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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

National School Choice Week prepares for takeoff with in-flight video

Last January, tens of thousands of parents, concerned citizens, and advocates from across the political spectrum joined together for National School Choice Week, a week dedicated to promoting the right of all parents to choose the most effective learning option for their children.

The previous National School Choice Week involved supporters from more than 200 organizations, and resulted in more than 150 events all across the United States. The second annual is expected to be even bigger.

Beginning this month, NSCW supporters are presenting their school choice message to passengers on board select airline carriers as part of the in-flight video programming. Over the next three months, the video will be shown on 29,000 flights, to an audience of more than 3.8 million viewers.

Viewers will be urged to get involved in the next National School Choice Week, which is being held Jan. 22-28, 2012. The video can be seen by clicking here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dIRKS6sJGk Anyone interested in getting involved in the upcoming National School Choice Week can visit SchoolChoiceWeek.com to find an event in their area.

Obama launches ‘Digital Promise’

The Education Department provided start-up funding for the new project, which promotes software and “digital tutors.” The White House announced Friday the launch of “Digital Promise,” a nonprofit initiative meant to bring more technology to classrooms. Read more in The Hill blog.

Vouchers, merit pay spice Dougco forum

Anger on both sides of Douglas County’s controversial school voucher program, its equally controversial performance-pay plan for teachers, and the perceived politicizing of the school board drove debate at a candidates forum Monday night, as six of the eight people seeking a seat on the county school board came together at a Highlands Ranch elementary school to field questions submitted by voters. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

Latin lost in budget translation at Jeffco schools

In Laurie Lawless’ Latin class at Dakota Ridge High School, 18 eager students study the classics: works by Vergil, Ovid, Horace — and, of course, the timeless … Seuss? Read more in the Denver Post.

SAT reading scores fall to lowest level on record

SAT reading scores for the high school class of 2011 were the lowest on record, and combined reading and math scores fell to their lowest point since 1995. Read more in the Denver Post.

Equity Education Conference held in Aurora

The Equity Education Conference will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Vista PEAK Preparatory 9-12, 24500 E. 6th Ave., Aurora.

This year’s topic is Culture, Community and Our Classrooms: Examining the Impact of Equity through Relevance, Rigor and Relationships. Gary R. Howard, who has 35 years of experience working with civil rights, social justice, equity, education and diversity issues, will serve as keynote speaker. Considered groundbreaking, his work regarding privilege, power and the role of white leaders in a multicultural society can be found in his most recent book, We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multicultural Schools.

The conference is open to all teachers, classified staff, parents, students and community members of Aurora Public Schools.

New STEM schools target underrepresented groups

Few Americans may know about the Grand Challenges for Engineering—from making solar energy affordable to ensuring access to clean water—but the students at a new school on the campus of North Carolina State University are getting to know them firsthand. Read more in EdWeek.

Poudre schools 101 event for community members

PSD’s parent District Advisory Board invites parents, community members and staff to a free “PSD 101” conference to learn how the district operates and how to make an impact in the decision-making process. The free conference will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3, at Blevins Middle School, 2101 S. Taft Hill Rd. No pre-registration is required. Spanish interpreters will be available.’

Get Into Water’ project teaches water science in Boulder Valley

Boulder High juniors and seniors are learning the basics of Colorado’s water system with the possibility of getting jobs in the water industry after they graduate or continuing in that field of study in college.

The Boulder High class is part of the “Get Into Water” project through the Boulder Valley School District’s Lifelong Learning Program, in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Section of American Water Works Association and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. Read more in the Daily Camera.

Brighton parents begin push for school district’s mill-levy ballot measure

BRIGHTON — Parents are hoping a November ballot measure will help the financially starved Brighton School District 27J, considered the most poorly funded in the Denver area.

“Something has to give soon or we’ll be up the creek without a paddle,” said Edith Kohler, the parent of a district third-grader. Read more in the Denver Post.

Boulder Valley parents raised $370,000 for tutors, teacher aides

Budget cuts in the last couple of years could have endangered the jobs of some classroom aides at Boulder’s Flatirons Elementary.

But, according to Flatirons Principal Scott Boesel, the school’s parents raised enough money that he could continue to provide critical support to classroom teachers, reducing class sizes and increasing the hours for gifted advisors. Last school year, Flatirons raised $34,000 to pay for staff time. Read more in the Daily Camera.

District 6 Board of Education to hold community conversation

The District 6 Board of Education will hold a community conversation session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, in the auxiliary gym at Franklin Middle School, 818 35th Ave. Parents, students, staff members, and community members are invited to attend and participate in the conversations.

The meeting format will feature small-group conversations at tables set up in the gym, with board members spread among the tables. District staff members will be on hand to answer questions at individual tables as needed.

Attendees will be asked to share their thoughts on a variety of educational issues. In addition, participants will be asked to discuss what programs and services they would add or strengthen in the district, should K-12 funding be improved in the future. Input gathered from table conversations will be factored into the Board’s discussions and decisions throughout the school year. The Board of Education regularly holds several community conversation sessions throughout the school year.

Notes from the table conversations will be compiled after the meeting and posted on the district website, www.greeleyschools.org. Community members who are unable to attend the meeting can provide their comments by e-mail to feedback@greeleyschools.org.

Middle-class schools miss the mark

Middle-class public schools educate the majority of U.S. students but pay lower teacher salaries, have larger class sizes and spend less per pupil than low-income and wealthy schools, according to a report to be issued Monday. Read more in The Wall Street Journal.

Boulder Valley School District seeks input on standards curriculum

Boulder Valley School District is inviting community members to play a role in developing new curriculum to align with the new Colorado Academic Standards adopted by the Colorado State Board of Education in 2010. BVSD must revise its standards as necessary to ensure that district standards meet or exceed the statewide standards.

This curricular revision and alignment with state standards must be completed and approved by the Board of Education by Dec. 15. To meet that deadline and receive as much input as possible, the district is holding public meetings this month. Meetings will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the following dates:

Sept. 20 — Monarch K-8 School, 263 Campus Drive, Louisville Sept. 22 — Southern Hills Middle School, 1500 Knox Drive, Boulder Sept. 29 — Lafayette Elementary School, 101 N. Bermont Ave., Lafayette

Those who would like to review the curriculum documents, but cannot attend one of the above meetings, can request a copy by calling Susan Wojciechowski at 720-561-5139.

In October, district personnel will review public input and amend curriculum revisions before submitting them to the school board for review and discussion. The curriculum revision is slated as a study item at the board’s Nov. 8 meeting and final action is slated for its Dec. 13 meeting.

34 percent new principals in DPS schools

Denver Public Schools opened its doors last month to more new principals than it has in at least six years.

Principals at 46 of the district’s 134 non-charter schools – or 34 percent –  are new this year to their position, their school or both, according to district information.

Suzanne Morey, new principal at McGlone Elementary, works with a student. Photo courtesy of McGlone.

Sixteen of the new principals are moving into the position from that of assistant principal. If the 11 principals who simply moved laterally – jumping from the leadership of one Denver school to another – are not counted in the total, DPS still has 35 new principals. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

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