Colorado

Churchill loses appeal, Blue Ribbon schools

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday handed former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill his third straight courtroom defeat, ruling that he’s not entitled to back pay or to reinstatement in his position.

A district court and the Colorado Court of Appeals had previously ruled for the university and against Churchill.

The ethnic studies professor gained notoriety for an essay in which he compared victims of the World Trade Center attacks to Nazi official Adolph Eichmann. After the essay came to light in 2005, the CU Board of Regents launched an investigation into Churchill’s academic writings. After a lengthy investigation by faculty committees, the Regents fired Churchill for plagiarism and other violations of academic standards.

In 2009, a jury ruled that Churchill had been fired improperly but awarded him only $1 in damages. A Denver judge later set aside that verdict, ruling that the Regents were immune from the lawsuit. That set off the chain of appeals that went to the state supreme court.

David Lane, Churchill’s lawyer, said the case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press.

Read the high court’s summary and full decision.

→ Five Colorado schools are national Blue Ribbon award winners based on their academic performance, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced.

The schools are:

  • Avon Elementary School in Avon
  • Garnet Mesa Elementary School in Delta
  • Pear Park Elementary School in Grand Junction
  • Slavens K-8 School in Denver
  • Summit Middle Charter School in Boulder

“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers.”

The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement.

The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. “Exemplary High Performing” schools are recognized among their state’s highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. “Exemplary Improving” schools have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

In all, 269 schools were recognized as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools.  A complete list is available at http://www.ed.gov/nationalblueribbonschools.

→ The Yes on 3A + 3 B campaign for Denver Public Schools tax proposals held a campaign kick-off event and press conference Sunday in front of West High School to promote the benefits of the district’s request for a $466 million bond issue and a $49 million increase for operating expenses.

Speakers included DPS School Board President Mary Seawell, board member Happy Haynes and Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

“The bond and mill measures represent the most critical projects that need to be funded to help our children attend schools in safe, modernized buildings and improved learning environments and have access to the kinds of programs and services that increase their academic achievement,” Seawell said. “All students will benefit, all schools will see a change.”

Combined, the typical Denver residential property owner would see an increase in their property taxes by $143 per year, or about $12 per month for a home valued at $225,000.

Read this EdNews story about the Denver school board’s 5-2 vote to place the measures on the Nov. 6 ballot. Find information on Yes on 3A + 3B at www.yeson3A3B.com or follow @Yeson3A3B campaign on Twitter and “Yes on 3A + 3B” on Facebook.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.