Monday, June 1, 2009

Term's up... Moving to a new site (blog and school)

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog, and for our dialogue over the past few years. I will continue to blog about various things mostly related to education and reform, but will be a little less "PC" now. My first post is up, entitled I'm not dead, and neither is reform! Happy reading!

Monday, April 20, 2009

An Evening with Michelle Rhee

Last week, Michelle Rhee made a cameo appearance in Denver. I was asked to write an article for EdNews Colorado about her talk:

Watch Rhee's speech here:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Principals: Do schools need them full time? (AZ Star article)

AZ budget cuts are causing Tucson schools to look at cutting principals in some buildings, and heading up teacher led schools or half time principals. Thoughts?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random commentary on DCTA happenings

Well, I was asked why I hadn't blogged lately, and thought I better post something tonight. It's been crazy the past couple of weeks!

I've been working a lot on the PPWG, as well as the DPSRS-PERA merger, school finance, teacher surveys, reductions in buildings, non-renewals of probationary teachers, and of course dealing with adminsitrators that write teachers up for wearing sandals. (Yes, they are worrying about footwear now that CSAP is over. I thought instruction was more important- especially since sandals don't violate any laws or board policies.)

PPWG: Over the past couple of weeks, we sent 4 joint teams to different districts to look at peer assistance and review programs. My team went to NYC, which was very interesting. We looked at their Peer Intervention Program, and the other teacher support systems they have in place. The UFT (NYC's teachers union) is incredible, and has a huge catalog of course offerings they provide for members- 78,000 of them are teachers.

Legislature: DCTA Lobby Day is April 16th on School Finance Act and the Merger. K-12 funding cannot afford a $150 million cut!! Thanks to Senator Paula Sandoval and Representative Andy Kerr for sponsoring the merger bill. Keep your fingers crossed! This merger has been in the works for many years, and gives DPS an opportunity to join the rest of our colleagues in PERA. Veiga and Groff?? Anyone start a pool yet on replacements?

Cuts/ Nonrenewals: As we're already cutting teachers (especially non-CSAP tested areas), we're bracing for further harm through the school finance act. The new transfer system has had a few bumps in implementation, but we've been able to work through most of them.

We also spent the past week urging teachers to respond to the Teacher Input into Principal Evaluation Survey. The survey closed yesterday, and Tom and I will look at the results in aggregate and by network together. Thanks to our teachers for completing this survey!!
Next week starts the statewide TELL Colorado survey for teachers and administrators across the state. It looks at teaching and learning conditions in all Colorado schools.

And yes, the sandals thing was (and still is) a true story. Another interesting story: In the dictionary, the word "insubordination" means deliberately disobeying a lawful order from someone in charge. In some DPS schools, it is interpreted as any time you ask a question, ask for clarification, or try something not in the script, you are insubordinate. Hhhmmmm....

Oh! One last thing... Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy has met its enrollment targets so far- on to the next milestone!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Today, we had another meeting of the Professional Practices Work Group. This group is comprised of 4 teachers, 4 administrators, and 3 community members. We are charged with examining best practices in induction, mentoring, evaluation, remediation, and dismissal from across the country. We are also charged with making recommendations to DPS and DCTA based on our findings. We are pursuing this work based on what our members in Denver are telling us they want- a quality mentoring program, and a meaningful way of gathering feedback on their instruction.

Thanks to our affiliation with the Teachers Union Reform Network, we have many colleagues that have implemented amazing peer assistance and review (PAR) programs across the country. Rhonda Johnson, President of the Columbus Education Association (and my mentor) came to present to our work group. Over the next few weeks, teams will be visiting other sites to learn about various models including Poway (San Diego, CA) Toledo, OH; Montgomery County, MD; and New York City.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To merge or not to merge...

The draft language on the DPSRS/PERA merger bill is out, and should be introduced in the very near future. Our thanks to Senator Sandoval (my Senator) for sponsoring this bill... again.

DCTA supports the merger in principle with the following conditions:
1. It is fiscally responsible with no subsidy to either system,
2. Our members are not negatively harmed, and
3. Portability is granted between systems.

Since we're a one paper town now, some of you might be missing Nancy Mitchell. Here's her article that was published on EdNew's Colorado's site about the DPSRS/PERA merger.

For the Denver Post fans, here's the editorial that printed on March 6th's editorial page entitled Merge DPS into PERA.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blame for School Achievement Gap Misplaced

Interesting report released today from the Education and the Public Interest Center from CU and the Education Policy Research Unit from ASU.

Blame for School Achievement Gap Misplaced
March 9, 2009
New policy report explains how poverty's effects are the real culprit
Contact: David Berliner -- (480) 861-0484; berliner@asu.eduKevin Welner -- (303) 492-8370;
TEMPE, Ariz. and BOULDER, Colo., March 9, 2009 - A new report issues a fundamental challenge to established education policies that were promoted by the Bush administration and are likely to be continued by the Obama administration. These policies are based on a belief that public schools should shoulder the blame for the "achievement gap" between poor and minority students and the rest of the student population. But the new policy report argues that out-of-school factors are the real culprit--and that if those factors are not addressed, it will be impossible for schools to meet the demands made of them.
"Schools are told to fix problems that largely lie outside their zone of influence," says David Berliner, Regents Professor of Education at Arizona State University, and author of the report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. The report is jointly published by the Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) of ASU and the Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Find David Berliner's report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, on the web at:
CONTACT:David Berliner, Regents Professor of EducationArizona State University(480)
Kevin Welner, Professor and DirectorEducation and the Public Interest CenterUniversity of Colorado at Boulder(303)