Monday Churn: Busy week ahead

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

There’s a lot to watch on the Colorado education scene this week. Tuesday, the Educational Success Task Force is expected to start narrowing the bill ideas it may propose to the 2012 legislature and, on Wednesday, the State Board of Education again takes up some of the key issues facing it this fall, including educator evaluation rules.

Thursday’s Colorado Commission on Higher Education meeting may provide further indications of what commissioners are thinking about priorities for the higher education master plan they are creating.

It’s also a busy week for school board candidate forums.

In case you missed it: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.,  on Friday announced a new federal initiative to improve teacher preparation. Details & links

What’s on tap / Meetings:


Campaign contribution and spending reports are due from the committees supporting and opposing Proposition 103. It’s also the deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 1 election.


The Educational Success Task Force meets from 1-5 p.m. at the Community College System offices, 9101 E. Lowry Blvd. The legislator/citizen study panel will be considering legislation it might recommend, including possible changes in high school testing. Agenda

The Douglas County school board has a 5:30 p.m. meeting at 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. The public portion of the meeting is slated for 7:10 p.m. Agenda

The Aurora school board meets in closed session at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the superintendent’s contract. It convenes in public at 6 p.m. at 1085 Peoria St. The agenda includes a resolution in support of Proposition 103, the statewide ballot initiative to increase sales and income taxes for education.


The State Board of Education meets from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Top agenda items include briefings on implementation of the new state content standards and proposed graduation guidelines, plus another public hearing on proposed regulations for implementation of the educator effectiveness law. Agenda

Padres y Jovenes Unidos, an education advocacy group, will hold a 5 p.m. rally outside the Capitol to urge passage of legislation to reduce what the group believes is inappropriate disciplinary methods in many schools. The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline is considering possible legislation on the topic and meets next on Oct. 18.

The Adams 12-Five Star school board is hosting a community conversation about education values and priorities at 7 p.m. at Thornton High School, 9351 Washington St. More


The Colorado Commission on Higher Education meets starting at 10 a.m. at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The agenda hasn’t been posted yet, but much of the commission’s time at meetings this fall will be devoted to work on the higher education master plan called for by 2011 legislation.

Jefferson County school board members meet at 5 p.m. in closed session to discuss their superintendent’s evaluation. The public portion is scheduled to begin about 6 p.m. at 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda includes discussion on a motion to support Proposition 103, the statewide ballot initiative to raise taxes to increase education funding.

Denver Public Schools board members meet at 4:30 p.m. in closed session to discuss their superintendent’s evaluation. They convene in public at about 5:30 p.m. for a work session focusing on the district’s School Performance Framework results and Denver Plan goals. Agenda

What’s on tap / Campaign events:


DPS District 5 candidates Jennifer Draper Carson and Arturo Jimenez will appear at a 6 p.m. forum at North High School, 2960 N. Speer Blvd.

DPS at-large candidates will participate in a 7 p.m. forum at East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade.

Jefferson County school board candidates have a 7 p.m. forum at Shepherd of the Hills Church, 11500 West 20th Ave., in Lakewood.


Candidates for DPS at-large and District 5 will be featured during a 7 p.m. forum at Democratic Party headquarters, 777 Santa Fe Drive.

Jefferson County school board candidates have a 7 p.m. forum at the Columbine Library, 7706 W. Bowles Ave., in Littleton.


All DPS candidates have a 6:30 p.m. forum at Bruce Randolph School, 3955 Steele St.


A forum on Proposition 103 will be held at 7:30 a.m. the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs in the second-floor Terrace Room at 1380 Lawrence St. Participants include proponent state Sen. Rollie Heath, opponent Penn Pfiffer of the Independence Institution, political consultant Eric Sondermann and Todd Snidow of bond house George K. Baum and Co. RSVP here

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

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.”