Wednesday Churn: A look inside CU

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Financial transparency has been a popular buzzword in the corridors of state government for years now. The call for greater disclosure of – and easier access to – government financial records started with Republicans, but nowadays you won’t find a legislator who doesn’t say transparency is a good idea.

Over the last four years, the legislature has passed laws requiring greater transparency by state government and school districts, and a measure pending this year, House Bill 12-1252, would impose similar requirements on state colleges and universities.

The University of Colorado System, which came in for criticism during a committee hearing on HB 12-1252, recently unveiled a new website called the “Accountability Data Center.” Board of Regents Chair Kyle Hybl touted the site as providing “our constituents with one website where they can review budget, academic and general information about the operations of the entire CU system.”

The site, in the works since last fall, does make it easier to access information that was already available, but not necessarily easy to find, on the system’s multiple websites. A lot of the information is contained in PDFs and spreadsheets. But there are some searchable areas, including staff salaries (no names) and the results of student surveys about individual classes and instructors. Go here to surf around the new site.

Transparency bills usually are greeted with a “Yes, but” response from the targeted agencies, the “but” meaning it will cost money to comply. Those same worries have been raised about this year’s higher ed transparency bill, and it still has some hoops to jump through before it becomes law. Read the current version of the bill here.

School districts were required to post financial information online by a 2010 law. It sometimes takes some clicking around a district’s site to find the right link. For an example of what one district has done, check the Adams 12-Five Star transparency section.

To see how state government has responded to its disclosure mandate, check out the State Transparency Online Project.

What’s on tap:

Adams 12 Five Star board members meet at 5:15 p.m. today at 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. Agenda items include a discussion of the 2012-13 budget.

The Colorado Legacy Foundation today holds its daylong Healthy Schools Summit, including a discussion on “Reversing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic” by Dr. James Marks, director of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. More info.

Good reads from elsewhere

Pointing fingers: The president of the Pueblo City school board responds to concerns the district isn’t doing enough to improve student achievement in this column in the Pueblo Chieftain.

Mayoral endorsement: Fox 31 News reports that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is supporting an early literacy bill that’s drawn some criticism as the measure works its way through the General Assembly.

Dallas news: The Dallas Morning News has most stories behind a pay wall but you can catch the video of Harrison Schools Superintendent Mike Miles’ first press conference as the lone finalist to run the Dallas school district on this blog post, which includes a brief description about why one board member abstained from voting for Miles. Also, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports on Tuesday night’s school board meeting in Harrison.

Learn more, live longer: Americans are living longer but those with more education are living the longest, according to a study highlighted in The New York Times. The article includes an interactive graphic that allows readers to see how counties within their states rank – in Colorado, Pitkin and Douglas counties top the list while Denver ranks 45th of the 59 counties ranked.

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.