by Patti Hickey
Parent, Highlands Ranch
Published in Denver Post Your Hub August 22, 2014
Douglas County students stared school this month. As these students entered their schools on the first day, they found that great teachers have moved on and new, and often unexperienced, teachers have taken their place. How does our Board of Education sleep at night knowing that teacher morale is at an all-time low and they have done nothing to learn why teachers feel so badly about the district and have held no one responsible for allowing morale to plummet well below neighboring districts?
A quarter of our students are being greeted by a new principal who most likely will spend his or her first year struggling to implement poorly defined reform initiatives that have been rushed to the table at the expense of staff and students. How does our Board of Education sleep at night knowing that many principals will be counting down the days until they too can leave a district where they aren’t respected and that as a Board member, they have refused to acknowledge or hold anyone responsible for the high levels of building administrative turnover?
Many students entered school buildings that are in desperate need of repair. This year classes will be distorted and student will miss our on precious learning time because of operational failures within school buildings. how does our Board of Education sleep at night knowing that they have diverted millions of dollars away from our schools in order to pay for their reforms and have not addressed the real reasons why they are afraid a bond initiative won’t pass-because parents and staff no longer trust them to spend precious tax dollars appropriately?
Parents will drop off their kids while silently hoping that the reforms imposed on their children won’t affect their ability to receive a high quality education. Many elementary parents will be looking at their child’s classroom and worrying if their child can succeed in a classroom where there are clearly too many kids. High school parents whose children are still on the 6 of 8 schedule will b e praying that their children use their vast number of off periods wisely and wishing that their kids could be in school for a full day. How does our Board of Education sleep at night with the knowledge that parent satisfaction is at an all-time low, knowing that they have done next to nothing to address the concerns of parents and instead have approved the hiring of a PR firm which will divert dollars away from the classroom in order to convince the public that all is well in this district?
Finally and most importantly, how do they sleep at night knowing that they were elected, not by the majority of parents and staff members, but as a result of tricking the 70% of the community who does not have children in the schools by fabricating problems in our district and accepting the financial assistance of hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals and organizations outside of Douglas County? How do they sleep knowing that Fair Campaign Act laws were broken in order for them to win control of our student’s future? How do they sleep knowing that their ties to political supporters often force them to make decisions that go against what is best for students, their families and the staff members who teach them?