Education

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
milliehamner.com

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

Across the United States, millions of high schools seniors have just graduated. With diplomas in hand, they are getting ready for what’s next. 

In the rural community of Delta in western Colorado, three Karen refugees recently graduated from the local high school. Their families had to leave behind their homeland in Myanmar, once known as Burma, where the Karen people face violence and persecution.

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
flickr/isnow

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
flickr/theentiremikey

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
flickr.com/bionicteaching

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.

kids, art, field trip, Blue Sage
Laura Palmisano

Teaching art to kids in a rural setting can be a challenge. Most small towns don't have art museums like big cities. And, it’s not easy to pile them on a bus and drive to Denver for a cultural experience. However, there’s a center on the Western Slope trying to make it easier for students to access art. 

"We are going to look at some of these paintings and we are going to start developing characters, but we are going to do it by talking about what we see," Sharon Bailey says. "Let’s look at this painting here. Raise your hand and tell me what you see.” 

Part 1 in a four-part series on reading in the Common Core era.

The Common Core State Standards are changing what many kids read in school. They're standards, sure — not curriculum. Teachers and districts still have great latitude when it comes to the "how" of reading instruction, but...

The Core standards explicitly require students to read "complex" material, and the fact is, many kids simply weren't doing that before the Core. What were they doing?

Higher education, preschool funding, the Common Core and the future of No Child Left Behind are just a few of the education policies that will be in play under the new Republican-controlled Congress. How will these things change? We called Sen. Lamar Alexander to ask.

Towns across the Western Slope had a myriad of different ballot measures, and a few had some asking to issue bonds. 

The Montrose School District is sending a message to the state about mandatory testing, but it looks like it will be a largely symbolic move. 

The school board passed a resolution requesting a five year waiver from state mandatory testing.  The two tests they're concerned about are the CMAST (Colorado Measure of Academic Standards) and the PARK.

Scores from Colorado’s new social studies and science tests for K-12 students show mixed results.

The exams have five rankings.

For science, 34 percent of Colorado’s fifth graders and 32 percent of eighth graders scored in the highest range.

However, statewide 32 percent of fourth graders and 45 percent of seventh graders scored in the lowest range on the social studies test.

The exams were taken by students last school year.

For years,Washington Monthly has been rating and ranking the nation's colleges.

But for its 2014 edition, the magazine has done something new. It has put out a list of what it says are the nation's worst colleges. That is, schools with high tuition, low graduation rates and high student debt rates.

Copyright 2014 KUNC-FM. To see more, visit http://kunc.org.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On Sunday, October 5th, Aspen High School hosted just under three thousand students and parents from Lake City, Durango, and other far flung Colorado towns. They quizzed University representatives and took workshops as part of the Colorado Western Slope College Fair. It’s been around for years, but this time, the focus was on helping students with the details, like essay writing and affordability.

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