Monday Churn: “W” to visit Denver

Updated – Former President George W. Bush will pay a brief visit to Denver Thursday to meet with a “very select” group of about 25 community leaders and school reform advocates.

Bush will meet with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, fellows in the Get Smart Schools leadership program, education funders and others during an hour-long meeting Thursday morning. The meeting will begin at about 8 a.m. at the Get Smart Schools offices, 2543 California St. After the meeting, Bush will make a statement to the press but will take no questions.

Fellows in the Get Smart Schools leadership program receive a year’s training to prepare them to run charter or innovation schools. Bush was scheduled to meet with the group last February, but canceled.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

A committee of legislators, educators and law enforcement professionals that’s been studying school discipline holds its last meeting this week to consider proposed legislation to overhaul state law on the issue.

The proposed bill (read text) would redefine the grounds for expulsion, meaning “The only circumstances under which expulsion remains mandatory are those that involve a student who is determined to have brought a firearm to school or possessed a firearm at
School,” in the words of the draft.

The draft also provides definitions for suspension, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension and expulsion, would set requirements for school boards to meet when they establish discipline codes and require training programs for police officers who work as school resource officers.

Whatever the committee decides, of course, will have to be considered by the full 2012 legislature before any changes become law.

See the committee website for a list of members, summaries of previous meetings that links to documents and presentations the panel used during its deliberations.

What’s on tap:


A statewide listening tour designed to gather information for the Hickenlooper administration’s third-grade literacy initiative starts with visits in Steamboat Springs and Craig and continues through the week. Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia is leading the effort. Details on lieutenant governor’s website

It’s a deadline day for campaign committees supporting and opposing Proposition 103 to file contribution and spending reports.

Denver Public Schools board members have a study session on achievement from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. The agenda includes a staffing update and plans for adopting new state academic standards.


The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline meeting starts at 9 a.m. in room 0112 of the Capitol.

Candidates in all three DPS board races are expected to participate in a forum staring at 6 p.m. in Davis Auditorium, 2000 E. Asbury Ave. on the University of Denver campus.

The Aurora school board meets at 6 p.m. at the Educational Services Center – 4, 1085 Peoria St.

Jefferson County school board candidates have a forum from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Evergreen Fire/Rescue Auditorium, 1802 Bergen Parkway in Evergreen.


The superintendent forum on the State of Our Districts, sponsored by the Public Education & Business Coalition, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the University of Colorado Denver, will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Seawall Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Contact Natalie Newton at PEBC for more information.

The St. Vrain board has a 6 p.m. study session 
at Niwot High School, 8989 E. Niwot Rd.

The Adams 12-Five Star board meets at 7 p.m. in the Aspen Room of the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. Agenda


Jefferson County school board members hold a 5 p.m. special meeting to vote on a charter school application from Global Outreach Charter Academy, followed by a study session on training for new board members. It’s at 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. Agenda

Denver Public Schools board members have a 5 p.m. meeting at 900 Grant St., followed by a public comment session. The agenda includes a vote on a new policy for board member spending, after recent revelations that some board members were over their $5,000 spending allowances.


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.”