Colorado

Monday Churn: CU loses gun case

Updated 9 a.m. – A unanimous Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that a state law on carrying of concealed weapons does apply to the University of Colorado and that the university can’t ban the carrying of such weapons.

A university ban was challenged by a group named Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The university argued that the statewide law didn’t apply to it, an interpretation rejected earlier by the Colorado Court of Appeals and by the high court in the opinion issued today.

The student group also appealed CU’s ban on constitutional grounds. The court didn’t rule on that issue, determining that the concealed-carry law was sufficient to govern CU.

Republican legislators are pushing House Bill 12-1092, which would allow people otherwise entitled to own guns to carry then concealed without obtaining a separate concealed weapon permit. That bill, if passed, would apply to college campuses but not allowing carrying of weapons on school grounds. The measure is pending in the House.

Read the opinion here, and get background in this EdNews story.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The full legislature may make the final decision on each year’s state budget, but lawmakers accept the vast majority of recommendations made by the six-member Joint Budget Committee.

On the committee’s agenda for today are three important decisions about education funding: How much base funding to provide to school districts in 2012-13, the amount of support for state colleges and universities next year and whether to give the Department of Education money to start developing a new state testing system.

The panel considered the first two issues last week but put off decisions.

Despite committee hand-wringing, the panel doesn’t really have much room to maneuver on K-12 and higher ed funding.

Factors beyond in the JBC are in play with school finance, like the annual school finance act (a separate bill from the main state budget) and the simmering political question of whether to continue suspension of a senior citizen property tax break.

Without going into the brain-freezing details, the bottom line for school districts is that the best they can expect is the same amount of money in 2012-13 as this year. That, of course, will be an effective cut, because enrollment is expected to grow statewide.

For state colleges and universities, a $30 million cut in state aid (down to about $489 million) is expected. That’s what the executive branch recommended, and that probably won’t change no matter how much the JBC agonizes over the details of how to make the reduction.

Perhaps more interesting is the question of the Department of Education’s request for $25.9 million to build a new state testing system, a request not supported by the Hickenlooper administration. Look for the committee to perhaps support spending of about $7 million to pay for development of tests in subjects that won’t be included in multi-state tests expected to be available in 2015.

All three issues are on today’s committee agenda. We’ll see if it makes a decision or puts things off for a few more days. Reaching agreement is sometimes tough for the panel, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

What’s on tap:

Check this week’s full legislative calendar, as of March 2.

TODAY

Five state education groups are convening to help school districts as they implement Colorado’s landmark educator effectiveness law. Titled “Colorado Educator Effectiveness Summit: 191 to Action,” the one-day event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster. The groups are the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Legacy Foundation.

Denver Public Schools’ board finance and audit committee meets from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Agenda items include a $1.6 million contract with Generation Schools Network for turnaround work at West High School, one of Colorado’s lowest-performing high schools. The contract is for five years beginning with 2012-13.

TUESDAY

The new Colorado Collaborative for Girls in STEM holds its first information meeting from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Skyline High School, 600 E. Mountain Valley Ave. in Longmont. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the effort is intended to enable collaboration within the public and private sectors to bring more underserved girls and women into STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – fields. Learn more.

Douglas County school board members meet at 5 p.m. and recess into closed session for two hours, reconvening in public at 7 p.m. at 620 Wilcox St. Agenda items include a presentation by principals about the proposal changing high school schedules for 2012-13, including requiring teachers to teach an additional class, and the second quarter 2011-12 financial report.

WEDNESDAY

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Agenda items include a charter school appeal involving Life Skills High School v. DPS, several DPS innovation applications and a briefing on the proposed rules for teacher evaluation appeals under Senate Bill 10-191. Agenda

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet at 5:15 p.m. for  a public work session and then begin their regular meeting at 7 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. Agenda items include public comment and decisions on possible dismissal of two teachers.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Principal turnover: A lot of education reform initiatives are based on the idea of principals as instructional leaders, motivating and monitoring their teachers to improve student achievement. A new study by the Rand Corp. finds that about 20 percent of new principals within a year or two, leaving behind a school that generally continues on a downward academic slide. Our partners at EdWeek have the story.

Jobs and education mismatch: If you haven’t read this yet, this March 1 New York Times story takes a look at colleges cutting classes in fields highly sought after by employers in attempts to save money. Among the examples is Colorado’s own Fort Lewis College, which has eliminated its computer science major.  The story provides an overview of “the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher education.”

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]

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.