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The Perfect Location

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The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, CO opened its doors in 1892, and is renowned by a wide range of travel publications for its luxurious suites and spa offerings.

In its 120-year history, the Brown Palace has played host to famous figures such as U.S. Presidents and the Beatles, giving it a well-respected reputation within the Denver tourism industry.

Judging from the “fun facts”, the Brown Palace is a historical relic that offers extravagant conditions and features for guests, making it a perfect location for a teacher’s union conference.

In a brilliant display of self-awareness, the National Caucus of Urban Education Associations, an influential arm within the larger National Educational Association (NEA), selected the four star hotel as the location for a three-day Summer Meeting that ended on June 29.

Union officials were able to properly decompress in a relaxing environment after a tough few weeks following the Vergara v. California ruling, when in one fell swoop the American public and media questioned why on Earth the NEA still chooses to defend absurd and antiquated policies that undercut student interests.

What’s more, the only president since 1905 to not stay at the Brown Palace was union foe Calvin Coolidge during the 1920s — if that’s not kismet then we don’t know what is.

So here’s hoping the NCUEA enjoyed their Summer Meeting, they couldn’t have found a better location if they tried.

*Editor’s Note: The NEA’s wider Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly will in large part take place at the cutting edge Colorado Convention Center, hardly an appropriate venue for such an event.

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Drinking Rosés in Vegas, not Charter Kool-Aid

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What do Provence Rosés, oyster farms, and the book, The Giver have in common? Besides being the subject of my Saturday morning reading in the Wall Street Journal, it would appear nothing. But as I stewed on the back and forth of popular and well regarded reformers over the last few days on the subject of whether Michigan charter schools are succeeding, and then, having arrived at the National Charter Schools Conference and heard more banter about alleged problems in charter schools based on reading newspapers rather than detailed knowledge, the connection between great wines, saving the oysters and a provocative book hit me: Most of us really do believe we are experts after reading second, third and fifth hand reports!

I could easily walk away from a blissful hour of reading the newspaper and claim expertise on how the perfect Rosé wine is built. I could also wax eloquently about the stupidity behind the government’s attack on an oyster farmer in Marin County, CA. I actually know a bit about oyster farms — my husband is a boater and I ran for office in a state where similar issues have been on the table. In fact, I feel empowered with this experience and now having read this one article, feel qualified enough to declare that the Obama administration is violating the farmer’s constitutional rights. Finally, I could believe that reading an article about The Giver, the book that controversially ignited a debate over what constitutes the good life, gives me enough authority to talk about the author’s conclusions that I don’t even have to read the book to sound halfway intelligent.

Indeed, I can be as limited and as narrow in my review of issues as some of our colleagues are when it comes to the

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Where is This Commentary Heading?

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Amid the meandering paragraphs and lamentations about how the charter school movement has lost its way, The Center for Education Reform is trying to pinpoint where exactly John Merrow’s blog post went off the rails, and where it ended up.

It might’ve been when he said, “every Tom, Dick and Harry” have been able to open a charter school under a university authorizer.

Central Michigan University, one of the finest charter authorizing models in the country, has received 259 applications for charter schools in the past decade alone, with 22 (8 percent) of those actually becoming operational. So maybe Tom was able to run a charter school, but Dick and Harry weren’t.

But that can’t be right; there were six whole paragraphs before reaching that claim.

Unfortunately, it turns out this post was doomed from the outset, tanked by a weird analogy comparing nondescript signs for charter schools and restaurants.

This led to Merrow giving credence to Greg Richmond’s labeling of CER as the “leading voice of this free market philosophy” surrounding choice and charters.

Merrow and Richmond might be surprised in finding out that the CER offices do not have shrines dedicated to the likes of Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith, and the organization as a whole does not have a strict ideological adherence to what Richmond calls a, “free market philosophy.”

Shockingly, Kara Kerwin does not wishfully ask every morning how to make the world a little more laissez-faire.

What CER does focus on is sound policy and Parent Power, knowing that quality charter proliferation can only go so far without strong charter laws on the books. This accounts for the 335 additional charter school campuses created in states graded “A” or “B” on the 2014 Charter School Law Rankings & Scorecard.

After two decades, charter schools continue

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