On the day CPS announced its list of school closings, students at schools slated to shut down received folders with letters to their parents stating that their school had lost enrollment, was partially empty and needed anywhere from $4 million to $37 million in repairs and maintenance.
District leaders repeated that argument, telling the media that CPS will avoid paying $560 million in capital costs over 10 years by shuttering 51schools—more than the savings in operating expenses. The argument has been used to justify the closings, the largest number ever at one time in a major district, as CPS pointed out the need to move old, expensive-to-maintain buildings off the books and cut a projected $1 billion deficit
But a joint analysis by WBEZ/Chicago Public Media and Catalyst Chicago found that the original cost savings estimates were significantly flawed--based on outdated needs assessments inflated by estimates and riddled with mistakes.
CPS leaders acknowledge that the numbers were not iron-clad and insist that the basic premise—avoiding major capital spending—is solid.
In its draft 10-year facilities plan, officials quietly lowered their initial savings estimate by $122 million, conceding that some of the changes were prompted by repeated questions from WBEZ and Catalyst.
Yet the new projections are still based primarily on speculation regarding the current condition of buildings and its needs.
The WBEZ and Catalyst analysis found these problems with the cost savings figures:
“We are toast”
Principals, local school council members and community activists--and even aldermen--have been questioning the cost-savings figures since the district first released them.
They believe the numbers were exaggerated to bolster the case for closing schools and say it undermines their trust in the district’s decision-making process—an already fragile trust that CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has said she is determined to repair.
One principal said he was worried the minute he saw the district’s estimate for repair and maintenance at his school.
“I thought to myself, we are toast,” said the principal. This principal, and others contacted for this story, said he has been warned by CPS not to talk to the press.
A 2010 assessment put a $7 million price tag on repairs and maintenance at this principal’s school. However, the letter provided by the district for parents said it would cost more than three times that figure for repairs and maintenance.
Parents at Trumbull in Andersonville had a similar reaction. The letter parent Ali Burke received at home on March 21 said that Trumbull needed $16.2 million in maintenance and repairs.
“It is ludicrous,” said Burke, who serves on the local school council at Trumbull.
Trumbull’s latest assessment from 2010 stated that the school needed $4.6 million in capital spending. No new assessment has been done since then. Internal documents provided to WBEZ and Catalyst show CPS lowered the projected savings after the March 21 letter, to about $11 million. The draft facilities plan put the cost to maintain and repair at $15 million.
Burke and other LSC members said they would think CPS would put out estimates based on an actual assessment and pricing based on bids. Burke asked CPS to provide an accounting for how it determined the costs, and CPS officials promised to bring one to a planned meeting with U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky. But the CPS official who attended “forgot” the paperwork, Burke said.
James Morgan, Trumbull’s president, is incredulous. “Where is your source, CPS?” he said.
Not a science
Mary Filardo, executive director of the 21st Century School Fund, notes that predicting capital cost savings is difficult. Filado’s Washington D.C.-based organization focuses on educational facilities planning. “It is not science,” she says. “It is elastic.”
But Filardo, who has been assisting the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, said that some of the numbers put out by CPS seem odd, especially given the latest assessments.
She points to Wentworth Elementary, a building that is slated to be shut down next year as students and staff relocate to Altgeld.
Between 2000 and 2010, CPS spent about $3 million at Wentworth for boiler repairs and campus renovation, among other work. The 2010 assessment stated that Wentworth needed $5.5 million more in work.
Then, this winter, CPS projected savings of $10.5 million in capital costs by closing Wentworth.
Yet given the major work done in the past 10 years, Filardo says it is hard to imagine what needs to be done. “It is probably an exaggeration,” she says.
Filardo has studied school closings in cities across the country and says it is not unusual for school districts to inflate savings, although often for operating costs such as salaries for laid-off principals, engineers and teachers.
A top CPS official, as well as board president David Vitale, say the adjusting of figures is not important because the basic premise remains.
“Not having to worry about the capital maintenance is clearly something that will save us money,” says the official (whom the CPS communications office would not let be identified). “It is not a perfect science.”
Education quality also a factor
Vitale says CPS officials are trying to put out a lot of information and tackle many projects and so he would not be surprised if some of the information was not accurate.
“My assumption is that they made some judgments and some estimates,” he says. CPS board members have asked to be briefed on each of the proposed school actions. By then, Vitale says he expects the school-by-school numbers to be accurate and it is important to him to be able to compare relative costs between schools.
However, with only six updated assessments, it is hard to see how he will be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons for every closing situation. Take Ryerson and Laura Ward in West Humboldt Park.
The Ward building is slated to close. Ward does not have a new assessment, but the updated assessed need is about $6.6 million a year (including $3.3 million from a 2008 assessment, plus extra costs added in such as inflation, engineering and design).
Ryerson, where Ward’s student and staff are to relocate, has an updated assessment that puts the price tag for capital spending at $7.9 million.
Yet Vitale notes there are other factors to consider beyond capital cost savings.
“Because of our financial situation, we must use our buildings efficiently,” he says. He says he also will be looking at utilization and the quality of education in each building.
Updated 9:30 a.m. May 7 – The Senate today gave final 27-8 approval to a late bill intended to give the University of Colorado more flexibility in admitting out-of-state students and using the additional revenue to provide merit scholarships to bright Colorado students.
House Bill 13-1320, introduced only on April 23, is the last education bill in line as the 2013 legislative session heads toward Wednesday adjournment. It’s had a bit of a bumpy ride in committee, but on Monday passed on a voice vote after about 20 minutes of debate. After Tuesday’s final vote the House will have to consider Senate amendments.
Although the bill applies in theory to all Colorado colleges, in practice it’s tailored for CU-Boulder, which is bumping against its allowed percentage of non-resident students. CU officials want to admit more non-residents both so it can gain the substantially higher tuition they pay and also so it can use some of that revenue to provide merit scholarships for top Colorado students. (The state hasn’t provided any merit aid since 2009, although colleges can do so on their own, as CU does already.)Issues decided Monday
Do your homework
A controversial portion of the bill allows a college to count a Colorado merit scholar as equivalent to two regular Colorado students, making it possible to maintain the required 55 percent resident undergraduate enrollment while creating more space for out-of-staters.
“What they have done here is a little creative, I would say,” said Democratic sponsor Sen. Rollie Heath, whose district includes the Boulder campus. “You could say ingenious, but we have to resort to this sort of thing at this stage of the game.” Heath and other bill sponsors argue that top Colorado high school graduates are being lured out of state by generous scholarships offered by other universities.
Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said, “It’s not pretty, it’s not clean” but that he supports the bill anyway.
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, argued against the bill Monday evening, noting questions raised last week by the Department of Higher education. Claiming the bill could lead to fewer Colorado students at CU, Renfroe asked, “Is that what you want?
The House version of the bill also included $3 million in state funds to be divvied up among colleges for merit scholarships. The Senate stripped the money fom the bill, and the House isn’t expected to object. (Learn more about the bill’s intricacies, who would qualify for scholarships and more in his legislative staff analysis.)Green schools bill finally passes
Senate Bill 13-279, another late April bill that encountered some turbulence, is on its way to the governor. The measure sets energy conservation requirements for new school buildings and substantial renovations. Amendments to soften the bill and make its requirements more flexible somewhat eased the initial concerns of school districts. The Senate accepted House amendments and re-passed the bill 19-16.
Passage of the bill is a long-awaited victory for Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, a Jeffco teacher who floated several unsuccessful versions while serving in the House.
House Bill 13-1171 allows (but doesn’t require) schools to stock epinephrine injectors to treat students suffering allergic reactions. Students with diagnosed allergies now can bring their own injectors to school. Advocates of the bill argued that schools should stock injectors for undiagnosed students who have reactions. The bill was delayed because of negotiations over training of school employees, liability issues and the role of school nurses. Passed Senate 27-8; the House Tuesday adopted Senate amendments and re-passed the bill 57-8.Parent involvement
Senate Bill 13-193 makes several changes in parent involvement laws. The measure requires school accountability committees to better promote parent involvement and to be more involved in school turnaround and priority improvement plans, requires each district to designate one staff member as a parent contact person, expands the role of the State Advisory Council for Parent Involvement in Education and allocates $150,000 for the Department of Education to hire a parent engagement specialist. Passed 37-28; the Senate has to review amendments.Teacher evaluations
House Bill 13-1257 tweaks the state’s 2010 educator evaluation law and gives the Department of Education greater oversight of district principal and teacher evaluation plans. (Current law allows districts to use the state model system or develop their own systems if they meet state standards.) The bill allows the department to review district plans – or do so at the request of “any interested party” – and order compliance with state standards or use of the state system. The Senate passed the bill 21-14, and the House later approved Senate amendments and re-passed it 35-27.
The bill was introduced in a very different form, at the behest of AFT-Colorado, which represents teachers in the Douglas County Schools. The union and the conservative Dougco board are locked in a variety of disputes. The original bill essentially would have given teachers’ unions veto power over district evaluation plans. That idea had little or no support, and the measure was dramatically retooled.Technical education
House Bill 13-1165 directs a variety of state agencies, including the community colleges board and the departments of education and higher education, to create “a career pathway for students seeking employment in the manufacturing sector.” The program has to be up and running for the 2014-15 academic year. Passed 21-14. (Get more information on the bill here.)
The bill directs state officials to hold a “summit” with industry representatives to determine state manufacturing workforce needs and to design programs to fill them. The measure has a $474,600 price tag in the first year. This is one of two workforce/education bills that survived this session. The other, House Bill 13-1005, directs the community college system to create pilot programs that combine adult basic education with career training. The highest profile workforce bill, a measure allowing community colleges in a limited number of technical fields, died in the face of opposition from state universities.Truancy
House Bill 13-1021 makes several changes in state truancy law with the intent of keeping more students in school and reducing the jailing of truant students. The bill encourages districts to develop procedures for identifying students who are chronically absent, to work more closely with local with juvenile services agencies and to adopt policies for dealing with habitually truant students. The bill says districts should “minimize the need for court action” and take students to court “only as a last resort.” The bill also limits detention of a student to no more than five days at any one time. The House agreed to Senate amendments and re-passed the bill 38-27. (Read the bill text for more details.)
Also approved Monday was House Bill 13-1007, which reinstates a legislative early childhood study commission. The body won’t receive funding – it will be getting in-kind support from the Colorado Children’s Campaign — but the panel will have the ability to propose bills without those counting against the limit of five that applies to individual members. Re-passed 21-14 by the Senate and 37-26 in the House.
In advance of Teacher Appreciation Day, Lyons Middle/Senior High School biology teacher Sam Holloway asks for more time and support, especially for new teachers.
On May 7th, students and parents across the country will celebrate national Teacher Appreciation Day. As a teacher, I want to take a moment to acknowledge all the great educators around the country – and to address a few misconceptions about the work that we do.
These misconceptions come up all too frequently: that anyone could do what teachers do just as effectively; that we work nine months a year; that teachers are overcompensated for their work. But just like doctors, lawyers, and engineers, teachers are highly qualified professionals. Most of us are teaching because we feel that it is important work, regardless of how many hours it takes. Few of us went into the profession for the money – in fact, when I did the math, I discovered that I was earning less per hour of teaching than I was in college working as a tutor.
These misconceptions underscore the public’s misunderstanding of the reality of teaching. Great teachers have high standards for themselves and for their students, and we often work long hours to make sure that we are doing the best job that we can. Each day I start teaching at 7:30am and deliver lessons to more than 115 students. I stay after school for several hours to lead extra-curricular activities and participate in building/district committees. I continue working at home planning lessons for the coming weeks, grading tests, papers, and lab reports, and making videos to help my students get more from their out-of-class learning time. I often work through lunch so I can meet with students who need extra assistance. I also work right up until bedtime and at least one day on the weekends. This story is typical of teachers everywhere.
For me and for many teachers I know, the work continues through the summer. That’s because our ambitions are always just beyond the reality of what is happening in the classroom. I am constantly striving to be a better teacher and mentor to my students, to help them learn more effectively and develop a deeper, more meaningful and longer-lasting understanding. I do a great deal of professional development, attending workshops and conferences to help me find more effective and more interesting ways to teach science.
Like all professionals, I need time and support to develop my skills, but both time and public support for education are in increasingly short supply. If it was not for the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, which has funded and supported my professional development for almost four years, I would never be able to engage in the hundreds of hours of PD that I have been lucky enough to receive. I am positive that I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today without KSTF’s enduring support.
As teachers, we are expected to do more with less time and less support this year than we did the year before. This is particularly challenging for new teachers, who are prone to say “yes” to any request made of us because our idealism tells us that we should. Our willingness to overwork ourselves, and to donate virtually all our personal time to our careers is largely why half of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching. I am finishing my third year of teaching science in a small, public high school, and I know all too well the challenges of being a new teacher.
If I could ask for a gift in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, it would be the gift of time and support, not just for me, but for all teachers, and particularly for new teachers. If we don’t support our new teachers, and give them the time they need to focus on their craft, we are going to lose them, and in doing so will do a great disservice to our schools, our society and our future. After all, who is going to teach our kids if all the best and brightest young minds are drawn away from teaching to careers in which time and support are in abundance?About the author
Sam Holloway teaches biology at Lyons Middle/Senior High School in Lyons, Colorado. Sam loved education and biology but decided to study the latter as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado. After graduation he felt torn between a career in science and education and spent three years working in his university’s plant lab as a research technician. Sam never lost interest in education and realized that what he liked best about research was teaching and interacting with others. These feelings, along with his work leading teens in outdoor conservation projects in Boulder, influenced his decision to pursue a career in education. Sam began teaching at his alma mater in 2010.
An interesting email popped into one of EdNews’ inboxes the other day.
Signed by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and topped by the blue Hickenlooper for Colorado 2010 campaign logo, the email touts the signing of the ASSET bill making undocumented students eligible for resident tuition rates.
The email is one of the first stirrings of a re-election campaign and seems to indicate that Hickenlooper and Garcia plan to tout the enactment of the ASSET bill, which passed after more than a decade of attempts, as a way to mobilize voters. It concludes with this paragraph from Garcia:
“I am honored to have played a role in this effort and proud of what it will contribute to Colorado’s future, and let’s face it—we wouldn’t be here without your support. But we have more work to do, and we’d like to have four more years to do it. Can you show your support by donating $250, $100 or $50 to keep our team going strong?”
Anthony Weiner has no campaign office or campaign stops, because he has no mayoral campaign, at least for now. So students are heading to his home on Park Avenue today to protest a centerpiece of his education policy proposals.
Students who are part of the Urban Youth Collaborative are rallying outside Weiner’s apartment building this afternoon to oppose what they say is a “discriminatory” position on school discipline.
The students — who are no newcomers to political theater — say Weiner’s proposal to “streamline the process of removing troublesome kids from the classroom” would unfairly target black and Latino students. The proposal topped Weiner’s education agenda in a recent policy booklet, “Keys to the City,” which was an updated version of a 2009 document by the same name.
Weiner’s policy proposal says nothing about the race of the students the policy would affect, of course. But the students are pointing to data about who bears the brunt of discipline under the Bloomberg administration to suggest that those trends would likely hold true.
Weiner’s proposal “appears even more heavy-handed than Mayor Bloomberg’s ‘zero-tolerance’ approach that have [sic] resulted in huge racial disparities,” the press release about this afternoon’s rally said.
Black and Latino students make up about 70 percent of students across the city. But they represent 93 percent of students arrested or cited for criminal behavior at schools, even as the number of overall incidents has fallen. They are also suspended disproportionately often, as well. The arrest and suspension data are released under the Dignity in Schools Act, a law that the City Council passed in 2010 under pressure from the Dignity in Schools Campaign, of which the Urban Youth Collaborative is a member.
The rally outside Weiner’s home was organized in part by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, the coalition that formed to oppose the Bloomberg administration’s school policies in the election. The press release points out that current Democratic candidates have signaled their support for changing the way school discipline is meted out.
Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, for example, said last month, “I want to be the mayor who works along, yes, with our students, but also with education professionals to make sure our environments are safe but that students and particularly students of color aren’t being targeted, aren’t being singled out for suspensions and arrests.” He was speaking at a rally to support a gentler approach to discipline that also drew support from Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, all mayoral candidates.
Dumas Elementary teacher Nadjea Butler-Wilson leads her 3rd-grade students in a lesson on reading a persuasive paragraph. The author believes his town needs a new library. Butler-Wilson wants her students to analyze his argument.
“The reason he’s giving you is that the library is too small. How can you prove that? What is some fact about the library that will show it’s too small?” she prompts the class.
“Some people think it’s too small,” one boy says.
But this is not the answer Butler-Wilson is looking for. She pushes the students to give facts to prove their point. A girl suggests one, saying, “More people keep coming in [the library] and there’s not enough room.”
Learning how to construct written arguments, the goal of this lesson, is an important element of the new Common Core State Standards, set to begin phasing in next year. Last year, Dumas was one of 35 schools that became “early adopters” of the standards and were given money to pay for substitutes while teachers worked on model lesson plans aligned to the standards. The lesson plans became the basis for curriculum guides.
(Dumas and two other early adopter schools, Canter and Armstrong, are closing. The Dumas building in Woodlawn will stay open as children from nearby Wadsworth transfer over and the school is renamed Wadsworth.)
As CPS begins to phase in the standards, one group of teachers will have a particularly tough task. Teachers of young children will have to expose students to high-level ideas without relying on strategies that are not geared toward young children; for example, too much desk work that could easily frustrate them and, in turn, make learning more difficult.
In fact, many early childhood teachers have long resisted efforts to impose academic expectations on young children. The Common Core standards have re-ignited the debate, and the fear that tasks meant for older students will be “pushed down” to younger children.
But educators say that, with careful work, teachers can learn to adapt. At Dumas and other early adopter schools, preschool and primary teachers are striking a delicate balance, slowly incorporating lessons that teach Common Core concepts and skills to young children at a level and pace that are developmentally appropriate.
Principals also say young students can handle the Common Core, if teachers give them the right support.
When very young students respond to a topic by talking about their likes and dislikes, Dumas Principal Macquline King says, teachers refer them back to the text they have read. “We understand what you like, but what does it say in the text?” she explains.
Nancy Hanks, the principal at Melody Elementary, says that a lesson in which students look for details in a text can be made accessible to those who don’t write yet: Some students may write the details, some may draw them, and others may dictate them to the teacher, she explained at a Chicago Principals and Administrators Association panel.
“In raising the bar, [students] jump right up to it,” Hanks believes.
Hanks once saw students drawing pictures of dolphins after reading a book about dolphins, but realized that the pictures didn’t have specific details in them. So she told them to re-do the pictures. Some of the details the new pictures showed included dolphins’ spouts and dolphins coming up for air.
Rhonda Atkins, a preschool teacher at Dumas, says that meeting with kindergarten teachers and learning about the standards helped her align lessons with the expectations her students will face when they leave preschool.
Teaching students about counting money entailed getting a book about money that was appropriate for preschoolers, Atkins explains. “You talk about something preschoolers understand--has anybody ever gotten money for [their] birthday or for Christmas? Did you get coins? Did you get dollars?”
She also asked parents to count loose change with their children to reinforce the concept at home.
Other concepts Atkins introduces include shapes, ordinal numbers (first, second, third and so on) and writing.
“Children have been working on how to write sentences. My very high-level students are able to write paragraphs,” she says. “There’s only a few, but you try to push them further.”
Breaking down complex texts
Cardenas Elementary Principal Jeremy Feiwell says that having students read more complex material has paid off with higher test scores on the NWEA MAP assessment, which measures the ability to understand complex texts and is given to children as young as 3rd grade. The ability has “skyrocketed” among Cardenas students, Feiwell says.
Referring to evidence from the text is an important part of the Common Core, and Feiwell says even children as young as 1st grade can do it. Proof hangs on the wall of Maricela Aguirre’s 1st-grade classroom, where a collection of student work shows answers to questions about a story featuring animals, with evidence to back up students’ thoughts. “How did the pig outsmart the wolf? How do you know?” reads one prompt.
In a pre-K classroom, teacher Maria Morin reads the story “Thinking One Can,” an earlier version of the story that became the classic children’s book “The Little Engine That Could.”
But this story is read aloud from a teacher’s guide, with only one picture. Morin tells her students it will be more challenging to listen to the story without looking at pictures to tell what is going on.
At the end, Morin asks students what lesson the story is trying to teach. After some discussion, she re-reads the sentence where the story sums up its moral.
Feiwell explains that Morin’s teaching shows two shifts spurred by the Common Core. First, Morin is showing students how to summarize main ideas using evidence from the text. Second, by exposing children to a story without pictures, she is helping them get ready to understand higher-level books down the road.
In Elizabeth Rickey’s 3rd grade class, students work through a play about the Greek mythological character Medusa, who was transformed into a monster when a goddess turned her hair into snakes.
“We were doing a shared reading of a play about Medusa, and we were looking at it through her perspective,” Rickey explains. She asked students taking on Medusa’s role to answer questions like “What do you think about the way Athena treated you?” and “Why do you think she changed your hair into snakes?”
“It’s a really challenging thing to put themselves in the character’s shoes,” Rickey says. At the same time, they are talking about how to differentiate their own point of view from that of the author.
From basic arithmetic to understanding concepts
In 2nd-grade teacher Eva Verta’s room at Columbia Explorers Elementary, students practice counting, using math worksheets with pictures of manipulatives.
“Remember, I should be able to follow how you’re counting by checking your labels,” Verta reminds the students. She speaks directly to one boy: “You know what, Emilio? I cannot read your mind when I look at these labels. I can’t see how you counted. I look at yours and I say, ‘Hmm, how did you get 501?’”
With the Common Core, math must go beyond just getting the right answer. Students must be able to explain their thinking and demonstrate understanding—in this case, by labeling each item in the drawings.
Columbia Explorers is not an early adopter school, but has been incorporating the English standards for a couple years. This year, the school began to implement the math standards.
Principal Jose Barrera says that based on the school’s experience, redesigning lessons will be hard work.
“Nothing’s going to happen with CPS giving you this magic kit,” he says. “You have to take ownership, 1,000 percent.”
In 3rd-grade teacher Jennifer Ford’s room, some students practice multiplication tables on worksheets. Other children, working in groups, say them out loud using flashcards.
Before long, Ford gathers the whole class in a circle. Picking one number at a time, she has students surround her for an exercise. The first number she gives out is five.
One by one, each student in the circle reels off a math fact of his or her choosing that involves five:
“Five times one is five.”
“Six times five is 30.”
“You got it,” Ford says.
“Five times six is 30.”
“Five times ten is 50.”
Curriculum coordinator Beth West explains that one Common Core goal is to make sure students master skills “fluently” so they can use them with ease. In the earlier grades, this includes a sizable dose of mental math.
Terry Carter, who is leading Common Core implementation at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, says schools run by AUSL are focusing mostly on math in grades pre-K to 3. AUSL manages 25 schools and is slated to take on six more with this year’s school actions.
The schools are working with the Erikson Institute’s Early Mathematics Education Project on ways to make math concepts accessible and appropriate for youngsters.
As part of the Common Core, Carter says, students must be able to explain and demonstrate their thinking using manipulatives and visual models.
Children should also learn to persevere in solving tough math problems.
“The Common Core likes to see the endurance and stamina of children to be inquiry-based. Children are allowed to struggle with a problem rather than being told or funneled [to an answer with] teachers breaking down every step,” Carter says.
To learn how to make those changes, AUSL teachers are working in groups to practice lessons.
One teacher teaches a lesson in another teacher’s classroom while colleagues observe. Then, they analyze what went well and what went poorly, and teach a revised version of the lesson to a different class.
Not necessarily a disconnect
Sandra Alberti, director of state and district partnerships and professional development for the nonprofit Student Achievement Partners, is hopeful about what the Common Core could mean for early childhood teachers.
“What the standards do is signal to early childhood educators and everyone in the system that… these are a list of things kids need time to develop, play with, and explore,” Alberti says.
In math, Alberti says, giving students more time with the material can slow down instruction and allow time for deeper conceptual understanding.
Currently, most math teachers teach strategies and tricks students can use to get the right answer. “That’s not math,” she says. Some curricula focus on concepts but fall short at having students actually practice enough problems. But, Alberti says, “We shouldn’t make a choice between having kids get the answer right and having them explain their thinking.”
With reading, she says, the most important piece of the standards is to challenge students to engage with material above their level because that’s how they will grow as readers.
“It’s very hard for (students) to catch up to grade-level peers when everything we give them has been scaffolded,” Alberti says. “If they’re not given a more complex text, they’re not going to develop a more complex understanding.”
At Dumas, Butler-Wilson says that the Common Core can be a good fit for early childhood because the standards ask students to use their imagination and ideas.
Students can master the standards, she believes, “but it requires everyone to change the way they think about teaching and learning. It requires the teacher to be more of a facilitator in the classroom as opposed to being at the front [teaching] one lesson the same way to all the students. The standards can’t be reached that way.”
Butler-Wilson recalls a math lesson that required students to do a scavenger hunt for items of a certain length –a foot, an inch or a yard – and made posters of the results. The goal was to help strengthen their understanding of the concept.
“When they would think about an inch, they would think about the things they discovered in the classroom,” she says.
Elizabeth Najera, principal of Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center, also doesn’t necessarily see a mismatch between Common Core expectations and what students should be learning in preschool.
A team of teacher leaders in the school has identified what they want children to know in order to be ready for kindergarten. One thing that’s key, she says, is making sure teachers intentionally design instruction to build on children’s knowledge.
Teachers at Velma Thomas try to use open-ended questions to develop higher-level thinking skills, even in very young students, and Najera sees that as a good fit.
“Some of the things that are in the Common Core, I think they are not too different from what we are doing already,” she says. But a lot will depend on how the district changes its expectations for preschool teachers, she adds. “I guess we kind of have to wait on that.”
Early Childhood Resource Page: http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/early-childhood
Common Core Resource Page: http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/common-core
On a sunny Friday morning, first-grader Jordan Walker donned her pink Dora the Explorer backpack and set off for school with her mother, Melissa Walker.
The two walked through the quiet side streets of Denver’s West Colfax neighborhood. Halfway to Colfax Elementary they met up with a family friend, Barbara Billings, who accompanied them the rest of the way.
Despite an abundance of neighborhood children who attend the school, the three were alone on the 15-minute walk until they were just across Colfax Avenue from the school, alongside a used car lot. A few other walkers appeared there, but many more kids climbed out of idling cars in front of the school.
It’s a fact that frustrates and demoralizes Melissa Walker. Last fall, she organized a “walking school bus,” so Colfax students could gather at designated meeting spots and walk to school with parents or other adult chaperones like Billings or her husband Jeff. The project, which included seven children at its height, fell apart after a couple months.
“The parents weren’t that interested,” said Walker.
Walker started the walking bus in the interest of safety. She’d seen unaccompanied kindergarten and first grade children escorting younger siblings to school. She’d seen the alarm on children’s faces when encountering a mentally ill man shouting gibberish. She’d worried about the heavy traffic on Colfax and, until it was adjusted mid-year, the short green light that would sometimes turn yellow then red while kids were still crossing. Although some school staff had also expressed concern about these problems, Walker said the administration wasn’t particularly supportive of her plan.
Walker’s experience demonstrates some of the unique challenges involved in getting children to walk or bike to school in urban neighborhoods where concerns about traffic safety, stranger danger or criminal activity often trump concerns about children not getting enough fresh air and exercise. Even professionals who advocate for active transportation like biking and walking, admit that overcoming parental fears, not to mention a car-oriented culture, can be daunting.Tackling the culture shift
Lauren Croucher, the injury prevention coordinator at Denver Health, has led the seven-year-old Denver Safe Routes to School Coalition since 2011. She said the toughest thing about getting kids to walk or bike to school is overcoming cultural norms that make walking and biking a back-up plan instead of the first choice.
Walking and biking resources
At schools where walk- and bike-to-school efforts have been successful, she said “There’s really been a critical mass that helps tip this thing in the right direction…The places that have been successful are the places that have addressed the culture shift.”
Croucher, who has increasingly focused on shaping policy to encouraging walking and biking, said achieving that shift can be very difficult for a lone parent like Walker.
Liz Van Nostrand, the school nurse at Colfax, can attest to that, naming a litany of ills that impact the school. Test scores are low, attendance is spotty and parent engagement is “really pathetic.” Of the school’s 420 students, 97 percent are eligible for free- or reduced-price meals. About 83 percent live within a mile of the school.
“It’s just a really tough area,” she said. “You have families who are not functioning at the top of the scale and their lives are really chaotic.”
And previous special events, like a walk-to-school day, haven’t made much impact.
“I don’t think it got very far,” said Gertraud Torrez, a preschool teacher at Colfax.
Torrez said that about three of her 15 students walk to school most days. The rest don’t because of safety concerns, she said as she leafed through a stack of parent surveys where that worry surfaced repeatedly.New pedestrian push in Denver
Over the years, various Denver schools, including Colfax, have received mini-grants or safety programming funded by the National Safe Routes to School program, which was created in 2005. But schools were often referred by word of mouth and the work was done in a fragmented way, said Jenna Berman, education director for Bicycle Colorado.
DPS schools getting Safe Routes to School money
Now, Berman and other advocates are hoping a new $117,000 Safe Routes to School grant will usher in a new, more strategic effort to encouraging biking and walking among children in high-needs pockets of Denver.
Eight elementary schools, including five in southwest Denver, will benefit from the grant. All were chosen based on their ranking in a new data matrix created by Croucher that prioritizes all DPS elementary, middle and K-8 schools based on need. The matrix weighs factors such as the number of pedestrians involved in car accidents near a school, the percentage of low-income students and the percentage of students living within one mile of the school.
“Next year is kind of a launching of a new push,” said Berman.
While Denver Health is the official grant recipient, staff from Bicycle Colorado and BikeDenver will provide bike and walking safety education in each school’s physical education classes next year. In addition, WalkDenver will conduct walkability audits around each school that examine infrastructure issues such as missing sidewalks, high speed traffic or not enough green light time for crossing streets.
Gosia Kung, executive director of WalkDenver, said the combination of safety education and infrastructure assessments represents a more comprehensive approach. She hopes that once infrastructure problems are identified, capital improvement grants will be sought to continue the momentum.
Van Nostrand knows firsthand the challenges of getting infrastructure needs addressed. Last fall, after complaints from the school’s wellness team about the short green light at the corner of Colfax and Tennyson, she repeatedly contacted the city to increase its length and secure a countdown meter indicating the number of seconds left for a safe crossing.
“I basically just harassed somebody,” she said.
That kind of persistence may well be another key ingredient for pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Next year, Berman hopes that besides educating students about walking and biking safety at the eight schools, the work will impact parents too.
“Then we can arm them and support their process in accessing local government,” she said.Who cares if kids walk to school?
Does it matter if kids walk or bike to school? Advocates say it’s a public health issue, affecting childhood obesity rates, mental health and environmental health.
“You walk around, you see a lot of overweight kids,” said Van Nostrand. “Getting exercise and fresh air is good for mental health. It’s good for physical health.”
Although Colorado’s adult population is among the fittest in the nation, Colorado ranks 23rd for childhood obesity. In addition, despite recommendations that children ages 6 to 17 get an hour of physical activity a day, only 49 percent of Colorado children ages 5 to 14 reached that threshold, according to 2011 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that walking or biking to school does make a difference. That study, which quantified how many minutes of physical activity various policy or built environment changes represent, found that active commuting to school added 16 minutes to a child’s day. Of the nine interventions reviewed, the three most effective were daily physical education classes, classroom activity breaks, and walking or biking to school.A different Denver experience
At Bill Roberts School, a pre-K-8 school in Stapleton, the student population and the neighborhood is a lot different than West Colfax, but until recently, the problem was the same. Although about two-thirds of the school’s nearly 800 students lived within a mile of the school and sidewalks are wide and ubiquitous, not many kids were walking or biking to school.
In 2010, parent Kristen Klaassen decided to do something about it. She’d heard about an innovative Boulder-based program called Boltage while listening to NPR and soon began raising money to implement it at Bill Roberts. The program’s key technology is a $5,000 solar-powered machine called the “Zap” that’s erected outside a school and, with the help of backpack tags containing computer chips, records which students walk or bike to school each day. Students earn prizes like shoelaces and wristbands as they rack up more trips.
Boltage launched at Bill Roberts in April 2011 and today records about 60 trips a day. That number is down in recent months partly because of bad weather and partly because Klaassen hasn’t been as active about advertising it. Last year, the number of daily trips was about 80.
“It definitely has made an impact,” she said, adding that she’d like to see it attract even more kids. “It just reminds me that to change attitudes and expectations, you have to be on them all the time.”
In contrast to Melissa Walker’s experience at Colfax, Klaassen enjoyed widespread support as she spearheaded Boltage, from the school’s administration, its Green Team and from many parents and teachers.
But Berman, of Bicycle Colorado, said she empathizes with Walker’s struggles. “It’s an uphill battle,” she said.
Despite the overall success of the program at Bill Roberts, Berman said Boltage is too expensive for many schools, particularly the high-priority schools being targeted by the new grant. She noted that a similar but lower-tech trip-tracking tool is available for free through a new program called “Fire Up Your Feet,” sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National PTA.
The program, which can be used as a fund-raising tool, allows students to earn prizes by keeping track of pedestrian trips to and from school as well as physical activity during the school day on the program’s website.
Two Colorado high school students are among the 2013 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, which was announced by Education Secretary Arne Duncan Monday.
The two are John Brock of Arapahoe High School in Littleton and Amy Chen of Highlands Ranch High School. They are among the 141 high school seniors selected from among more than 3,300 eligible students.
Presidential scholars are selected based on academic work, essays, school evaluations, community service and other factors. Get more information in this news release.
Each weekday morning, we search websites of various media, comb through RSS feeds and peruse Google alerts to bring you a roundup of the day’s top education headlines, in Colorado and across the country, by 8 a.m. If you’d like to suggest a story we’ve missed or a source we should add to the list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Consortium on Chicago School Research surveyed 700 principals and assistant principals and 900 teachers in December about CPS' new teacher evaluation process and will do so again in May. CPS, however, would not authorize the organization to release preliminary findings. A district spokesman said the data are "too preliminary to be of any value."
An Atlantic article asks whether new CPS evaluations are proving a valuable tool or simply another drain on educators' time by focusing on the experiences of teachers and principals at three schools (John Hancock and Jenner and Robert Emmet Elementary), where the new teacher evaluation program was implemented this year. (The Atlantic)
IN SUPPORT OF TEACHERS: On Friday morning, hundreds of Lincoln Park High School students poured out onto the street, in a walkout in support of their teachers. Eight teachers recently learned they will not returning when the school is converted to a wall-to-wall International Baccalaureate. Before doing so, they presented a letter explaining why they planned to walk out. “We want to show that we do care about our education and we wish to have a say in it,” it read. “We have been informed that many teachers are being fired so that newer teachers can be hired and we don’t want to sit back and let CPS make a business of our education.” (WBEZ)
IN THE NATION
A NEW MAJORITY: Hispanics have passed whites as the largest ethnic group in Texas schools, making up almost 51 percent of public school enrollment. The influx of Hispanic students, many from poor families, has brought about many changes in classrooms, with more expected as that population continues to grow. (Dallas Morning News)
NOVEL CO-HABITATION: Two redbrick buildings in a gritty section of Philadelphia are being converted into apartments and offices intended to house teachers and nonprofit educational organizations in what the developers hope will become a cohesive community. When the renovation is complete, 60 percent of the buildings’ 114 apartments will be reserved for teachers, who will be offered a 25 percent discount on market rent — paying about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom unit in a neighborhood where they typically rent for $1,300. (The New York Times)
Lawmakers start running out of cash near the end of every legislative session, and that problem led to the defeat of three education-related bills Friday.
That proposal, House Bill 13-1320, provided the liveliest education event of the day.
The bill, which seems primarily to benefit CU-Boulder, would allow state colleges and universities to tinker with the ratio of resident and out-of-state students and use part of the tuition income from additional non-residents to provide merit scholarships for top Colorado kids. (In general state schools must maintain resident undergraduate enrollment of at least 55 percent and have no more than 45 percent out-of-staters. Only Boulder and the Colorado School of Mines are approaching their limits.)
As it came from the House, the bill also included $3 million in state money for merit scholarships. In Friday’s general spirit of thrift, that was stripped at the request of sponsor Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder.Daily roundup
Do your homework
But, after reading a brand-new legislative staff analysis of the bill and hearing from Department of Higher education lobbyist Chad Marturano, committee members had plenty of questions.
Marturano stressed that the department and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia are officially neutral on the bill, but his testimony sounded skeptical. He noted that universities already can offer merit scholarships and talked about possible “unintended consequences” undermining current law on resident and non-resident ratios. “The lieutenant governor encourages the General Assembly to have this discussion, but in a direct way.”
Both Democratic Sen. Nancy Todd of Aurora and Republican Sen. Mark Scheffel of Parker questioned the need for the bill. “For the public it seems like we’re gaming the system,” Scheffel said, referring to the bill’s provision that a Colorado merit scholar could count as two resident students for the purpose of calculating the ratio.
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, wondered how much of the money raised from more non-resident students actually would go to scholarships. “The university is going to be the real winner. … The more we hear on this bill the more I’m inclined to say absolutely no. This is not the way to do it.”
Two CU administrators, Boulder admissions director Kevin McLennan and lawyer Jeremy Hueth, were repeatedly called to the witness table to answer committee questions, looking more nervous each time they came back. They promised that all qualified Colorado students would be admitted to CU regardless of how the ratio is tweaked.
“We’re looking for more Colorado students,” McLennan said, noting that there’s been a dip in Colorado high school graduate numbers in recent years.
After more than an hour of grilling, the bill did pass to the floor on a 5-3 vote. Five Democrats supported it, while three Republicans were opposed and one was in another committee.
But Todd, the author of a community colleges degree bill that was killed earlier partly due to the work of CU lobbyists, clearly was unhappy. She was bending Heath’s ear as the two left the hearing room, and after that she huddled with two CU lobbyists.
Those lobbyists later were recounting their votes for the bill’s consideration on the Senate floor. To pass, the measure will have to receive Senate preliminary and final approval and House agreement on amendments before adjournment day next Wednesday.Lack of funding dooms measures
The bills killed Friday involved English language learners, an Advanced Placement incentives program and a workforce proposal. Here’s the rundown:
House Bill 13-1211 – This was a widely supported measure to upgrade programs for teaching English language learners, but in the end supporters didn’t have enough muscle to get the $7 million needed to fund the measure. It was postponed indefinitely on a 6-1 vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee. (See this story for more details on the measure.)
House Bill 13-1056 – This was another bipartisan idea that had reasonable support. The bill proposed giving financial incentives to smaller rural school districts to enable them to provide Advanced Placement classes and tests to their high school students. The proposal included bonuses for teachers whose students took AP classes and tests. The bill’s estimated cost was $587,000 next year, rising to $827,000 in 2014-15. Senate Appropriations killed this one on a 5-2 vote.
While state revenues have improved in the last year, competing needs and the constitutional requirement for a balanced budget mean legislative leaders walk a tightrope every session trying to keep overall spending at a certain level.
Decisions about which bills live and which die are made in a complex process of lobbying, priority setting and deal-making, and the winners and losers don’t get finally sorted out until the last days of a session.
Members of the Joint Budget Committee, concerned about keeping a healthy balance in the State Education Fund for use in future years, this year resisted efforts to tap that fund too much. That created problems for the bills killed on Friday.Other bills have better luck
Three education bills, none of which have price tags, did move on Friday, including:
Senate Bill 13-214 – This bill requires the Building Excellent Schools Today construction grant program to maintain a reserve to cover its annual debt payments (something that’s already done) and adds the legislative Capital Development Committee as the final approver of BEST project, after the Capital Construction Assistance Board and the State Board of Education. It got 65-0 final House approval. Since there were no House amendments, the bill goes to the governor.
Senate Bill 13-279 – This is the softened bill to require new school construction projects to meet certain energy efficiency standards. Originally opposed by districts because of cost concerns, the measure was amended enough to make most lobbyists “neutral” on the bill. The House voted 39-26 final approval, but the Senate will have to consider House changes.
House Bill 13-1021 – The Senate Friday voted 21-14 final passage for this measure, which is intended to reduce truancy. The most important provision of the bill limits to five days the length of time a student can be held in juvenile detention for violating a court truancy order. The bill also says that taking a truant student to court should be used “only as a last-ditch approach” by school districts and that district policies and practices should “minimize the need for court action and the risk that a court will issue detention orders against a child or parent.” The House will need to consider Senate amendments.
In other Capitol action, Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed House Bill 13-1220, which requires that individual educator evaluations be kept confidential.
One hundred Jeffco students spent their Friday morning kicking butts. The cigarette variety, that is.
The students from Wheat Ridge High School, Everitt Middle School and Pennington, Stevens and Vivian elementary schools took part in the Third Annual Wheat Ridge Cigarette Butt Pick-Up at two local parks. Cigarette butts, which contain multiple toxins and are not biodegradable, are one of the top litter items on the country’s roadways and in its waterways.
The event, rescheduled for Friday after bad weather on April 22, was meant to raise awareness about the harmful environmental and health effects of tobacco. It included booths with information about the effects of tobacco on the planet and how tobacco companies target youth through advertising and promotions.
The Denver Public Schools home page has been redesigned to highlight information targeted to parents – but it also downplays the school board, which has ticked off Roger Kilgore, co-chair of the District School Improvement Accountability Council (SIAC) and recently announced school board candidate.
SIAC serves to inform the board as it makes policy decisions. The tab for the school board information, including meeting agendas and schedules, used to be very visible in the upper right hand corner of the site. There now are two inconspicuous board links lower on the page.
“It is a strong political statement about how important the district believes the board is as the governing policy body,” Kilgore groused.
But this was not the intent of the redesign, district spokeswoman Kristy Armstrong said.
“We did want to make the DPS homepage easier to navigate and be a better resource for families who are looking for information about schools and the district,” she said. “So the homepage was redesigned … to help parents and other visitors better find what they are looking for.”
She said the new layout was built based on analysis of links most often clicked and feedback from department and district leaders and parents. She said the new layout is designed to group links and resources by audience – Parents and Students, Community and Employees. It also features a slider full of photos and positive district news.
So far, well, at least until now, the feedback has been positive, she said.
The DPS homepage gets 14 million hits and 8 million unique visitors annually.
Even as he insists that the city cannot give teachers a retroactive raise, Mayor Bloomberg is trying to soften the blow with what he says has been a nice consolation prize.
“They’ve been getting raises all throughout this period,” Bloomberg said this morning on his weekly radio appearance, referring to the nearly four years since teachers’ current contract expired.
It’s a point that Bloomberg has tried to get across during a two-day campaign about what he says is the city’s perilous financial situation that he began with his final budget proposal. He said the city is already struggling to cover rising healthcare and pension costs for its public workforce and can’t afford the billions of dollars a year it would take to offer retroactive raises on top of that.
Plus, he said, the city is already laying out more for each employee — and he has singled out teachers as receiving particularly generous pay increases in the time that they have been without a new contract. While the average “raise” for all city employees has been 3 percent, teachers “get on average 3.8 percent increase every single year,” he said today.
But teachers say they haven’t gotten a raise in years. So what was Bloomberg talking about? Indeed, the figure Bloomberg cited doesn’t mean what most employees imagine when they hear they’re getting a raise. A city spokeswoman later clarified that the number reflects the city’s increased spending on teachers’ pension and healthcare benefits. Those costs, which are generally rise faster than salaries, turn into benefits for teachers but never show up in their paycheck.
The city’s $8 billion pension costs are projected to increase by more than 4 percent over three years. Healthcare costs, which this year were $6.6 billion, are projected to increase by nearly 30 percent over the same period.
Yet it is also true that many teachers are earning more than they did four years ago, because of the salary steps that are built into the teachers union’s contract with the city. Those salary steps mean that teachers and other school workers see their salaries inch up as they put in more time in the classroom and earn more credits toward advanced degrees. For instance, first time teachers starting off at $45,530 receive a nearly 7 percent raise worth $3,306 after completing two years in the classroom. Another three years of work is worth a 2.6 percent bump, or $1,317 (The UFT’s current salary schedule is here).
Even though Bloomberg seemed like he was trying to make teachers feel better about their compensation, he didn’t miss an opportunity to take a swipe at their union.
“Our unions are usually very cooperative. One sort of a lot less, but that’s okay,” Bloomberg said, prefacing the comments about the teachers’ pay raises.
A union spokesman declined to comment directly on Bloomberg’s characterization of teachers’ pay raises. But he did provide a statement from Bloomberg’s longtime foe UFT President Michael Mulgrew: ”As the mayor’s final term slips away, so does his grip on reality.”
City schools’ annual letter grades would become a thing of the past if any of the mayoral candidates who attended a parent-oriented forum in Brooklyn Thursday evening takes over City Hall next year.
Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, and Bill Thompson each vowed to stop issuing the grades, which the Bloomberg administration has issued since 2007. The city has used the grades — which are almost entirely based on student test scores for elementary and middle schools — to pick which schools to close and which principals to reward.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and all of the non-Democratic candidates in the race skipped the forum, which was organized by a parent group that formed to oppose high-stakes testing and co-sponsored by the teachers union-aligned Alliance for Quality Education.
The school grading issue was one on which the candidates had not clearly staked out positions before moderator — and outspoken critic of the Bloomberg administration — Diane Ravitch asked them about it. But their unanimity reflected the tenor of the evening, in which the four men clamored to demonstrate their alignment with the parents who organized the event and against Mayor Bloomberg’s school policies.
“Diane Ravitch is one of my heroes,” Albanese, a former teacher, said in his opening statement. Moments later, de Blasio, currently the public advocate, started out by saying, “I love P.S. 29,” the school that hosted the event.
Liu, the city’s comptroller, topped Albanese by saying about Ravitch, “I’m very thankful she’s not running for mayor. Otherwise we could all go home happy.” And Thompson, who burnished his education credentials on the Board of Education before the Bloomberg era, praised Ravitch’s habit of eliciting fierce criticism. ”You know you’re doing something right if so many people attack you,” he said.
Ravitch made clear where she stood on each issue as she asked about it, and audience members frequently signaled their concurrence with cheers and boos. Before she asked the candidates whether they would continue to let charter schools use Department of Education space for free, for example, Ravitch said the privately managed schools “cause overcrowding and competition for facilities and resources” and are “now moving into neighborhoods like Cobble Hill even though there’s no demand for them.”
The candidates did not all give specific answers to the question, but they all criticized the charter sector. And they all vowed to reduce class sizes; boost arts in schools; withhold city students’ data from a controversial warehouse maintained by the nonprofit inBloom; and diminish what they agreed was an excessive emphasis on standardized tests.
The candidates’ unanimity meant that the event “functioned almost more as an accountability session” than a forum for debate, said City Councilman Brad Lander. He said parents needed a space to let candidates know what was important to them.
Some of the parents who packed P.S. 29′s auditorium said they were relieved to hear that there are mayoral candidates who share their concerns.
“I think there were good comments about putting a halt to the testing mania,” said Jamie Mirabella, a P.S. 29 mother whose third-grader “opted out” of last month’s state tests. “It’s an expanding issue that needs to be solved for everything else that needs to happen to happen.”
But others said they had felt alienated by the way the event was structured. “The forum was a pep rally for those who share the same point of view,” Douglas Hanau, also P.S. 29 parent, wrote in a comment on GothamSchools in which he characterized his view as “more nuanced [and] less dogmatic than Ravitch’s. “I was very disappointed.”
The event was not the last time that parents will put policy questions directly to those who are seeking to be the city’s next mayor. The Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Committee, a legally mandated elected parent council, is sponsoring a candidate forum in June.
And candidates could go a lot further toward explaining what they would do as mayor, instead of just saying what they would not do, Lander said. The logical question after hearing the candidates say they would do away with the city’s school grading system, he said, is,”What kind of accountability system would you put into place to evaluate, support, nurture the well rounded schools?”
Engage Online Academy, an online middle and high school operated by Greeley-Evans School District 6, has received approval from the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Board of Education to operate as a multi-district school.
This means that beginning this fall, Engage can enroll Colorado students from outside the boundaries of Greeley-Evans School District 6.
Deagan Andrews, director of eLearning Services for District 6, said the online academy has already garnered interest from surrounding communities, as well as from students and school districts on the Eastern Plains looking to offer this option to students.
Students can enroll full-time for online classes, or just take one course. Andrews said Engage Online Academy also offers Advanced Placement classes, and gives students a chance to meet personally with teachers.
Engage will soon be moving to Cameron School, 1424 13th Ave., Greeley, where support services for both middle and high school students will be centralized and expanded.
To enroll in Engage Online Academy, visit www.engageonlineacademy.org or call (970) 348-6262.
Jennifer Landrum, an executive at the Colorado Children’s Campaign, has been named CEO of the Denver Preschool Program.
The Denver program provides tuition support for city 4-year-olds to attend preschool, funded from sales tax revenues. The program also works to increase quality at its more than 250 participating preschools.
Landrum has been vice president of early childhood education at the campaign and previously worked at Qualistar Colorado, the preschool quality rating organization. Learn more about what city leaders are saying about Landrum’s appointment and about her background in this news release.