Tuesday Churn: Vegas board set for change

Daily Churn logoUpdated 1:30 p.m. – The Las Vegas school board that Dwight Jones will report to will be a different board than the one that offered him a job last month. Two of the board’s seven members are term limited, so the board will have a minimum of two new members after the November election. And, one incumbent is in a contested race.

The Churn doesn’t have any particular insights into Las Vegas school politics (we’ve got plenty to do tracking that in Colorado), so you can learn more in this detailed Las Vegas Review-Journal article.

Coincidentally, Jones would have faced at least two new members on the State Board of Education if he’d stayed on as Colorado education commissioner. Republicans Randy DeHoff and Peggy Littleton are term limited. Democratic incumbent Angelika Schroeder faces Republican Kaye Ferry of Vail in the 2nd District.

What’s churning:

It seems like everybody’s doing it – studying the future of public higher education. Colorado is nearing the end of 10-month study of the future of higher ed, and a number of other states have been doing the same thing. In neighboring Utah, the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission (which is studying the whole education system) is recommending a goal of 66 percent of Utah adults having college degrees or certificates by 2020 (see Salt Lake Tribune story).

“We believe it’s an attainable goal without a huge investment,” William Sederburg, Utah’s commissioner of higher education, was quoted as saying.

The draft Colorado strategic plan references President Obama’s national goal of 60 percent of adults having degrees or certificates by 2020 (see draft Colorado plan). And, the Colorado draft lays out in detail the financial challenges that face reaching such a goal.

Incumbent at-large CU Regent Steve Bosley and challenger Melissa Hart disagreed vigorously on the relevance of faculty members’ political affiliations in providing diversity at a debate sponsored by the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs Friday evening.

“We need to hire great teachers and great researchers,” said Hart, a Democrat and a member of the faculty at the School of Law. “I don’t care if my surgeon is a great Republican surgeon, and when the Board of Regents focuses on politics it erodes public confidence in the institution and distracts them from the focus on hiring great teachers.”

Bosley, a Republican, said he disagreed “100 percent. There’s a difference between talking about a faculty member in the math department and one in political science. When there’s an opening in political science, we want to bring some balance to the faculty,” he said. “What are we afraid of?”

The candidates also responded to questions about the state fiscal situation and the future of higher education funding, tuition increases, campus consolidation, the role of elected regents compared to those in other states who are appointed, and their own goals for the CU system.

Bosley said he would like to see the university providing “affordable, accessible, world-class education.”

Hart’s goal is to collaborate with K-12 educators across the state to guarantee students access to the university if they graduate from a Colorado high school with the prerequisites necessary to be admitted to CU.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers unveiled new statistics Monday from Safe2Tell, a program within the Office of the Attorney General, saying the program has helped school officials and law enforcement intervene in thousands of potentially dangerous and life-threatening situations. Since the 2004-2005 school year, students across Colorado have filed more than 2,700 reports concerning bullying, gangs and other problems through Safe2Tell. These tips and reports have helped local school and law enforcement to intervene and put a halt to problems before they grow and have potentially disastrous consequences.

“Safe2Tell has been a tremendous asset to schools and local law enforcement in the 158 cities and 58 counties where it operates in Colorado,” Suthers said. “The success of this program should underline for educators and the public that bullying, harassment and all the other problems facing youth today can be prevented when we give kids the resources to ask for help.”

What’s on tap:

The road show of town hall meetings by the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee hits Grand Junction with a 4-6 p.m. session at Mesa State College in the College Center Ballroom 235. To see what they’re talking about, click the link to the draft strategic plan above and view the slide show that’s been shown at the meetings around the state.

The Douglas County school board convenes at 5 p.m. in the board room of the administration building, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. Among agenda items are a report on the district’s 2010 CSAP scores and initial consideration of a charter application from the Ben Franklin Academy (see full agenda here).

The Aurora school board has a town hall meeting with middle and high school students starting at 6 p.m. at the Gateway High School Commons, 1300 S. Sable Blvd. Get the details here.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.