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...]

Mile High City Prepares to Welcome Embattled Teachers Union

Mile High City Prepares to Welcome Embattled Teachers Union

Denver is preparing to welcome the annual meeting of the nation’s largest teachers union, while the union and key state and local affiliates face challenging setbacks. The National Education Association’s Representative Assembly is slated to arrive in the Mile High City in the wake of two well-publicized judicial rebukes and a local contract dispute that strongly question the union’s defense of ineffective teachers. …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [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 31: Week in Review

May 31: Week in Review

A short work week was hollowed out by the fitting remembrance of those "who here gave the last full measure of devotion" in service to our nation. On the morning of Memorial Day, a small band of veterans, relatives, and respectful citizens gathered at our local cemetery for a modest and uplifting ceremony. No doubt many such activities took place across the nation. Here, our kids wouldn't let us miss the Memorial Day parade either. I also did something a little different. To go along with the Ken Burns project "Learn the Address," I made a two-minute recording of a memorized recitation of the Gettysburg Address. "Fourscore and seven years ago...." On a much different note, I was quoted in a Tuesday Denver Post story regarding the new … [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...]

Jeffco Union Should Honor Its Own Calls for Transparency

Jeffco Union Should Honor Its Own Calls for Transparency

The Jefferson County Education Association came to Monday’s contract negotiations with a plan to walk out, and they seized the moment. With discussions over compensation scarcely begun, JCEA negotiators stepped away from the bargaining table—and from transparency. This road has been traveled before. JCEA and other affiliates of Colorado’s largest teachers union have declared impasse more than once in recent years. …Read the rest of my article at Complete Colorado Page Two…. … [Read more...]

Long-Term Union Membership Trends: Give Colo. Teachers Greater Choice

Last week the U.S. Department of Labor released new numbers showing that nationally union membership is on the decline. And not only in the private sector, which has been on a decades-long downward trajectory. Three years ago the nation crossed a historic threshold, as union members in private industry were outnumbered by their public sector counterparts for the first time ever. The 2012 decline also hit government, where budgetary and labor reforms in places like Wisconsin and Tennessee have taken hold. The inimitable Mike Antonucci, writing at the Education Intelligence Agency, picked apart the numbers to unravel 10 interesting observations, including this pair of gems:9) If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will … [Read more...]

Bargaining Bill Would Force CEA to Confront Local Control Hobgoblin

The 19th century American individualist Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously declared, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." This coming legislative session might just give teachers union leaders a chance to confront their own hobgoblin -- choosing whether to embrace it or banish it far away. Rumors persist that the American Federation of Teachers wants to inflict legislative revenge on the bold Douglas County school board. In exchange for having their monopoly bargaining status and political dues collection revoked, they apparently are tempted to advance a bill that would impose some sort of bargaining requirement on local school boards. To succumb to the temptation would place their Colorado Education Association (CEA) … [Read more...]

Going Further than Right-to-Work to Relieve Labor Leaders’ Burdens

Earlier this week I told you that it looked like Right-to-Work legislation was coming to the Big Labor stronghold of Michigan. And has it ever come quickly! Some of Wisconsin's early 2011 scenes played out yesterday at the State Capitol, as protestors thronged and chanted favorites like, "A people united will never be defeated!" and "Hey hey, ho ho, Right-to-Work has got to go!" News outlets report that Michigan State Police arrested eight people trying to break into legislative chambers as the state senate gave preliminary approval to send the workplace freedom measure on to supportive Governor Rick Snyder. (When similar legislation is introduced here in Colorado in 2013, the reaction almost certainly will be much more quiet... and … [Read more...]

Bucking Colorado’s Example, Could Michigan Soon Adopt Right-to-Work?

When it comes to freedom of association, Colorado workers soon may have good reason to envy their Michigan counterparts. The Washington Times recently reported some developing momentum for a Right-to-Work law in the Great Lakes State:The possible push in the state Legislature’s lame-duck session has already sparked a battle, as a coalition of about 300 AFL-CIO members as well as a contingent from the state police descended on the Statehouse in Lansing on Thursday to lobby lawmakers against a measure they fear could dramatically limit their influence. Big Labor is trying to nip the effort to empower non-union workers in the bud, organizing vocal pressure before a bill even has been introduced. Before the recent elections, there was no … [Read more...]