North High's "I Am a Viking" campaign highlights school's successes

Categories: Education

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Things are changing at North High School: Test scores are up. More kids are taking AP classes. And there's a renewed focus on extracurricular activities, such as sports and music. That's according to the folks behind a new pro-North campaign called "I Am a Viking" -- a reference to North's mascot.

"There's a perception that students at North High School are not invested in themselves," says Corrie Houck, North's communications specialist, "and that's not true."

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DPS lawsuit: Meet teachers who reject claim district is getting rid of good educators

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DPS teacher Zachary Rowe.
Last week, we introduced you to the teachers behind a lawsuit against Denver Public Schools. The teachers claim that DPS is using a provision of the state's landmark 2010 teacher-effectiveness law to get rid of good teachers -- which they say isn't the law's intention. Furthermore, the teacher-plaintiffs claim that what DPS is doing is unconstitutional.

But not all teachers agree with them. We spoke with three teachers -- two from DPS, one from Jefferson County -- who disagree with the lawsuit.

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Denver Public Schools: Read the story of another teacher who was facing unpaid leave

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For this week's cover story, "Wrong Answer," we spoke with five of the teachers behind a lawsuit against Denver Public Schools. Their complaint? That DPS is unfairly using a provision of the state's landmark 2010 teacher-effectiveness law to get rid of good teachers like themselves.

And those five teachers aren't the only ones who feel they've been mistreated. We spoke with several other teachers who say they experienced the same thing. Keep reading for one of their stories.

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Scott Gessler's emergency election rule shot down by Colorado Supreme Court

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Gessler on Westword's cover.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler overstepped his bounds when he issued an emergency rule on election night in November 2013 declaring that votes cast for ineligible candidates are invalid and shouldn't be counted, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled this week.

In a legal challenge brought by eight voters in the Adams 12 Five Star School District, the high court sided with the voters, finding that Gessler's rule conflicts with a state law that says such votes "are to be counted and recorded."

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Teacher Pauline Hawkins's letter about why she's quitting failed education system goes viral

Categories: Education

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More photos below.
Plenty of teachers are leaving their profession these days, but few make as much noise doing so as Pauline Hawkins. On Monday, the staffer at Colorado Springs' Liberty High School posted a resignation letter in which she says her reasons for quitting include negative impact from programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, as well as standardized testing that's causing students to give up on their lives.

Her frustrations are resonating well beyond her hometown.


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Photos: I, Too, Am CU breaks down stereotypes one sign at a time

Categories: Education, Photos

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Big photos below.
Outsiders may believe that CU-Boulder's student body is monochromatic and diversity-free. But I, Too, Am CU, an amazing tumblr and Facebook campaign, proves otherwise. Organized in part by members of the African Students' Association (and inspired by similar efforts at Harvard, Oxford and Iowa), the project is wide-ranging, with students from a slew of underrepresented groups holding up signs intended to highlight and, with luck, undermine stereotypes about them. Check out eye-opening, empowering samples below.

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Denver Public Schools is getting rid of good teachers, says rep behind here-and-gone bill

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This week's feature, "Wrong Answer," tells the stories of five Denver teachers who've sued the school district for essentially getting rid of them even though they've never gotten a bad review. How? By following a procedure laid out in a provision in the state's landmark 2010 teacher-effectiveness law -- a provision that the teachers and the teachers union believe is unconstitutional. Some state lawmakers agree, and two of them introduced a bill in February aimed at changing that provision. But this week, the bill's main sponsor asked that his own bill be killed.

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CU prof Patti Adler dropping prostitution skit, adding "administrative interference" speech

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Photos, video below.
In December, CU professor Patti Adler was thrust into controversy over a prostitution skit that's long been part of a class entitled "Deviance in U.S. Society." Adler backers blasted the university, which eventually backed down. But after being told she could teach the class pretty much as normal, Adler announced in January that she'll retire later this year.

The latest? Adler has now nixed the prostitution skit, too -- a decision she'll no doubt explore in a speech this week about "academic interference."

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The ten most absurd school punishments

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Kamryn on Renfro Facebook page.
The story of Kamryn Renfro, a nine-year-old Grand Junction girl who was briefly banned from the Caprock Academy charter school because her bald head violated the school's dress-code policy -- she'd shaved it in solidarity with her best friend, who is battling cancer -- made us think about some of the other stupid punishments that schools have handed out across the country. Administrators justified most of these sentences by pointing to the schools' zero-tolerance policies on drugs and alcohol or guns and violence, but all of them made zero sense.

Read on for our top ten:

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Kimberly Love's birth hypnosis class turns pain into gain

Categories: Education

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Me and baby, hour one.
Giving birth to a child is arguably the most intensely painful experience a human being can have. After nine months of more-or-less blissful pregnancy, childbirth is the dark side of reproduction -- and it's understandable that many women prefer to bypass the full experience through drugs or surgery, given the cultural narrative surrounding birth, how much it's going to hurt and how ill-equipped the modern woman is to handle it. I just had my first child in November, so when I saw that Kimberly Love, founder of Soulica, was advertising classes that would help mothers achieve a "calm, natural, comfortable birth," I wanted to know more.


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