Who Is In Charge

Ludwig appears to eke out win

Updated 1 p.m. Wednesday – Democratic incumbent University of Colorado Regent Stephen Ludwig had 47.2 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for Republican challenger Brian Davidson, according to unofficial totals reported by the Department of State.

PHOTO: Rachel Greiman/Green Chair Stories
Stephen Ludwig, seeking a second term on the CU Board of Regents, gathered with Democrats in downtown Denver Tuesday for an election watch party. Photo / Joe Mahoney

Ludwig, interviewed at a packed and noisy gathering of Democrats in downtown Denver, said the race was too close to call at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when fewer votes had been tabulated.

He said he visited all 64 counties in his campaign for re-election but that “people don’t know what a regent is or what a regent does.”

In the contest for an open seat in the 3rd District, Democrat Jessica Garrow of Carbondale lost to Republican Glenn Gallegos. Democrat Irene Griego was successful in defense of her 7th District seat against Republican Mary Dambman. GOP incumbent Kyle Hybl didn’t have Democratic opposition in the 5th District.

Two seats for the State Board of Education also were on the ballot. In the 2nd District, incumbent Democrat Angelika Schroeder easily beat Republican Ann Fattor. In the 4th District, Republican Pamela Mazanec of Larkspur didn’t face a Democratic candidate.

The outcome of the election isn’t expected to alter the philosophical balance on the State Board of Education, given that Mazanec is unopposed and that three board Republicans and two Democrats are in the middle of their terms.

But board dynamics are expected to be different after the election because Republican Bob Schaffer, one of the panel’s most outspoken members, chose not to run again and will be leaving. Schaffer is a former congressman and unsuccessful GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.

CU races

The at-large regents race was an intramural bout – Ludwig is a CU-Colorado Springs grad and once worked in the university president’s office, and Davidson holds multiple CU degrees and works as a physician and faculty member at the university’s Anschutz Medical Center.

The race was also a grudge match because Ludwig beat Davidson by a very narrow margin in 2006.

In the 3rd District, Garrow, an Aspen city planner and a CU-Boulder graduate, ran a well-financed campaign against Gallegos, an executive for a family construction business who worked for more than 25 years as a teacher, coach, principal and instruction director in the Eagle and Mesa County school districts. He formerly served on the Mesa State board of trustees. The district has been represented by Republican former legislator Tilman Bishop of Grand Junction.

In the 7th District, Griego, a former principal and area superintendent in the Jeffco schools, was appointed last year to fill a vacancy on the Board of Regents. She has a bachelor’s degree from CU-Boulder and a doctorate from the Denver campus. Dambman, a former teacher, served three terms in the state House during the 1980s and was a member of the education committee.

Hybl is a Colorado Springs lawyer and civic leader who graduated from CU-Boulder and also received his law degree there. He has served two terms as chair of the regents.

State Board background

A former college professor of accounting, Schroeder was appointed to the SBE in 2008 and elected to a partial term in 2010. She was running for her first full term. She is a former member of the Boulder Valley School Board, various Colorado Association of Schools Boards committees and the Alliance for Quality Teaching.

Fattor, a self-employed graphic artist, is a former member of the Gilpin County school board and previously served as president of the CASB. She’s chair of the Gilpin County Republican Party.

As a Douglas County resident, Mazanec has been an active supporter of the conservative Douglas County school board in its efforts to create a voucher program and reduce the power of the teachers’ union.

newark notes

In Newark, a study about school changes rings true — and raises questions — for people who lived them

PHOTO: Naomi Nix
Park Elementary principal Sylvia Esteves.

A few years ago, Park Elementary School Principal Sylvia Esteves found herself fielding questions from angst-ridden parents and teachers.

Park was expecting an influx of new students because Newark’s new enrollment system allowed parents to choose a K-8 school for their child outside of their neighborhood. That enrollment overhaul was one of many reforms education leaders have made to Newark Public Schools since 2011 in an effort to expand school choice and raise student achievement.

“What’s it going to mean for overcrowding? Will our classes get so large that we won’t have the kind of success for our students that we want to have?” Esteves recalls educators and families asking.

Park’s enrollment did grow, by about 200 students, and class sizes swelled along with it, Esteves said. But for the last two years, the share of students passing state math and English tests has risen, too.

Esteves was one of several Newark principals, teachers, and parents who told Chalkbeat they are not surprised about the results of a recent study that found test scores dropped sharply in the years immediately following the changes but then bounced back. By 2016, it found Newark students were making greater gains on English tests than they were in 2011.

Funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and conducted by Harvard researchers, the study also found the reforms had no impact on student math scores.

And while many Newark families and school leaders agree with the study’s conclusion — that students are making more progress now — they had very different ideas about what may have caused the initial declines, and why English growth was more obvious than math.

Supported by $200 million in private philanthropy, former superintendent Cami Anderson and other New Jersey officials in 2011 sought to make significant changes to the education landscape in Newark, where one third of more than 50,000 students attend privately managed charter schools. Their headline-grabbing reforms included a new teachers union contract with merit-based bonuses; the universal enrollment system; closing some schools; expanding charter schools; hiring new principals; requiring some teachers to reapply for their jobs; and lengthening the day at some struggling schools.

Brad Haggerty, the district’s chief academic officer, said the initial drop in student performance coincided with the district’s introduction of a host of changes: new training materials, evaluations, and curricula aligned to the Common Core standards but not yet assessed by the state’s annual test. That was initially a lot for educators to handle at once, he said, but teacher have adjusted to the changes and new standards.

“Over time our teaching cadre, our faculty across the entire district got stronger,” said Haggerty, who arrived as a special assistant to the superintendent in 2011.

But some in Newark think the district’s changes have had longer-lasting negative consequences.

“We’ve had a lot of casualties. We lost great administrators, teachers,” said Bashir Akinyele, a Weequahic High School history teacher. “There have been some improvements but there were so many costs.”

Those costs included the loss of veteran teachers who were driven out by officials’ attempts to change teacher evaluations and make changes to schools’ personnel at the same time, according to Sheila Montague, a former school board candidate who spent two decades teaching in Newark Public Schools before losing her position during the changes.

“You started to see experienced, veteran teachers disappearing,” said Montague, who left the school system after being placed in the district’s pool of educators without a job in a school. “In many instances, there were substitute teachers in the room. Of course, the delivery of instruction wasn’t going to even be comparable.”

The district said it retains about 95 percent of its highly-rated teachers.

As for why the study found that Newark’s schools were seeing more success improving English skills than math, it’s a pattern that Esteves, the Park Elementary principal, says she saw firsthand.

While the share of students who passed the state English exam at Park rose 13 percentage points between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, the share of students who were proficient in math only rose 3 percentage points in that time frame.

“[Math is] where we felt we were creeping up every year, but not having a really strong year,” she said. “I felt like there was something missing in what we were doing that could really propel the children forward.”

To improve Park students’ math skills, Esteves asked teachers to assign “math exemplars,” twice-a-month assignments that probed students’ understanding of concepts. Last year, Park’s passing rate on the state math test jumped 12 percentage points, to 48 percent.

While Newark students have made progress, families and school leaders said they want to the district to make even more gains.

Test scores in Newark “have improved, but they are still not where they are supposed to be,” said Demetrisha Barnes, whose niece attends KIPP Seek Academy. “Are they on grade level? No.”

Chalkbeat is expanding to Newark, and we’re looking for a reporter to lead our efforts there. Think it should be you? Apply here.  

Who Is In Charge

Indianapolis Public Schools board gives superintendent Ferebee raise, bonus

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Lewis Ferebee

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee is getting a $4,701 raise and a bonus of $28,000.

The board voted unanimously to approve both. The raise is a 2.24 percent salary increase. It is retroactive to July 1, 2017. Ferebee’s total pay this year, including the bonus, retirement contributions and a stipend for a car, will be $286,769. Even though the bonus was paid this year, it is based on his performance last school year.

The board approved a new contract Tuesday that includes a raise for teachers.

The bonus is 80 percent of the total — $35,000 — he could have received under his contract. It is based on goals agreed to by the superintendent and the board.

These are performance criteria used to determine the superintendent’s bonus are below: