Wednesday Churn: SchoolChoice report

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

A second and final report on Denver Public Schools’ new enrollment process, called SchoolChoice, says the new school selection plan worked for most participating families.

Findings of the second report, available here, are largely positive, as were the findings of a first report released in April. Read the first report here.

Highlights of the second, more comprehensive, report:

  • 83 percent of students received one of their top three choices
  • There was a strong correlation between the quality of the school and the demand for a seat at that school
  • More families were making choices, allowing students to move to higher-performing schools
  • Participation gaps by geography, income and race continued to narrow

The reports were released by A+ Denver and the SchoolChoice Transparency Committee. The evaluation and analysis was completed by Mary Klute, Ph.D., of the Buechner Institute for Governance at the University of Colorado – Denver. You can see a spreadsheet listing available seats and requests for seats by school here.

Tuition and fees at Colorado School of Mines is the sixth most expensive in the nation among all four-year public universities, according to lists updated Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education. The school’s tuition and fees for in-state students in 2010-11 reached $13,425, less than the national high of $15,250 at Penn State but more than the national average of $6,669.

Other lists updated on the College Affordability and Transparency Center include lowest tuition and fees and highest percentage increase in tuition and fees.

“We want to arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release. “Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives. These lists are a major step forward in unraveling the mystery of higher education pricing.”

The lists are required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.

A National Education Association leader is urging Colorado educators to work to reelect President Obama.

Becky Pringle, secretary-treasurer of the NEA, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, asked hundreds of Colorado educators Monday night to work for Obama and stand up for children and public education, according to a press release from the Colorado Education Association.

Pringle was the keynote speaker at the CEA’s largest annual training conference in Breckenridge said the president has stood with educators during his first term. She said the future of public workers and public education is at stake should Obama not prevail in November.

“We will lose the only person standing between us and the passage of national legislation that threatens the survival of the middle class and puts at risk the right of all students to a free and universal public education,” Pringle said.

See what Pringle had to say about Obama’s likely opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, in the full release.

Stand for Children Colorado, an advocacy group, this week is hosting its first Teachers Improving Policy Summit or TIPS, which is asking Colorado teachers to learn from national and state experts and work with four state lawmakers to draft a policy solution to issues facing our public education system.

This year’s focus is on school leadership and teacher preparation programs, according to a news release. The summit begins this week; learn more here.

“As an educator, I can help my students lay a foundation for a successful future,” said Lisa Suomi, Stand educator member and TIPS participant. “But my impact is often limited to just the students who are placed in my classroom. I am eager to broaden that reach and use my experience to develop policies to help all Colorado students.”

Guest speakers include Chris Gibbons,  CEO of West Denver Prep; Lisle Gates, former principal and current Professional Development Associate at The Leadership and Learning Center; Kristin Klopfenstein, Executive Director, Education Innovation Institute at the University of Northern Colorado, and Sandi Jacobs, Vice President, National Center on Teacher Quality. Legislative sponsors include Rep. Millie Hamner from HD 56, Sen. Michael Johnston from SD 33, Rep. Carole Murray from HD 45, and Rep. Kevin Priola from HD 30.

What’s on tap:


The State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education meets starting at 8:30 a.m. at the system offices, 9101 East Lowry Blvd. Agenda

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Up for consideration are several innovation schools applications from the Falcon school district. Agenda

The EdNews’ Churn is a roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education, published during the summer as news warrants. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at

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.”