04 September 2008

To Do

This year, for the first time, Colorado has released an analysis of CSAP scores on a value added basis, rather than simply on the basis of absolute achievement, in which socio-economic factors dwarf school quality. I've skimmed them and found some interesting tidbits, but have not yet had time to take a really thorough look at the entire data set. When I get time, I hope to do so. These numbers have the potential to be game changing in terms of which schools we see as successful and which are less successful, something only possible on a crude basis at the extremes of very high performing schools with poor kids, and very low performing schools with affluent kids, before now.

In my initial skim, I was surprised to see just how well both Steele and Merrill in Denver did on a value added basis (these are my neighborhood elementary and middle schools. Steele, which was also recently praise vis-a-vis nearby Asbury Elementary School in 5280 magazine this month for high parental involvement in the PTA, is known for its relatively unstructured, multiage classroom British Primary program and beautiful campus. I was similarly surprised that Knight Fundamental Academy, a back to basics charter school that is among the most popular choices in DPS for African-American students not attending their home school, despite being located in Belcaro, a predominantly white Southeast Denver neighborhood, does so poorly on measure of minority and low income student progress compared to other DPS schools.

Also on the to do list is a rundown on this year's November ballot. We have, in Colorado, four statewide referrenda, fourteen statewide citizen initiatives, a Denver Public schools bond issue, probably about two City of Denver ballot issues, many judicial retention elections, state legislative and district attorney races, RTD elections, elections for federal office, and probably a variety of local ballot issues and local races around the state of interest. It is going to be a long ballot. I've also been updating the Wikipedia entry on state ballot issues in Colorado, but that could use more work.

I also plan to look at the election process itself. Early indications are that it could take many days, maybe even a week or two, for Denver to finish counting its ballots this year, even with a fairly high percentage of turnout coming from early voting and mail in ballots. The first votes will be cast in six or seven weeks, and the list of state ballot issues has just been finalized.

I'd also take a look at how the citizen's initiative on car impoundment in Denver passed this summer is being implemented or challenged. I'm particularly peeved by the fact that ballot initiatives are even allowed on the ballot during partisan primaries, that city initiatives are explained via blue book as state initiatives are when they are TABOR issues, and that there is no mechanism in place to require city ballot initiatives to have non-deceptive titles or adhere meaningfully to a single subject.

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