Monday Churn: A second R2T shot

Updated 3:30 p.m. – Colorado is eligible to apply for a share of $133 million in a second round of the federal Early Learning Challenge grant program, the U.S. Department of Education announced late this afternoon.

“We will apply for these funds because we are committed to providing the very best foundation for Colorado’s children,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement.

Last December, Colorado lost out in its bid for $60 million in grants from the original $500 million Early Learning Challenge program of Race to the Top (see story). Nine states won grants at that time out of the 37 applicants.

Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin also are eligible to apply for the second round. They also lost out the first time. But, like Colorado, all scored 75 percent or higher on the 300-point scoring system.

Each state can apply for up to 50 percent of the amount it requested in the first round, meaning Colorado’s ceiling will be $30 million.

The second round is non-competitive, meaning states will get the money if their applications meet the requirements set by DOE.

The Hickenlooper has made early childhood improvements one of its education policy priorities, and the state’s loss in the first round was considered a setback in those efforts.

Updated 10:45 a.m. – The Colorado Senate voted 20-14 to pass Senate Bill 12-015, the measure that would create a special tuition rate for undocumented students.

There was no debate this morning before the party-line vote, a surprise to many in the chamber. Democrats voted yes, Republicans voted no and Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, wasn’t present for the vote.

The measure faces an uncertain future in the House, where Republicans have a one-vote majority. One of the prime sponsors, Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, said he doesn’t have any commitments about a House committee assignment.

The bill would create a tuition rate more expensive than resident tuition but lower than out-of-state rates. Students would have to meet various requirements to be eligible. Individual colleges could choose whether to offer the new rate.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Wednesday on regulations for appeals by teachers who lose non-probationary status because of ineffective evaluations.

The proposed rules would apply to non-probationary teachers who have received two annual consecutive evaluations of ineffective or partially effective. The rules set out grounds for appeals, timelines and the outlines of a state model system that districts could choose to use.

Department of Education staff members have tweaked the rules since a March 30 hearing. Review the latest draft of the rules.

One section they’ve added deals with what happens if a teacher wins an appeal, something not included in prior drafts. Here’s how that section reads:

“If the superintendent determines that a rating of ineffective or partially effective was not accurate but there is not sufficient information to assign a rating of effective, the teacher shall receive a “no score” and shall not lose his or her non-probationary status. However, if in the following academic school year that teacher receives a final Performance Evaluation Rating of ineffective or partially effective, this rating shall have the consequence of a second consecutive ineffective rating and the Teacher shall be subject to loss of non-probationary status.”

Once the state board issues the rules, they have to be reviewed by the legislature. Districts are supposed to have appeals processes in place for the 2015-16 school year.

Get more information and links on the rules here.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is going back to class today as part of Teach for America week in Colorado. Hancock will take over for Teach For America corps member Andrea Pacelli at Denver’s Amesse Elementary from 11 a.m. until noon.

What’s on tap:

Check here for this week’s legislative calendar.


The Douglas County school board has a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. at Cresthill Middle School in Highlands Ranch. The agenda includes a discussion of the 2012-13 proposed budget.

The Boulder Valley school board meets at 5 p.m. at 6500 Arapahoe St. Agenda


The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. The top agenda item is consideration of proposed rules for appeals by teachers who lose non-probationary status because of ineffective evaluations. The board also will consider an innovation school application from DPS’ Creativity Challenge Community. Agenda

A Rally for Our Students’ Future will be held at 10 a.m. outside the Capitol. The Colorado Education Association and Jefferson County Education Association are sponsoring the event along with other groups, including Colorado PTA and Great Education Colorado, to coincide with a furlough day in Jeffco. The rally is intended to spotlight school funding cuts that require steps such as furloughs.

Metro State’s Center for Urban Education is hosting a national conference on Great Teachers for Our City Schools Wednesday through Friday at the Embassy Suites Denver Downtown. More information


The Education Policy Center of the Independence Institute is sponsoring a brown bag lunch on educator effectiveness featuring UCCS professor Marcus Winters, who’s written a book on the subject. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 727 E. 16th Ave. Information & signup here

NBC News is bringing its “Education Nation On-the-Road” program to the new History Colorado Center starting Thursday through April 16. More information & program schedule


Peg Hoey, president of Kunskapsskolan USA, is this month’s speaker in the Hot Lunch series sponsored by the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Kunskapsskolan is an international organization that starts schools with the central idea is personalized learning, where the school and the teachers start from and adapt themselves to the pupil’s goals, ambitions and potentials.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Another Harrison move: Harrison Superintendent Mike Miles is the sole finalist for the top job in the Dallas schools, and one of his team, Harrison Assistant Superintendent Daniel Snowberger, may be moving as well. The Durango Herald reports that he’s been offered the superintendent’s job in that city, pending a visit to Harrison by Durango officials and completion of contract negotiations.

Louisiana reforms: Lawmakers in Louisiana have approved Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping package of education reforms, which will curtail teacher tenure, change hiring practices, expand charters and provide vouchers for some low-income students. has the story.

Grading colleges: The New York Times examines a new effort to gauge the effectiveness of higher education institutions, which may include the use of standardized tests.

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

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

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.”