Yesterday, we embarked on a fun little tour of your favorite policy explorer’s best 2014 blog posts. Knowing that you’re still trying to work through all the holiday tryptophan, however, I limited myself to covering just the first half of the year. (Fun make-you-sound-smart-at-your-next-holiday-party factoid: The turkey-tryptophan thing is actually a myth.) As promised, we’ll wrap up the rest of 2014’s highlights today.
Without further ado, I present Little Eddie’s favorite blog posts from July through December, 2014:
- July: I was excited to see two of Colorado’s leading reform and innovation districts, Douglas County and Falcon 49, earn top honors for productivity in a report from the Center for American Progress. Also included among Colorado’s star districts was Eaton, a mysterious district of just under 2,000 students that I had never mentioned before and haven’t mentioned since. I’m pretty sure it’s still there, though, and it’s probably still working hard. Good for Eaton!
- August: With a flourish of my characteristic five-year-old-level word play, I looked at the “Rubric’s Cube” underlying the Center for Education Reform’s C grade for Colorado’s voucher programs. I pointed out that Colorado only has one voucher program: The hotly contested Choice Scholarship Program in Douglas County. Using an amicus brief by the Friedman Foundation and my friends at the Independence Institute, I showed that the “weaknesses” cited by CER were actually better seen as strengths in light of the program’s ongoing legal battle.
- September: September marked the beginning of “The Battle of Jefferson County.” Teachers from two high schools in Jeffco staged a sickout, forcing the schools to close. Like most people, I found myself feeling confused (and a little sick to my stomach) when the news broke. What exactly were the teachers protesting? To what extent was the teachers union involved? Little did I know that Jeffco’s opening skirmish would develop into potentially the largest district-level education battle in Colorado history.
- October: Two weeks of student protests, additional sickouts, and disproven union denials later, I suited up for a heated Jeffco school board meeting. It was quite a party. The reform-minded board majority stomached two hours of brutal public comment, fended off angry attacks from board’s minority members, and ultimately approved a highly reasonable curriculum review structure. I believe the meeting also set the world record for number of irritating up-twinkles.
- November: As Jeffco’s combatants returned to their respective corners in preparation for the next round of hostilities, I turned my attention to a fight over Douglas County’s strategic compensation system and its outcomes. Somewhat ironically, I called upon the power of basic mathematics to refute anti-reform claims about the pay system’s effects. To nobody’s great surprise, I found that Dougco’s pay system appears to be working largely as intended.
- December: I rounded out 2014 with a very cool education-policy fieldtrip to the Colorado Supreme Court, which is housed in what may very well be the shiniest building I’ve ever seen. There, I watched as lawyers on both sides of Douglas County’s Choice Scholarship made their case before the justices. Unfortunately, all we can do now is wait for a decision to come down. When it comes to school choice in Colorado, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
That’s it for 2014’s highlights. Of course, there were many, many other fun posts over the course of the year that you can (and should) explore at your leisure.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll be greeted with a new year. It won’t feel any different than this year, at least not initially. But make no mistake, it will be a big year in Colorado education. Teacher tenure lawsuits, SB 191 implementation, testing, ESEA reauthorization, PERA reform, TABOR refurnds, union battles, and many other big, messy issues await us in 2015. I can’t say with certainty what will happen, but I can promise you this: We won’t be bored.
Happy New Year!