This past weekend, members of the Eagle County Schools Board of Education and I shook 413 graduates’ hands — plus one virtual graduate while she stood on the podium at the state track meet— as students of the Class of 2016 completed their secondary education and turned their sights toward college, career or technical training, the workforce or just some time to plan their next moves.
Graduations are a joyful time for families and mark an important transition point in a young person’s ascent to adulthood. While our graduates will soon scatter in all directions (both near and far) in search of their dreams, we know they will always be a part of this community, which gave them wings and prepared them for their futures.Learn more »
The town of Vail has a great opportunity with the proposed KAABOO music and arts festival. But, like most opportunities, there’s also some risk.
The founders of KAABOO, which got its start in 2015 in Del Mar, California, have joined with the Vail Valley Foundation to propose a three-day music, art, comedy and food event to take over much of Ford Park in August of 2017, the weekend after most Front Range schools have started. The idea is for a ticketed event that will draw people with a median age of 37 or so. This is an affluent group that, on the younger side of the age curve, is exactly the audience Vail wants for the future.Learn more »
Actually, it was 20 years ago this Sunday, and it wasn’t Sgt. Pepper, but the proverbial son of Vail, Buddy Lazier, who “taught the band to play” and won the Indianapolis 500.
Many of you are already aware of this particular bit of local trivia, but for the uninitiated or forgetful, understand that Buddy’s 1996 victory raised the bar for gutsy grit and sheer willpower throughout the entire sporting world.Learn more »
The “First season shows express lane benefits” headline, in the Monday Vail Daily issue, was a story quoting our Democratic state senator positively responding to supposed toll lane benefits. The story, sadly missing a balance of reality, was all roses.
As a candidate for House District 26 in Colorado, I conducted a survey of some 33 people in Eagle and Routt counties, who use Interstate 70 to get to Denver. Thirty-two people had negative opinions of the new 13-mile toll lane, in what I call “the parking lot known as Interstate 70.” Comments included, “It’s a joke,” to, “I drove it twice last week and it just keeps getting worse and worse.”Learn more »
On a recent trip, my wife and I happened upon a kiddie playground replete with swings, horizontal monkey bars, slides of various sizes, a whirl, etc.
The playground was vacant but as we walked we spied a series of warning signs alerting people to the dangers that lurked within the playground’s confines. There were 19 separate warnings telling children “not to run or use the equipment improperly,” “not to climb or stand too close to a moving swing” and “not to jump off a moving whirl.” Other signs cautioned to use only proper footwear, only the correct grip on the equipment and only to slide with their feet up.Learn more »
Does this word grate on your nerves when presidential campaigners use it? Or, does “great” invigorate your spirit, building pride in the U.S.?Learn more »
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.
In behind-the-scenes maneuvering, plans have been quietly underway since the fall of 2015 to bring a supersized three-day music and entertainment event to Vail in August of next year. Even though it’s more than 15 months away, the promoters are demanding town approval by June 10, a date before most second-home residents return to Vail. There is little time for even local residents to learn about the plans.Learn more »
Once you become a parent, your child’s safety becomes a top priority, even if ensuring it comes at the expense of civility towards others. So when parents voice concerns about sexual predators exploiting laws meant to protect the rights of transgender individuals, as a parent, I appreciate where their fear comes from. They are prioritizing their child’s wellbeing ahead of someone else’s feelings.
However, I happen to think those fears are unfounded and stoked by bigots with an intolerant agenda. The facts simply do not support the contention that laws meant to protect the rights of the transgender community by allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity rather than their birth certificate will be used by sexual predators to enter women’s bathrooms and prey on young girls.Learn more »
It may be news to many in Colorado that the Department of Labor proposed a new rule last year to increase the salary threshold for exempt employees. Overall, this is positive news, but the dramatic changes will have far-reaching implications, especially in rural Colorado.
As the Fair Labor Standards Act is written, employees must qualify under three criteria to be exempt from overtime pay. These criteria are simple: Have a salary, make more than $23,660 per year and conduct specific job duties (professional, administrative and similar). This rule is generally revised every five or so years, and it makes sense the Department of Labor is updating it now. So what’s the big deal?Learn more »
David Letterman’s late-night TV show years ago introduced a segment called “Stupid Pet Tricks.” That spawned another long-running bit, “Stupid Human Tricks.” You may have read about a recent really stupid human trick in Yellowstone National Park.
That story involved tourists putting a bison calf into the back of their rented SUV because “it looked cold,” then driving the critter to park headquarters.Learn more »
On May 11, the second session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die. Due to the split chamber and budgetary problems, we faced challenges, but when we worked together, putting aside petty partisan politics, we passed legislation to enhance economic and educational opportunities for all, strengthen our communities and safeguard our environment.
The Joint Budget Committee worked for months to present the General Assembly with our constitutionally required balanced budget. With very little breathing room, the committee passed a budget that managed to:Learn more »
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece for this publication detailing the importance of building a competent and professional educator workforce. Noting contrasts between the conventional American approach to this important effort and those of global high performing systems, I’d like to touch on the efforts we have underway locally to build a teacher workforce of great talent and capacity — as well as some of the constant barriers we have in that work.
Raising educator quality at a system level (as opposed to a lucky hire here or there) begins with recruiting well. Arguably, this is the most important step in building the quality of any workforce.Learn more »
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, along with a handful of other state’s elected officials and legislators, are once again displaying their evangelical ignorance by opening a Pandora’s box of anti-LGBT laws.
History shows us that using their deity as an excuse did not stop slavery from being overturned.Learn more »
Donald Trump is the candidate of choice for about one-third of evangelicals, the same margin of voters who supported John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 in primary elections. These Christians say they support presidential candidates who show robust character, possess Christian consciences and reflect Christ’s humility as humankind’s suffering servant.
Except, evangelicals abandon these qualifications by endorsing Donald Trump for president. Why?Learn more »
Socialism is having a moment.
I’m not just referring to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong showing in the Democratic primaries. Various polls show that millennials have a more favorable view of socialism than of capitalism. And millennials generally are the only age group that views socialism more favorably than unfavorably.Learn more »
Many years ago, actually make that many, many years ago, while serving in Vietnam I had an experience that left an indelible impression on me. No, it’s not what you might imagine.
Of course I had a few colorful experiences, but being a helicopter pilot was still far preferable to being in the infantry where privations were commonplace. In fact, compared to the grunts traveling around the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, we lived like kings.Learn more »
As a member of the State Board of Education representing all of western Colorado and Pueblo and Huerfano counties, I’m traveling extensively and learning about the uniqueness of each school district and their communities. In addition, my position as a legislative aide, allows me to keep an eye on education related bills and stay current with what legislators are thinking about education. My work in both areas is complementary.
The state budget (HB16-1405) was signed into law by the governor last Tuesday. K-12 schools will receive inflation and enrollment adjustments for the next fiscal year, July 1 through June 30, 2017. This will be an increase in per pupil spending over last year’s budget. In most states, the executive branch initiates the budget, however in Colorado the Joint Budget Committee is responsible for writing the annual appropriations bill known as The Long Bill. This year, the six member committee worked hard to come to a consensus, allocate more money to education and present a balanced budget.Learn more »
During the next few weeks, about 500 of you will receive polling calls from Eagle County. We are looking for community input on several topics, so our apologies if we’ve interrupted dinner — or your first quiet moment since the kids went to bed.
Some of you may have already received calls from the school district or the Edwards Metro District. These calls are a useful method of gathering input. Polls help to identify which issues are important and how much support there is for particular policy changes. At this time of year, they are usually connected to possible election questions and your responses can help shape the November ballot.Learn more »
I became superintendent of Eagle County Schools in the summer of 2013. Now, approaching three full years in this role, I’m very proud of the progress we’ve been able to make.
We established a forward-looking vision for our schools based on feedback from our community and research the district has done to evaluate the best performing education systems.Learn more »
The legendary scene in Monty Python’s classic “Search for the Holy Grail” was more prophetic than anyone could have possibly imagined.
In this version we see the presumptive leader of the new and improved GOP, searching for the ever-elusive American Crown of Control, as he comes upon Sir Old Guard along his yellow brick path to the White House (it’s my version so I can mix whatever metaphors I choose).Learn more »
It was disheartening to hear recently that the annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival is moving to Breckenridge next year.
The festival was well established in its home at the Vail Cascade, using the large space usually occupied by tennis courts, and was a popular event for local and visiting beer lovers.Learn more »
I just completed a course on the law of drones. A couple of years ago, whod’ve thunk? Now, all of a sudden, drones are everywhere. And the law is scrambling to catch up.
The course included a review of applicable federal regulations, Federal Aviation Administration enforcement actions, state laws and regulations, UAS applications and operations, UAS and Fourth Amendment considerations, privacy issues, property rights (who owns the airspace?), and advising clients about UASs.Learn more »
I am not a conspiracy theorist; but I don’t believe in political coincidences either.
Short memoriesLearn more »
Presidential campaigners promise voters “the moon made of green cheese.” Once elected, officials have to deliver on their promises by getting legislation passed. Making campaign promises is easy; governing hard.
“The moon made of green cheese” is a folk-saying used centuries ago. A rustic simpleton spied the moon’s reflection on a pond. Its saffron glow convinced him a chunk of cheese floated on the yellowy water.Learn more »
The distance between rich and poor, conservative and democrat, Tory and Labor, right and left, continues. Here in the U.S., both the Constitution and bi-partisan belief has been that the mandate of checks and balances exists, hopefully, to bring all players to the table to settle differences.
The gaps evident today and yesterday with respect to total detente are universal. Germany, France, Britain, Denmark and Sweden are today struggling with ideology as never before. The distance between right and left is greater now, given the consequences attached to unresolved conflict, evident in the refugee crisis.Learn more »
Between growing security lines, shrinking seat sizes and paying extra for everything from carry-ons to window seats, there’s plenty to grumble about in modern air travel. However, for many Colorado families flying with young children adds an additional level of complexity, making for an especially stressful and often expensive experience. That’s why last month, we sponsored an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill to make the friendly skies more amenable for traveling families. This bill reauthorizes the FAA through September 2017 and has passed the Senate.
The Lasting Improvement to Family Travel Act makes important changes that will make air travel a smoother experience for families by ensuring parents are allowed to sit next to their kids, preventing parents from being separated from their kids during security screenings and allowing pregnant women to pre-board their flights.Learn more »
The American media under-reported a story several months ago that might directly impact the United States via various means — A key summit between the United Kingdom and the European Union. British Prime Minister David Cameron met his Brussels’ counterparts with demands for the United Kingdom’s remaining in the European Union’s ranks. Both parties reached an agreement surrounding the issue. Cameron announced a national referendum for June 23 to determine whether the United Kingdom stays or departs the European Union a short time later. Several questions need asking: Why is the vote important? What are the disadvantages/advantages of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union? And how might the vote impact the United States’ strategic interests with the United Kingdom and Europe?
The June 23 referendum requires addressing several issues:Learn more »
No matter your background or your ZIP code, every Coloradan deserves a fair shot at affording a quality health care plan. Unfortunately, those of us in the high country are all too aware of the ever-rising cost of health care. While it is true that our state’s total uninsured rate has dropped dramatically in recent years, the reality is that there are major regional disparities when it comes to how much Coloradans pay for individual health insurance plans.
That’s why I am proud to sponsor HB16-1336: Bipartisan legislation that will commission a study on what the cost drivers of individual health plans are so that I can get to work with my fellow lawmakers in finding common sense solutions to this problem. My co-sponsors Sen. Ellen Roberts, Rep. Millie Hamner and Rep. Bob Rankin and I carried the bill so that the state Legislature has the tools it needs create a plan for rural Colorado that makes the Affordable Care Act work better for our families than it currently is.Learn more »
Hardly a day, week or month goes by when it isn’t “national (something) (day, week or month).” This week happens to be National Travel and Tourism Week.
According to the U.S. Travel Association’s website, this week was established in 1983 by a congressional resolution. The idea, apparently, is to recognize and promote the impact travel and tourism have on the nation’s economy.Learn more »
Vail Daily column: Rethink teaching modelMay 3, 2016 —
“The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” This was the bold proclamation issued by the internationally-renowned business consulting firm McKinsey and Co., in an influential 2007 report which looked at the world’s best education systems from an international benchmarking perspective.
As strong as this statement is, it is difficult to validate from a scientific perspective. However, we do know that the largest in-school factor affecting the quality of education systems is the classroom teacher (the largest overall factors are things such as family wealth and education).
While we may not be able to scientifically prove the McKinsey statement, I cannot imagine anyone arguing that educator quality isn’t a core focus area for any school system. And, from a benchmarking perspective, we see a great deal of attention and effort put into raising educator quality in all high-performing education systems.
While we have focused on improving educator quality in the United States and in Colorado, we’ve typically gone about it in a very different way than the international high-performers.
The best education systems follow what I’d call a professional model when it comes to teaching. That is, they consider education a high skill profession that not everyone can or should, do.
Entry into the profession is both selective and competitive, so talent and intelligence is assured in the teacher workforce from the beginning. Training consists of learning about the specific content area that will be taught, in-depth study into the art and science of teaching and an immersive and hands-on experience doing the work as a part of teacher training.
The profession in these systems is also considered with high regard and status. Teachers are respected, revered, supported and acknowledged for the specialized knowledge workers that they are. They are afforded high levels of professional empowerment in which they control many of the decisions concerning their work and instruction.
I once had the opportunity to serve on a conference panel with a high-ranking education official from Finland. After hearing about their approach to educator quality, I asked him how they dealt with bad or ineffective teachers, which has been a major source of focus in American education reform movements.
He looked confused and puzzled by my question for a moment, and then he asked me, “Do you mean they are mentally ill?” It was as if he did not understand my question at all! As I reflected on this interaction, it became clear to me that the Finnish education official struggled with my question because the professional system they have in place in that country makes the probability of a bad or ineffective teacher highly unlikely.
A professional model of teaching is in place in every high-quality system in the world — and it ain’t rocket science.
By contrast, the American approach to educator quality has been to throw the doors wide open in terms of who can become a teacher, lowering or removing completely the bar in terms of the pre-service training experience, scripting and mandating lessons and teaching and subjecting teachers to onerous and confusing performance evaluation systems designed to identify and weed out poor performers.
Which of these models would you prefer to work in? Would you choose the international high performers’ or the American approach? In the United States, the combined result of higher teacher turnover and lower numbers of people entering the profession is giving us part of our answer.
We are doing it wrong.
Across our country, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Taking the time to thank a teacher and acknowledge his or her contributions and sacrifice is indeed a worthy goal. We should indeed show our appreciation for those who give their professional lives in service to our children.
However, we’ve got to do more. Appreciating teachers for a week will not turn the tide and build a great teaching profession for our community, our state, or our country. What is needed is a commitment and system-wide effort, which is at the magnitude and scale required to ensure every child has a talented, trained, caring and professional educator working with him or her.
That said, I do want to publicly thank all of the teachers in Eagle County for their service and dedication to our students and community. Without them, we could not be setting our sights on what we know is possible.
Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at email@example.com.