Tuesday Churn: “No appeal” effort

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Great Education Colorado, a group that advocates for improved school funding, is mounting an online campaign to persuade state officials not to appeal the Lobato school funding decision.

In an email to supporters Monday, group policy director Lisa Weil wrote, “Unfortunately, we’ve already got to start fighting for the Lobato decision,” noting that the state is expected to appeal. “But here’s the thing; the State does not have to appeal.”

The email provided a link to an online petition addressed to Gov. John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers and members of the State Board of Education, urging them not to appeal.

Great Education, a key backer of Proposition 103, the school-funding proposal that was defeated in November, used online tools in the signature-gathering effort that got Prop. 103 on the ballot.

Get details on the court’s decision here and see the EdNews Lobato archive here.

The Denver Education Compact, in its first session under executive director Theresa Peña, settled on three goals Monday to further its mission of helping every student in Denver succeed academically “from cradle to career.”

The three areas on which the compact will focus:

  • School readiness – every child prepared for kindergarten, including an assurance of access to high-quality early childhood education for low-income children.
  • K-12 success – every student complete high school, with accompanying reduction in achievement gap by ethnicity and income.
  • Postsecondary – every student has a path (job, training, college) that leads to a career.

“We agreed to pursue the three goals. We did not prioritize them,” Peña said later. “I will work with the co-chairs to prioritize them and, at our next meeting in February, present a work plan for the first goal.”

The next meeting of the compact is set for 2 p.m. on Feb. 13, and the group will continue to meet on the second Monday of every other month at the Parr-Widener Community Room at the Denver City & County Building, through October 2012. More info

Robert “Bob” Boswell has been named by University of Colorado Boulder Provost Russell L. Moore as the sole internal finalist for the post of vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement. Boswell will meet on Dec. 14 with campus constituent groups to outline his vision for the position, and Moore will solicit feedback from the groups on Boswell’s candidacy following the meetings. Boswell has been occupying the post since July 2010 in an interim capacity. He is a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Read more

What’s on tap:


Twelve Dutch researchers, government officials and educators will tour Montbello High School, Collegiate Prep Academy and DCIS Montbello. All three schools are part of the comprehensive school turnaround effort in Far Northeast Denver. The Dutch delegation is visiting Denver to learn more about practices the district is using to address racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. The tour begins at 9 a.m. at 5000 Crown Blvd.

The Legislative Audit Committee will be briefed about audits of the Colorado School of Mines and of federal stimulus spending in Colorado, including on education, starting at 9 a.m. The committee meets in its first-floor hearing room in the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave. Agenda

The Boulder school board meets at 5:00 p.m. at 6500 Arapahoe St. The agenda includes a report on enrollment trends.

The Aurora school board meets at 6:00 p.m. at 1085 Peoria St. Agenda items include a discussion of improvement plans for schools rated “priority improvement” and “turnaround” by the state.

Douglas County school board members meet at 5 p.m. but go into closed session for two hours, convening in public at 7:10 p.m. at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock.  Agenda items include a board resolution that states former district employees should not run for school board for at least a year after leaving the district. Had that resolution been in place for the Nov. 1 election, former communications director Susan Meek would have been in violation.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Acknowledging the role that class plays in student achievement is the theme of a column in The New York Times. Written by a professor at Duke University and the former education editor of the Times, the piece urges truth-telling about the correlation between economic background and success in school and points to certain programs in North Carolina, New York, Nebraska and Massachusetts that are providing the social service supports that some students might need. Read column

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.”