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School Choice Thursday

Good morning everyone!

Thank you for everyone’s patience yesterday on the site hiccups.  Apparently a plugin update caused the problem which meant that I had to remove all the plugins and add them back one by one hoping they didn’t completely lock of the site.  It was a slow process as I didn’t actually need all the plugins that were originally running so I had to figure out which one caused the problem and which ones I really needed.  Let’s pray that everything continues to run smoothly!

Since “choice” seems to be such a popular topic at the DNC convention I thought I would dedicate today to one of my favorite issues of choice that the dems always seem to ignore, school choice.  Funny how they want choice on everything else but not that. So today I declare that I am Pro-choice…  Pro-School choice that is.

School choice is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart. You may see me tweet about the happenings in my district every so often. My school district has been in the news a lot this past year and for the better.  In my opinion, my district is a great model for the nation and much can be learned from it.  So let me give you guys a glimpse into what goes on in my neck of the woods.

My school district is a county district.  It comprises an entire county outside of Denver.  The property tax rate is exactly the same for everyone in our county. We don’t have different tax rates for different neighborhoods or cities within our county. Education dollars follow the child.  So the county determines how much per child they will allocate to spend on education.  Currently that amount is $$6,218.82 per student for the 2012-2013 school year.  That does NOT go to the schools.  That money follows the child. The school board believes rightly that this money comes from and belongs to the families and is not the districts to simply use as they please.

Our district offers Open enrollment.  That means that your child can enroll and attend any school in the district they want as long as that school has room.  There are two open enrollment periods a year (usually January-February and July-August).   Once you enroll in a school that school becomes your home school until you have completed the final grade level it offers.  That allows families to move around as they choose and not have to change schools if they prefer not to.  We are assigned a neighborhood school and that school is required to take us but technically we can go anywhere.

Our district also offers a K-12 Online Cyber School and they provide laptops and a complete strong interactive curriculum.  They offer several Home School Enrichment Programs that work with home schoolers giving them the opportunity to participate 1 or 2 days a week in a school setting taking classes such as science with lab, foreign language, PE, Art, and writing.  Our district offers over 20 Charter schools and Magnet schools, regular neighborhood schools and we offer a voucher scholarship program for parents to use 75% of their district dollars at a private school that has partnered with the district to take the vouchers.  Now the ACLU has gotten a court order to freeze the voucher program for now but the school board is committed 150% to fighting that all the way to SCOTUS if they have to and SCOTUS has a great record on ruling in favor of such programs.  Within our schools we offer STEM programs, International Baccalaureate programs, Montessori programs, Core Knowledge programs, Expeditionary Renaissance programs and strong gifted and talented programs.

The district also provides early intervention services and special education services for the kids at no cost to families.  When my son was 18 months old he was tested and and determined to need speech and occupational therapy services.  The district sent a team of therapists to our home every two weeks from the time he was 18 months until he was 3 when he started preschool on an IEP plan (special services).  The district provides a full preschool program for families here at a cost but it isn’t expensive and there are many different types of programs to choose from.  The speech and OT teams are amazing here.  I can say that from experience.

They worked with my son to great success.  He is no longer on services thru the schools.  We moved him to a private Christian preschool for his final preschool year simply because of location and the Christian aspect of the education.  He does receive Occupational therapy for his feeding issues but he goes to Children’s Hospital once a week for that under our health insurance.

So with all these choices for parents our school district offers a top education with top test scores for our state.  They are great at catching any problems early and working with families to find the best options for them.

Some of you are asking how our district can provide all this choice and intervention and not be running in the red.  Well, our district is fiscally conservative.  In fact, our school board is STAUNCHLY politically conservative.  We had a few liberals on there for a few short years and they got the boot a few years ago.  This board has a steel spine and I just love them for it.  Their motto is that the parents know what is best when it comes to the education of their child so they strive to offer as many options as possible.

Just this year our school board kicked the union out of our district.  Say WHAT???? Yes, I said that correctly.  We are a 100% union free district.  NONE of our teachers have tenure.  If they suck, they say bye-bye…  The collective bargaining agreement expired this year and the school board chose not to renew it.  They had already re-contracted for the next school year with most of the teachers. Just last night the school board voted to forbid the district from collecting union dues from paychecks.  Say WHAT????  Yes, they voted that it was a misuse of tax money to use public employees to collect and distribute to the unions the dues.  So basically the unions are pointless in my district now.  Yes, a teacher can join one but the union can not bargain or represent them with the district.  Yes, the unions can collect dues but now they must bill the teachers directly instead of having the dues taken from the paycheck.

So what did the school board do with the extra money they had from no longer paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the union bosses salaries?  They took that money and gave all the teachers a bonus.  Oh yeah… the unions were pissed…

So if anyone is looking for a place to raise kids with good schools, I suggest my neck of the woods.

So, my daughter goes to one of our charter schools here.  I won’t name it because I don’t need the liberals running out and trying to cause us problems but let’s just say that the school colors are red, white and blue.  The name of the school is after a founding father.  They kids wear uniforms. The Junior high is a STEM school.  The elementary is a Core Knowledge school.  They celebrate Constitution Day.  They celebrate Veterans Day.  They read the Federalist Papers every year in grades 4 thru 6 and again in 8th.  They teach our Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.  They also say the Pledge of allegiance to our US flag every day. Charter schools are started by a group of parents and they are run by parents and a board of directors along with the district. I am a huge supporter of charter schools.  The particular group of parents that started this school just all happen to be conservative Tea Partiers.  While the school can not take a political position, it is always a refection of those who founded it and sit on the board.  They choose the curriculum and set the tone.  We, as parents, get more control because we raise the money for the building and improvements.  We are currently raising money to expand to a high school but that will take BIG money so it is a very long way off unless we can find some big groups to make some big donations.

For the record, the teachers love to teach in our district.  They get paid more and they enjoy what they do.

Yay for school choice!!!!  School issues are something everyone can get involved in whether you have kids or not.  You will have a local school board.  Get involved and help your community.



News roundup:

Looking good

Yeah… go Ben and make sure you don’t end up on a kill list

I can see Jan Brewer’s big smile in my head…

Oh honey…there is long underwear and then there is polartec… Sweetie, you are the old, ratty long johns… You ain’t the Palin Polartec…   and we all know it…. (somehow I have a feeling that Janne has an opinion or two on this Heidi lady)…

So they booed God but they later cheered a woman who has sex so much that she claimed to be going broke from it and wanted us to pay for her contraception…    mkay…

Oh yes, they did…

Why has this man made some sense lately?…

Oooohhh juicy

Just the facts

Yay!  Denver Rockies!!  I’m so proud!

Well you knew this was coming…

She is so liar, liar pants on fire…

What??  Kira is so nice…


Happy Thursday everyone and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODD PALIN!!!!!



  • Mark1955

    I see Bob Woodward is making it up again. What fiscal “Battle” with the repubs? Boehner and McConnell have given Obama everything.

    • OldPat

      Topsy meet Turvy.  Perception meet Truth.  Illusion, say hello to Reality.  Could that ‘Battle’ just be a discussion about how to divvy up the loot?

      Hey, Reality, go hide out with Truth for a couple of months.  Perception, I expect you and Illusion to keep those ‘stupid ones’ from getting any more inklings of Truth and Reality’s location – until Nov. 7 anyway.  After that, it won’t matter.  And take Delusion with you for backup.

      Purpose, I want you and Determination to meet Cold Hard Fact.  Guys, we’ve gotta do what we did in WWII to win this thing.  WE the PEOPLE have to join forces with one of our enemies – the GOPe – to defeat a greater enemy – BO and his Socialist and Marxist buds. 

      But remember one thing.  The fact that the GOPe is fighting by our side doesn’t make them our friends;  it just means they’re next after WE take care of BO.

      Friends, pollster Pat Caddell was right in 2010 when he told the PPC;  ‘The American people are coming to Washington, and they’re coming for you.’

      Tampa Bay was but a brief pit stop on that journey.  And we’re taking ole Mitt the rest of the way with us so that we’ll have all these clowns in one place when WE get there.  

  • Guest

    What a breath of fresh air your school district is. Now that is a wonderful example of “REAL” progress.

    Thanks for sharing it gives me hope for true change instead of progressive double speak!

  • c4pfan

    Jean had posted on her twitter a link to palinpromotions that yesterday was Todd’s 48th Birthday!

    • Firelight

      I saw that late last night.  I need to take my kids to school and then I will ad a few links.

  • Lipstick

    Sounds like your district would fit in around my area too, except we are a small town so we don’t have schools to pick from. You can do the home school where they provide you a laptop and materials and have online classes, it is all paid for so it is actually public school at home.

    I like the money following the student. That encourages schools to “compete” for students by offering what parents want, just like any business.

    Speaking of school, I have to call the boy’s today and see if I can get him into a different class for his off period. They have a period where they read and do homework and it is also the time you can go to club meetings, extra band practices, tutorials or whatever you may need to do. He loves to read and his class is loud so I am seeing about him being put in a more quiet class!

    • Firelight

      Yes, Lip because the money follows the child it encourages competition and makes the schools compete for kids so even our worst schools are better than most of the good schools in Denver.

  • BostonBruin

    Good morning! Thanks again, Firelight, for fixing the tech problem with the home page. I really appreciate your dedication.

    Just a heads up. The book by Chuck Sr. & Chuck Jr. entitled “Our Sarah: Made in Alaska” will hit the bookshelves on September 25. It can be pre-ordered at the usual places.

    Today is primary day in Massachusetts. Neither Liz Warren nor Scott Brown are facing primary challengers. Regardless, it’s a nice day for a walk to get some practice for November 6.

    • susiepuma

      Good morning – my computer is acting strange this am – my words would not appear in the comment box until I hit enter and then I had to edit to be able to see what I was typing – wierd…………………………

      I have the book pre-ordered for my nook but I want a hardcover copy too so I entered contest but if I don’t win, I will buy one…………… e books are okay but I still love to roam bookstores and to hold an actual book in my hands……………………….

      Happy Birthday to the First Dude……………..

      • BostonBruin

        Once in a while, I’ll enter a comment and it’s not visible. That must be a Disqus glitch.

    • hrh40

      Fascinating date for a primary.

      In September?

      On a Thursday?

      I don’t think I’ve ever voted on a Thursday …

      Vive la difference!

  • Whitney Pitcher

    Good morning!

    That sounds like a great school district. Competition is good and  makes everyone better. Bravo!

    Speaking of choice, Reason TV ( Reason is a libertarian site) went to the DNC and asked pro choice Democrats on choice in other areas (schools, light bulbs, soda etc). The response is just about what you’d expect:

  • Gelston

    deleted by Gelston

  • hrh40

    Excellent description of your county’s school system! A model for the nation.

  • LS as guest

    Fascinating description of your innovative school district, Firelight.

    Reading the Federalist Papers in 4th grade!?!  That’s great.

    Thomas Sowell had a son with delayed language–I don’t think the kid spoke regularly until he was five–and he wrote a book, I believe, on the subject.  So I can understand a little caution on tests and therapists for everything at 18 months.  But it sounds like it really worked out for your son.

    I have a hard time understanding that freedom of choice in selecting schools in some expanded districts.  Thinking of the Greater Boston area, county-by-county wouldn’t make as much difference, but if every parent in Boston could choose to send his or her kid out to, say, the Wellesley public schools, Wellesley would have a huge problem of either monster-sized, inner-city-populated schools or their own kids not finding a spot.  Something of an Alinsky-type, overwhelm the system, approach for destroying suburban ‘privilege’. I know that is the part of school ‘choice’ that some liberals are excited about.  But it sounds like it works in your community, which is great.

    • Firelight

      The open enrollment only works because first they take the kids from the neighborhood and then they allow for open enrollment and only take enough kids to fill the spots left.

      Everything is done by lottery here so you put your name on a list and they draw for spots if there are more names than spots.

      It you don’t get into a Charter, Magnet or school of choice then your neighborhood school is required to take you.

      I’ve heard Thomas Sowell talk about his son. I had completely forgotten about that.  The type of therapy they gave my son at 18 months is very different than what they gave him at 3.  At 18 months it was more play therapy and while it looked pointless to me at times, it was really very effective and helped him a lot in understanding how expressive vs receptive language works. It also helped us as parents and the therapists have a baseline of experiences to determine if my son just had speech and sensory issues or if he was autistic.  Thankfully, he is not autistic but early intervention would have helped him if he was and it did help him with what he needed.  My son didn’t really start talking more than a few words  until he was 3 and didn’t use sentences until he was 3 1/2 to 4.  He will be 5 in November and he has completely blossomed and caught up to where he needs to be and I credit his speech and OT therapists working with him and working with us to help him.

      • Lipstick

         The large district near me kind of has that too. You can transfer by putting your name in a pot to draw from to fill available spots, but if you live in the school boundary line you automatically get in.

        Back in the 80’s it was terrible when the Texas courts ordered that district to desegregate. There were ping pong balls put in a hopper and your name was drawn to see where you would be bussed to school in a huge district. There were young children being bussed for up to 1 1/2 hours one way to a school based on their little ping pong ball.

        They do not do that any longer mainly because the Black community pushed that they wanted their kids to go to school near by where they lived. The “white” high school there does not have any more transfer requests than the “black” high school and the “diverse” high school, it is about even.

        • Firelight

          Oh wow!!!  No, nobody has to do that.  This is choice only.  They can always go to the school that is slated for their neighborhood. 

        • LS as guest

          Yeah, Boston had massive ‘white flight’ when they implemented forced busing in the ’70s.  But they’ve also had a Metco program that has bused a few kids out to the affluent suburbs for years.

          There’s something about government lottery programs that always rubs me the wrong way, but maybe this one makes sense.

          • Firelight

            I’m not fond of govt lottery systems either.  Our district is different in that they are run by the schools themselves and because out district as a whole is so strong, the wait lists and lotteries are not that deep. 

            Our system is nothing like the movie Waiting for Superman.  That is a heartbreaking movie.  We don’t really have a “bad” school because open enrollment and all the school choices spur such competition.  Since the money follows the child, the schools are competing for the kids.  They have to be good.  Parents that look to charter schools or another option are simply looking for something a little different for their kids.

      • LS as guest

        Thanks, Firelight.  Interesting explanations and good to hear that your kiddo is doing so well.

  • c4pfan

    I thought Mitt now could spend all the money he got for the campaign?  If so, why is he dropping ads from states?

    • Firelight

      Hmmm, good question.  I don’t know.

  • cookboy

    My favorite Firelight post ever.

  • Riley4Palin

    Excellent post Fire!  Very interesting and educational for me.  Thanks for sharing your personal stories.

    Speaking of schools, I wonder how often Obama will reflect on his girls getting such a well-rounded and excellent education in the public school system he so often promotes and supports in his big speech tonight………….oh wait.

  • Firelight

    Gov. Palin will be on with Cavuto tonight.  I’ll post the video when we get it.  This should be fun!

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