08 August 2008

Jeffco Public Schools 18 years of frustrated parents and ignorant children

If you have not read my last post please read that first. It lays a foundation.

What I learned 18 years ago is that within the Public School system (Jeffco in particular) there exists a religious attachment to controlling the system outside of the parents, there is also a mindset of experimentation on children with new (untested) ways of learning.

Anything that challenges that control (even if it is parents asking for change) is fought hard. The system holds the resources tightly and parents feel powerless.

Are there good people within the system that care more about kids than the system? Of course there are some good teachers and good administrators and a few good Board members as well but they are in the minority. They have affected some change for the better but it is bitterly fought and that is a shame. Children suffer the consequence of a mediocre education while we fight for things like competition and choice.

The frustration that we parents have with “the system” is not that the teachers don’t care because the majority do care a great deal. It is that the system is set up as the “expert” and the parents are asked to go along with them lock stock and barrel. Anyone who wants accountability for results is fought…why? Isn’t it about the children?

Case in point. In or about the year 2000 Senate Bill 186 was passed by then Governor Bill Owens which required schools to assess themselves by testing students with a standardized test. Prior to that, there was no way to tell if they were actually a good or bad school, except by sacrificing your children to the system…and finding out yourself.

The teacher’s union and majorities on the Boards of Education HATED IT. The Propaganda against it flowed. They hit the airwaves hard with anti CSAP commercials. That was my first clue this was probably a good thing.

I admit CSAP needs some tweaking, and there should be other measurement devices, but it has become at least an OK indicator of whether a school has issues or not, and it can indicate whether the students are LEARNING the knowledge they are being tested on!

Here we are now 8 years later;

August 07, 2008 After finding out that the entire district showed worse scores in writing than previous years Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said;

"I'm not sure CSAP is measuring some of the things we need to make sure kids are getting," she said. "I think we're looking at jobs that are going to require more empathy, more creativity, more global awareness.

"If these kids are going to be living as 21st century global citizens, we need to focus on these things,"
She said.

Care to guess what she is blaming for this? I’ll give you one guess….MONEY of course.

"It doesn't surprise me that we haven't made the dramatic gains we've seen in Denver and Aurora," Dallman said. "The growth hasn't happened as much as we'd like, and a lot of it has to do with limited resources."

Dallman said she hopes what she sees as the meager resources for Jeffco teachers will be corrected by the possible passage of two November ballot questions, a $350-million bond question and 4-mill increase on property taxes.

Proponents of the ballot measures said the first question would allow the continuance of an existing tax, and that homeowners would see an increase in property taxes by $2-$3 per $100,000 in home value.

So send us more money and we will teach your children how to be better and more caring global citizens…but not necessarily to read and write better.

Care to guess how much more money I want to send to support those kind of family values?

MORE MONEY does not mean better education. They need to free up the system for competition, break the union stronghold and allow REAL reform, not more of the same…again…and again….and again. In my 20 years in North Jefferson County there have been referendums on the ballot many many times asking for more money. Yes we see some new buildings for that money when it passes but never a better education. They still don’t go with “what works” they go with the latest ideas on how not to bore the children with drills (like phonics) or new curriculum on how to save the planet from the evils of capitalism.

When the district doesn't get the money they say they "must have" what do they do?

They punish the children or even better, the parents. They stop bus services, increase class size and chop music or arts out. They charge parents higher fees and backdoor the tax that way.

Do they cut jobs? Do they stop or slow down annual salary increases? Do they have a hiring freeze? Do they find ways to spend less in administration, or look for areas of waste and fraud? …nope, that would not sufficiently punish parents who voted down the tax increase.

There is a reason that school boards, the teacher’s union and "the system" is religiously opposed to vouchers. They would lose control…and they should.


Related Article; Convicted of 3rd Degree Assault for slapping then choking his daughter, Jeffco School Board Member Vince Chowderhury Refuses to Resign.


Anonymous said...

The system has no interest in bettering education. The only thing they're interested in is more power, and more money to be wasted on teaching our children to be better global citizens... whatever that means.

Jim C

Ben DeGrow said...

Well said, Bob. There is no more question of whether the system needs to be seriously reformed - it's just a matter of when & how.

Ralston Valley said...

I am currently working on an article for the Ralston Valley Xpress High School Newspaper about the proposed mill levy and bond issues. I would like to quote your blog post as an opponent of the ballot measures. Would that be okay with you? Could I possibly email you some questions regarding the issues?

Thank you,
Michael Auslen
Ralston Valley Xpress Assistant Editor