These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.


August 2015 Newsletter

By matter

Dear Members and Friends, 
While summer may have been short, we hope it was sweet. Here’s a bit of what’s been going on during the dog days of summer, and what to look forward to this fall.
Education on the Ballot This Fall
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A+ Updates
Denver’s school board race this fall will hopefully raise the dialogue on how to improve education. With a filing deadline of August 28th, five candidates are already in the race. In District 1 Kristi Butkovich is facing incumbent Anne Bye Rowe; in District 5 Lisa Flores and Michael Kiley are running for the vacant seat left by Arturo Jimenez. As of now, current Board President Happy Haynes is running unopposed for her at-large seat.
A+ Denver will be keeping a close eye on the race: look for specifics on candidates including a report on each candidate’s positions and plans for improving Denver Public Schools, taped interviews, and live televised debates.
Welcome Back to School Happy Hour
A+ Denver and the groups of edXchange have moved downtown and we’d love to show you our new space! Join us for drinks starting at 4:30pm on Thursday, August 27 to toast the beginning of the new school year, catch up with some of our edXchange partners, and discuss A+ Denver’s recent work. RSVP.
Events on the Horizon
We will be hosting a series of conversations with Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim from the University of Washington and the Center on Reinventing Public Education(CRPE) to discuss their latest book, A Democratic Constitution for Public Education. Ashley is a political scientist with an expertise in governance as well as the interaction between policy and implementation. Paul has been a national thought leader, impacting the design of districts and education agencies throughout the country. His current work focuses on re-missioning states and school districts to promote school performance; school choice and innovation; and finance and productivity.
Be on the lookout for more information about this event happening on October 15th.
State Board of Change
catCatch Up Quick
In case you missed it, there have been a number of recent changes with the State Board of Education, with a new interim Commissioner, Elliot Asp and (now former) Chairwoman Marcia Neal stepping down from her position in June, citing personal reasons and the dysfunction of the Board. (See our recognition of Neal as a 2013 A+ Denver Game Changer).
Former teacher and principal Joyce Rankin of Carbondale will fill the vacant seat for the next 14 months, and will have to run for the position in November 2016. We are hopeful that with a change in Commissioners and the addition of Joyce Rankin that the Board can get back to the business of improving Colorado’s schools. We will continue to closely follow the Board and advocate that they ensure that our districts and schools do right by all students, particularly our most vulnerable. We expect that the State Board will hire a new Commissioner by mid to late fall.
Congress Thinks Less is More For Our Schools
Will federal education policy be taking a turn back towards the states? As Congress sets out to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (most recently known as No Child Left Behind), both the House and the Senate have produced bills that will greatly limit the role of the U.S. Department of Education, giving states more latitude on a wide variety of policies including how to improve schools. This will shift more responsibility to our State Board and Commissioner and allow them the freedom to do more or less to make sure all of our kids are accelerating their learning.
As the bills go to a bipartisan committee to be sorted out, we hope that legislators don’t go too far in dismantling a universal expectation of achievement for all of our public schools. While we believe that education policy should be targeted to meet local needs, we also deeply believe in protecting every child’s right to a quality education everywhere- and a federal role in making sure our public investments are improving student outcomes. It is critical that the federal and state authorities not walk away from the objective of improving our most challenged schools and districts. We need more support and pressure to improve, not fewer resources and less urgency.
SchoolSchool Snapshot
New School Year, New Schools
A slew of schools are opening their doors for the first time this year. Here’s the new crew:
We want to hear from you!
Educators across the city are doing great things, and we want to hear about it!  At A+ Denver we’re always on the look out for excellent programs in all schools. We’re particularly interested in:
  • Arts education
  • Physical education
  • Teacher leadership and distributed leadership
  • Teacher evaluation and compensation
  • Turnaround strategies
  • Community engagement
To share your approach with us, email Hayley at hayley@aplusdenver.org.

Cheers,

A+ Denver