July 5: (Two) Week(s) in Review

July 5: (Two) Week(s) in Review

Last week the Virtus clan was on a mini-vacation in the Colorado mountains. With very little to miss, today's entry recaps the best of the past fortnight. Highlight? The Franklin Center shined its Citizen Spotlight on me and co-editor Joshua Sharf. Hope everyone had a Happy Independence Day! From the Ed Is Watching Blog Friedman Survey Finds Big Shift on Standardized Testing, Not to Mention…. Florida Doubles Number of States with Cutting-Edge Choice through ESAs Holyoke’s Pursuit of Innovation Status Raises Real Questions to Answer Finished One Good(read) Book This Fortnight Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff My rating: 4 of 5 stars Zuckoff recaps … [Read more...]

June 7: Week in Review

June 7: Week in Review

In a couple of major ways, and some minor ones, this week certainly didn't go according to my plans. But I've already had the chance to see clearly how one of those unwanted developments probably worked out for a better purpose. Despite the challenges and setbacks, this week also included my first gubernatorial bill signing (as pictured above -- House Bill 1382, K-12 Online Education) and National Donut Day. So there's no need to complain too much, right? All that and my latest Complete Colorado column led to a Thursday morning appearance on the Mandy Connell Show (630 KHOW). From the Independence Institute Amy Oliver Show: Orsch Private School Tests Education Ideas (Podcast) New ACE Study Opens Mind on Comparing Public, Private … [Read more...]

May 24: Week in Review

May 24: Week in Review

In our house, it was the last week of school for 2013-14, including a special kindergarten graduation. But the excitement didn't end there, with back-to-back days of tornado warnings in Denver -- including some localized flash flooding outside the Independence Institute's Freedom Embassy on Thursday afternoon (see picture above). From the Independence Institute Amy Oliver Show: K-12 Legislative Highlights Reveal Missed Opportunities (Podcast) Arizona, Florida ESAs Show How Colorado Could Help Kids Like Nathan (Ed Is Watching) Colorado Course Choice Pilot Programs Have New Resource to Consult (Ed Is Watching) Denver Post on School Safety Reporting Shows What’s Old Is New Again (Ed Is Watching) Finished One Good(read) Book This … [Read more...]

May 17: Week in Review

May 17: Week in Review

This week the Greeley Tribune published my column on the progress Colorado is making -- and still needs to make -- in order to ensure fair funding for public charter schools. More from the Independence Institute Amy Oliver Show: Charter Schools Look for Fairer Funding (Podcast) Amy Oliver Show: An Outside Look at Douglas County Reform (Podcast) How Can Jeffco Union Leaders' Bad Faith Bargaining Be Good for Kids? (Ed Is Watching) International Report Shines Light on Colorado Education Performance Gap (Ed Is Watching) So Glad to Find Insights and Direction for HB 1382's K-12 Online Pilot Programs (Ed Is Watching) Finished One Good(read) Book This Week Life After Art: What You Forgot about Life and Faith since Leaving the Art … [Read more...]

April 5: Week in Review

April 5: Week in Review

Within hours on Sunday afternoon, two Michigan basketball teams seasons came to an end, falling just short of the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four. But a glorious silver lining quickly followed: Opening Day in Detroit on Monday, followed by Opening Day in Denver on Friday. Baseball is in the air, bringing the sweet smell of spring and of hope springing eternal for the loyal fans. Sports-wise, it's arguably the best time of the year. From the Independence Institute Amy Oliver Show: Commission Recommends Online Education Policy Improvements (Podcast) Colorado Ranks 21st in Per-Pupil Spending (and Other New Numbers from the NEA) (Ed Is Watching) New Independence Institute Ownership? Goodbye, Eddie; Hello, Little Ed Koch (Ed Is … [Read more...]

March 29: Week in Review

March 29: Week in Review

On Thursday I spent an hour live on air with Mike Rosen (AM 850 KOA) discussing open union negotiations and related issues in Jeffco Public Schools. More from the Independence Institute's Ed Is Watching Blog Colo. Digital Learning Policy Alternate Route Gives Some Spring Break Hope Opponents' Best Shot? Maybe Thompson Should Look at Innovating Educator Pay Watching Student Data Privacy Issue Means Not Watching Student Data Finished One Good(read) Book This Week Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II by Wil S. Hylton: The author quickly grips and engages the reader with the little-known mystery of a B-24 crew that was shot down in a 1944 bombing raid over Palau. Hylton weaves together the tales of … [Read more...]

March 22: Week in Review

March 22: Week in Review

On Thursday I was the featured guest (via Skype interview) for the 20-minute video episode of Choice Media TV's Reform School. Topics ranged from a teachers union contract that discriminates in favor of non-Christians to the recently reported shortcomings of the federal Race to the Top program. More From the Independence Institute Colorado Supreme Court Will Hear Dougco School Choice Case, More Waiting Ahead (Ed Is Watching) New York City Mayor's Attack on Charter Schools Enough to Give Me Nightmares (Ed Is Watching) Student Success Act Soap Opera Gears Up for Shift to Wilder Ride in Senate (Ed Is Watching) Amy Oliver Show: Are We Licensing Teachers Correctly? (Podcast) Finished One Good(read) Book This Week Men at Work: The … [Read more...]

January 11: Week in Review

January 11: Week in Review

I was cited by Watchdog education reporter Mary Tillotson in her latest piece titled "New Orleans Tops School Choice Index":Closing unpopular schools contributed to the increase. A reform-minded majority on the school board probably helped the district implement choice-friendly policies such as the common application, said Ben DeGrow, senior education policy analyst at Colorado’s Independence Institute. More from the Independence Institute "If I've Told You Once": K-12 Financial Transparency Isn't New to Colorado (Ed Is Watching) Evidence Doesn't Back Keeping Kids "English Language Learners" Longer (Ed Is Watching) Amy Oliver Show: The Latest Colorado School Grades Are Out (Podcast) Finished Two Good(reads) Books This … [Read more...]

Politically Correct University’s Robert Maranto Tonight at LOTR Red Rocks

Just how politically correct are today's colleges? Are the faculties at American universities really as ideologically imbalanced as you have heard? What are the effects of that imbalance on students and their futures? Are there any promising and politically achievable reforms for academia? If these questions pique your interest, then you should look at obtaining a copy of the new book The Politically Correct University, a collection of insightful essays on a range of topics under the theme. Even better, if you live in the Denver metro area, you can meet one of the volume's editors -- Robert Maranto from the University of Arkansas' Department of Education Reform -- this evening at Liberty on the Rocks Red Rocks: … [Read more...]

Check Out The Blueprint: Its Political Lessons Are Well Worth Absorbing

Last Tuesday I received a review copy of The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care by award-winning 9News political reporter Adam Schrager and former Republican state representative Rob Witwer. Despite having a lot on my plate, I found time to read the book in two evenings. The book is a quick read but remarkably packed with substance. Political insiders who have followed the past three election cycles in Colorado will find a good amount of familiar material, and may learn a few things on the way. Everyone else, buckle up. The transformation of Colorado's political power structures from Republican to Democratic dominance is a worthwhile and important study -- one that points to the … [Read more...]