforts are most sustainable and scalable in the state.

The original six schools to join the collaborative in 2013 will continue participating this year. They include Global Village Academy in Northglenn, Ross Montessori Charter School in Carbondale, Chavez-Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy in Pueblo, Carbondale Community Charter School, Indian Peaks Charter School in Granby and Platte River Academy in Highlands Ranch.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: College gun ban won’t be on ballot

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:02

Election analysis

Voter turnout, ballot position and hurried, low-visibility campaigns likely were more important than education issues in Val Flores’ victory over Taggart Hansen in the Democratic primary for the 1st District seat on the State Board of Education. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Guns on campus

Supporters of a measure to ban concealed weapons from college campuses announced Wednesday they have the required number of signatures to take the measure to voters in November, but they’re not going to do so to avoid muddying the political waters. ( CPR )

Charter hopes

A group of residents hope to open a new charter school in or near Englewood with the help of a charter school incubator, despite the Englewood school board's opposition to previous charter school applications. ( Denver Post YourHub )

Reading matters

Colorado and surrounding states are listed as being in a "book desert" because there simply aren't not enough books for kids, according to the advocacy group Unite for Literacy. ( 9News )

First Person

The principal of Denver’s George Washington High School explains the changes he is making to all of the school’s academic pathways, including to the school’s International Baccalaureate program. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Ed tech

While technology has often been hailed as the great equalizer of educational opportunity, a growing body of evidence indicates that in many cases it is increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities and between the school-ready and the less-prepared. ( Hechinger Report )

Common Core feud

Louisiana's education commissioner is ramping up the rhetoric against Gov. Bobby Jindal, who wants to pull the state out of the Common Core. ( Politico )

Discipline & safety

School district lobbyists and congressional Republicans are working to stall federal proposals to limit use of physical restraints on students. ( ProPublica )

Categories: Urban School News

In the News: CPS librarians are a rare breed

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 09:20

Staffing projections show more than half of Chicago Public School will lack a certified librarian next year, a CPS mom who's also a school librarian told the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. But, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the board there’s a lack of qualified people to fill librarian jobs. She said the district is working with universities to determine who is on track to be certified (Sun-Times)

AN ODD ALLIANCE—FOR CHICAGO: In an odd and rarely seen alliance, Rainbow/PUSH joined with affluent North Side residents who oppose CPS’ planned $20-million expansion of Lincoln Elementary School.

DYETT PROTESTERS: In an extended display of protest at Wednesday's City Council meeting, a few dozen demonstrators stood up in four separate groups chanting about their displeasure over the closing of Dyett High School in Bronzeville. They chanted "Will Burns do your job" in demanding a hearing for the school with the alderman whose 4th Ward includes the school. (Tribune)

IN THE NATION
CHARTER CONVERSIONS LIFT CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: While conversions of Catholic schools to charters are rare, a number of schools have made the switch in recent years. A study this spring found enrollment grew dramatically following the change. (Education Week)

SEEKING AMENDMENT ON PUBLIC ED FUNDING: If Mississippi is going to move past its troubled history, it will take a renewed focus on education — and better funding of its public schools, advocates said Tuesday during  the Freedom Summer 50th anniversary conference. “Better Schools, Better Jobs: A Ballot Initiative” is seeking to pass an amendment to the state’s constitution that would require the state Legislature to fully fund K-12 public school education with no cost to taxpayers. (The Hechinger Report)

Categories: Urban School News

In the News: CPS librarians are a rare breed

Catalyst Chicago - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 09:20

Staffing projections show more than half of Chicago Public School will lack a certified librarian next year, a CPS mom who's also a school librarian told the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. But, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the board there’s a lack of qualified people to fill librarian jobs. She said the district is working with universities to determine who is on track to be certified (Sun-Times)

AN ODD ALLIANCE—FOR CHICAGO: In an odd and rarely seen alliance, Rainbow/PUSH joined with affluent North Side residents who oppose CPS’ planned $20-million expansion of Lincoln Elementary School.

DYETT PROTESTERS: In an extended display of protest at Wednesday's City Council meeting, a few dozen demonstrators stood up in four separate groups chanting about their displeasure over the closing of Dyett High School in Bronzeville. They chanted "Will Burns do your job" in demanding a hearing for the school with the alderman whose 4th Ward includes the school. (Tribune)

IN THE NATION
CHARTER CONVERSIONS LIFT CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: While conversions of Catholic schools to charters are rare, a number of schools have made the switch in recent years. A study this spring found enrollment grew dramatically following the change. (Education Week)

SEEKING AMENDMENT ON PUBLIC ED FUNDING: If Mississippi is going to move past its troubled history, it will take a renewed focus on education — and better funding of its public schools, advocates said Tuesday during  the Freedom Summer 50th anniversary conference. “Better Schools, Better Jobs: A Ballot Initiative” is seeking to pass an amendment to the state’s constitution that would require the state Legislature to fully fund K-12 public school education with no cost to taxpayers. (The Hechinger Report)

Categories: Urban School News

Observers: political realities more than ed issues led to Flores’ State Board win

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 22:02

Voter turnout, ballot position and hurried, low-visibility campaigns likely were more important than education issues in Val Flores’ victory over Taggart Hansen in the Democratic primary for the 1st District seat on the State Board of Education.

Flores, a retired teacher and professor, won 59 percent of the vote in the race, a surprise to many and a defeat for the coalition of education reform advocacy groups and funders that have been repeatedly successful in a string of Denver Public Schools board races.

The differences in the two campaigns were stark. Flores raised a bit under $20,000 in contributions and non-cash support. Hansen raised more than $35,000 in cash, loans and non-monetary support – and two independent expenditure committees spent more than $100,000 to back him.

But the Flores campaign wiped out the financial advantage, and she swept much of Denver, as the city elections division map above shows. (Greenish shaded precincts were won by Flores; brownish ones by Hansen.) The 1st District also includes a small part of northern Arapahoe County, where Flores also won neatly.

Hansen, a lawyer for CH2M Hill, was backed by reform groups Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform, along with some of the same corporate and legal community contributors active in past races for the DPS board. Flores was supported by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the Colorado Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

The person vacating the seat, Democrat Elaine Gantz Berman, confessed to being “stunned” by the outcome. “I’m deeply disappointed,” said Berman, who publicly backed Hansen.

Flores praised her supporters’ “grassroots campaign” for gaining the victory, and her campaign manager, Dave Sabados, said she won partly because “I don’t think Democrats support the corporate [education reform] agenda.”

Reform-group leaders put a brave face on the race’s outcome and said they don’t think it reflects voter attitudes about education reform policies.

“Denver voters support more innovative ideas for our public education system,” said Sonja Semion, executive director of Stand for Children Colorado. “We don’t often get the full variety of Denver sentiment in a primary election.”

“We were clearly disappointed by the results,” said Jennifer Walmer, state director of Democrats for Education Reform Colorado. “I don’t believe it’s an indictment on reform.”

Stand and DFER both are connected to the independent expenditure committees that support Hansen. Both groups issued statements saying they look forward to working with Flores.

But it may be political realities, not education issues, that led to Tuesday’s result. Here’s a look at some of the factors involved, based on Chalkbeat Colorado research and on comments by people we interviewed.

Concentrated and low turnout

Only 38,033 Democrats voted in the Flores-Hansen race. By contrast, more than 107,000 votes were cast in the 2013 race for an at-large seat on the DPS board, won by former Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, a reform favorite. A key difference is that only Democrats could vote in Tuesday’s election, while any voter regardless of registration can vote in non-partisan DPS races.

So, the lack of GOP and unaffiliated voters may have worked against a “reform” candidate like Hansen.

Low turnout may have been due to the fact that Democrats had no high-profile races – such as the four-way Republican gubernatorial primary – to motivate them to mail their ballots.

“The voters were completely disengaged from the primary. People didn’t have a clue the primary was happening in the Democratic Party,” said Berman. “People didn’t pay any attention to the endorsements,” which included Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, other politicians and the Denver Post editorial page.

Ballot position and name

Because she won a majority of delegates at the Democratic Party nominating assembly, Flores’ name was the first one listed on ballots.

“I think it certainly helps,” said Sabado. Julie Whitacre, a lobbyist for the CEA, said top-line designation usually is a boost for a candidate.

Some sources interviewed by Chalkbeat also said Flores’ Hispanic background may also have helped her. The elections division map shows strong support for her in west Denver, which has concentrations of Hispanic voters.

“The district is heavily Hispanic and minority, and I think they wanted a representative that fit their values,” said one source.

Low-key and short campaigns

Needless to say, members of the State Board aren’t the highest-profile elected officials in Colorado. Lack of voter knowledge makes factors like ballot position more important.

“Nobody really knows what the State Board does and who is running and what the issues are,” said Van Schoales, CEO of A+ Denver, a reform advocacy group.

And, even with significant spending such as that made on Taggart’s behalf, the campaigns had a hard time reaching all potential voters.

In an effort to target voters they considered most valuable, both campaigns tailored mailings and phone calls in some parts of the district and ignored others. Some voters reported receiving as many as a dozen Hansen mailings; Democrats in other parts of the cities received none.

Both campaigns used direct mail, social media and phone calls to make their cases.

Several people interviewed cited the shortness of the campaign as a possible factor in the race. Flores and Hansen were placed on the ballot by a Democratic Party assembly in early April, leaving less than three months to campaign before the primary.

Prior to 2012, the primary election was held in late August, giving candidates a much longer period to reach out to voters.

Schoales called it a “superfast campaign” that didn’t give the candidates much time to get their message to Democratic voters.

Categories: Urban School News

The coming changes to George Washington High School, as told by its principal

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 18:00

This is the second in a three-part series of First Person essays in which members of the George Washington High School community present their takes on the proposed changes to the school’s International Baccalaureate program. Read yesterday’s piece, from a recent graduate of the school, here, and read all of Chalkbeat’s coverage of the proposed changes here. Check back tomorrow for the final installment in the series. 

As scholars at a wonderfully diverse high school, George Washington High School students, along with parents and community members, spent the year working alongside our school leadership to explore what the future will look like for GW through a comprehensive process called Common Ground. The call from students throughout this process has been clear:  Unify GW as one school and raise the bar for all students.

In response to this call, we recently announced a vision to improve our academic program, an important step in making our shared commitment of Futures Unlimited a reality. The vision represents a school-wide effort to ensure all students have access to rigorous, challenging courses across the entire academic program, and to allow the school to continue to champion the highest standards in academics.

Our belief is that each and every classroom at GW can, and will, benefit from increased rigor. In fact, beginning as early as next year, students will notice changes across all of GW’s academic pathways designed to best prepare them for college and career.

For example, resources to support success in Advanced Placement classes will increase, in part, due to GW being named a Colorado Legacy School, a program designed to increase student success in AP programs. The school’s Concurrent Enrollment program for college-level courses and Career and Technical Education pathways will also be expanded.

We have unwavering support from our leadership, faculty and staff to continue and strengthen GW’s state-leading IB Diploma Programme for 11thand 12th grade students, including exploring the option to become an authorized IB Middle Years Programme for grades nine and 10.  The IB Diploma Programme, which covers the last two years of high school, will continue for our juniors and seniors with the same offerings and same rigor we have today.

Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, students in GW’s ninth grade will have greater flexibility as to how many pre-IB/Honors courses they take. The following year, we will scale this approach up to 10th grade. The rigor and content of today’s ninth and 10th grade pre-IB courses will not change. While we will open up greater access to these ninth and 10th grade courses to all students who are prepared to take them, these pre-IB courses will stay the same – same rigor, same content, same preparation for the IB Diploma Programme.

Students will have the opportunity at the end of 10th grade to decide whether to enter the IB Diploma Programme, to focus on Advanced Placement courses, to enroll in Concurrent Enrollment college courses, and/or to follow Career and Technical Education pathways. I am proud to implement these changes and maximize the positive impact of GW’s unique diversity by offering more opportunities for students to interact in meaningful ways, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Efforts are currently under way to bring together a working group of students, teachers, school leaders, parents and community members to identify what needs to happen to make these changes a success and our collective vision—seen through the eyes of our students—a reality. Our goal is not only to raise the bar and be one GW united, but also to strengthen GW as an outstanding neighborhood school to serve students in our community and across Denver. Currently, nearly two-thirds of students within our attendance area are choosing to leave our community to attend another school. That is higher than it should be and higher than it is across DPS. A variety of strong academic pathways and rigorous, accessible courses across the entire academic program will help GW students excel and will dramatically improve the educational opportunities available to our entire community.

By connecting and leveraging the backgrounds and experiences of all students, faculty and staff, we will ensure we are one GW united. We look forward to continued collaboration with the GW Patriot community to ensure that changes in our academic curriculum will be successful to prepare all current and future GW students to meet the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: State board primary results represent win for Common Core critics

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 09:38

under the radar but still important

Val Flores, a retired teacher critical of many of the state's education reforms, soundly beat her more heavily-funded opponent Taggart Hansen in the Democratic primary for their State Board of Education race, while incumbent Republican Marcia Neal won her primary. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Get the full background on the candidates who will advance to their general elections in Chalkbeat's primer on the primary races. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

first amendment fears

A humanist organization is accusing the Dougco school system of promoting a Christian mission trip taken by Highlands Ranch students. ( Denver Post )

get to work

Colorado's higher education officials are bracing for a tough several months of work developing a performance funding system that few are enthusiastic about. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

good news bad news

The Colorado state employees' pension fund had a higher-than-average return last year, but political controversy over the system's long-term sustainability is likely to remain. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

specializing in special ed

Under new changes to how federal officials enforce special education laws, Colorado will have to improve its special ed students' performance on tests or receive federal assistance and risk losing grants. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

in the first person

A recent graduate of Denver's George Washington High School presents a student-developed plan to increase educational opportunities for those not enrolled in the school's well-known International Baccalaureate program. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

working together

The superintendent of Eagle County Schools argues that an unprecedented level of collaboration among the state's district leaders is representative democracy at its best. ( Vail Daily )

smartypants

A group of Sand Creek high school students developed a water purification system for developing countries and won the chance to show it off at MIT. ( Gazette )

And an Edison student became the first local student to win both local, national and international recognition from the Zonta Club scholarships. ( Gazette )

Categories: Urban School News

Philly Ed Feed

Print edition

Click Here
view counter
Click Here - Paid Ad
view counter
Click Here
view counter
Universal Family of School is Recruiting Talented Teachers
view counter

view counter
Click Here
view counter
Keystone State Education Coalition
view counter
Click Here
view counter
Click here
view counter
Advertise with TheNotebook.org
view counter
Click Here
view counter
Reserve your ad in the next edition of The Notebook
view counter
Top

Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300
notebook@thenotebook.org

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy