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An important win for Jeffco charter schools: one mom’s impassioned perspective

The Jefferson County Public School Board of Education Meeting was the place to be on Thursday night. It was standing room only, literally, and by the time the meeting officially started at 6:30 p.m. people were being turned away due to fire code and space issues.

As a concerned parent, voter, and taxpayer in Jefferson County, this meeting piqued my interest. Up for discussion was the equalization of funds for public charter schools. I felt it was important for my voice to be heard, so I wrote a letter to the Board (below) and spoke at the meeting. It was amazing to see so many parents there!

The Board majority approved a $3.7 million line item for charter schools. In my opinion this is a huge step in the right direction.

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Dear Jefferson County Public School Board of Education,I am the parent of a student who attends Woodrow Wilson Academy, a JeffCo public charter school in Westminster, CO. This is our third year at this public charter school.Our assigned neighborhood school is not the closest school to our house, due to the way the boundaries are drawn. When I researched the bus and logistics, I discovered it would be cheaper and quicker to drive my daughter to and from school myself, so I explored our options through choice enrollment. Since I’d be providing transportation anyway, we looked for a school that would be the best fit for us.I drew a circle around our house on the map and researched the different schools in that radius.

As you know, JeffCo is a fantastic district. In that radius, I found a variety of different public schools, both public charter and district run. I visited every school on my list, researched the curricula, and filled out choice enrollment paperwork for our top choices.

As luck would have it, we got a spot in our top choice. This public charter school has a curriculum that challenges and enthuses my daughter, a wonderful level of parent involvement, and it IS a public school.

Yes, we’re a charter school. Yes, we’re a public school. Yes, we’re proud to be JeffCo.

It saddens me when our differences are used to pit us against each other, when in fact we’re on the same side and have the same goals. All JeffCo parents have a choice on where to send their children, and we all have our children’s best interests at heart.

The reasons vary, but the results are the same: we care about our kids, regardless of which type of public school they attend.

As a JeffCo parent and voter, I’m concerned about the equalization of funding for public charter schools. The wording in 3A/3B did not exclude public charter schools, and denying the equalization of these funds does a disservice to ALL public school kids of Jefferson County.

If I dropped my child off at our neighborhood school, she’d be worth $1,400 of the mill levy. Because I drop her off in front of a public school that happens to be a public charter school, she’s worth $247 dollars.

My child’s worth should not be based on the name on the door that’s held open for her every morning.

Frankly, it’s not right, and it sends a message of inequality that disappoints me.

We’re on the same side. Our kids are the focus. We’re all JeffCo.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,

JoAnn E. Rasmussen
JeffCo Parent and Voter

Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition Rockets into Denver

Picture this: It’s a major holiday. You have all your best china and crystal laid out on a beautifully set table. Candles flicker. Everyone smiles in anticipation as you place a golden turkey in the center. The dog in the corner is drooling. Then, without warning, you grab the tablecloth and yank. Will the big day be ruined or will you be the best holiday hostess ever with your cool trick?

Thanks to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, you can practice this skill and learn the science behind it. From now through January 5th, 2014, the DMNS is hosting Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition. The wildly popular Discovery Channel show is now a hands-on, crazily fun experience for the entire family.

In the Blueprint Room, fans of the show will recognize 60 actual props, machines, and contraptions used in the long-running hit. Some of the most legendary items Adam, Jamie, and the gang built are on display, whimsically arranged. Flip through the iconic blueprints used to construct memorable machines. Relive some of the most popular shows. Adam’s jet pack, the buried-alive coffin, the duct tape canoe, and the paint bomb are just a few of the artifacts you might recognize.

Boys Will Be Boys: 10 Activities to Engage Them in Education

A February 2 New York Times opinion piece decried the fact that boys are academically falling behind their girl counterparts. Nothing new there. Girls are apparently getting better grades, graduating in greater numbers from high school and pursuing higher education.

The prevalent theory is that today’s classrooms, curriculum and assessments are not set up for boys. So they disengage.

As parents, we can take part in engaging our boys in their education from the start. I have three boys, so I have thought a lot about what the articles are saying. These are some ideas for parents of boys in Denver (they are great for girls too):

1) Create a fantasy football league, do baseball stats, or otherwise find ways to play with numbers and sports together so that they are doing math without even thinking about it.

Mammoths and Mastadons: Titans of the Ice Age

There’s a time machine on the third floor of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and it’s target is the Ice Age. This wild and woolly era of earth’s history hosted some of the most fascinating animals to roam the earth, including our own Colorado backyard. This rich fossil record has been collected into an astonishing exhibit called Mammoths and Mastadons: Titan of the Ice Age.

From now until May 27th, 2013, families can explore the lives—and deaths—of these majestic creatures through hands-on activities and numerous interactive stations. Kids can joust with tusks, touch molars the size of bricks, be immersed in a painted cave, play with pachyderm poo, pose with intimidating life-sized models of ice age animals, and coo over baby mammoth Lyuba. Fun animation stations share facts in short, accessible films the whole family can enjoy.

Looking for a stocking stuffer that ROCKS?

When Longmont mom Melissa Weisner was faced with planning a birthday party for her geology-crazed then-6 year-old son, she took nothing for granite (ba DUM bum).

It all crystallized for her when she began thinking about a game. She developed one and rolled it out at her son’s party two years ago to great reviews from him and his friends, and now ROCK ON! is being shipped to kids everywhere via Amazon.

Each shoe-box sized game is teacher-approved, made in the United States, retails for $25 and includes:

Why You Should Vote Yes and Support School Bond and Mill Levies This November

At one time in my life I was a DINK – Dual Income No Kids and was asked to vote on a tax increase on my newly purchased home. I mentioned to someone at work that I was voting no on the school bond issue because I didn’t have kids yet and didn’t want to increase my taxes. I was already stunned by the property taxes and costs associated with my new home.

My co-worker, who also did not have children at the time, jumped on me and explained that the schools are what hold up a community. You don’t pay taxes for education to support YOUR own children in the district, you pay them to support EVERYONE. Great schools increase property values, decrease crime, encourage families and other residents to stay and be engaged in the community. They also educate children for future positions in the community such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and business people. Children return to their childhood home area to raise their children IF there are solid education opportunities available.

App Spotlight Roundup: 11 Great Apps for Moms and Kids

Do you troll the app store at least once a week looking to add new ones to your collection or are you always looking for great apps that help your kids get excited about learning? I know I certainly do both on a regular basis. Then again, I do admit, I am an app-aholic.

We’ve got a great roundup for your today – especially note the first two on the list – both are produced by local developers! If we don’t share your current favorite, please let me know about your latest finds in the comments below!

10 Ways to Support Your Classroom Teacher This Year

It’s August, which means back to school, which means saying goodbye to summer, which means shelling out the moola.

Is it the smell of new school supplies? or the sound of money skittering out of my checking account faster than cockroaches when the lights go on that reminds me of Back to School time more?

It’s the time of year when you pay school fees, buy supplies, supplement hot lunch accounts and so much more. I’ve never been a big fan of back to school season, but now that I also have to pay for it, I detest it.

Colorado’s first TCAP scores show small gains, writing dip, growth

Small statewide gains and a couple of curious declines marked the inaugural 2012 results of TCAP — the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program — that, for the most part, continued a flat performance trend from the CSAP test it replaced.

But when it came to academic growth — measuring students’ year-to-year improvement — some encouraging data emerged, notably in the Denver Public Schools, where massively revamped schools posted significantly improved numbers.

7 Summer Learning Apps for Your PC

If you’re sick of trekking down to Best Buy every few weeks so your kids can pick out a $20 CD ROM learning game they’ll be sick of in a week, Intel has the cure for your time and money woes. If you use the family computer as a learning tool over the summer months and want to save money on educational programs, you need to check out Intel AppUp.

If your computer runs on a recent version of Windows, you can download the Intel AppUp App store and get to loading up your family computer with useful apps today. Don’t let the word “app” fool you – these are fully functional computer programs. And thousands are available within a matter of minutes (and pennies). Below I’ve listed some of the best educational picks of recent weeks and the words the developers have published that best describe them.