•  San Miguel County mulls looser restrictions on marijuana operations
  • Teen birthrate drops by half in Colorado
  • Delta County coalition awarded grant to connect kids to outdoors
  • Space is running out for the salt pump in Paradox Valley

saw peter, karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Saw Peter is Karen. That’s an ethnic group in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  And for more than 100 Karen refugees in rural Delta, Colo., he’s the go-to person for advice, translation and other essential information.

Like the other refugees in this community, life hasn’t been easy for Peter.

As a young man, he smuggled his family to Malaysia because the government in Myanmar seized their farm and threatened to kill them.

Small town doesn't quite describe Bethune, Colo. It spans just 0.2 square miles and has a population of 237. There's a post office, but it's open only part time. There's not a single restaurant, and the closest big store is in Kansas.

That didn't stop Ailyn Marfil from moving to Bethune a couple of months ago. In fact, she thinks it's a pretty exciting place to live. "I was looking for speed and action, and so Bethune gave me speed and action. More than I expected," she says.

  • Missing boy from Crawford returns home
  • Livestock disease still widespread, but new infections might be slowing down
  • Signatures hold up connecting Norwood to high-speed internet
  • Program looks to teach residents about local food
  • Governor Hickenlooper looks to change TABOR
  • Roadwork continues for Western Slope

Montrose County in western Colorado is an agricultural community. Everything from apples to zucchini is grown there. However, not everyone knows what’s in season, how they can access it or how to prepare it.

The Local Farmacy Rx program is trying to change that. Through it low-income families learn how to eat healthy locally. 

karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

This week on Local Motion, we explore learning English as a second language. First, we'll hear from University of Colorado, Boulder linguist Maria Thomas-Ruzic. She's worked in the ESL field for over 40 years. Thomas-Ruzic explains why English is a basic need for immigrants in the United States and the challenges adult learners face.

  • City of Montrose fronts almost a million dollars for new dispatch center
  • GED program in Norwood starts this month
  • State audit finds gambling funds were mismanaged
  • Refugees from Southeast Asia living in rural Colorado tackle the language barrier
karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

As anyone who's ever taken a foreign language class knows, it’s hard to learn another language. For immigrants to this country, that challenge can affect their whole lives. According to census data, in 2013, there were more than 25 million people in the United States with limited English proficiency.  And, in Colorado's rural Delta County, a group of refugees from Southeast Asia is trying to overcome this barrier. 

The College Board has just released the latest curriculum framework for its Advanced Placement U.S. history course, and it appears to have satisfied many of the old framework's critics.

The rewrite comes after anger over its 2014 framework sent the College Board, which administers the AP exam, back to the drawing board.

Both houses of Congress have now passed versions of the bill that would update the largest federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, for the first time since 2001. They are big, meaty and complicated, and now they have to be reconciled into one messy Dagwood sandwich of a bill to go to the president.

Paonia Elementary
Laura Palmisano

A Waldolf-inspired education program in Paonia is a step closer to reality. 

The proposed North Fork School of Integrated Studies has enough students signed up to move forward. 

Delta County Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay says it will be a school within a school. 

"We are looking at trying to combine that within Paonia Elementary School as a different program or different option for students in the North Fork Valley," said Clay. 

Intent to enroll forms for the K-4 program were due earlier this month. 

Getting a high school diploma is as good for health as quitting smoking.

That's the finding from a study released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Colorado, New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

They found that if every adult high school dropout in the 2010 population had a GED or a regular diploma, 145,243 deaths could be averted.

Millie Hamner

Representative Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, was the vice chair of the Joint Budget Committee this past session and will chair the committee in 2016. KVNF's Laura Palmisano recently interviewed Hamner about the past session, the state budget, educating funding, severance taxes and the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, known as TABOR. 

Htoo Ler Moo, Karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Htoo Ler Moo was 7 years old when his family arrived in a refugee camp in Thailand.

Before going to the camp, his family lived in a tiny village in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where his parents worked in the fields.

In their village, they didn’t have electricity or running water. Htoo Ler Moo says they were safe until the soldiers came.

A measure to eliminate immunity for public schools for school shootings, death, sexual assaults and other series injuries that happen to students on school grounds cleared the House Judiciary Committee Thursday. It passed on a vote of 10-3.

Currently public schools are not liable. Legislative leaders in both parties are sponsoring the change, spurred in part by the 2013 death of Claire Davis. She attended Arapahoe High School in Littleton when a fellow student shot and killed her before turning the gun on himself.

Several efforts in Washington are converging on the sensitive question of how best to safeguard the information software programs are gathering on students.

A proposed Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 is circulating in draft form. It has bipartisan sponsorship from Democratic Rep. Jared S. Polis of Colorado and Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana.

Pregnancy Test

A Colorado bill aimed at preventing teen pregnancy and keeping kids in school will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee Friday morning. 

HB1079 seeks to extend and expand a pilot program known as the teen pregnancy and dropout prevention program. Republican Rep. Don Coram of Montrose co-sponsored the legislation. 

Coram says the pilot program has been running for over a decade in Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties.

solar panels

A bill that seeks to give grants to schools for alternative energy projects will be taken up by a state Senate committee next week. 

A federally funded program that started in 2007 gave grants to public school for wind energy projects. In Colorado 16 schools took advantage of it. 

The money for that program has since dried up, but a bill introduced by Democratic State Senator Kerry Donovan of District 5 seeks to revive it at the local level. 

In the education world, you see this phrase all the time: "free and reduced-price lunch." What's the percentage at a given school? In a given district or state?

It's not necessarily out of concern about who's getting fed. Instead, it's most often used to talk about concentrations of poverty and how that affects learning.

The phrase refers to students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program — an easily available data point for any school and any district.

It's morning meeting time. "When Dr. King was little, he learned a golden rule," sings a class of 4- and 5-year-olds with their teacher, Carolyn Barnhardt.

John Eaton Elementary School, a public school in Washington, D.C., is unusual. It sits in one of the District's wealthiest neighborhoods, but the majority of students hail from different parts of the city, making it one of the most racially and economically diverse elementary schools in the nation's capital.

students, classroom, k-12

The Colorado Department of Education has released its statewide look at school enrollment. 

The state's preschool through 12th grade pupil count shows Colorado gained more than 12,000 students this school year. 

There are 889,006 public school student in the state, according to the data.  

Schools on the Front Range, like in years past, have the most pupils.

On the Western Slope, the Mesa County Valley School District is the largest. It ranks 12th in the state.

The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.

It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won't have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.

Three public meetings to discuss the future of the Delta County School District were held in December.  Hear what community members had to say about budget cuts, standardized testing, academic standards and  charter schools in their district.   Ali Lightfoot spoke to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about these issues as well as a student privacy law and proposed legislation to increase awareness and resources for dyslexic students.

One year after the launch of a major overhaul of the GED exam — the first since 2002 — the high school equivalency program has seen a sharp drop in the number of people who took and passed the test, according to local and state educators and the organization that runs it. In addition, at least 16 states have begun offering or plan to offer new, alternative tests.

Combined, these changes represent a dramatic shift in the equivalency landscape dominated by the GED since its inception during World War II.

Colorado Division of Insurance, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Colorado Division of Insurance

The Delta County School District recently received $75,000 from the state to create a work training program. 

The grant comes from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

"Our hope is with that money we’ll [be able] to set up some tracks so that kids as they come out of high school potentially have their CNA and are able to pursue other types of health care fields," Kurt Clay, the assistant superintendent for the school district, says.  

Clay says the funds will be put towards scholarships for juniors and seniors seeking careers in the medical field. 

Marlon Frausto is in pursuit of the new American dream. Just a few weeks ago, he left his job, in Hispanic marketing for the legal industry, and moved to San Francisco.

Every day he wakes at 5:30 a.m., commutes 45 minutes by train, and studies until 9 or 10 at night. He's spending down his savings and says he's getting help from "my loving family."

Paonia Elementary, Public Meeting, Waldorf School
Laura Palmisano

The Delta County School Board has denied a North Fork Valley group its request for charter school recognition. 

The Valley Charter Initiative is a group of parents and educators trying to open a Waldorf inspired public charter school in Paonia. 

On Wednesday the five-member school board unanimously denied the initiative's request. 

Kurt Clay, the assistant superintendent for the school district, says the board cited seven reasons for rejecting the charter.

Paonia Elementary, Public Meeting, Waldorf School
Laura Palmisano

More than 50 people attended a public meeting at Paonia Elementary on Friday night. 

This story was reported for the radio by Eric Westervelt and for online by Anya Kamenetz.

"We, the Committee of Public Safety, find Jean Valjean guilty. The sentence is death by guillotine!"

Molly McPherson, a redhead with glasses, is dressed in a blue bathrobe — in costume as Robespierre. Her seventh-graders are re-enacting the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, with a little assist from Les Miserables.

Is Digital Learning More Cost-Effective? Maybe Not

Nov 26, 2014

Politicians from Jeb Bush to President Obama like to hype the revolutionary power and cost-effectiveness of digital learning, but a new study suggests, in many cases, it is neither more powerful nor cheaper than old-fashioned teaching.