Education

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Gazette Exposes Student Spying Program at Air Force Academy

Former Air Force Cadet Eric Thomas walks through the cadet dorms Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the day before the Class of 2013 graduates at the Air Force Academy. Thomas, who was a confidential informant and critical to several convictions, was kicked out of the academy in March, less than months short of graduating.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

The Gazette of Colorado Springs published a remarkable investigative report Sunday that detailed how a secretive law enforcement branch of the U.S. Air Force - the Office of Special Investigations, or OSI - recruited  cadets at the Air Force Academy to inform on misconduct among fellow cadets. The story, by Gazette reporter Dave Philipps, reads like an espionage thriller, with hidden cameras and microphones, lies and misinformation to superiors, and all sorts of other surreptitious activity. One of the cadet informants, in fact, described his role as "like a spy movie." But this was no Hollywood fiction. The Gazette confirmed the clandestine program's existence through phone and text records, through interviews with former OSI agents and multiple OSI informants, court filings and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Continue Reading →

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School Psychologists on Rise, but so are Behavioral Problems

Distribution of school psychologists.

Colorado school districts are spending more of their budgets on psychologist positions, but the service providers still struggle with large caseloads and a growing number of  students with severe behavioral and learning problems.
The state currently has the equivalent 791 full-time school psychologists. That number has inched up 4 percent in the last three academic years, according to data the Colorado Department of Education has collected from 78 districts. Franci Crepeau-Hobson, former president of the Colorado Society of School Psychologists, said not all schools employ mental health staff. “There’s actually a national shortage of school psychologists where there are positions open that schools can’t fill and that’s been the case for Colorado for some years, especially for rural and inner-city schools,” Crepeau-Hobson said. Crepeau-Hobson, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development, said that the problems professionals are seeing are getting worse. Continue Reading →

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Bloomberg, Melinda Gates Join Big Contributors to Colorado’s Amendment 66 Campaign

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Two more big names – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Melinda Gates – kicked in $1 million each to an effort to convince Coloradans to raise income taxes to support K-12 education. Bloomberg Philanthropies gave $1,050,000 on Oct. 16 and Gates gave $1 million on Oct. 17. The two largest contributors are two teachers’ unions. Continue Reading →

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Colorado Shows Incremental Education Gains, Hoping for Much More

When the American Community Survey released its updated numbers last month Colorado's largest minority groups learned that they had made some progress in the broad disparities in education between themselves and their white counterparts. Colorado no longer has the largest gaps in the nation in college graduation rates between black and white residents, and both Latino and black adults saw high school graduation gaps narrow to their lowest levels in decades. The new numbers for 2012 show that the percent of black adults 25 years of age and older with college degrees rose from about 20 percent to 24 percent since last measured in 2010. That narrowed the gap with the state's white counterparts to less than 20 percentage points, compared to 23 percentage points in 2010. It boosted Colorado's gap status from worst to third worst, behind Connecticut and Massachusetts, according to an I-News analysis of the survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Continue Reading →

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Big bucks flowing into ballot measure that would revise, increase K-12 school funding

By Sandra Fish
I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS

Teachers unions and several wealthy Coloradans are spending millions to convince voters to agree to almost $1 billion annually in higher income taxes devoted to public schools. But they face an uphill battle with an electorate that rarely agrees to increase taxes. And opponents of the measure say they’d like to spend at least $1 million in the fight, though the sources of that money likely won’t be revealed. Amendment 66 would raise the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent on the first $75,000 of taxable income and to 5.9 percent on taxable income beyond $75,000. It would be the first tiered income tax since a single tax rate was adopted in 1988. Continue Reading →

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Colorado’s largest two minority groups broaden educational achievement

The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey offered some good news to Colorado's two largest minority groups in terms of educational attainment, as compared to the state's white residents. The gains were relatively small, but progress is progress. Colorado no longer has the largest gaps in the nation in college graduation rates between black and white residents and both Latino and black adults saw high school graduation gaps narrow to their lowest levels in decades. The percent of black adults 25 years of age and older with college degrees rose from about 20 percent to 24 percent during the two years covered by the 2012 survey, released last month. That narrowed the gap with their white counterparts to less than 20 percentage points compared to 23 percentage points in 2010. Continue Reading →

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Achievement drops when K-12 students switch to online schools

South High School teacher Shauna Twardzik talks to students at South during an orientation last month in Denver. Students who transfer to online programs from brick-and-mortar schools, like South, posted lower scores on annual state reading exams after entering their virtual classrooms.

Students attending Colorado’s full-time online education programs have typically lagged their peers on virtually every academic indicator, from state test scores to student growth measures to high school graduation rates. Continue Reading →

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