Colorado

Wednesday Churn: A new president

Updated 2:15 p.m. – Colorado Northwestern Community College is getting a non-traditional president in former legislator and cabinet official Russ George.

Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, announced Tuesday that George would start Jan. 24 as president of the two-year school, which has campuses in Rangely and Craig plus three satellite centers in other towns.

George, originally from Rifle, was in the legislature from 1993 to 2000, including service as House speaker. He was director of the Division of Wildlife and of the Department of Natural Resources for Gov. Bill Owens and director of the Department of Transportation under Gov. Bill Ritter. George also was an active member of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which produced the new higher ed strategic plan last year. Text of news release

New Department of Education employee Leanne Emm has been named interim director of school finance. Vody Herrmann, CDE’s respected finance director for more than a decade, announced Friday that she’s retiring in March. Before joining CDE, Emm worked in budget and finance for the Jeffco schools for nearly 14 years.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The House and Senate education committees convene for the first time in 2011 with a joint session for the annual “oversight” hearing for the Department of Higher Education.

The session gives higher ed leaders a chance to pitch the importance of the system and warn of the budget challenges facing the state’s colleges and universities. You can listen in on the legislature’s audio system. The meeting probably will start between 9:30 and 10 a.m., after brief morning floor sessions are recessed.

In case you missed it, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg is proposing a $10 million increase in school budgets in 2011-12, despite an expected state funding cut of up to $20 million.

Boasberg said cuts to central services, enrollment increases and operational savings accumulated over the past two years will allow the state’s second-largest district to bolster individual school budgets by 2.3 percent. Winning more than $80 million in competitive grant funding over the past two years also helps.

“At a time when districts are continuing to endure severe budget cuts, we’re pleased to propose a budget to our Board of Education that significantly increases dollars going to our classrooms,” Boasberg said in an afternoon press conference.

Read the full news release here and see the budget presentation here.

DPS board member Andrea Merida sent out her own press release prior to Boasberg’s afternoon event, criticizing district leaders for failing to get input on budget priorities from key stakeholders such as the teachers’ union and parents. Here’s her take.

What’s on tap:

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet at 6:30 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. Here’s the agenda, which includes a report on special education demographics at Westgate charter, a school for at-risk gifted students.

And, speaking of district budget cuts, the Adams 12 board reconvenes tomorrow for a work session with their community on budget priorities. The district expects to cut another $25 million for 2011-12 and is asking for public input. The session begins at 6:30 p.m., same place as tonight’s meeting. Here’s more info.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • Aurora delay: School board delays decision on high school electives changes. Denver Post
  • IMPACT in trouble?: Michelle Rhee’s signature teacher evaluation system criticized by new mayor. Washington Post
  • Parent trigger challenges: The devil is in the implementation details for Calif. trigger law. L.A. Times

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”