Tuesday Churn: A second snow day

Updated – Several metro area school districts are calling for another day of weather-related closures on Wednesday. This includes Adams 12 Five Star, Adams 14 Commerce City, Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek Schools, Douglas County School District and Jefferson County Public Schools.

One exception is Denver Public Schools, which will be open, though weather-related absences and tardies will be excused. Families enrolled in Denver charters should check with those schools. See this press release for more.

Our partners at are compiling an updated list here.

Meanwhile, the Douglas County school board will meet tonight as scheduled, starting at 7:35 p.m. at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. It’s a later starting time because the board has scheduled a closed session at 5 p.m. Here’s the agenda, which includes approval of two new charter schools, Ben Franklin Academy and STEM School, opening this fall.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

With a high temperature of -3 degrees forecast for today, schools along the Front Range are closed as are some district offices. Aurora’s school board meeting set for tonight has been delayed a week and state senators are taking the day off, though state representatives are expected to meet.

Jefferson County, the state’s largest school district, cited below-zero temperatures that “pose a health and safety hazard for children who wait at bus stops,” along with additional expected snowfall, in closing campuses. The day’s reprieve from classes isn’t all good news, however.

“Students should plan on attending school on Tuesday, May 31,” Jeffco officials said in a news release, “which is the previously published snow makeup day.”

What that means for adults varies by district. In Jeffco, all “non-essential personnel” were not expected to report to work. In Denver, district offices are open though employees “who need to work from home due to child-care needs or commuting difficulties” are told to talk to their bosses. Our partners at have a complete listing of closures, cancellations and delayed starts.

Building Charter School Quality, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to create national consensus around charter school standards, on Monday released a new report, Building Charter School Quality in Colorado.

“For the first time in the evolution of the charter sector, we have established consensus on definitions of school quality that will shape the future of charter school growth and performance,” said Jim Griffin, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools, which partnered with CREDO at Stanford University, the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers on the four-year project. Visit the Building Charter School Quality website and read the press release.

Some national speakers are heading to Denver and it’s a good time to make plans to catch them in action:

  • Joel Rose, New York City’s School of One, is speaking at the Donnell-Kay Foundation’s Hot Lunch on Feb. 11 and there’s already a waiting list. You can read this New York Times story, “Classroom of the Future? Check” to learn why.
  • Diane Ravitch, author of  The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, is in town Feb. 17 and is likely to draw a crowd. More details here. Ravitch debated state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, on a recent trip – see story and video.
  • Wendy Kopp, Teach for America founder and author of the new book A Chance to Make History, is scheduled to be at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver on March 1, for a conversation moderated by Dan Ritchie of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. More details to come.

Recent developments in the recall effort of Denver School Board President Nate Easley include a pledge from Johnston, who also represents Far Northeast Denver, to stand by Easley; a heated exchange on about the group, DeFENSE, supporting the effort; and the release of a video showing DeFENSE members, Jackie Skalecke and Mario Ramirez, preparing to gather petitions:

Good reads from elsewhere:

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

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.”