By Susan Arnold
Published Denver Post Your Hub
October 23, 2013
Marie Unger, former director of elementary education for the Douglas County School District (DCSD), became vice president of education for Castle Rock-based Emergenetics International after she left the district. Unger has leveraged her DCSD ties to keep taxpayer money flowing from the district to this for-profit testing agency. Yes – we have yet another example of the district’s commitment to striking sweet deals for their inner circle as they did when they put the CFO’s daughter and the spouse of DCSD’s legal counsel on the district payroll. At a time when district parents are paying skyrocketing mandatory fees for transportation, supplies, books, and athletics, the taxpayers of Douglas County have the privilege of gifting Unger’s new employer, Emergenetics International, with a sizable contract that thus far is in the $250,000+ range. And that figure doesn’t include the dollars contributed by the Douglas County Educational Foundation for Emergenetics training.
The absence of curriculum updates, crowded classrooms, cuts to music and librarian positions, and outdated IT resources are ignored. Instead, parents of Douglas County have a colored map of their child’s brain. You can witness firsthand how Unger became an Emergenetics fan while a district employee in this February 8, 2013 YouTube video with Elizabeth Fagen and Emergenetics founder and CEO Geil Browning. DCSD students, teachers, and administrators across the county have now gone through Emergenetics testing and know the color of their personality. There’s even a Douglas County Friends and Family Program. Because of Emergenetics’ “longstanding” relationship with the Douglas County School District, family and friends of district employees get “more than 35% off the normal individual rate!”
In addition to the sizable contract with the district, Emergenetics has gotten a big high five from four anonymous DCSD employees. If you look at the testimonials for Emergenetics for education (called STEP – Student/Teacher Emergenetics Profile), there are six testimonials. Two testimonials are from educators in Louisiana who give their names, titles, and employers, while four testimonials are from educators within Douglas County, who do not give their names or school affiliations. Apparently they don’t like Emergenetics enough to have their names attached to it. No one else from across the U.S. is providing a testimonial for Emergenetics in an educational setting.
While we should be appalled by the singular fact that the employer of a former district executive gets a big pay day off the backs of the county’s taxpayers, we should be even more outraged about how the choices made by district leadership reflect the wrong priorities for Douglas County. Fagen and the school board repeatedly tell us about the difficult choices they’ve made during tough economic times. Yet the choice they make is to test our children once again with methodologies that are unproven in the education arena. Yes, more testing is a priority while funding the essentials that our children and teachers need on a daily basis are overlooked again and again and again. Pay attention Douglas County voters. Should taxpayer dollars be going to the employer of a former district administrator, or should they be going directly to the classrooms where they are needed most?