My 50 Favorite Christmas Songs: 2014 Edition

My 50 Favorite Christmas Songs: 2014 Edition

Two years ago I finally put together and posted the list of my 50 favorite Christmas (/Advent) songs. The list returned for 2013 -- with some changes and a couple additions. It's back again, with two more newcomers and some Top 10 adjustments. Last year's ranking is in parentheses, with additional explanation provided in only a few cases. For the first time, each and every entry is linked to a free online version that best captures the respective song's quality (or just was available and sounded interesting). Why this exercise -- beyond the all-too-human appeal of listmaking? The background explanation from the original 2012 post:...Coming up with the top 50 songs wasn't terribly difficult. I've identified roughly 375 different … [Read more...]

Election Day Is Nearly 3 Weeks Away… Must Mean It’s Time to Vote!

Election Day Is Nearly 3 Weeks Away… Must Mean It’s Time to Vote!

The mail-in ballot arrived at the humble homestead yesterday. My 2014 personal guide to the Colorado ballot is posted. Check it out. Remember... While you want to cast the most informed and thoughtful ballot you can, it's also vital to vote sooner rather than later. Electioneering communications quickly will stop, and campaigns can conserve scarce resources. … [Read more...]

Court: Adams 12 Schools Vindicated in Firing Financial Accuser

Court: Adams 12 Schools Vindicated in Firing Financial Accuser

A judge has vindicated Denver-area school district officials for their decision to remove an employee whose accusations of financially “cooking the books” led to a series of sensational 2013 local TV news reports. A Sept. 12 ruling by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch summarily dismissed claims made by former internal auditor Gina Holub in a lawsuit against Adams 12 Five Star Schools officials. The decision came more than a year and a half after Fox 31 News aired several stories featuring Holub’s claims, such as “State’s 5th largest school district hid millions while cutting services to students?” …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [Read more...]

Parents Handing Out Common Core Flier Meet Push-Back

Parents Handing Out Common Core Flier Meet Push-Back

In generating a lot of interest from parents, the heating Common Core debate also has generated a lesson about the value of two-way communication. El Paso County mom Traci Burnett decided to distribute event fliers to other parents in Lewis-Palmer District 38. Along with other volunteers, the plan was to place copies of the homemade leaflets on the windshields of vehicles in five different elementary school parking lots while parents were gathered for back-to-school night on Sept. 4. …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [Read more...]

Colorado Union of Taxpayers Sees Slight Gains for Legislature

Colorado Union of Taxpayers Sees Slight Gains for Legislature

The state’s leading citizen taxpayer advocacy group touts a slight improvement in the Colorado legislature’s 2014 record, while the governor repeated his dismal showing on key fiscal issues. Founded in 1976, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers publishes an annual newsletter rating all 100 members of the state legislature and the governor on key votes related to its fiscally conservative mission. The latest release rated lawmakers favorably for opposing 28 bills and supporting two others introduced during the 2014 legislative session. …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [Read more...]

Colorado Education Leaders Question Standardized Testing

Colorado Education Leaders Question Standardized Testing

While a Pikes Peak region superintendent’s attempt to pull out of state assessments was called out for reaching too far, state education leaders are exploring new ways to balance educator accountability and flexibility. In an August 4 welcome back speech to Colorado Springs School District 11 leaders, superintendent Nicholas Gledich revealed his intention to seek a sanctioned three-year break from full participation in the state’s standardized testing system. He wanted to limit the administration of new PARCC consortium tests (math and literacy) and CMAS tests (science and social studies) only to a “random sample of students.” …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [Read more...]

Time Running Out for Teachers to Ask Money Back from Union

Time Running Out for Teachers to Ask Money Back from Union

A national commemoration includes a special roadside message for Pueblo educators who carry an extra burden as part of their job. The reminder to many teachers that they have to ask every year to get hundreds of dollars of their own money back also makes the case that union leaders simply should ask first. …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [Read more...]

Adams 12 School Board Election Ruling Raises Red Flags

Adams 12 School Board Election Ruling Raises Red Flags

If a Broomfield judge’s ruling stands, the eligible candidate with the most votes may no longer necessarily win an election. A July 11 decision in Figueroa v Speers not only effectively nullifies the results of an Adams County school board race. The plaintiffs who lost this legal round also believe the reasoning in Judge Chris Melonakis‘ ruling changes the standard to declare winners for elected political office. …Read the rest of my article at Watchdog Wire Colorado…. … [Read more...]

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...]