Who Is In Charge

Monday Churn: Revenues edge up

Updated 3:15 p.m. – A slowly improving economy has sparked growth in state revenues since the last official forecasts three months ago, according to new projections issued this afternoon.

The Office of State Planning and Budgeting calculated revenues for 2012-13 will be up to $164.5 million higher that previously projected. Legislative economists calculated $132 million in growth.

In a statement, Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “We look forward to working with the Joint Budget Committee to proportionally restore some of the difficult cuts we already proposed in the budget. That means taking care of our state’s neediest seniors, supporting local governments and doing all we can to fund K-12 and higher education to their fullest potential.”

Henry Sobanet, Hickenlooper’s budget director, told reporters after a legislative briefing that there’s really about $149 million that could be used to reduce about $188 million in total proposed cuts to K-12, higher education, grants to local government and some senior programs.

So, Sobanet said, about 80 percent of the proposed cuts could be rolled back, depending on what the legislature decides.

The administration’s existing budget plan calls for about $48 million in K-12 cuts and $30 million in higher education reductions.

The governor is sticking with his proposal to not restore a $100 million senior citizen property tax break. Instead he wants to target relief to low-income seniors.

House Republicans have been pressing to restore the so-called homestead exemption, so the administration and lawmakers will have to reach compromise on that issue before the 2012-13 budget is passed.

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What’s on tap:


From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: Education and the Courts, part of CU-Denver’s Center for Education Policy Analysis series, is an hour-long talk beginning at 11:45 a.m. at 1380 Lawrence St. Joshua Dunn, an associate professor at CU-Colorado Springs and a regular contributor to Education Next, will provide an overview of the relationship between courts and education with a focus on school finance litigation.

The Colorado School Finance Partnership and the Colorado Department of Education are sponsoring a panel discussion on school funding options at 6 p.m. Monday at The University Club, 1673 Sherman St. in Denver. Panelists include national experts, such as Eric Hanushek of Stanford and Marguerite Roza of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and state figures such as Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver.


The Boulder Valley school board has a special meeting at 5 p.m. to review data as part of a goal-setting process. The session is at 6500 Arapahoe in Boulder. Agenda

The Douglas County school board has a 5 p.m. meeting scheduled at 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock, with the public portion beginning at 7 p.m. The agenda includes a discussion of Monday’s state revenue forecast, which may impact cuts at high schools, and a not-yet-filed resolution on open negotiations between the board and the teachers union. Previous story on public contract talks.

The Aurora school board has a meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. at 1085 Peoria St. The agenda includes an update on the 2012-13 budget, results of a staff climate survey and a resolution in support of Senate Bill 12-015, which would create a separate category of tuition for undocumented students. More on Senate Bill 12-015.


The Adams 12-Five Star school board has a 7 p.m. meeting scheduled at 1500 E. 128th Avenue, Thornton. Agenda


Jeffco school board members meet at 8:30 a.m. for a daylong work session to discuss governance principles, student achievement and monitoring of district work. This is the board’s fifth session monitored by facilitator Jim Weigel. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Race and teaching: Today’s Denver Post has an article on the continuing concerns of African-American teachers in Denver Public Schools. EdNews took a closer look at this issue in May and found it’s a concern across the state.

Teachers skeptical: An online survey of 10,000 U.S. teachers has found that only 16 percent believe linking student test performance to teacher pay is “absolutely essential” or “very important” in retaining good teachers. The poll was conducted by education publisher Scholastic and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. USA Today has the story.

Westwood, AG settle: For-profit Westwood College has reached a multi-million settlement with the attorney general’s office over consumer protection allegations involving its student loan program. The Denver Business Journal has details.

Immigration friction: The Roaring Fork school district and police within its boundaries have crafted an agreement that urges “extraordinary discretion” whenever school resource police officers deal with immigrant students and families. The issue has been a touchy one in the district, and one student group isn’t happy with the agreement. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent has the story.

Colorado and corruption: A months-long investigation into transparency in government by the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity finds not a single state earning an A and only 5 states were given B’s. Colorado ranked 33rd among the 50 states, with a D+ letter grade. Read more about the investigation in this news release and find out why Colorado received such a low score.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”

Civil action

Detroit school board to protesters: Please remain civil. Protesters to school board: You’re naive

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
Detroit activist Helen Moore speaks with her supporters from the stage at Mumford High School. Her removal from the auditorium prompted loud objections that led to the meeting's abrupt ending.

A day after the Detroit school board abruptly ended a meeting that was disrupted by protesters, the meeting is being rescheduled, while the board president is making an appeal for civility.

“The board is extremely disappointed that the regularly scheduled meeting tonight was adjourned early due to extreme disruptive behavior from several audience members,” school board president Iris Taylor wrote in a statement issued late Tuesday, several hours after the meeting’s chaotic end.

“It is our hope moving forward that the community will remain civil and respectful of the elected Board and the process to conduct public meetings. We must be allowed to conduct the business the community elected us to do.”

The drama Tuesday night came from a large group of parents and community members, led by activist Helen Moore, who packed the board meeting to raise concerns about a number of issues.

Moore had sent the school board an email requesting an opportunity to address the meeting Tuesday on issues including her strong objection to the news that Taylor and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti had attended a meeting with Mayor Mike Duggan and leaders of city charter schools to discuss the possibility of working together.

The mayor, in his state of the city address last week, discussed the meeting, calling it “almost historic,” and said district and charter school leaders had agreed to collaborate on a student transportation effort, and on a school rating system that would assign letter grades to Detroit district and charter schools.

When Taylor told Moore during the meeting that she would not be allowed to give her presentation Tuesday night, saying she had not gotten Moore’s request in time to put it on Tuesday’s agenda, Moore and her supporters angrily shouted at the board and proceeded to heckle and object to statements during the meeting.

The meeting was ultimately ended during a discussion about the Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, a school whose classes are being relocated to other district buildings for the rest of the year because of urgent roof repairs and the possibility of mold in the building.

As Moore shouted over Vitti’s discussion about the school, Taylor ordered that the 81-year-old activist be escorted from the Mumford High School auditorium where the meeting was being held. That triggered an angry response from her supporters and ultimately brought the meeting to a close.

The current Detroit school board came into existence a little over a year ago when the state returned city schools to Detroiters after years of control by state-appointed emergency managers.

The board’s swearing-in last January was heralded as a fresh start for a new district — now called the Detroit Public Schools Community District — that had been freed from years of debts encumbered by the old Detroit Public Schools.

Since then, meetings have been interrupted by the occasional heckler or protester, but they’ve largely remained orderly, without a lot of the noise and drama that had been typical of school board meetings in the past.

In her statement Tuesday night, Taylor lamented that the new school board wasn’t able to get to most of the items on its agenda.

“Detroiters have fought long and hard to have a locally elected board to govern our schools,” Taylor wrote. “It would be shameful to have our rights revoked again for impediments. It sets a poor example for the students we all represent, and it will not be tolerated by this Board.”

Wednesday morning, Moore said she plans to continue her vocal advocacy, even if it’s disruptive.

“If that’s the only avenue we have to get our point across, when they don’t allow us to speak, then we must take every avenue,” Moore said. “Time is of the essence with our children. And they spend too much time with distractions, listening to the mayor, listening to the corporations, and not listening to people who have children in the public schools.”

Moore, who is active with an organization called Keep the Vote/No Takeover Coalition and with the National Action Network, said she fought for years for Detroiters to again have a locally elected school board. City residents did not have control of their schools for most of the last two decades.

“We worked like crazy,” Moore said, but she asserts that most school board members are “naive.”

“They don’t know the history,” she said. “They need to be educated and that goes for Dr. Vitti too. We need to educate them and that was a first start.”

The board has scheduled a special meeting for 12:30 p.m. Thursday at its Fisher Building headquarters where it can return to its unfinished business from Tuesday.

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
Detroit activist Helen Moore waved to her fellow activisits from the stage at Mumford High School. She returned to the room after her removal from the auditorium prompted loud objections that led to a school board meeting’s abrupt ending on March 13, 2018.