Future of Schools

Thursday Churn: Board contribution limits

Updated 1 p.m. – The House State Affairs Committee this afternoon delayed a vote on House Bill 12-1067, which would limit campaign contributions in school board and RTD races.

Chair Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Lakewood, said he wanted to wait until the full committee was present. Only seven members were in the room as the meeting ended over the lunch hour. (See background below.)

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The first education bill out of the box this session is House Bill 12-1067, which would limit contributions to school board candidates. It’s set for a hearing this morning in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

The measure would set a $500 limit on individual contributions and a $5,000 limit on small donor committees. The bill also would apply to RTD elections.

The background for the bill, of course, is the high spending in recent Denver Public Schools board elections. In 2011, at-large candidate Allegra “Happy” Haynes raised and spent more than $230,000 to win her citywide seat while in 2009, at-large winner Mary Seawell raised more than $240,000  (see story).

Sponsors of the bill are Denver Democrats Reps. Beth McCann and Lois Court and Sen. Irene Aguilar.

McCann got an amended version of a similar bill out of committee last year, but the measure was killed on the House floor.

One education lobbyist, asked about the bill recently, indicated that the measure is a solution in search of a problem for most districts but sighed and said, “When Denver sneezes, other districts reach for the tissues.”

The committee hearing starts this morning after floor adjournment in room 0112 of the Capitol. EdNews will be there.

What’s on tap:

Denver school board members meet at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 900 Grant St. The agenda includes three new innovation school proposals, as well as a possible change to the 2012-13 academic calendar. A public comment session is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Jeffco school board members meet at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda includes the renewal of the contract for Superintendent Cindy Stevenson.

Ed research in the news:

Charter lawsColorado ranks seventh in the nation based on the quality of its laws governing charter schools, according to an annual report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. That’s actually down from a previous rank of fourth, a decline the group says is because Colorado “was surpassed by states that made substantial changes to their charter laws.” Recent actions such as the State Board of Education’s approval of new standards for charter school authorizers were not included in new calculations, however. Maine ranks number one with 158 points out of 208; Colorado was given 130 points. The report prompted a response from the Center for Education Reform, which disagrees with the rankings.

Child obesity – An article in this month’s issue of the journal Sociology in Education details a study finding no link between the increase in childhood obesity – at least for middle school students – and the availability of junk food in schools. “We held back from publishing our study for roughly two years because we kept looking for a connection that just wasn’t there,” said the lead author of the study. You can read the New York Daily News report on the study and learn more about the study itself.

Dropout costs – A report analyzing the financial burdens of 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working estimates taxpayers will lost $1.6 trillion over the lifetime of this cohort while the social costs will amount to $4.7 trillion. Researchers at Columbia Teachers College and CUNY’s Queens College looked at the lost earnings, lower economic growth and higher government spending resulting from the estimated 3.4 million Americans in this age bracket, described as “chronic opportunity youth.” They also estimated an additional 3.3 million are “under-attached,” or only partially engaged in work or school. Read more about the study in this Education Week report and see the study.

Value-added – Much has been made of a recent study showing the lasting impact good teachers can have but a New York Times columnist cautions the data precedes the current testing emphasis.

Good reads from elsewhere:

A tense school board meeting turned into a “mini riot,” according to the board president, over a vote to non-renew the contract of superintendent Terry Ebert in Ellicott School District 22. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports stepped-up security at future meetings may be the result.

The dropout rate in Boulder is approaching zero, the Boulder Daily Camera reports ahead of the official statewide release of dropout and graduation rate data. The district’s overall dropout rate has fallen from from 1.5 percent in 2009 to 0.8 percent in 2011.

Sweeping education reforms in Louisiana were forwarded by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is seeking approval of private school vouchers, an easier path for charter school creation and an end to job protections for teachers under the state’s tenure law, according to the Times-Picayune.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at [email protected]

Future of Schools

These 29 Indianapolis administrators could lose their jobs

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

Indianapolis Public Schools has identified dozens of principals, deans and other administrators who could lose their jobs at the end of the year, many because of the decision to close high schools.

As the district pursues plans to close three of its seven high schools, the superintendent recommended that the board cancel the contracts of 29 administrators effective July 1.

The list of administrators includes two high school principals and several assistant principals and deans whose contracts could be canceled because of the high school closing plan. Several high school athletic directors could also have their contracts canceled because the district is changing the job description and requirements for those positions, according to IPS spokesperson Carrie Cline Black.

They were all invited to apply to other open positions in the district, but the district is canceling their contracts because state law requires districts to notify certain administrators by March 1 if their contracts will not be renewed, according to Black.

The recommendation, which is included in the district’s monthly personnel report, is not entirely surprising, since the district anticipated having fewer administrators once it consolidates campuses. But the district had not previously revealed which staff members could lose their positions.

This is just the latest sign of the upheaval caused by the high school closings. Hundreds of high school teachers were required to reapply for their jobs, and students were required to select new high school programs for next year.

Here is the full list of staffers the superintendent recommended canceling contracts for:

Arlington High School

  • Debra Barlowe, dean
  • Arthur Dumas, dean
  • David Tuttle, assistant principal
  • Debra Ward, assistant principal
  • Danny Wilson, athletic director

Arsenal Technical High School

  • Anne Deckard, dean
  • Sheldon Floyd, assistant principal
  • Steven Glenn, dean
  • Thomas Starnes, athletic director
  • Roslyn Stradford, assistant principal
  • Lisa Williams, dean

Broad Ripple High School

  • John Edge, assistant principal
  • Robert Moses, interim assistant principal
  • Rachel Norwood, magnet coordinator
  • Vickie Winslow, dean

Crispus Attucks High School

  • Kenneth Roseman, athletic director
  • Joshua Varno, athletic director

George Washington High School

  • Emily Butler, principal
  • Zachary Ervin, dean
  • Patrick Kennison, assistant principal
  • Charonda Woods, assistant principal

Northwest Community High School

  • Moshfilay Anderson, athletic director
  • Eileen Bell, assistant principal
  • Michelle Brittain-Watts, principal
  • Martha Lince, dean
  • Alan Smith, assistant principal
  • Albert Young, dean

Positive Supports Academy

  • Kevin Brown, dean

Shortridge High School

  • Kathy Langdon, athletic director

What do you think?

Detroiters react with praise — and fury — as district changes how it will decide who gets into Cass Tech and Renaissance

PHOTO: DPSCD
A student wearing a Renaissance High School t-shirt competes in a robotics competition.

Reaction was swift and strong last week when Chalkbeat reported that Detroit’s main school district is changing the way students are admitted to Cass Technical High School, Renaissance High School and two other selective schools.

Some parents, teachers, students and members of the schools’ devoted alumni associations praised the district’s decision to reduce the role of testing in admissions decisions. But others expressed anger and concern about how the changes will affect the schools and how decisions about the changes were made.

Instead of basing admissions decisions primarily on the results of a single exam, the district will this year turn the process over to an admissions team comprised of teachers and staff from the schools, as well as administrators in the district’s central office. They will use a score card to decide admissions with just 40 percent of a student’s score coming from the high school placement exam. The rest of the points will come from grades, essays and letters of recommendations. Students currently enrolled in the district will get 10 bonus points that will give them an edge over students applying from charter and suburban schools.

The news turned into one of the most talked about stories on our site this year — and readers’ reactions ran the gamut. Read some of what our readers had to say below.

Some thought the change was problematic:


Others applauded the changes:




A current Cass Tech teacher said she agreed the admissions process needed to change, but was concerned that the district did not ask for her input on the new system:

How do you feel about the new admissions process? Tell us below in the comments or weigh on on Facebook or Twitter.