This week we are highlighting stories on TCAP & charter schools, new schools in JeffCo, why business processes and teaching do not mix, a successful school model that only JeffCo and Aurora are following, and finally the difference in how DougCo and JeffCo handled healthier USDA lunch standards.
From Denver Post: Latest scores are big test for growing Denver charter school network
Our Comment on the above article: The Denver Post went pretty easy on STRIVE in this article. A 7% drop in scores is a shocking failure. Kudos to the CEO of STRIVE for taking responsibility, but their analysis of why it happened opens up as many questions as it answered: They cited too rapid of expansion in the number of schools, too many new innovations being tried at the same time, high-turnover among young teachers, and struggling with adjusting the curriculum to meet new state standards (based on Common Core).
Any of this sound familiar? WNW wants to rapidly expand the number of charter schools, push in new and untried teacher assessments, has no real plan to help young teachers get through the first crucial years, and is scaring off experienced teachers with their rope-a-dope tactics on JCEA negotiations. The only difference is that thanks to the leadership of Cindy Stevenson (who they forced out), JeffCo has been teaching to the new standards for over two years now.
Of course, the WNW clone siblings in Denver will argue that STRIVE should be given another chance. What would they be saying if it had been a regular public school that had a 7% drop?
In the meantime, JeffCo scores went up as pointed out in Chalkbeat
Jeffco Public Schools officials pointed out their TCAP scores “remained relatively stable.” Newly minted Chief Academic Officer Syna Morgan highlighted math and ACT increases while pointing out the the tests are just one data point.
“In math, we saw great gains with our Jeffco eighth and ninth graders who gained three to four points in proficiency from last year. Jeffco continued to outpace the state on the Colorado ACT scores by raising the score from 21.2 in 2013 to 21.5 in 2014. While the TCAP results provide one view of the academic performance of Jeffco students, we look forward to providing a body of evidence to show the full picture of student success.”
Expect WNW to take credit for this, even though they had NOTHING to do with it! Also expect them to ignore the weaknesses the STRIVE results showed in a large scale charter school approach.
From Westminster Window: Jeffco considering new school in 93 Corridor
Our Comment on the above article: The proposed new K-8 school is one of two to be talked about in the Facilities portion of the agenda this Saturday. As we noted in our LAST POST, this will be where we see if WNW+M3 actually walk the walk of believing in neighborhood schools, instead of just talking the talk. We remain skeptical.
From New York Times: Teaching Is Not a Business
Our Comment on the above article: The title of this article prompts one to say, “Well, duh!” But on second thought, maybe that has not been so obvious to many of the self-named ‘reformers’ of American education. Because almost every single district-wide ‘innovation’ that is now being pushed by these ‘reformers’ is either a straight business practice or a modified one. In fact, many of the business practices that are being forced on American schools are actually discredited processes that the business world itself has discarded…but are now making a comeback in our schools.
The arrogance of this approach is manifest. Bill Gates and other ‘successful’ business people are guilty of outrageous hubris in thinking that experience in cutting the competition’s throat is directly transferable to the teaching all students regardless of background, ability, or experience. Yet we find our district (among many in the country) under the dictates of business people far less successful than Bill Gates, touting their business acumen as the reason they know better than professionals who have spent their entire adult lives in the serious study of education.
We will recover from this, sooner or later. But in the meantime it is our children who will have to bear the biggest cost.
From Denver Post: Hilker: At two Colorado technical schools, “education that works”
Our Comment on the above article: This is an opinion piece by a retired Denver newspaper editor. He looks at two technical school programs that are successful in keeping kids who like working with their hands in school and finishing with skills that either take them to college (67%) or into good paying jobs (i.e., not flipping burgers). The two schools? Pickens Technical College in Aurora and Warren Tech in JeffCo.
What this article raises is the question, why hasn’t WNW placed on the agenda how to expand Warren Tech beyond it’s Lakewood and Arvada campuses? It is a successful program. Only one of two in the state. With a proven track record.
The article raises another question:
“The success of the two schools and the key role they play beg the question: Why aren’t there more schools like Warren and Pickens?
There should be. But they are more expensive to operate than traditional high schools, and even mid-sized school districts likely don’t have the resources or the school population base to make them practical. The obvious answer would be two or more districts combining to create a Warren or Pickens at a central location. You’d think more school boards would examine those possibilities.”
If DougCo’s reformers are focused on ‘what works’ then why have they not created an equivalent? Maybe instead of JeffCo imitating DougCo, DougCo should take a good hard look at JeffCo!
Our Comment on the above articles: Initially you may think this is simply a ‘fluff’ piece and wonder why we included it. The reason is that it forms a contrast to how DougCo handled the same Federal requirements. If you remember our 7/30 Wednesday News Roundup, we had two articles that talked about how DougCo decided to give up $167,000 in federal funds rather than meet the new USDA requirements for school lunch programs:
(From the Denver Post:Douglas County high schools opt out of federal lunch program & From Douglas County News-Press:Board adopts resolution on lunch opt-out)
The DougCo Board cited as their excuse that the pizza they tried to make that met the guidelines failed a kids’ taste test. Of course the DougCo Board made no mention of the fact that adhering to the new guidelines would also mean that the local Subway Sandwich operation would lose out on a school lunch contract valued at over $950,000.
JeffCo, on the other hand, appears to have listened to the kids and made tastier meals that still comply with the USDA requirements.
So the ‘reformed’ district hits a bump and makes a decision favoring big business. The district that needs ‘reforming’ hits the same bump, learns, improves, and provides healthier meals to our kids.
Maybe we need to change who needs reforming!