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Rise & Shine: A Colorado superintendent defended his teachers’ work on new standards

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 08:57

Jeffco Interrupted

Jefferson County's poor and Latino students have more to lose if their school board goes ahead and makes changes to the district's Advanced Placement U.S. history course. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Students at one Jeffco middle school followed their older peers to the street Tuesday. Their protest was the first organized by middle school students. ( Denver Post, AP via CPR )

A Jefferson County teacher, in her own words, explains why some of her colleagues have chosen to participate in a sick-out. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Meet the Colorado professor who helped redesign the AP U.S. history course. ( CPR )

What's the difference between the old Advanced Placement U.S. history course and the new one? Here's your explainer. ( Hechinger Report )

If Jeffco students do decide to walkout today, Count Day, school leaders will have a window to prove enrollment numbers to secure funding for next school year. ( 9News, The Denver Channel )

The dustup in Jefferson County may have an outsized affect on statewide politics this November. ( US News )

One, two, three

Today is Count Day, one of the most important day's in the state's public education system. Schools will report their attendance numbers today to secure funding. ( Gazette )

dollars and sense

Speaking of funding, plaintiffs in Colorado’s latest school finance lawsuit have fired back at the state's Attorney General, arguing that his motion to dismiss their lawsuit is wrong. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Gov. John Hickenlooper and his Republican opponent Bob Beauprez squared off on a number of issues at The Denver Post debate — including school funding. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

A new report by the Brookings Institute sheds light on a growing opportunity gap. Wealthier families are spending more than ever on their children's educations while their lower-income counterparts are barely treading water. ( AP via Yahoo )

To the core

Eaton Superintendent defended his school district's rollout of the new state standards at a town hall meeting Monday filled with skeptics of the Common Core State Standards. ( Greeley Tribune )


A Fort Collins Elementary school is among the best in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Education. ( Fort Collins Coloradoan )

Face time

A new study found that kids who spent a week at outdoor camp were able to see emotion in other people's faces. Here's why. ( NPR )

Atlanta testing scandal

When public school employees cheat on standardize tests, students may miss out on services that could help them make actual academic gains. ( The Atlantic )

Categories: Urban School News

Hickenlooper, Beauprez talk education funding during debate

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 23:24

Gov. John Hickenlooper and his Republican opponent Congressman Bob Beauprez agreed at a debate Tuesday night that Colorado needed to see more money from Washington to fund the state’s public schools.

But Hickenlooper cautioned: Looking to Washington for money is a fool’s errand. Complicated formulas and logistics, not the demands of a governor, dictate how much money states receive see returned from the federal government, the governor said.

Colorado sees about 84 cents of every dollar it sends to Washington return, Beauprez said at The Denver Post debate.

“I want to get the money, Joey, that we sent to Washington in the first place,” Beauprez said, speaking directly to one of the moderators, when the debate turned to funding Colorado’s public schools. “We’re not talking about small change here. If Colorado could just move up to the middle of the pack among the 50 states, instead of being ranked 50th, check the Census data, 50th right now, we’ve fallen from 42 to 50th. We’re talking about tens of millions, hundreds of millions, every single year, that are being left on the table.”

According to polls, Hickenlooper and Beauprez are locked in a statistical tie as Coloradans soon head to the polls.

The governor, who last year supported a constitutional amendment that would have raised $1 billion for K-12 schools, said the voters were clear when they soundly defeated it.

“[T]hey want to see smaller, local based funding for their schools,” Hickenlooper said. “They want to make sure they control what can happen in their schools — how much is going to go to teachers, how much is goes to the building”

The governor praised a school transparency bill that was resurrected out of the Amendment 66 loss.

In his rebuttal, Beauprez pledged to expedite student achievement, especially third grade reading levels.

“We’re going to bring opportunity to every child that has a chance to learn how to read,” Beauprez said.

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco’s Latino students: U.S. history debate could cost them a chance to get ahead

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 19:06

EDGEWATER — Students at Jefferson High School want their school board to know they’re just like their peers: They want their advanced U.S. history curriculum left alone.

“We want [the school board] to know every Jeffco student feels this way,” said Angelica Dole, a sophomore and the lead organizer of the Jefferson High’s Monday protest.

But for the upperclassmen at Jefferson High School — who are mostly Latino and poor — the debate over the district’s Advanced Placement U.S. history program may have higher stakes than for their more affluent peers around the county.

Nearly 90 percent of the 552 students at Jefferson High qualify for free- or reduced-lunch prices, a proxy of poverty. In contrast, only about a third of the entire district are low-income. For students all over the district, success in AP classes means a easier path to college. But for the district’s low-income students, that path is often much more challenging and students at Jefferson High School fear that changes to the AP U.S. history curriculum could throw up one more obstacle.

“The school board is not putting themselves in our shoes,” Dole said. “We’re trying to learn and get smarter. We’re trying to get to college.”

Students who successfully pass an Advanced Placement test, like the one offered with U.S. history, may earn college credit, effectively giving students a head start and saving tuition money.

But now, students fear that opportunity might be in jeopardy after school board member Julie Williams proposed a review of the Advanced Placement U.S. history course. William’s proposal ignited a dozen days of acrimony across the county. Jefferson’s own small but rowdy outcry capped a list of 17 neighborhood high schools that rallied in the streets across the county.

The protests were bookended by teachers missing class en masse due to their own criticism of a new compensation plan at four high schools, including Jefferson High.

Students’ fear that their AP credit might be at stake were stoked Friday when the College Board, the company behind the Advanced Placement courses and SAT, said they would forbid Jeffco Public Schools from offering the U.S. history course under their banner if significant changes were made to the curriculum. While the course is one of the most popular advanced electives in the county, for Jefferson High School students, it’s also the rare opportunity to get ahead.

Board chairman Ken Witt told Chalkbeat Colorado last week he is not in favor of scrapping the AP U.S. history course. But, the leader of the conservative board majority doesn’t appear to be backing down from the idea that a panel of community members should be established to review the course’s materials — and other subjects.

“I do want you to understand that I am not advocating to eliminate AP U.S. history,” Witt said in an email. “I do believe that there is enough concern expressed from many sources to warrant careful review, rather than naive assumption.”

Conservatives, like Williams, believe the AP U.S. history course, which was redesigned last year to put more emphasis on historical themes and critical thinking than fact, is revisionist and portrays the nation’s history in a negative light. The architects of the new framework and teachers disagree.

And students said their opportunities should not be limited because of political infighting.

“It’s not their education they’re taking away,” said Elissa Jaramillo, a junior at Edgewater High. “It’s ours.”

Because most of the students at Jefferson High are Latino, they are already less likely to take an Advanced Placement course and test than their peers. According to state data, Jeffco’s Latino students accounted for only 10 percent of the 1,169 student who enrolled in the AP U.S. history course during the 2012-13 school year. By comparison, 25 percent of the district’s entire student population is Latino.

Further, it appears Latino students either have fewer options for AP classes or, at the least, not taking advantage of some course offerings. Only four AP courses during the 2012-13 school year had more than 100 Latino students enrolled: English, literature, U.S. history, and world history. In classes like AP physics, government and politics, and micro-economics, fewer than a dozen Latino students were enrolled.

In total, Latino students enrolled 1,163 times in AP courses across Jefferson County during the 2012-13 school year. (The state’s data does not indicate whether students were enrolled in more than one AP class at a time.) That’s slightly more than the 1,049 white Jeffco students who were enrolled in AP English and Composition alone.

“Studies have shown that students who take AP courses are less likely to need remediation and more likely to graduate from college,” said Lesley Dahlkemper, vice president of communications for the Colorado Education Initiative. “Unfortunately, many students either are not offered this opportunity or do not take advantage of it. If we hope to close the achievement gap, expanding access to and success in AP must be part of the solution.”

Dahlkemper is also a member of the Jeffco school board. She and fellow board member Jill Fellman, who together generally make up a dissenting minority, raised concerns about Williams’ proposal at a Sept. 18 meeting.

There are some signs that more Latino students are participating in Advanced Placement classes. According to Jeffco officials, the number of students at Jefferson High enrolled in AP English language and AP English literature doubled during the last year. The increase is due in part to a $10,000 grant from the Colorado Education Initiative that goes toward fees, classroom equipment and supplies, and study sessions for AP math, science and English courses.

According to the nonprofit, Colorado schools that received similar grants have seen a 106 percent increase in the number of passing scores by African American and Latino students on AP math, science, and English exams.

The out-of-pocket cost for just one AP course can be more than $100, which could be a determinant to some students.

“It’s a paradigm shift for our kids to be more successful because it’s opening doors and removing obstacles that would have stopped them in the past,” said Molly Harrington, a former Jefferson High counselor, after the grant was announced.

Jefferson is also offering more AP courses this year, students said as they marched toward Wadsworth on Friday.

“We have to work harder,” said Hannah Pape, a junior.

The Jefferson County Board of Education is expected to pick up the curriculum review discussion Thursday. And students from Jefferson High have a message they hope the board hears.

“We’re not one of the richer schools,” Jaramillo said. “We get looked down upon. But we want to learn and get out of here. I want to be somebody in life.”

Categories: Urban School News

School finance lawsuit arguments focus on meaning of “base” funding

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 15:56

Plaintiffs in Colorado’s latest school finance lawsuit have fired back at Attorney General John Suthers, arguing that his motion to dismiss their lawsuit is wrong and that the state’s “efforts to avoid judicial inquiry into their devastating interpretation of Amendment 23 should be rejected.”

A group of parents, school districts and advocacy groups filed suit in late June, arguing that the “negative factor” used by the legislature to set the amount of annual K-12 funding is a violation of Amendment 23, the constitutional provision that requires annual increases in school funding. (See story on lawsuit.)

In a brief filed in August, Attorney General John Suthers asked that the suit be dismissed, arguing that A23 clearly applies only to “base” K-12 funding, not to the additional funds districts receive to compensate for their size, number of at-risk students and other factors.

The funding shortfall created by the negative factor, used since 2010, is just under $1 billion. Suthers also argued that the plaintiffs don’t have proper legal standing to file the suit. (See story on the state’s motion.)

The plaintiffs’ answer, filed Monday in Denver District Court, argues that use of the negative factor “cuts statewide base per pupil funding” by any definition of that term and that “Defendants’ interpretation of Amendment 23 contradicts both the text of the amendment and the overwhelming evidence of voter intent. Plaintiffs have alleged and will show that Amendment 23’s requirement of annual increases in ‘statewide base per pupil funding’ was intended to prevent the legislature from doing exactly what it has done via the negative factor: slashing per pupil funding across the state.”

The state’s motion to dismiss and the plaintiffs’ answer are standard opening gambits in lawsuits of this kind. Even if a district judge grants the state’s motion, that won’t be the end of the suit as the plaintiffs would appeal that ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The suit, Dwyer v. State, asks 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.

The plaintiffs’ answer brief is below. See the original lawsuit here, and the read the attorney general’s motion here.

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Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco teacher on why her colleagues called in sick: “it’s about the disrespect”

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 13:51

After so many teachers called in sick or took a personal day that classes at four Jefferson County high schools had to be canceled, observers are split on whether those teachers are heroes or harming children.

Some parents have told Chalkbeat they support the teachers, even if it means their students have to stay home for a day.

Critics, including The Denver Post’s editorial board, say the teachers’ “antics” are “indefensible both ethically and professionally.”

Many of those critics point out the district’s new teacher compensation package — which links compensation to raises and bonuses to evaluations and has been the focal point of the teacher sick-outs —provides most teachers with raises.

But Tammie Peters, a Golden High School teacher, says it’s about more than money. In a statement she emailed to Chalkbeat, Peters  — who did not actively participate in the sick-out due to a prior commitment — explains why 81 percent of teachers at her school might have chosen to participate:

I stand with my fellow teachers who are “sick” of the board majority’s actions.

While we need some reforms in Jefferson County, the board majority is not providing the reforms we need or want.

The board majority continues to show disrespect to the voters, the taxpayers, the teachers, the parents and the students of Jefferson County.

Some of you may have heard that teachers received a pay raise, so you might wonder why we are so upset.

It’s not about the money — it’s about the disrespect.

The board majority has refused to work with teachers to develop a fair and equitable pay system.

The board majority blames teachers for the student unrest, as though teenagers can be intellectually herded like sheep, and they have shown great disrespect for the voices of our advanced placement students who are concerned about their educations.

The board majority has continually wasted money of the taxpayers and rejected the input of Jeffco citizens in the budgeting process.

The board majority continues to show disrespect to the voters of Jeffco who approved a recent mill levy override under certain conditions — the board majority has decided not to honor the promises made.

It’s not about the money.

Many of those Golden teachers today are taking a day without pay to make a point. It’s not about money — teachers willingly took pay decreases and pay freezes for the past five years to help Jeffco weather the rough economy.

Our frustration is with the way the Board has implemented policies without any sort of collaboration, all the while treating teachers and their professional association as some sort of enemy.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: What exactly is “count day”?

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 07:44

The drama continues

Teachers shut down two Jeffco high schools yesterday by calling in sick or taking a personal day. ( Westword, AP via Times-Call, Westminster Window, Reuters, CBS )

District officials are warning of disciplinary actions for teachers who closed down the two Jeffco high schools. Meanwhile, the union continues to deny involvement in organizing the protests. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Superintendent Dan McMinimee said principals would sit down with teachers to verify the reasons behind their absence or face docked pay. ( Denver Post )

Teachers said they did not take the decision to do a "sick-out" lightly, while the district's superintendent worried about the impact on students. ( CPR )

Candidates in the race for governor weighed in on the hubbub. Both cautioned students and teachers on the impacts. ( 9News )

Historical perspective

Controversial changes have rocked Colorado Springs D-11 over the past several years, much like Jeffco. So why did students and teachers not protest then? ( Gazette )

Count off!

Jeffco students threatened to protest on Wednesday on the state's official "count day." What exactly is count day? And what happens for schools if students are absent? ( Coloradoan, The Denver Channel )

Pueblo-area school districts are predicting higher enrollment than originally thought for tomorrow's count day. ( Chieftain )

Election season

Colorado's school boards group opposed two education ballot measures. One would expand and tax gambling for schools. The other would require open negotiations between boards and unions. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Gaming the system

Douglas County officials and community members are working on a curriculum that would use popular video game Minecraft to teach students. ( Douglas County News-Press )

School safety

A school bus caught on fire on the way to a football game over the weekend. Everyone on board evacuated in time. ( Journal Advocate )

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco superintendent vows “appropriate action” after second sickout closes two high schools

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 18:34

GOLDEN — Teachers who prompted two Jefferson County high schools to close today by taking either sick or personal days may face disciplinary actions, the district’s superintendent said this afternoon.

Teachers at Jefferson and Golden high schools will be required to meet with building principals to either provide proof of their illness or prove they followed the guidelines to request personal time off laid out in a collective bargaining agreement between the district and the teachers union.

If teachers are unable to provide proof or requested time off too late, Superintendent Dan McMinimee said, they could lose a day’s pay.

In less than a dozen days, Jeffco Public Schools has gone from the quintessential suburban school system to a district in crisis mode. Along with shuttering schools due to teacher absences, Jeffco officials have had to respond to student-organized protests over a proposed curriculum committee critics believe will lead to censorship.

Now, Jeffco’s controversial leader, hired just months ago on a split vote by the board of education, is walking a tight rope between the conservative board majority bent on upending the status quo and a vocal community of teachers and parents demanding to be heard.

“I’m really disappointed,” McMinimee said. “We don’t need to be in this place … We’re all adults.”

In an effort to curb anxiety over a proposed review committee critics believe could lead to censoring parts of U.S. history, McMinimee also told reporters today he plans to recommend board members work within current policies that guide curriculum challenges at an Oct. 2 meeting.

Today’s apparent teacher sick-out is the second time in two weeks Jefferson County teachers actions have led to the district closing entire buildings. At Golden High, 81 percent of teachers called in. At Jefferson High, 75 percent of teachers called in. Previously, about 30 percent of the teaching staff at Conifer and Standley Lake high schools orchestrated the first sick-out Sept. 19.

The Jefferson County Education Association today once again denied any role in the mass teacher absences.

“This was not organized by JCEA but we certainly understand the frustration our teachers and the entire community are experiencing when their school board majority are making decisions in secret, wasting taxpayer dollars, and disrespecting the community’s goals for their students,” said John Ford, president of the union, in a statement.

Tension between the board majority — made up of Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk — and vocal teachers and parents has been high almost from the moment the three conservatives were elected in November. But a series of recent decisions have only increased the criticism and fear among some portions of the community.

The sick-outs are an attempt by the teachers to raise public awareness across the county about those fears. While teachers are concerned about the direction the district’s board majority is taking them, the mass absences are perhaps most directly linked to the adoption of a new pay-for-performance compensation plan for teachers.

The new compensation plan, which is expected to go into effect in November, links teacher raises and bonuses to evaluations. Previously, teachers saw an increase in pay based on time served and their own education level. Under the new model, nearly every teacher will see a raise.

PHOTO: Nicholas Garcia A Jeffco Public Schools employee arrived at Jefferson High School Monday morning to learn classes had been canceled. Too many teachers requested substitutes Monday at Jefferson and Golden high and school was canceled.

But teachers have two primary concerns. First, the model will rely almost exclusively on a teacher evaluation system a third party fact finder found unreliable. Second, because the new compensation model was proposed by Jeffco board chairman Ken Witt without input from educators, teachers are frustrated and worried their pay could change all over again in a year.

“Given the consistent academic success of Jefferson County Schools, a merit based compensation program is greatly to the advantage of the overwhelming majority of Jeffco teachers,” teachers from Conifer High wrote in a statement after their sick-out. “Merit based pay is not the issue. This issue is the use of an arbitrary, nontransparent evaluation system that vests absolute authority in administrators to determine all levels of teacher effectiveness.”

Meanwhile, the sick-outs have provided plenty of grist for critics of teachers unions, who believe the actions are informal strikes.

Legal experts who spoke to Chalkbeat about the sick-outs today said if the district were to pursue legal action, the burden would likely be on Jeffco officials to prove an explicit link between the teachers calling in sick and the union.

“Some courts have seen through that,” said Dick Mandelson, a labor attorney with the Baker-Hostetler law firm. “But it’s a fine line.” 

McMinimee declined to call the sick-outs illegal, and said the district is not considering legal action against individual teachers or the union.

The sick-outs also bookmark a week’s worth of student-led protests over a proposed curriculum review committee that made national headlines. Over the course of the last week, students from each Jefferson County high school took to the streets to rally against a proposed curriculum review and stand in solitary with their teachers.

Those protests continued today when about 50 students at Jefferson High School in Edgewater, just west of Denver, also demonstrated.

“We have a right to our education,” said Laura Solis, a Jefferson student. “For them to not want us to know the full story of our history — that’s wrong.”

The curriculum review committee, if established as proposed by board majority member Julie Williams, would go to work first on an advanced history class conservatives believe is revisionist and unpatriotic.

Despite mounting public pressure in the streets and a trending backlash on social media, board members who support the idea to establish a community committee to review curriculum at their pleasure don’t appear to be backing down.

But McMinimee told reporters today he’ll suggest the board work within the district’s existing policies to vet their concerns.

“There are already vehicles [to address concerns],” McMinimee said.

There are currently more than 20 policies governing curriculum in the district, including one to directly challenge classroom materials.

McMinimee said after listening to students throughout the district, he’s prepared to recommend to the board they expand those committees on a case-by-case basis and include students and community members.

Today’s developments in the ongoing turmoil in Jeffco clearly frustrated McMinimee.

“Everybody owns responsibility for where we are now,” he said, urging all parties to make better decisions for students.

Correction: The caption on the accompanying photo has been corrected to reflect the woman photographed is an employee of Jeffco Public Schools, not an administrator. 

Categories: Urban School News

School boards group opposes two education ballot measures; defeats anti-PARCC resolution

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 16:27

Members of the Colorado Association of School Boards have voted to formally oppose Amendment 68 and Proposition 104, the two education-related measures on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The CASB delegate assembly, which met Saturday in Pueblo, approved resolutions opposing both measures by wide margins, according to Jane Urschel, CASB deputy executive director.

The assembly defeated another proposed resolution that would have called on state elected officials to withdraw from PARCC, the multi-state group that has produced the online language arts and math tests that all Colorado students will take next spring.

Urschel said the delegates were opposed to A68 because it sends “an unfortunate message” about funding schools with unpredictable revenues. The amendment would allow opening of a full casino at the Arapahoe Park race track, with part of the revenues earmarked for per-pupil distribution to school districts. Proponents claim it would raise more than $100 million a year for schools.

Proposition 104 would require that all school district contract negotiations be open to the public, as well as school board strategy discussions. Urschel said delegates opposed that measure “because they feel that’s an issue that should be decided locally.”

Members of the Colorado Association of School Executives voted earlier this month to remain neutral on A68 but to oppose Proposition 104 (see story).

While both groups take positions on ballot measures, and CASE endorses legislative candidates, neither group makes campaign contributions to candidates or committees.

Every school board that belongs to CASB is entitled to send one member to the delegate assembly. Urschel said 81 delegates attended Saturday’s event.

Categories: Urban School News

Comings and Goings: new principals

Catalyst Chicago - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:50

Mark Grishaber has been named principal of Taft High School. He was formerly assistant principal at Young High School.

New principal, Michael Herring, has been named principal of Jahn.

Former interim principal at Burnside, Kelly Thigpen has become contract principal.

Kelly Moore-Shelton has been rehired as principal at Attucks.

Be a part of Comings & Goings. Send items to Catalyst Community Editor Vicki Jones:

Categories: Urban School News

Take 5: Fewer tenured teachers rehired, voucher rally, Elgin charter fight

Catalyst Chicago - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 09:13

As promised, many of the educators who were laid off earlier this summer as a result of drops in enrollment were rehired, but rehire rates were different for tenured versus non-tenured teachers.

Of the 299 non-tenured teachers laid off this summer, 177 or 59 percent were brought back for full-time jobs, according to district data that the CTU shared with Catalyst. Meanwhile, of the 231 laid-off tenured teachers, 123 or 53 percent were rehired and more of them landed only substitute of part-time jobs.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey says the stats prove that the district’s new student-based budgeting model discourages principals from hiring more experienced teachers because they are paid more. Last week, CPS officials announced they wouldn’t cut school budgets if their enrollment numbers fell below projections. Sharkey says he’s glad principals won’t have to lay off more teachers, but that it’s too late to reverse some of the negative impacts already felt by experienced teachers because of the new budgeting formula.

2. Enrollment drain… Another revelation from Friday's announcement that CPS won't cut budgets based on enrollment is just how many fewer students are going to traditional schools. Just a decade ago, about 393,000 students went to district-run schools and only 12,000 students went to charter schools. On Friday, CPS officials said that 309,182 students were in traditional schools on the 10th day. CPS has yet to provide information on the count at charter schools.

Some of the enrollment drop at traditional schools is caused by students being lured away by charter and contract schools. But another part of it is that families are either moving out of Chicago or choosing to send their children to private schools. Overall, CPS officials said total enrollment was down by about 3,000 students. In a large school district, that is a small drop of less than 1 percent. But it bears keeping in mind that for at least the past decade CPS has been losing about 1 percent of students each year and now, for the first time perhaps ever, it will serve less than 400,000 students.

The Sun-Times applauded the move to let traditional schools keep the cash for students who did not show up. In an editorial, the Sun-Times says CPS should stop threatening to take money away from schools that don’t meet their enrollment projections. CPS is such a transient system with students who live transient lives and schools shouldn’t be penalized for their movements, the editorial argues.

3. Are vouchers on the horizon? Last week about 500 people--mostly affiliated with the Archdiocese of Chicago--gathered outside the State of Illinois Building to rally for school choice. They want state education money to follow children into private schools -- and expect to see a related bill in the State Legislature sometime this spring.

“The Bill Gates’ of the world don’t need school choice,” said Rebeca Nieves Huffman, state director of Democrats for Education Reform. “We would love to see something that prioritizes the lower-income families.”

Patrick Landry, the principal at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Humboldt Park, says that “parents are the primary educators of their children and deserve the right to choose their child’s education.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Chicago’s new archbishop, Blase Cupich, will handle these issues. A Chicago Tribune article this weekend detailed how Cupich battled to keep inner-city Catholic schools open despite declining enrollment at his previous post in Spokane, Wash., where he oversaw just 16 schools; Chicago’s system is the nation’s largest with more than 83,000 students and 244 schools. The article notes that his predecessor, Cardinal Francis George -- who has cancer and will retire from his duties as archbishop --  was big on lobbying legislators for tax credits and private school vouchers.

4. Suburban fight… In July, School District U-46 board members rejected the proposal for the Elgin Math and Science Academy, saying they were worried that the approval would “open the floodgates” for charters in the town. Board members also said they would rather the local not-for-profit leaders work with the school district to improve math and science education for all students in the district.

 But now the charter school operators appealed to the State Charter School Commission and are in the process of drumming up support for the idea. Last week, they won a victory when the Elgin City Council passed a resolution endorsing the charter school. On Tuesday evening, the charter school commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal.

Outside of Chicago, charter schools are pretty rare with only 15 campuses serving about 5,000 students. This past Spring, there was a major effort to abolish the charter school commission, which can override local school board decisions to reject charters. Schools approved by the Illinois State Charter School Commission are funded directly through the state, which winds up costing school districts more. But after being passed by the Senate, the bill to scrap the Illinois State Charter School Commission was sent to the Rules Committee in the House and never left.

5. Money for STEM teachers … Two teacher training programs in Illinois will receive a total of some $18.5 million in federal funds to recruit, train and support more STEM teachers in high-needs districts over the next five years. One grant for $10.2 million will go to a project at Illinois State University run by Robert Lee, who is well known for the Chicago Teacher Pipeline program he oversees. The other, for $8.3 million, goes to National Louis University’s Science Excellence through Residency program, directed by Shaunti Knauth.

The grants, which were announced last week, are also supposed to increase the participation of underrepresented groups, including women, minorities and people with disabilities, in teaching STEM subjects.



Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Looking forward (and back) at Jeffco controversies

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 08:58


Classes at Jefferson and Golden high schools were canceled this morning due to an apparent sick out by teachers. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Jeffco Interupted

After a week-long districtwide protest over a proposed curriculum committee, It's unclear where the Jefferson County community heads from here. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

However, the organization behind the advanced history course in question said Jeffco may lose its ability to offer the course for college credit if substantial changes are made. ( Chalkbeat Colorado, KDVR )

Jefferson county students disputed the claims made by some board members that their teachers persuaded them to walkout. ( CPR )

Echoing earlier reports, teachers tell the Denver Post not much has actually changed despite the new Advanced Placement Framework. ( Denver Post )

Gov. John Hickenlooper and his Republican challenger Congressman Bob Beauprez weighed in on the mounting tension in Jeffco. Hickenlooper said he hopes the history curriculum covers a variety of topics. Beauprez said if the residents don't like what the school board is doing, they can let them know that at the polls. ( Durango Herald )

Meanwhile, a member of the Jeffco school board member defends the actions of the majority. ( Denver Post )

ICYMI: Here's the long (Denver Post) and short (Chalkbeat) of how Jeffco became a suburb divided. ( Denver Post, Chalkbeat Colorado )

"Testing madness"

Superintendents from Douglas, Jefferson, and Eagle County opine there are too many tests that don't provide enough good information to schools. ( Denver Post )

back to school

School at a Colorado youth detention center begins today, more than a month later than usual. But things haven't been on track at the state-run center for a while. ( Colorado Springs Gazette )

School improvement

Denver Public Schools needs to replicate the success at McMeen Elementary School, the Denver Post editorial board said. ( Denver Post )

Exit ticket

In a letter to parents, a Denver principal said she's leaving at the end of the year due to low test scores. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Steel City Turnaround

"There's a lot of work needed to be done," said Pueblo City Schools' superintendent pitching her new strategic plan to The Pueblo Chieftain. ( Chieftain )

"Friday Flu"

Local school districts regularly see an uptick in requests for substitutes on Fridays. The increase is putting pressure on an already shallow substitute pool. ( CBS4 )

Teaching and learning

For a third year, Boulder Valley fourth graders got a lesson in agriculture last week. ( Daily Camera )

With the help of technology, Lego toys are teaching Palmer Lake Elementary students reading, writing, computer and teamwork skills. ( Gazette )

Cassidy Montoya, the Fort Collins teacher of the year, said education is a team sport. ( Fort Collins Coloradoan )

This fall, about 2,000 St. Vrain students in 12 schools are learning Mandarin. It's one of the largest Chinese programs in the state. ( Longmont Times-Call )

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco cancels classes at Golden, Jefferson high schools due to teacher absences

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 07:01

Classes at Golden and Jefferson high schools are canceled today because of a large portion of teachers called in either claiming to be sick or using a personal day.

At Golden, Jeffco officials said, 81 percent of teachers requested a substitute. It was not clear how many teachers requested a substitute at Jefferson.

It’s the second time this month that Jeffco Public Schools is canceling class due to a high number of teacher absences.

It’s unclear why the teachers are calling out en masse. But tension between the suburban community’s teachers and school board has been rising for months. It reached a symbolic boiling point earlier when the Jefferson County Education Association voted no confidence in board chair Ken Witt. The union denied having any role in the earlier sick out.

The apparent Golden sick out follows a week of protests organized by students. Students are upset about a proposed curriculum review committee they believe could lead to censorship. No action has been taken by the school board on the committee.

Previously, classes at Standley Lake and Conifer were canceled Sept. 19, when about a third of teachers at those schools missed classes.


Categories: Urban School News

Valverde principal to depart at the end of the year, citing test scores

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 19:36

The principal of a southwest Denver elementary announced plans to resign at the end of the school year, due to a drop in the school’s scores on statewide tests.

Franziska Zenhaeusern informed her staff Friday that this year would be her last as principal of Valverde Elementary School. She cited the school’s stagnating proficiency scores and low growth on this year’s test scores, released in August.

Explore Chalkbeat’s database of this year’s TCAP results.

This year, the school saw small gains in both reading and math and a seven percentage point jump in writing. Still, the school’s growth scores were below the district average, by double digits in several subjects.

In her letter, Zenhaeursern said, “our students’ growth compared to similar schools in the district has been very low.”

She also cited ten years of stagnating reading scores at the school. Roughly 29 percent of students scored proficient or advanced this year. In her letter, Zenhaeursern said that 60% of 3rd through 5th graders read below grade level. She called this fact “unacceptable.”

“As a leader, I take responsibility for these disappointing results and have decided to resign by the end of this school year,” she said.

Zenhaeusern plans to finish out the year, which would be her fourth year as principal at the school. On average, principals in traditional Denver Public Schools stayed for 3.4 years.

She plans to meet with parents and community members on Monday at 3 p.m. at the school to discuss her decision and what is next for the school.

Read her full resignation letter here:

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Categories: Urban School News

After week of protests, an uncertain path forward for Jeffco schools

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 18:14

LITTLETON — After a week-long student-organized protest against a proposed curriculum review panel that some fear could lead to censorship, it appears both sides of a fractured Jefferson County Public Schools community are digging in their heels.

In interviews and statements to the media, members of the school district’s majority appear resolute in their pursuit of a commission to study an advanced history course’s curriculum and other texts as they see necessary to ensure coursework is balanced.

Meanwhile, parents and teachers critical of the board are preparing to step up their ground game by establishing a countywide network in order to quickly mobilize parents if they believe the board steps out of line.

Given the battle lines drawn, it’s becoming more uncertain how the two sides of the fractured community can find their way back to one another.

“There’s just so much,” said Jeffco Public Schools parent and teacher Allison Olis, referring to the growing list of controversies that have fractured the school system.

Olis was one of about two dozen parents and teachers who gathered early Friday morning to wave protest signs at a busy intersection in the suburban Denver commuinty. Another, larger protest is scheduled for next week.

CHALKBEAT EXPLAINS: Jeffco Interrupted 

Tina Gurdikian, a vocal parent activist who also joined the morning gathering, said the rash of student protests — and rumors of more — should be enough to get the board majority to listen to the community.

“We’re doing our part,” she said. “Now they need to do theirs: listen.”

The board will have that chance at its Oct. 2 meeting, the first since the controversy around the proposed review committee made national headlines. Students who participated throughout the week’s protest pledged to take their concerns to Golden, where the board meets.

An agenda published for the meeting late Friday afternoon did not include the proposal. However, the board can add a discussion item to the agenda up to 24 hours before they meet.

The stakes for the school district might even be higher next week, according to 9News. The station reported that students are considering a districtwide walkout on Oct. 1, the state’s official “count day” that establishes funding for school districts. If students skip school en masse Wednesday, that would cause a logistical nightmare for Jeffco Public Schools, the second largest school system in the state.

In order to secure funding for students not present on Oct. 1, schools must provide additional evidence to the state to prove just how many students are enrolled in its schools.

Students who helped organize walkouts at Chatfield, Lakewood and Pomona high schools said they haven’t heard of such plans yet. But the Chatfield principal took to social media to plead with her students not to miss class.

“If we have an inaccurate October count, we will end up being shorted on money that supports all facets of the school and school district, including possible class offerings and teacher staffing and salaries, two of the issues that many students have said they are fighting for,” Principal Wendy Rubin wrote on the school’s Facebook page. 

Board chairman Ken Witt said in a statement to Chalkbeat that he hopes the students who took to the street realize that curriculum review is just part of the job for a school board.

“To ensure that the board fulfills that charge, it has been proposed that the board establish a curriculum review committee to provide input from parents and the community, in addition to many other inputs, including the school district,” Witt said. “My goal is to ensure we have balanced and thorough curriculum.”

In interviews with other media outlets, Witt has laid blame on the student walkouts at the feet of the county’s teachers union.

“I have had students tell me so, directly,” Witt told Chalkbeat when asked for evidence to support his claim the union fostered the student protests. 

But dozens of students who spoke with Chalkbeat throughout the week of protests expressed frustration that their teachers in fact aren’t talking about the growing tension.

The Jefferson County Education Association has strongly pushed back against Witt’s claim it had anything to do with the protests or an apparent “sick-out” that forced Jeffco officials to close two high schools last week.

“It’s defamation of character, as far as I’m concerned,” Gurdikian said. “Give our kids some credit.”

Gurdikian said she and other parents critical of the board majority are working toward establishing a network of parents throughout the county — at least one family from every school.

“Seventy percent of Jeffco isn’t connected to the school district,” Gurdikian said, referring to those who either don’t work for or send their children to the system’s schools. “We have to reach them. This majority was elected by the people who didn’t vote last year.”

In the off-year election, about 130,000 people, or 31 percent, voted in the last year’s school board race. Williams won by the widest margin, with 61 percent of the vote. Witt earned 58 percent of the vote and Newkirk beat his opponent with 54 percent.

Sheila Atwell, executive director of reform-minded Jeffco Students First and general supporter of the board majority, pointed out those who did vote are getting what they asked for.

“We ran on giving every effective teacher a raise,” she said. “And that’s what the board majority is doing.”

Nearly 100 percent of Jeffco teachers are expected to see a raise this year after the board approved a new teacher compensation model earlier this month. The proposal came at the same meeting that the board’s majority rejected recommendations from a third party on how to settle ongoing negotiations with the teachers union.

While some teachers are concerned about linking raises to evaluations, which the third party found to be unreliable, a louder concern was the lack of collaboration between the board and the Jefferson County Education Association.

And Atwell acknowledged the criticism that chairman Witt’s sometimes-bullish behavior at meetings doesn’t provide a welcoming atmosphere.

“I want [the board majority] to succeed,” Atwell said. “So, it’s frustrating. I do wish Ken had a more conciliatory style. That would be nice.”

Categories: Urban School News

CPS won't cut schools based on enrollment shortfalls

Catalyst Chicago - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 18:12

CPS officials on Friday said principals would not face budget cuts if student enrollment in their schools failed to meet projections. 

Schools  enrolling more than the number of students projected will receive additional student-based budgeting of about $4,390 per student, according to a letter sent out by CPS.

No reason was given for the decision.  About half of CPS schools would have lost a total of about $38 million, if these cuts had gone through, according to CPS. The number of students going to district-run schools dropped dramatically in the last year from about 320,000 to 309,000 with some going to charters or contract schools and others leaving CPS.

About 214 schools will get additional $24 million.  CPS officials said they will use money in contingency and an anticipated surplus of Tax Increment Financing money to offset the extra costs..

Last spring, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that the district was dramatically overhauling the way the district provided money to schools. Rather than providing teachers based on enrollment, the district now pays schools a stipend for each student under a system called student-based budgeting.

CPS also decided not to penalize schools last year—a move that cost the district about $20 million.

The principal of a Southwest Side school nervous about losing money this year put a banner on her website to recruit  25 more students. She eventually got four additional children.

That would have meant a $100,000 budget cut, equal to the cost of employing at least one teacher, she said.

“I can’t afford to cut teachers or staff,” said the principal, who asked not to be identified. “I had already drafted a letter … begging to keep the money.”

She says CPS needs to do a better job of helping principals deal with shifts in enrollment, which she doesn’t see how she can control.

Michael Beyer, a principal at Morrill Elementary School, also on the Southwest Side, applauded district officials for not cutting budgets until they get comfortable with student-based budgeting.  “I think they are trying to smooth out the bumps,” said Beyer, whose school received more than the expected number of students this fall.

A political issue

When Byrd-Bennett announced the move to a student-based budgeting system, she touted it as a way for principals to exert more control over their budgets, something should would have preferred when she was  a principal.

She also said it is a more equitable way to fund schools because each one is allotted a set amount per student, and the amount and rationale for the allocation is transparent.

Student-based budgeting also has been pushed by those promoteingmarket-based school reform. They prefer for the money to follow the student. High-performing schools would attract more students and the poor performers would lose them.  Charter schools have long been funded per pupil.

The decision to hold schools harmless met with skepticism from the Center for Reinventing Education, an organization that promotes choice in school districts. 

Larry Miller, an expert on student-based budgeting with the center, said that when a school gets to keep money for students they don’t have, they are effectively taking money away from students in other schools. He said too often school districts put off fully implementing student-based budgeting for the wrong reasons.

“There is often a lot of political support for the status quo,” he said. “They get overwhelmed by requests to keep things the way they are and they cave.”

But critics of student-based budgeting don’t like it because traditional schools are penalized when charter schools siphon students away.  Also, they worry that principals will be tempted to hire less experienced teachers so their money can be spread further.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey called the decision to hold schools harmless a "tacit admission that this is a fundamentally flawed way of doing the budget."

He said student based budgeting already has had a "devastating negative consequence" on schools, as principals have become motivated to hire less experienced, poorer paid teachers. Recent data on rehires after last year's layoffs, he said, showed that more untenured teachers were rehired than those with tenure.

 "Why would someone who is untenured be hired over a tenured teacher who's already proven to be an effective teacher at CPS? Because they're cheaper," he said.

Categories: Urban School News

College Board: Jeffco could be dropped from AP U.S. history program if district alters curriculum

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 16:44

The College Board, the company that administers the Advanced Placement history course that has recently become the center of a firestorm in Jefferson County, threw its support on Friday afternoon behind the hundreds of Jeffco high school students who walked out of class this week to protest a proposed curriculum review committee.

“These students recognize that the social order can – and sometimes must – be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice,” the organization said in a statement. “Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history – from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course.”

The proposed committee, first proposed by Jeffco board member Julie Williams last week, would review courses offered in the district — beginning with the AP U.S. history class – to make sure that materials do not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law,” and that curriculum “present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.” Since then, hundreds of students in the suburban Denver district have protested, arguing that such criteria for board oversight of coursework would effectively white-wash history and censor their instructors.

In its statement, the College Board warned of additional possible consequences if Jeffco’s board proceeds with its review committee: if the board moves to alter the coursework in any way, the district could risk losing the AP designation — a common marker for colleges to understand that students have taken higher-level coursework — for the class.

In interviews, Jeffco board president Ken Witt has said that he believes the board’s job is to monitor curriculum and would be willing to eliminate the disputed course if the board found it to be inappropriate for the district.

The College Board’s complete statement is below:

A Statement on Censorship of AP® U.S. History

26 September 2014

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® supports the actions taken by students in Jefferson County, Colorado to protest a school board member’s request to censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course. The board member claims that some historical content in the course “encouraged or condoned civil disorder, social strife, or disregard for the law.”

These students recognize that the social order can – and sometimes must – be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice. Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history – from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course.

The College Board will always listen to principled concerns based on evidence – and in fact has announced a public-review process for the AP U.S. History course framework. But in light of current events, an important policy reminder is in order:

College faculty and AP teachers collaborate to develop, deliver, and evaluate AP courses and exams. Their partnership ensures that these courses align with the content and rigor of college-level learning, while still providing teachers with the flexibility to examine topics of local interest in greater depth.

To offer a course labeled “AP” or “Advanced Placement,” a school must agree to meet the expectations set for such courses by the more than 3,300 colleges and universities across the globe that use AP Exam scores for credit, placement, or consideration in the admission process.

As vital context for the courageous voices of the students in Colorado, the AP community, our member institutions and the American people can rest assured: If a school or district censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course, that course can no longer bear the “AP” designation.  

Categories: Urban School News

Weekend Reading: Can we reinvent school accountability?

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:05
  • Ignore the politics. The Common Core will “live or die” by how well it works in classrooms. (Vox)
  • Why should preschoolers get suspended? One teacher explains. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • Providence, R.I. teachers rejected a tentative contract that allowed for layoffs and altered the pay structure. (Teacher Beat)
  • A teacher wonders whether her well-intentioned advice on reading has hurt her students. (Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension)
  • Education and medicine used to be quite similar and they could become that way again. (The Atlantic)
  • We need to rethink how we hold schools accountable, three columnists argue. (Flypaper)
  • Philadelphia will borrow $30 million to fund its schools, on top of $27 million borrowed earlier this year. (The Notebook)
  • A Colorado teacher is refusing to administer the state’s Common Core-aligned test. (Answer Sheet)
  • A teacher reflects on what it takes to get students to learn — and giving them their hardest quiz of the year. (The Jose Vilson)
  • African-American girls face an long list of barriers to succeeding in school. (Huffington Post)
  • A collection of tweets on the student protests against the board’s actions in Jefferson County. (Buzzfeed)
  • In Mississippi, some Teacher for America alums are sticking around to make the changes they felt they couldn’t as teachers. (Hechinger Report)
  • Are the central complaints about Teach For America coming from critics of school reform outdated? (Salon)
  • Book author Dana Goldstein on why Arne Duncan’s comments on testing are “staggering.” (The Daily Beast)
  • An attempt to turn around low-performing Detroit schools run afoul of education technology and a lack of transparency. (Metro Times)
Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Board member at center of Jeffco hubbub speaks out

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 09:05

Students in the streets

Jeffco students walked out for the fourth day in a row at Lakewood High School. ( Westminster Window, AP via Aurora Sentinel )

But they took a different form that previous protests, as many students opted to return to class afterwards. That came out of debate among students about the best way to signal their concerns without disrupting their learning. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Students are threatening to up the ante by walking out on Oct. 1, or "count day," when the state counts the number of students present in order to determine funding allocation. ( 9News )

From the center of the storm

Julie Williams, the board member whose proposal sparked the controversy, has largely remained out of view. But she broke her silence yesterday to say her intent was never to "censor" curriculum or students. ( KDVR, 9News )

The board president Ken Witt also spoke out, saying the students were being used as "pawns" and blaming the teacher for the protests. ( Gazette )

A columnist says you won't get far in America by telling people to respect authority. ( Denver Post )

Jeffco fun and games

The hashtag #Jeffcoschoolboardhistory remains an object of fascination as folks tweet mock history lessons in response to William's proposal. ( Westword )

Take a quiz to see the difference between the old AP U.S. exam and the current one, which is at the center of the controversy. ( CPR )

Caught in a bind

For working parents, Colorado's high quality childcare options are expensive and limited. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

School safety

A fire broke out at Denver's Godsman Elementary Friday morning. ( 9News )

Separate incidents involving a BB gun and pepper spray disrupted two Colorado Springs schools. ( Gazette )


A Harrison elementary school climbed from the state's lowest ranking last year to its highest this year. ( Gazette )

Healthy schools (employees)

St. Vrain schools are creating ways for employees to learn about wellness during the workday. ( Times-Call )

Time for teachers

Giving teachers the time for lesson planning topped the list of priorities for Montrose School District, during a meeting of educators, board members and education observers. ( The Watch Media )

Categories: Urban School News

Shortage of options for working parents seeking quality child care

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 16:29

Even if working parents want to send their children to a licensed child care provider, many don’t have that choice, finds a new report from the non-profit Qualistar Colorado. That’s because there’s only enough capacity among licensed providers in Colorado to handle 23 percent of the state’s children aged zero to five.

The shortage of licensed providers is particularly acute in some rural counties, according to the annual Qualistar Colorado Signature Report released today. For example, licensed facilities, which can include both child care centers and home-based providers,have capacity for less than 10 percent of children under six in Jackson, Kiowa, Rio Blanco, Custer, Moffat, Park, Conejos and Morgan counties. While some parents may be able to find relatives, friends or other unlicensed providers to care for the young children, licensing guarantees that a basic level of health and safety measures are in place.

The child care outlook is worse for babies and toddlers under two. There is only enough licensed capacity to provide care for 18 percent of them statewide. The report goes on to say that some counties are experiencing an “infant care crisis,” with increasing numbers of providers choosing not to care for babies even though they are licensed to do so.

The news is not all bleak, though. Some communities are getting help from a 2013 state law that created and funded the “Infant and Toddler Quality and Availability Grant” program. Eleven early childhood councils around the state are getting money this year to add slots for babies or improve facilities for that age group.

In addition to the 2014 Signature Report, Qualistar has recently published two special reports on the cost of child care in Colorado. The first, released in June, examined child care prices and affordability. The second, released in August, looked at the cost of doing business in the child care field. The final brief in the three-part series is set to be published in late 2014 and will look at recommendations to improve child care affordability.

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco countywide protests continue; Lakewood Tigers roar against curriculum review

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:36

LAKEWOOD — As expected, hundreds of high school students left their homeroom this morning to join a week’s long protest against a proposed curriculum review committee they believe could lead to censorship.

But unlike the other protests that have unfolded across the sprawling suburban county, most Lakewood  students returned to class after about 20 minutes.

By 9:40 a.m., more than half of the protesters were headed back to class. Some students are expected to return to the busy street throughout day during off periods.

Student organizers at Lakewood, who took great lengths to both showcase their concerns but not interrupt classroom learning, said they were happy how their peers were behaving.

As the protests, which began last Friday, have grown, it’s become apparent that a growing number of students have used the opportunity to ditch class than familiarize themselves with the issues.

“We wanted to find a way to do without actually missing school,” Ana Fairbanks-Mahnke, a Lakewood junior, told Chalkbeat Wednesday. “All of us really value our educations.”

Other schools expected to protest today included Bear Creek and Columbine high schools, The Denver Post reported this morning.

Of the Jefferson County neighborhood high schools, only Jefferson High School has not led some action against the proposal. A Facebook page indicates students there will walkout Sept. 29.

If formed, the proposed panel, which came out earlier conversations among board members regarding standards and assessments, would start its work by reviewing the new Advanced Placement U.S. history course. Architects of the new framework believe teachers should spend more time teaching major arcs and themes of U.S. history and spend less time on memorization of key dates and figures. Conservative critics, like Williams, believe the course is revisionist history and portrays the nation in a negative context.

The proposal, which was first presented earlier this month, was tabled at the same Jeffco school board meeting.

Williams, in a statement earlier this week, said critics of the proposal are misinterpreting her intention.

It’s unclear when the board, which has been at odds with the Jefferson County community for nearly a year, will take up the issue again.

CPR education reporter Jenny Burdin tweeted there are currently no plans for the board to take up the issue at its Oct. 2 meeting. The same students rallying throughout the week have pledged to be at the meeting to more formally voice their concerns.

#Jeffco “at this point….no plan to have this [curriculum review resolution] discussion on 10/2 [brd meet].” #edcolo #JeffCo #Jeffcostandup

— Jenny Brundin (@CPRBrundin) September 25, 2014

While Jeffco officials confirmed the topic isn’t on the Oct. 2 agenda yet, that could change, they said.

Update: This post has been updated to clarify that it appears a growing number of students walking out of schools have used the opportunity to simply miss class than lodge participate formally in the student led protests.  

Categories: Urban School News

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