Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Innovation Out of Denver Public Schools

The DPS board, on a split vote, and the State Board of Education, on a unanimous vote, approved the three Innovation Schools requests for far northeast Denver schools. The three schools include the Denver Center for International Studies at Ford, the Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello and the Noel Community Arts School.

The far northeast area of Denver, which includes the city of Montbello, has historically had the lowest performing schools. But with the new reform effort in DPS and the district's commitment that ALL students should have access to high quality educational options, a few--mostly from the teacher's union--are complaining.

Many of the schools in the far northeast region are Title I, serving students of poverty, and the ethnic minority rate is very high in that region. We won't even mention the drop-out rate.

So the district's plan includes changing things up to make sure student's needs are being met. This may include change in administrative leadership and/or a change in the teaching staff. The focus of all change is on whether or not the change will result in increased student academic achievement. There will be greater accountability to ensure student success.

Still not getting why some people would disagree with this focus on student achievement? It's because the teacher's union doesn't want to give up any territory it's earned through the collective bargaining agreement with DPS. Henry Roman, the union's president, says they'll be suing the district over these three Innovation School plans.

The Innovation Schools Act was adopted in 2008 as a way for district's to operate unique schools by obtaining waiver from district policies, the collective bargaining agreement and state law. Innovation Schools are still under the auspices of the district. DPS already operates several Innovation Schools.

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