Originally Posted Denver Post Your Hub Article
June 8, 2015
by Pat Crowley, Community Member, parent of two DCSD graduates
After attending a Douglas County school board meeting, I often feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole. A cast of characters eerily similar to the novel seem to be in attendance. The White Rabbit, Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts are on the dais while the Cheshire cats are in the audience. This is not what a public meeting should look like. Slick presentations are made with carefully selected data spun to make it appear that nothing is amiss. Any data or information of wasteful spending practices are ignored and community members desperately trying to address issues with the school board during the very limited public comment are dismissed. The Board of Education(BOE) now appears to be ignoring community input results presented by their own Long Range Planning Committee. There are $275 million in unfunded capital needs in Douglas County schools and the Board of Education(BOE) is stalling. The voices of teachers, parents, and community members, even those who serve on the BOE’s own committees, have been effectively silenced by our current school board.
Any good organization should always be eager to get feedback from those most directly involved and then act on those results. The last time there was a validated, district-wide, district-funded, parent and teacher survey was 2010. It is now 2015. Are district leadership and the Board of Education afraid what the results might show if they did one right now? There has been a complete turnover of upper administration in our district, and many of those now in charge have very few years of teaching or administrative experience. Many are from out of state, some from tiny school districts. None of these changes have improved the climate and culture in our “Wonderland”, the exact opposite has occurred.
Parents, teachers and concerned community members have been trying for several years now to both inform and warn the school board that their “reinvention of American education” is not working. We are losing our best teachers. Principals are being blamed for the loss of educational programming, while the true blame lies with district administration. Insufficient funding makes it to the the school level due to the diversion of public tax dollars into upper administration salaries and reform initiatives, many of which are untested theories. Twenty-five schools needed new principals last year. Most of these were for elementary schools, where our children start their educational experience. This trend cannot continue, district leadership must use the same speed and effort to collect and analyze the opinions of the teachers, principals and parents as they did to initiate and implement the numerous “Wonderland” reforms the children of Douglas County have been subjected to before further damage is done to our community and it’s most vulnerable members, the children.