Tuesday, August 24, 2010
However, my memories of dropping my kids off for their first day of Kindergarten was the mothers wore sunglasses and didn't talk with each other after the kids went in. They were too choked up from that first day's goodbye!
The Kindergarten teacher at Jefferson Academy (the first charter school I worked on) is still there 16 yrs later. Her name is Bentley Ryberg and she taught my daughter who is now in college. Bentley is the absolute best! She's smart and she loves kids of that age. Kindergarten teachers are unique. Not everyone can deal well with students so young. But it's amazing to watch the transformation of these 5 and 6 year-olds over the school year. I recall learning the Open Court alphabet sounds right along with my daughter. And my daughter and I still talk about the field trip to the zoo where she and her classmates spelled "hippopotamus" to the sheer astonishment of a couple standing nearby.
The first day of Kindergarten is the very best. Most importantly, it's the best for the charter school's founders in order to completely understand why they went through so much work.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Some of the schools have been criticized for influencing students to accept Islam ideals and philosophies as a result of the school being "Gulen-inspired." Gulen claims no connection with any of the schools.
Fethullah Gulen promotes peace and communication between Turkey and Western cultures. Since 1999 Gulen has lived in the United States. Earlier this summer, Gulen critized Turkish involvement in the flotilla that attempted to deliver aid to Israel's Gaza Strip. Gulen said the Turkish aid group should have sought permission from Israeli leaders before attempting to deliver aid.
The Lotus School for Excellence in Aurora was founded by a group of individuals with connections to Turkey. The school originally opened as a secondary school and is adding an elementary school for this school year. Their grand opening celebration will be later this week where they have expanded their campus by taking over more of the church facility they occupy.
Last year Lotus leaders submitted new charter school applications in the St. Vrain Valley School District and Jefferson County School District. They later withdrew their application from St. Vrain, but appealed the charter denial out of Jeffco to the State Board of Education. Lotus lost that appeal.
A significant portion of the appeal hearing centered on the school's academic achievement data, which was mixed with some small gains. According to this year's Growth Model data, Lotus made Adequate Growth in reading, but not in math or writing.
Lotus plans to submit at least one more charter school application this fall.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Vanguard HS is an extension to the Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy. The secondary school is authorized by the state Charter School Institute while the elementary is authorized by the Cheyenne Mountain School District. The Cheyenne Mountain district wouldn't let the school's leaders use the words "Cheyenne Mountain" in the name for the new high school when it was initially approved. The secondary school's charter subsequently moved to CSI.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
DPS plans to use the money, up to 25 million, to improve literacy skills in middle school students through a partnership with the Bueno Center at CU Boulder and Padres and Jovenes Unidos.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
A quick search on the internet will reveal hundreds of lists saying what the best books are. Comparing these lists reveals that no one agrees; even if there are some books that appear more frequently than others. Everyone from popular magazines to bloggers are eager to decide what the best books are. I even have a professor who gives every student a copy of his “Highly Selective 100 Book List”. While each creator thinks his/her book list is the best, they seem to all utilize different criteria. These lists raise a very important question. What books should we be teaching students? There are many questions that this leads to:
· Is what a book says more important than how a book says it? A book can be very interesting to read, but make no strong statements. Also, a book can make a very powerful statement, but if the students can’t enjoy reading it, the book will have little to no effect on them.
· What influences are more important than others? Is a book with political influence more important than a book with social influence? What about educational influence or literary influences. Each of these can greatly affect which books make it into the classroom and which don’t.
· Should all races be equally represented in the classroom? Or, what about an equal representation of both male and female authors? What about trying to judge the quality of a book regardless of the gender or ethnicity of the author?
· Should we teach more than one book by the same author? Or, should authors be limited to one book in the classroom to make room for the students to be exposed to more authors?
This list of questions could continue on for awhile. With so many questions to answer it is no wonder that we can’t decide which books are more important than others. The most teachers have time for is to give the students a tiny window to view the vast ocean of literature. What a teacher can do is decide what those students see outside that window. So, what books do you think are most important for students to view through that window?
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Al Shanker, leader of the New York City's United Federation of Teachers, couldn't tolerate the idea that charter schools would operate with anything other than union teachers at the helm. And thus it remains today, proponents of teacher's unions oppose charter schools.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I've supported DonorsChoose in the past and have personally donated to them numerous times. Via the website, teachers can explain a project they'd like to have funding for and donors can donate to all or part of the project.
Support your favorite charter school by supporting DonorsChoose!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Typically a charter school board enters into a performance contract with a management company. The charter governing board should have the authority to terminate a contract if the management company doesn't perform adequately. Well, unless the charter school is in Ohio.
Greg Richmond, from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), wrote an article for EdWeek explaining that charter school boards need to hold their management companies responsible for performance and authorizers need to ensure charter school board members are independent of the company and operate with the best interests of the charter school in mind.
Many of Richmond's recommendations were incorporated into the Colorado sample contract language created last year in collaboration with the state Charter School Institute, Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Colorado Department of Education. The sample contract language has an attachment with "Education Service Provider" provisions to enhance the chances of a good relationship with the management company. Fortunately, with the shared expertise of Richmond and others, Colorado was able to benefit from the lessons learned in other states.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Parents who were thrilled that the school received this prestigious recognition were shocked to realize they had been led along a primrose path. The former principal kept bragging about their official status and saying things weren't really as bad as DPS portrayed them to be.
Almost half of the state's charter schools use the Core Knowledge sequence and most are high performing schools. The Core Knowledge Foundation has two levels of recognition: official status and designation as a visitation school.
In order to receive official CK status, the school is visited by two consultants. The consultants' job is to verify if the school is teaching at least 80% of the CK curriculum with fidelity. So the obvious question is, how could a school become an official CK school and within a year DPS was citing the school for being in the bottom 5% of the school district based on academic achievement data? What exactly does "official CK status" mean anyway?
Today Gerald Terrell, from the CK Foundation, said that having the official CK status "label" doesn't justify poor performance.
Certainly having a particular label from the Core Knowledge Foundation is distinctly different than what's actually happening in the school classroom. Many of the CK charter schools in the state are doing well and many of those, without any recognition from the CK Foundation.
Nationally, Colorado is known for having a high percentage of Core Knowledge charter schools. In fact, the state is involved in a federal Institute of Education Sciences study on the impact of CK charter schools on literacy.
Leaders from the CK charter schools that are doing well are struggling with the Core Knowledge Foundation's decision to give official CK status to Northeast Academy Charter School. They don't understand it. And rightly so.
Friday, July 23, 2010
NACS is a K-8 charter school in the Montbello area of Denver (far northeast). The school uses the Core Knowledge curriculum.
The NACS board contracted with Ridgeview Classical Institute (a nonprofit in association with Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins) to take over the school in January. RCI made formal recommendations for changes in early February and April. These changes included school leadership, instructional practices, staffing, operations, board governance and curriculum.
The school's families had been led to believe that everything was going well for the school. Thus, the school community was shocked to learn of its poor CSAP scores and many were in denial. Several tumultuous meetings took place last spring as the families and staff struggled to comprehend the drastic changes that needed to occur at their school. The principal was terminated in mid-February and the majority of staff members were notified they wouldn't be asked to return the following school year.
Now the school is on the verge of a new start with a new princpal, assistant principal and the vast majority of the staff. There's also been turnover on the board as original school founders came back on the board to reignite the school's original vision.
The NACS board recently hired Troy Wathen to lead their school. Troy comes from Houston where he started and led a private school for the past ten years. Before that he taught and was an administrator in southern California.
Several of the new teachers at NACS come from the Teach for America program. Further, at least one teacher is returning after having left the school a couple of years ago. About eight teachers are returning from last year's staff. Many of the former and new staff spent two weeks in an academy in Fort Collins at Ridgeview Classical Schools in early June.
The classroom instructional approach to the Core Knowledge curriculum will be infused with the Classical approach, which embodies the Socratic method and discussion to drive deeper understanding. Mr. Wathen's previous school was a Classical school and as a teacher, he understands how to monitor student progress with this approach to ensure student academic achievement.
There's an enthusiasm building at Northeast Academy for the new opportunity for students to learn more and to become a quality school. The change hasn't been easy, however.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Lee was one of the first people hired after the formation of the Charter School Institute in 2005. At that point, he'd already created and was the director for the Colorado School Resource Center, a nonprofit that provided technical assistance to new and developing charter schools. Lee has been associated with the development of several charter schools, primarily in Jefferson County where his daughter attended a charter school.
Lee has a Masters in Economics, which he used to provide consultation to schools in regard to their finances. He also established business operations for the CSI. Lee served as the Interim Director of CSI between the resignation of Randy DeHoff and the hire of Mark Hyatt as Executive Director.
It's unclear at this time what Lee plans to do in the future. Knowing Lee, however, and his passion for charter schools it's highly likely he'll be volunteering his services for new charter schools.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Dear Education Secretary Duncan,
I am writing to point out a contradiction you posed to the nation's charter school movement in your address to us at the National Charter Schools Conference on July 1st, 2010. You began your address by issuing a clarion call to the charter movement to increase the number of schools that target a) low income and minority students, b) special education students, and c) students that have dropped out of the traditional education system. While I strongly believe that the movement is already doing this, I think they are also up for this challenge.
But here is the rub.
You followed up this set of statements by berating the leaders of the charter movement for not being bold enough to close the lowest performing schools. While I whole heartedly agree that chronically poor performing charter schools do need to be closed, I think you fail to see a contradiction between these two statements.
I pose you this question to help clarify my point; of the 200 charter schools on the bottom 5% of each states list, how many of those ARE the schools with missions to recover prior dropouts and serve predominantly special education students?
Unfortunately, I cannot answer for the nation but I do know that in Colorado there are 48 such campuses (including, charters, district run, and state schools). Of these 48 campuses, approximately 95% of them are either on Tier 1 or Tier 2 improvement status.
This, I believe, is not due to the effectiveness of the schools but is an artifact of the accountability systems that are in place. According to the 2008 data, Colorado's alternative education campuses (AECs)-including both charter and non-charter schools-averaged 13 percent proficiency in writing, 26 percent proficiency in reading, and 4 percent proficiency in mathematics (compared to the state averages of 53, 68, and 53 in writing, reading, and math, respectively). While this makes me sad to report, I am not terribly surprised given that the average student attending one of our AECs comes to the school between 2 and 6 years behind grade level.. Even if a school is successful at growing their students the equivalent of 2 academic years in one year's time, a great majority will not be able to pass a grade level standardized test.
Colorado appears to understand this, and has recently adopted an alternative accountability framework. This framework focuses a bulk of the accountability for these alternative schools on academic growth and on students' preparedness for postsecondary options, including workforce entry, military enlistment, and enrollment in a certificate program or postsecondary institution. The new framework also gives AECs the ability to report on measures that suit their students, allowing them to provide evidence based on formative assessments that can be given multiple times per year. This is extremely valuable as these high-risk students tend also to be highly mobile.
Until the federal government is prepared to acknowledge the needs of these students, as well as the efforts put forth by the schools whose missions are to serve them, there will not likely be an increase in the number of schools serving drop outs and special education students, charter or otherwise.
Authorizers grow leery of opening new alternative campuses because, under current accountability models, they so often fail. Districts, too, limit the number of alternative programs or schools they open for the same reason.
I encourage you to explore this further, perhaps calling for a survey of the alternative education landscape to help identify quality alternative school models and relevant accountability metrics, and not be so quick to point fingers and issue catch 22s to the charter movement. As a researcher who has dedicated much of the past four years on this topic, I would be delighted to share my findings with you.
Jody L. Ernst, Ph.D.
Friday, July 9, 2010
To be clear, Colorado's charter school movement is vastly different than charter schools in most other states. Our charter schools tend to do better and we tend to have more grassroots startup schools rather than charter schools run by management companies. Further, as a state, we've always focused on quality rather than quantity unlike states like California and Arizona.
The climate around accountability and performance in charter schools has changed over the years. Having been involved in charter schools since 1993, I've seen a shift from an excitement over a new way to do things to a more sophisticated look at how to make sure charter schools are doing well.
I was involved in starting new charter schools in 1994, 1996, and 1999. What's required in a charter school application today is completely different than back in the 1990's. In fact, when the Charter School Institute began in 2004, I was a primary author of their original Request for Applications and my boss and I wrestled with the question, "Are we raising the bar so high that concerned parents will no longer have the capacity to start a charter school?" You see, we both believe that average people, not necessarily professional educators, should be able to start and run a public charter school. Albeit with a lot of time, effort and a steep learning curve!
Additionally, charter school authorizers have dramatically increased their sophistication in reviewing new charter school applications, monitoring/oversight of operating charter schools and the fortitude to know when a charter school needs to be closed. The availability of information through the National Association of Charter School Authorizers has changed the landscape for authorizers. In Colorado, where in the past two years there's been a Model Charter School Application developed and sample contract language available now to improve authorizing practices, the capacity of authorizers to do their job well has increased exponentially.
I've only missed one authorizer's meeting since they began about four years ago and can honestly say that authorizers attending the meetings want to be fair and not play any tricks with their schools. But they also want to see their charter schools doing better than their average district-operated schools. It's a fair trade to assume that if a group of people want control of public funds in order to provide a quality education for students, they should do that better than others in the marketplace.
Colorado has seen 21 charter school closures. Although at first many closures were due to financial reasons, the past five years have brought at least four charter schools to close their doors. Most charter schools that close are in what's called the "death spiral": they're not doing well academically, so their attendance goes down, which means they can't meet budget.
Clearly charter schools that do not educate their students well should close. The same should be true of noncharter public schools, operated by school districts. Further, charter schools should be held to a high standard. The same standard applied to noncharter public schools. Singling out poor performing charter schools while ignoring the poor performance of district-operated schools is hypocritical.
In his remarks last week, Duncan said that the charter school movement was losing its influence on the national scene because it wasn't policing its own. His remarks seemed aimed at both academically low-performing charter schools and also the many charter school scandals in the headlines across the country in the past year (of which Colorado contributed plenty!).
Last year when Duncan spoke at the same conference, he said that he viewed charter schools as one of the four turnaround strategies he intended for the bottom 5% of public schools in the nation. That particular option is rarely used by districts in their turnaround efforts. Hmm, wonder why? Now the Secretary says charter schools themselves are to blame for not being more appealing. Really?
Or has the Secretary of Education simply run into opposition he is having trouble surmounting? Maybe when Duncan stepped into his new role as Secretary, he didn't anticipate the resistence from teacher's unions and education establishment who don't like the status quo being altered. Many educators voiced their displeasure with No Child Left Behind and with a change in national leadership were hopeful that things would go back to the way they were before. But they didn't.
Instead Pres. Obama and Secretary Duncan voiced support for charter schools by incentivizing states to be charter friendly in order to compete for Race to the Top dollars. But while taking that stand, they failed to put anything into the grant program for charter schools so instead, states are able to use RttT money without including their charter schools.
It appears as though the current administration wants to be identified as supporting reforms, such as charter schools, but is hesitant to take a strong, effective stand. Thus, charter schools are still the "little guy" and are getting kicked around by a system strongly in favor of the status quo.
So when I hear Arne Duncan's attack on charter school leaders for not policing their own, it sounds like an excuse. Something to hide behind. And I thought that last year, Duncan made bold claims about reforming the bottom 5% of the nation's public schools. I guess he found out that task is harder than he thought.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg was on a panel moderated by Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning at the closing day of the National Charter School Conference.
Boasberg said that charter schools have brought competition to the monopoly and that DPS was trying to embrace all high quality schools. He said there should be no distinction between charter schools and non charter schools.
Boasberg spoke about the Innovative Schools Act in Colorado and noted that seven DPS schools have selected that option. He also said that when DPS “stack ranked” all their public schools, two clearly rose to the top: Denver School of Science and Technology and W Denver Prep.
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education addressed the charter school conference today through a web link. In his opening remarks, Duncan repeatedly chastised charter school leaders for not taking a firmer stance against low-performing public charter schools. Duncan reminded attendees that at last year’s conference in Washington, D.C. he issued a challenge to charter school leaders to vocally oppose bad charter schools. He said that charter schools are vulnerable to criticisms when it is not policing itself and warned that if the charter school movement didn’t police itself, others would step in. Duncan said, “I strongly, strongly urge this movement to step in and close that void.”
Duncan also reiterated several of the common misperceptions about public charter schools and challenged the charter school community to address the criticisms that charter schools cream the best students, don’t serve the same percentage of special needs students and are seen as the problem instead of the solution.
The Secretary responded to questions posed by audience members. Duncan was pointedly asked what his administration’s response would be to the proposed cuts to charter school funds that Rep. Obey introduced yesterday. He vaguely stated that “this ball game isn’t over yet” and said they were in “an active conversation with Congress.” Duncan said there were other options without sacrificing their reform agenda.
Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ board president, Caprice Young, told Sec. Duncan that they would provide him with a list of the low-performing charter schools state charter school associations worked to close during the past year. Duncan contended that the charter school community needed to do more than just verbally agree with the principle that only good charter schools should be open. He said that the charter school community has not been policing its own. He pointed out that of the lowest performing public schools being targeted for turnaround, 200 of the 5,000 lowest schools are public charter schools.
People attending the National Charter School Conference were eager to get an update on the cuts to the Charter School Program funds in Congress. Yesterday, Rep. Obey (D-WI) amended the War Supplemental bill to provide for 10 billion for education jobs while making this funding available by cutting 200 million from the teacher incentive program, 500 million from Race to the Top and 100 million from the Charter School Program. Those hit hardest by the proposed cuts would be new charter schools that rely heavily upon federal startup and implementation funds to open their doors and successful charter schools that seek to replicate.
The proposed cuts are aimed at the Obama administration’s education reform projects. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has incentivized states wanting Race to the Top funds by saying the state needed to be “charter friendly.” Many states have either increased their caps on the number of new charter schools or else considered legislation that was not passed.
Charter school lobbyists are eager to apply pressure on Congress today, before they break for the July 4th holiday. One U.S. Representative said charter school folks had generated more than 10 million email messages to Congress and asked the Alliance for Public Charter Schools to “call off the dogs.” Rep. Obey took action in the Rules Committee yesterday and further action could happen as early as today.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
- · It’s because of charter schools that districts are now trying to create “faux charter schools.”
· We’re showing that you can now run a system of charter schools without a central office breathing down your neck.
· We now serve 1.65 million kids; 40 chartering states plus DC (Mississippi signed on this year).
· Average charter school is now open 6.7 years.
· 26% operated by CMO or EMO; 65% are free standing (grassroots)
· Less than 3% of total national student population.
· In 14 cities more than 20% of the student population are in charters.
· RttT: 15 states lifted caps since RttT was announced
· Serious discussion about charter school law in Alabama, W Virginia, Kentucky, etc.
· Critics say charter schools are causing re-segregation; many are opened in inner cities where parents are desperate for a better education for their children. He's proud of the fact that children of color are flocking to charter schools.
· Authorizers are getting more aggressive in chartering only schools that are of of quality academically.
· We should support authorizers when they have to hold a standard for supporting quality.
· Increased funding for startups this year through replicating funds. President Obama plans to double charter school funding by the end of his term.
· The Ball State report said that the funding gap, between charters and noncharters, has increased in the past 5 yrs. The Alliance will attack the facility funding disparity.
* There have been t oo many negative headlines this year. Every person needs to support the highest standards of ethical behavior and draw a bright line between unethical behavior and that high standard.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Top photo: (L to R) Jen Dauzvardis, Nora Flood, Karen DeSchryver and John Griego doing a role play of a charter school application hearing.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Attending boot camp and hearing all the presentations, which include a wide variety of topics including the application components, has been likened to drinking from a fire hose. Most founders begin with learning the lingo we use in education. Almost every component of the application requires a great deal of background knowledge and discussion. The components interplay with each other to comprehensively communicate the school's vision and philosophies. Even the budget should reflect the school's vision.
There are a host of resources available for charter school applicants. Many are on the charter page of the CDE website. Resources include other charter school applications, the model application, primary documents such as bylaws and articles of incorporation, and financial models. The sample contract language that's now available was reviewed; in particular, the pre-opening checklist and ESP provisions attachments.
This boot camp is for three days each June and the fee is nominal (to cover food). The primary purpose of the training is exposure to people the applicants will need to contact for help as they go through the application process and explain the detail of what should be included in a charter school applicaction.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Bob Schaffer, Director of Secondary Instruction for Liberty Common School and also the Chair of the State Board of Education, is excited about the proximity of the new building to the existing LCS campus and the fact that minimal renovation needed to be done in order to use it for a secondary school.
The LCS K-8 program will also expand to build up enough of a student base to support the high school. There are two charter schools in the Poudre School District: Liberty Common School and Ridgeview Classical Schools. Additionally, a Charter School Institute-sponsored K-8 operates in Fort Collins, Northern Colorado Academy of Art & Knowledge.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
· SB 10-001, Eliminate PERA’s Unfunded Liabilities, increases the employer’s contribution from 13.85% this year to 14.75% next year. The bill moves COLA benefit increase from March to July. It also puts a 12-month waiting period on contributors being eligible to get the benefit. In 2010 the COLA is calculated by 20% of the CPI for wage earners (-.6%). This resulted in about 90 million extra money for PERA to invest for the next year. PERA pensions are compounded annually. Highest average salary calculation remained over 3 years (5 yrs was originally proposed in the legislation). Minimum age for retirement will increase to 60 yrs of age, but is age 58 for schools if the wage earner has worked in schools for at least 10 yrs (affects people hired after Jan. 1, 2011).
· Legislative Update, Vincent Badolato, CLCS: 6.3% cut for FY 10-11. Statutory 5 million for charter school capital construction remained intact. The capital construction will now be paid monthly, instead of in one lump sum.
· HB 1036: Financial Transparency Act. Annual budgets, quarterly financials and general financial information must be posted online this coming school year. Next year additional information will be required. May be in a PDF format.
· HB 1345, Emergency Powers over Charter Schools: Commissioner has authority to intervene in an emergency situation. State board rule will define what can be an emergency. This impacts CMOs that have schools in a variety of districts.
· HB 1412, Charter School & Authorizer Standards Review Cmte. A 13-member advisory committee to make recommendation to the state board for quality standards. Authorizer standards would probably be modeled after the NACSA Principles & Standards. Appointments to the committee will be made by October 2010.
· SB 111, CSI Clean-up. Establishes a study group to consider letting charter schools develop a cooperative to become an LEA. Creates a school food authority account in the CSI fund to receive any moneys received operating as a SFA.
· SB 161, Charter School Collaboratives. Allows charter schools to apply for competitive federal and state grants without needing the consent of a charter school’s current authorizer. CSI may function as the LEA and fiscal agent for collaborative that choose to apply for grants.
· FMLA is applied to schools with more than 50 employees within a radius of 75 miles. Schools with less than that may not be covered by FMLA, but they should act as if they are covered since they wouldn’t want to be a test case. Employees who have physically worked 1250 hours are covered. Employees must be given 12 wks of leave (may be unpaid or take vacation time). Upon return must be able to resume job or comparable job. Intermittent use of the 12 wks is permitted. Notified 30 days in advance is required if the employee knows about the illness. A doctor’s note can be required if the employee is out more than 3 days. If the employee has benefits before FMLA the employer must pay the employer portion of benefits, but the employee must pay their portion.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Connect was the first charter school in the state to get approved back in 1993. They're authorized by Pueblo 70 School District. The school's students have consistently scored in the top middle schools in the state.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Yesterday the CCSN board also met with Cary Kennedy, the state Treasurer, regarding their bond payments. The high school bond is held by the elementary school and there is question as to whether or not the school will be able to make bond payments in the future.
The Cesar Chavez Academy-Denver school operates autonomously with their own governing board and currently only purchases business services from the Network. As noted by the CCA-Denver principal, Ryan Lucas, the fairness of this year's charges and services is being questioned by the CCA-Denver charter school governing board.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Rocky Mounain Classical Academy is a K-12 school ending its fourth year of operation and is located along the east side of Colorado Springs, just north of the airport. Last spring the charter school released its executive director and school founder after information about the financial situation were uncovered.
In 2002, William Celis wrote a book about the charter school called, "Battle Rock." The book provides extensive information about the school's founder, Stephen Hanson and his wife, Susan. I visited the school many years ago and was actually a guest at Stephen and Susan's home. Stephen poured himself into getting that school open and established.
Recently some renovations were made to the building and the school's leaders sent a thank you to the local paper recognizing those who helped them. This is small town Colorado-goodness at its best!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Thomas MacLaren was a well-known architect in Colorado Springs when the city was getting established. The charter school has several architectural renderings of his work on display.
The school uses the classical approach to education with an emphasis on the fine arts. Classical education centers on discussion as the primary methodology. The theory is based on the motion that through the discussion of primary texts, the student delves into deeper meaning and asks a higher level of question.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
This emergency powers bill clarifies the process should an authorizer want to step in and address address that don't necessarily fall under the "health and safety issues" for closure commonly covered in charter contracts. The bill clarifies that a district court is the appropriate venue to determine if the district takeover is appropriate. HB 1345 was unanimously approved to go to the floor of the House for second reading.
The next bill, also by Speaker Carroll, was HB 1412-Charter School and Charter School Authorizer Standards Review Committee. The bill would establish a 13-member advisory committee that will make a recommendation to the State Board of Education for rules to detail standards for both of these groups. Rep. Merrifield's amendment to change the deadline for the committee was adopted. The bill was approved 11-1 and will be on the Special Orders calendar on the floor of the House tomorrow.
The final bill, by Rep. Middleton (D-Aurora), HB 1419 was postponed indefinitely at the request of the sponsor. The bill wasn't "ready for prime time," according to the sponsor and needed additional discussion.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Winners of the charter school student essay contest were announced yesterday by Chairman of the State Board of Education, Bob Schaffer. First, Mr. Schaffer talked about the importance of choice in education and recalled his days in the Colorado Senate when the 1993 Charter School bill was introduced. Later he supported charter school legislation as a member of Congress, representing the 4th Congressional District. Now Bob Schaffer is the project director at Liberty Common School as they expand through high school in the fall.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Today a couple of hundred charter school students, parents, administrators, teachers and elected officials gathered on the west steps of the state Capitol to celebrate Colorado Charter Schools week. Colorado League of Charter Schools (CLCS) Senior Vice President, Nora Flood, opened the rally with some information about charter schools. There are more than 160 charter schools operating in Colorado serving more than 66,000 students. About a dozen schools were represented at today's rally.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Two mothers from Loveland didn't get their children in to New Vision Charter School so they're proposing a new charter school open. Never underestimate the resourcefulness of mothers who want what's best for their child(ren)!
I've heard this same story more times than I can recall. Teri Oates called me back in 1999 because she couldn't get her children into Jefferson Academy. Woodrow Wilson Academy opened a year later. Deb Coufal moved to Elizabeth after having been at Jefferson Academy and since there wasn't a school, started Elbert County Charter School, which later changed its name to Legacy Academy. When the sibling pool filled the Peak to Peak Charter School kindergarten class, parents whose children didn't make a class list worked together to form Flagstaff Academy in Longmont. The stories are endless.
Predominantly in Colorado, charter schools are created by a grassroots group of parents, educators, and professionals who want greater educational opportunities for their own families. Contrary to the rest of the nation, our state has few charter schools operated by management companies. In other states, their charter school law encourages management company charter schools. Colorado's law has greater flexibility.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Current law doesn't allow a charter school to join a Board of Cooperative Education Services other than through their authorizing school district. SB 161 would allow charter schools to join directly. It would also permit charter schools to form "collaboratives" without obtaining approval from their authorizer.
The bill, if approved, would allow charter schools to seek federal grants by authorizing it the authority, under limited circumstances, to serve as an LEA (Local Education Agency). This wouldn't apply to Special Education funding.
If the bill receives a majority approval by the full Senate it then goes to the House where it will first be heard by the House Education committee.
The site is fairly new and funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Charter School Program. Watch for the site to grow as additional resources are vetted and added.