Reformers and the Portfolio Model

With the Denver Teachers’ strike a daily conversation and concern, two articles by Peter Greene, Education Contributor to FORBES, cover this topic in depth and help us to see into much of the underlying issues.  The Portfolio Model, used in Denver has been touted by education reformers to be a huge success and grouped along with Indianapolis City Schools, New Orleans City Schools, Washington, D.C. schools, as well as Los Angeles city schools (which would question your definition of “success”).  It’s also a huge point of contention by many parents and community groups in Denver, as well as the Denver Teachers Association.

Rather than recreate the wheel, we are sharing links to both of those articles, because they do provide for in depth reading, and good insight into the issues.  We want to highlight some specific points Mr. Greene makes.  For those of us who are not in Denver, some of this may seem like a new concept; but it’s not, and there are groups/organizations out there working diligently to bring the Portfolio Model to districts that are not necessarily urban/city based.

From Portfolio School Management For Dummies By Peter Greene (FORBES Education contributor)

“…nobody anywhere knows exactly what a portfolio model is…”

This is how one of the nationally known education reform groups describes a Portfolio model: “… seven characteristics of portfolio strategy: Unbridled school choice, school autonomy under strong principals, funding on per-pupil basis (the money follows the child), recruitment of talent, outside “partnerships,” performance-based accountability, and public engagement.”   As described by

The Center for Reinventing Public Education, a Washington state ed reform thinky tank.

As Greene puts it:

“Portfolio models favor the common enrollment system, a one-stop shop that has the effect of turning all students in the system into potential charter customers.”

“…the portfolio model is about the school czar being able to move resources in and out of the best and worst schools, like dollars shuffling between stock portfolios. ..”Portfolio cities make sure there are good schools in every neighborhood.” But cities and states could do that now, by simply investing fully in the public school system, fulfilling the promise that every child in this country should be able to attend a great school without leaving her community.”

Also by Greene (dtd Jan 26, 2019) Denver: Another Strike Against The Backdrop Of Bad Education Reform

“Back in 2005, the district hired Michael Bennet, who …brought in other outsiders to form a community group (A+ Denver).”

About A Plus Denver:

CEO is Van Schoales. Supported by non-profits including:  Gates, Walton Family, and Donnell-Kay Foundations.  Its board members include:  Dwight D. Jones, Mike Miles.

“Since 2005, Denver has closed 48 schools and opened 70; most of the new schools are charter schools.”

“To keep the ed reform model in place requires a Denver school board that is reform friendly, …big money was a regular feature of the elections, with the 2015 race drawing hundreds of thousands of out-of-state contributions, most funneled through Democrats for Education Reform and their activist arm, Education Reform Now Action (ERNA is not required to identify its contributors). 2015 was a successful race for reform candidates, but 2017, though it featured even more money (almost three quarters of a million from ERNA alone) saw two of the four reform-supporting incumbents defeated. Turns out not everybody believes the reformsters are headed in the right direction.”

“…Denver has long been seen as a great place for reform advocates to try out some of their favorite ideas…central issue in current negotiations–incentive pay… a system called ProComp,..”

Want to know more about the reformers (Stand for Children, DFER,  involved in DPS (Board elections) and their efforts (City Fund to promote the portfolio model), check this link:

The Education Reform movement is not going away anytime soon. Just because we got lucky in Jeffco in 2015 when we recalled Witt, Newkirk, and Williams doesn’t mean we won’t see another attempt to reform Jeffco Public Schools.  It may not look quite the same, but if we don’t educate ourselves about what the beginnings look like, we could find our public schools have been reformed in a way we never thought we’d see.