By Lyssa Holtz, parent
Published August 29 (print and online) YourHub
I have a first grader. With all the uproar in Douglas County around education and the Board of Education, my husband asked me, “what exactly are the issues and what is going wrong”? I volunteered regularly in my daughter’s kindergarten class last year and sadly discovered desk activities, structured writing, reading assigned books, focus on penmanship, a rush to finish worksheets, and rescess only on a good day because, “they have so much to learn”. I watched my daughter’s curiosity and desire to read decline, and tummy aches increase.
So I did some research, and discovered that the best practices for learning are the opposite of what we are doing, and in fact may be inhibiting learning. My quest to try to ‘fix’ the ‘misconceptions’ had begun. I naively thought that if people in power just had the right information, things could change. I got realistic but encouraging feedback from our principal, and “disbelief” from the superintendent and the assistant supers about the recess issue, and feedback that they knew the research was inconsistent but they were powerless to do much about it due to state and federal requirements. Really?
And then I started researching private school, online school, and home schooling options. And then I remembered how wonderful her kindergarten teacher was, despite all the rules she had to follow. Then I researched charter schools, as recommended by Dr. Fagen when I met with her. I discovered that their academic limitations for meeting all student needs (read special needs) sounded more like segregation than “choice”, and I didn’t want my daughter participating in that concept or at risk for “segregating” out.
Then I listened to how the BoE was managing questions at Town Hall meetings, and was stunned at their process. They didn’t answer questions, they reinterpreted questions and talked in generalities about other issues. I came to the conclusion that their operating assumption must be that they had all the power and no accountability, so they had no reason not to follow personal agendas, counting on the assumption that enough parents wouldn’t know the difference and would continue to vote them in. Who would believe that one of the richest school districts in the country would be managed so poorly? That just doesn’t happen here…
Now they are responding to the “concerns” with robocalls and commercials, and blaming some Union for all the dissatisfaction. It appears they think the parents expressing questions and concerns belong to this Union… And don’t they have an obligation to address questions from the public, regardless of Union affiliation? Although it’s probably fairly naïve to think that those who have the most to lose would give realistic information about how things are really going anyway. The mounting information about BoE behavior (reported and experienced by me) and what it’s really like in the classrooms is thankfully becoming too loud to ignore.
I’ve discovered that our schools have become places to meet requirements and out score anyone and everyone because someone with power and money thinks we should be “racing to the top” instead of learning our way through the world. Hence, teachers are “bad” because they were hired to teach, not improve school productivity. And the research clearly shows that what test scores measure best is socio-economic status…We should be outraged that the education of the future of our country is becoming a business to manage. I’m worried our educationally managed students of today will become the empolyees of other countries who are educating students, not producing students.
My quest into the state of education in Douglas County started with my experience in the classroom of a multiple award winning school. I think that anyone who spends any time in the classroom, interacts with the BOE, or talks with teachers will get their answers about what all the fuss is about in Douglas County.