By Connie Davison, Parent
Published Denver Post Your Hub
Douglas County residents, have you seen the recent TV commercials and newspaper ads for the Douglas County School District? Have you been getting the robo calls or flyers on your door blaming the teacher’s union for the bad publicity DCSD has been receiving in recent news? Have you too wondered why a public school district needs to advertise, especially in Douglas County, where our great reputation has spoken for itself for decades? Why now?
It’s bad enough that the School Board ignores its own parent surveys and belittles our concerns, but now they’re running a real media blitz trying to change the subject. Our very real concerns are once again, brushed aside and ignored. The robo calls, push polls, news articles, editorials, and even social media pages, all follow the same script, mischaracterizing concerned parents, and pointing to a perfect district where parents, students and teachers are happy with the actions of our school board. Don’t be fooled. The first red flag is that the district’s last survey, conducted just one year ago, showed that only 38% of parents and 14% of teachers approved of the direction of the district. However, this parent survey was ignored, along with parent requests to conduct subsequent surveys. Recent TELL survey results show that twice as many teachers want to leave our school district than the state average, and at the high school level it is even worse.
Last year parents were told that $3.5 million needed to be cut from our high schools, resulting in close to 3 weeks of lost instructional time per each credit hour, only to find out afterwards that the District incurred a $20 million operating surplus. Even though many parents pointed out a source of funds to the District and predicted a large increase in the District fund balance, the high school budgets were cut, resulting in many students attending school for half days and receiving less attention as teachers are now required to teach 20% more students each year. To add insult to injury, the District distributed inaccurate information to parents and the public, telling us instructional time had actually gone up by 3.24 hours per class. Not until pressed by concerned parents who recognized that cutting the school day into 8 periods instead of 7 would result in smaller, not larger class periods, did they finally admit that instructional hours had actually gone down by 10.26 hours per class. That’s over 240 hours less instructional time required to graduate. Yet the District refused to issue a correction. Unnecessary cuts and incorrect information are just two examples of how parents and the public have been misled by the District.
Ask yourself this – can you trust the word of a school district that takes unnecessary cuts to their high schools, distributes inaccurate information to parents, ignores parent survey results and refuses to acknowledge that they have a teacher morale problem? Parents and citizens, please, do your own research; don’t fall for the rhetoric meant to distract you from the real problems. Our kids need your support now more than ever.