Primary Candidates Report Card
The mission of Advocates for Public Education Policy (A4PEP) is to cultivate, support, and promote public schools that work for all, not just the well connected. It’s the Colorado way: All children have the chance to succeed. We, each of us - parents, educators, students, community members - have a responsibility to protect Colorado’s public schools. A fair shot for each of Colorado's nearly one million public school students is at stake.
We believe that public schools are the heart of communities, where the rich traditions of the past meet the promise of the future. Market-based reforms, once viewed as a “cure,” have resulted in separate and unequal schools. Reforms have ignored scholarly evidence regarding how to provide children with high-quality, equitable, and effective schooling in their communities.
Collectively, our board has hundreds of years of experience at all levels of public education, as educators, parents, students, school board members, state legislators, and policy experts. We asked all candidates in primaries in Colorado to respond to our survey to see how closely their values align with a vision for true public schools.
At the beginning of May, we invited candidates from various races--Governor, Colorado Senate and House, and Attorney General, from both parties to participate in our candidate survey. Candidates were asked about their opinions regarding key education issues in Colorado:
Integrated and inclusive community schools
Culturally relevant and engaging curriculum
Community-based resources for target student interventions
Keeping taxpayer dollars for public schools
Community-driven, democratically-elected school boards, even for charters
Reduced reliance on standardized tests
Enhanced student, school and district evaluations based on multiple measures - not just standardized assessments
Campaign finance reform for school board elections
Commitment to the teaching profession
At least one candidate from each of the races we targeted replied to the survey. We graded the responses using a rubric we developed as part of the survey design so that all responses were evaluated fairly. This rubric is aligned with A4PEP’s mission and values. For those candidates who did not submit a survey response, we gave them an incomplete grade.
This is unfortunate, since A4PEP members are very interested in learning more about candidates in their districts,as well as in statewide races. Hopefully, they will choose to fill out our survey if they succeed in their party’s primary. All candidates have an opportunity to improve their grades by “doing their homework (filling out the survey)” and allowing C4PEP to interview them.
Full disclosure: Candidates’ grades do not constitute an endorsement. Rather, our grading system shows how candidates’ policies and views align with C4PEP’s mission and values.
CREDO School Closure Study 2017
Closures of low-performing schools were not blind to socioeconomic status or race/ethnicity of the students who were enrolled. In both the charter and TPS sectors, and particularly in the lowest ventile of achievement, low-performing schools with a larger share of black and Hispanic students were more likely to be closed than similarly performing schools with a smaller share of disadvantaged minority students.
Moreover, the closure rates for higher-poverty low-performing TPS in the bottom two ventiles surpassed the rates for lower-poverty TPS of similarly low performance. These observed inequivalent tendencies raise the issue of equity in decision-making about school closures.
Plans to use data to improve educator skills are even more unclear than plans to implement evidence-based interventions. A number of plans appear to be describing what they currently do with data, which means their “plan” is to keep doing it. While that might be a good idea if they had evidence that what they were doing was working, none of the plans offer that.
It’s a substantial hit — between 6 and 8 percent of state and local school spending in the district, Durham County. And it underscores the challenge facing districts where students are choosing other options for school, but the school district itself struggles to cut spending enough to make up for the lost funding.
Charter schools “may expand choice for some students while imposing costs on taxpayers and students that remain in district schools,” write researchers Helen Ladd and John Singleton.
Knight Foundation - Bright Spots in Community Engagement
Having strong neighborhood associations and getting input from residents is key when it comes to successful community engagement.
That’s one of the major lessons in “Bright Spots,” a new report released this week. A series of case studies reveals that creating greater civic participation in communities like San Jose, Calif., Akron, Ohio and St. Paul, Minn., is easier when residents are involved in meaningful ways around issues that impact them, like area and neighborhood redevelopment.
CREDO Study of For-Profit Charter Schools
The study analyzed charter schools’ impact on student academic growth and achievement in math and reading, using data from the 2011–12 to 2014–15 school years across 24 states, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The report was funded by the Walton Family Foundation.
For-profit charter schools don’t stack up well against traditional public schools, either: CREDO found that students attending for-profit charters have weaker growth in math and similar growth in reading.
Studies of U.S. and international voucher programs show that the risks to school systems outweigh insignificant gains in test scores and limited gains in graduation rates
No federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies. The widespread findings of misconduct and poor student performance in for-profit charter schools demand the elimination of these schools. Moreover, allowing for-profit entities to operate schools creates an inherent conflict of interest.
"Until cities commit to solving the supply problem by diligently improving the quality of schools in every neighborhood, they will not have a truly effective choice system." - Betheny Gross,senior research analyst and research director at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)