For parents who are interested in learning more about K-12 scholarship tax credits in Colorado, the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center has a new resource for you called, Colorado Kids Win. Along with information, outside resources, and videos (see below), you can keep in touch with the Education Center by signing up with their newsletter here.
Archive for the 'education' Category
Friday night means public affairs tv with the Independence Institute, so set your TiVO to wonk. First at 8:00, catch research director David Kopel on Colorado Inside Out. Then stay tuned for Devil’s Advocate at 8:30 as guest host Ben DeGrow is joined by Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at American Enterprise Institute and Douglas County School District Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen to discuss the importance of strong leadership in bringing about effective education reform. The excitement starts tonight at 8:00 on Colorado Public Television 12. You can find your local CPT12 channel by zip code here.
Children win in Douglas County!
What makes the Independence Institute so very different is that we play the long game. The left has been playing this game for decades and they are collecting their winnings now, while the right seems to be in a perpetual, panicked two-minute, hurry-up offensive.
I often say that Einstein was wrong. Compound interest is not the most powerful force in the universe. Political incrementalism is. Political victory doesn’t come like a winning lotto ticket. It comes after thousands of nearly imperceptible and seemingly disconnected steps.
The team here that makes up our Educational Policy Center are black-belts in this. Pam Benigno, Ben and Marya DeGrow, and Raaki Garcia-Ulam are a quiet, consistent, steady force that finds the tiniest opportunities to advance educational reform. Then over time big things happen. Since our founding, the Independence Institute has been working on education issues and we have seen Charter Schools, the School Report Card System, Open Enrollment, and Online Education come alive to name a few.
Another big thing has just become real.
Along with a number of local community members and school leaders, Pam and Ben served on the Douglas County School Choice Task Force that helped craft a number of district policies. One of the most exciting was made real in March of 2011 when the school board unanimously approved a daring choice program. It provided 500 students with public scholarships to attend a partner private school. This would help students who were underserved by the traditional schools. It was a first in the nation.
Well of course the teachers unions front group sued and was granted a permanent injunction on this program. Today the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned that order. For more information see our media release here.
Like so many other advances to help children in Colorado, I am so proud of Pam and Ben’s part in this victory for Colorado kids.
As we say here often: Freedom is a team sport.
Real gun-free zones (enforced by metal detectors backed up by armed security guards) are fine for certain buildings. Pretend gun-free zones (bans on gun carrying by licensed people, but no procedures to keep out criminal gun carriers, and exacerbated by the absence of armed security) are magnets for mass killers. There is a reason why mass killers frequently attack schools, movie theaters, or shopping malls which are pretend gun-free zones.
My article Pretend “Gun-free” School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction, 42 Connecticut Law Review 515 (2009), examines the policy arguments. The article details some (but far from all) of the instances in which a lawfully-armed person at the scene has thwarted attempted mass murders. The reason that everyone knows about Sandy Hook Elementary, and few people know about Pearl High School is that the latter had a Vice-Principal with a gun.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s call for armed guards in schools is a good idea. Especially in light of the copycat effect which results from heavy media coverage of notorious crimes, the policy ought to be implemented right away.
Opponents of LaPierre’s proposal say, wrongly, that armed security at Columbine did no good. At Columbine High School, the attack coincided with the “school resource officer” (a sheriff’s deputy) being off-campus. The officer returned during the start of the attacks, and fired some long-distance shots at the killers, who were on the school porch. Those shots drove the killers into the school building, and saved the lives of several students who had been wounded. Atrociously, the officer failed to pursue the killers into the building. Dozens of additional officers arrived within minutes, but none of them entered the building either, even though an open 911 line indicated that killings were taking place in the library, while police stood outside, near the library door, just a few feet away. At least 11 of the 13 Columbine deaths could have been prevented if the police had acted promptly. Fortunately, since Columbine, police tactics have changed drastically, to emphasize that whoever is at the scene should immediately and aggressively counter-attack an active shooter. Unlike gangsters or ordinary street thugs, mass killers tend to be weaklings and cowards who crumble quickly at armed resistance.
The limitation of LaPierre’s proposal is that a single guard cannot cover a large building simultaneously, and on a large campus, such as Virginia Tech, campus police may be spread too thin to provide prompt protection.
So LaPierre’s idea ought to be supplemented by the Utah model: if a teacher has (after a fingerprint-based background check, and a safety training class) been issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun throughout the state, there should not be a special exception which prevents the teacher from carrying at her place of employment.
People raise all sorts of speculative objections to this policy. But the Utah experience refutes the speculation. The policy has been in effect for years in Utah, and there have never been any problems caused by armed teachers. Not a single one.
At Utah public colleges and universities, the same law has applied for years, so that school employees, and students who are least 21 years old, can carry lawfully. That has been the rule at Colorado State University since 2003, at almost all other Colorado public institutions of higher education since 2010, at the final hold-out (the University of Colorado) since early 2012, when CU lost 7-0 in the Colorado Supreme Court. Opponents have raised all sorts of hysterical scenarios (e.g., 18-year-olds bringing Kalashnikov rifles to a kegger; students pulling a gun during a heated debate in a literature class), but of course none of these scenarios have come to pass.
The various gun control proposals of President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Feinstein, and Rep. McCarthy might or might not be a good ideas in themselves, but even under a best-case scenario, they are not going to instantly and drastically reduce the death toll from mass shootings. Pervasive armed resistance–the abolition of pretend gun-free zones–would have that effect.
To recognize and then eliminate the deadly peril of pretend gun-free zones does not preclude a person from also supporting new gun controls, or improvements in mental health care, or less glamorization of criminal violence by Hollywood, or whatever else the person thinks could be helpful in in the long run. In the short run, stopping the next Sandy Hook means ending the deadly policy which gave the killer 20 minutes (until people with guns, the police, finally arrived) to fire 150 shots and repeatedly change magazines, murdering at leisure.
The education funding mafia is making a sport of touting false education spending numbers in order to scare voters into voting for higher taxes. They continue to spread the lie that Colorado ranks near the bottom in per pupil funding, and often cite the statistic “$6,500 per pupil.” Meanwhile, if they cared to look at the official numbers from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), they’d find that the $6,500 figure does not include federal funds and other monies, which account for about a third of total per pupil spending. In other words, the actual per pupil spending is much closer to $10,000 – not $6,500. These dishonest propagandists either know the truth about Colorado’s education spending and are lying to get their beloved tax hike, or they haven’t bothered to look at what the spending situation is – according to official statistics from the CDE.
Below you can find Education Policy analyst Ben DeGrow explaining the truth about Colorado’s education spending on 9News. Please share with the education spending mafia near you. We need to get the truth out.
You’re Invited to Special Brown Bag Lunch on October 25!
Progressive ideology has fueled the massive growth of the federal government, while progressives argue heavily for the fairness of equal outcomes. Do the two hold a deeper connection than first meets the eye? Why do those who argue most loudly for “equality” always seem to think that bigger government is the answer?
The ideas of 19th century French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville–most famous for his insightful Democracy in America–provide some interesting answers to these questions. How did Tocqueville see this problem, and what might it mean for liberty? Please join us at the Independence Institute Freedom Embassy (727 E 16th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203) on Thursday, October 25, to hear from our special guest speaker, Steven Pittz, Ph.D. candidate in Political Theory at the University of Texas at Austin.
Doors open at 11:30 AM, with the presentation running promptly from noon to 1 PM. The event will be a Brown Bag Lunch, so you are welcome to bring your own food along with some thoughtful questions for our guest speaker. You may RSVP for this free event by sending an email to RSVP@i2i.org.
Limited free parking is available adjacent to the building and in the lot west of the building across the alleyway. Additional street parking and paid lots are available nearby. The meeting room is on the lower level of the building, with no access by elevator. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
It’s Monday. Booooooo. No one likes Mondays. But allow me to help you cope with today.
If you happen to be male and reading this, then I’m certain you did not attend our women-only renewable energy debate we had this past Wednesday. I snuck in to watch for a few minutes here and there and let me tell you, it was fantastic. (It was even better than I thought after I listened to the full debate audio). We had an all-star panel for the debate, highlighted by none other than Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center and Reason Magazine. If you were unable to attend the debate either because of your gender or your day job, check out the full debate audio here.
Secondly, I’d like to point you towards a couple of articles from I.I. authors that deserve a look. First, Ben DeGrow of the Education Policy Center saw a sneak preview of Hollywood’s take on the school choice/reform movement called “Won’t Back Down.” Ben admits in his review for Ed New Colorado that even though Won’t Back Down is no Citizen Kane, it still gets across a vital message: School reform will not wait!
Finally, frequent I.I. guest author Ari Armstrong published an op-ed in yesterday’s Denver Post arguing against Amendment 65, which appears on this November’s ballot and would demand that Colorado legislators get on board with more onerous and restrictive campaign finance reform. In other words, to be FOR Amendment 65, one must be against free speech. Ari is fervently pro-First Amendment rights however, and thus, makes a good case against Amendment 65. You might recall that our Research Director Dave Kopel is also a big fan of free speech rights and recently appeared on KNUS to debate Ken Gordon on the issue. You can hear that debate audio here.
Our Education Policy Center is looking for citizen journalists to report on the absurdity coming from our Colorado schools. If you are a high school or college student in Colorado and would like to report on what crazy things you see in the classroom, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story. The top 6 students with the best stories will receive $500 scholarships!
Deadline for submissions: October 28th.
School districts seeking tax increases face the challenge of persuading voters whose incomes have taken a harder hit in recent years. Senior education policy analyst Ben DeGrow’s colorful, two-page issue backgrounder “Colorado K-12 Tax Hikes Challenged” shows four of the five largest school districts with mill levy and/or bond issues on the ballot increased per-student tax revenues from 2005-06 to 2010-11. All five agencies have fared significantly better than household incomes in the counties they cover.
Over the five most recent years measured, the median Denver household’s earnings dropped 4.4% while per-student tax revenues in DPS grew 2.6%. School budgets grew in Aurora (3.5%) and Cherry Creek (1.4%), while incomes for Arapahoe and Adams County residents fell 5.4% and 6.5%, respectively. Per-student tax revenues range from about $8,500 to $11,000 in the five districts.
Which raises the question: Should we keep shoveling money to school teachers, the unions, administration, etc at the expense of Colorado families?
Our Education Policy Center director Pam Benigno guest hosted my TV show Devils Advocate last week. Her show with the teacher who couldn’t read was fascinating! Check it out below.