January 18: Week in Review

January 18: Week in Review

I wrote an op-ed for the Greeley Tribune titled "Education Spending Transparency Doesn't Require Massive Tax Hike":Giving Coloradans open government should be more than an applause line. Whatever reassurance skeptical voters may need, it’s not because officials have withheld financial information from online disclosure. The question is whether they have done enough. More from the Independence Institute I’ll Stick My Toe into the Fordham-Cato School Choice Argument… for Five Minutes (Ed Is Watching) Denver State’s New Largest School District; Falcon 49 Open Enrollment Soars (Ed Is Watching) School Funding at Forefront of K-12 Legislative Business (Podcast) Twitter Verse of the Week Joel 2:13 Return to the Lord your God, for he … [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...]

If Obama Didn’t Avoid Gettysburg…

Thank you for indulging me in a moment of satire. For more serious fare, you can read my review of the 2012 movie Lincoln, a brief reflection on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, and my recommended list of essential Lincoln books. News reports indicated that President Obama had opted to steer clear of the festivities surrounding the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's immortal Gettysburg Address. But at the last moment, searching desperately for some positive publicity to stimulate his flagging poll numbers, the Commander-in-Chief changed his mind. Quietly trying to stay out of the limelight, and pull off a public relations surprise, Obama and his contingent of senior staff and security boarded the high-speed … [Read more...]

Heath: “Grand Bargain” K-12 Tax Hike “Beginning to Take a Bite” from Elephant

Imagine sitting down to write a term paper or thesis, then releasing the first draft of the paper not only to your professor but to a worldwide audience. Now imagine your paper contains instructions for allocating billions of tax dollars to a bunch of different groups. You can start to understand what Colorado state senator Michael Johnston (D-Denver) feels like after releasing a draft of legislation to rewrite the state's 19-year-old School Finance Act. In the funny game of democratic politics, is it better to make a bold push in one direction, or to try to bring diverse interests together around a "Grand Bargain"? When it comes to Johnston's monumental effort, the question is being played out before our eyes. The idea is to tie "bold" … [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...]

How Bad Was the Fiscal Cliff Deal? Michael Bennet May Have Teed One Up for the Teetering GOP

Conservatives have plenty of reason to mope in the fiscal gloom these days, maybe even enough to indulge in a bit of dark humor. That brings us to the Colorado political junkie joke of the week, the first of 2013: "How bad was the fiscal cliff deal Congress approved?" "I don't know. How bad was it?" "The fiscal cliff deal was so bad that Michael Bennet couldn't even vote for it." The serious question, though, that follows Congress' pathetic kicking-the-can-down-the-road exercise -- which strangely divided Colorado's Democratic tag-team duo in the U.S. Senate -- is whether Colorado Senator Michael Bennet's dissent may have set the stage for Republicans to start taking a necessary hard line on the next tough issue around the bend. … [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...]

Rubio’s Bold Call for Scholarship Tax Credits Should Fuel Choice in Colorado

Last week, as the honored recipient of the 2012 Kemp Leadership Award, Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio laid out a vision for parent-empowered education reform. On one point especially, Coloradans should take heed. When a Republican politician speaks competently, compassionately and courageously about real education reform, my ears perk up. When that politician happens to be hailed as one of the GOP's top contenders for the national ticket in 2016, I also smile optimistically. Rubio framed the education message in his D.C. award acceptance speech around the goal of opening wide the doors to America's middle class. A linchpin is his bold proposal to expand educational choice at the federal level in a way that has not really been … [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...]