Report: Colorado charter-school laws seventh-strongest in U.S.

Colorado has the seventh-strongest charter-school laws in the country, a three spot drop from last year, according to an annual rankings report.

The report, released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, says more about what’s new in other states than a weakening of Colorado rules, officials said. Read more in the Denver Post. 

Dougco teachers’ morale on downward slide

Douglas County teachers are growing increasingly concerned by district leadership, according to a survey that shows just 14 percent of educators agree “the district is moving in a positive direction.” Five years ago, that figure was 77 percent.

What’s happened in the interim years? Budget troubles leading to fewer jobs and years without raises, a conservative takeover of the school board, a new superintendent and a voucher pilot halted by a judge all have made headlines in the affluent suburban district. But it’s unclear what plays a role – the more than 2,000 classroom and clerical staff who responded weren’t asked specifics about why.

What is clear in the survey by Denver-based Augenblick, Palaich and Associates is that staff continue to feel supported by their principals – 85 percent – and they see their schools as working to accomplish academic goals – 83 percent.

But questions about district leadership show steep drops. Asked about the statement, “The climate and culture in our district make for a positive work environment,” only 18 percent agreed or strongly agreed, down from 80 percent five years ago. And only 23 percent agreed with the statement, “I feel the district level administration and system support my work in the classroom,” down from 65 percent in 2007-08. Read more in EdNews Colorado.  Read more details on the teacher survey.

Recession slows growth in public prekindergarten

WASHINGTON—The expansion in public prekindergarten programs has slowed and even been reversed in some states as school districts cope with shrinking budgets. As a result, many 3- and 4-year-olds aren’t going to preschool.

Kids from low-income families who start kindergarten without first attending a quality education program enter school an estimated 18 months behind their peers. Many never catch up, and research shows they are more likely to need special education services and to drop out. Kids in families with higher incomes also can benefit from early education, research shows. Read more in the Denver Post. 

U.S. pressured by international rankings

Americans learn a bit more every year about the strengths and shortcomings of the education systems in other countries, thanks to a steady raft of international test data, academic scholarship, and analysis arriving from home and abroad. Sometimes, what they learn inspires them. Sometimes, it confuses them. And sometimes, to judge from the collective angst on display, it alarms them. Read more in EdNews Colorado. 

School district may close Rifle schools

RIFLE, Colo.—Garfield County school officials are considering closing two elementary schools in Rifle to cope with more budget cuts.

The school board is considering proposals on Tuesday to deal with up to $2 million in cuts to the Garfield School District Re-2 budget. Read more in the Denver Post.

What makes Finnish kids so smart?

High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don’t start school until age 7. Read more in the Wall Street Journal online.

School budget meetings draw hundreds

EAGLE, Colorado — Hundreds of people packed two meetings Monday to encourage the school board to save their local schools, as the board tries to find $5.5 million in budget cuts. Read more in the Vail Daily. 

Steamboat Fund Board approves matching funds for literacy

stack of children's booksIf Mile High United Way decides next month to award a $150,000 literacy grant to Routt County’s three public school districts, the districts will have the $150,000 necessary to match it.

The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board on Wednesday night voted unanimously to pledge matching funds to the districts for the grant the Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt schools would use to hire a full-time reading coach for each of the elementary schools next school year. Read more in Steamboat Today. 

Longer school day brings promise and questions

Twenty hands shot into the air after Ashley Tam asked a question of her third graders during a math lesson on Tuesday morning. One boy threw his arm up with such force that his desk jumped off the ground with him.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of Chicago and the surrounding area for The New York Times. Read more from the Chicago News Cooperative.

How to solve the teacher pay puzzle

Arguments about how to pay public school teachers have an unfortunate habit of focusing on big, blanket solutions. Unions usually defend the status quo, which in most school districts means all teachers are paid based on their level of education and years on the job. Reform advocates prefer pay for performance, linking compensation to students’ test scores. Read more in The Atlantic. 

 

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.