Saturday, February 11, 2012

Education in Two Places

I'm on a flight from Phoenix to Denver, capitals of the two places referred to in the name of this blog. The contrast is amazing; surface slowly or suffer the bends.

The start-up of a legislative session is always revealing. Bills are drafted at the extreme of political positions, more to signal ideological purity to constituents than to stand any hope of passage. Even if a bill survives the political process to become law, it is likely to be considerably altered through a gauntlet of compromises. And so what legislators toss into the hopper at this stage is very revealing of the sentiment of an electorate.

So what are Arizona legislators up to and what is going on in Colorado?

The Arizona legislature is considering bills that a) would increase funding for a "virtual school" student to 100% of the normal per pupil expenditure, b) would fire teachers who use FCC-prohibited language in the classroom, and c) would bust teachers union a la Scott Walker's controversial Wisconsin edict.

Meanwhile, Colorado legislators are debating a) free tuition for children of undocumented parents, b) an "opt-out" provision from the CSAP, the state achievement assessment, and c) an appeal procedure for teachers who have been unfairly treated by the teacher evaluation system.

How things could be so different in two places so similar in geography, economy, and demographics, is a subject for a later day.

Gene V Glass
University of Colorado Boulder
Arizona State University

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