Monday Churn: Authorizer report card

Updated 12:15 p.m. – The number of charter school closures has declined over the last three years, according to a study released today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

The finding was part of the association’s 2011 review of charter authorizing practices around the nation.

According to the association’s news release, in 2010-2011, 6.2 percent of charter schools that were reviewed for renewal were closed, down from 8.8 percent in 2009-2010 and 12.6 percent in 2008-2009.

“These findings don’t tell us whether the right number are being closed,” said NACSA President and CEO Greg Richmond, “but our experience suggests that authorizing agencies should be closing more, rather than fewer, poor-performing schools.”

The news release highlighted Denver Public Schools as an example of responsible authorizing, noting the district has closed six schools over the past three years, nearly 20 percent of its charters.

The annual report relies on voluntary responses to questionnaires by authorizers so doesn’t provide full data.

For Colorado, 21, or 44 percent, of the state’s 48 authorizers responded to the association’s questionnaire. Those authorizers cover 65 percent of Colorado charters. The report found one Colorado charter was non-renewed last year and one charter was surrendered.

Of the 14 Colorado authorizers who responded fully to the association’s questions about compliance with “essential practices,” the average score was 7.7 out of 12. Nationwide the average score was 8.7.

The quality of charter authorizing is a current topic of discussion in Colorado. The State Board of Education recently approved guidelines on the issue (see story), and legislation on charter standards and authorizing is pending at the Capitol (see story).

More information

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Two big bills are on legislative calendars this week.

Senate Bill 12-015, the proposal to create special college tuition rates for undocumented students, is calendared for preliminary Senate floor consideration on Tuesday. The bill came out of the Senate Education Committee after a long and emotional hearing last Thursday (see story).

Full disclosure – bills set for Senate floor consideration often get held over for a variety of reasons, so we’ll see if this one actually gets debated Tuesday.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 12-068 has its first hearing, in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. This is the measure that would ban the use of trans fats in food served at schools.

See the week’s schedule of education-related legislative meetings here.

What’s on tap:


Adams 12-Five Star school board members meet at the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. The time has not yet been set. Agenda items are expected to include school bonds and the 2012 legislature.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has a two-day meeting scheduled on the Colorado Springs campus. Agenda

The Metro State trustees open two days of committee sessions Wednesday and a full board meeting Thursday. Agenda


Denver Public Schools board members meet for a four-hour “focus on achievement” study session, starting at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. The single agenda item is “strategic management of financial resources.”

Douglas County school board members have scheduled at special meeting at 6 p.m. at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. The agenda is not yet available; it will be here when ready.

Jeffco school board members will meet at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Lakewood High School, 9700 West 8th Ave. in Lakewood. The meeting location was changed to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd for public comment. Prior to the 6 p.m. meeting, the board will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to discuss negotiations with employee groups. Agenda.

Good reads from elsewhere:

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, toured Boulder’s Casey Middle School with a White House official, looking at the energy efficient elements in the design. The Boulder Daily Camera went along.

The Delta County School District 50 board of education hired Jerre Doss as interim superintendent, reports the Delta County Independent.

The Greeley-Evans School District 6 board of education is eyeing a possible November bond election and application for state BEST grant dollars to fix structural problems at two schools, the Greeley Tribune reports.

Structural issues have been identified in every Neenan Co. project built with the help of state BEST dollars, the Denver Post reports, and State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer is publicly supporting the company.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at [email protected]

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.”