Public Comment to the Board of Education
May 10, 2016
by Amy McDowell
My name is Amy McDowell, and I am a parent of two kids in Douglas County. My kids are actually here tonight; my husband had a prior commitment so I made them come with me this evening. I’m actually glad they are here, though, because my comment tonight has a lot to do with them.
I am not a perfect mom, but I do try to impart a few key “life lessons” to my kids on a daily basis. I’d like to share a few of them with you all this evening, as I believe that the world – and this district – would be a better place for all of us if we kept these simple things in mind. The first life lesson I typically say several times a day to my children: “Be kind and respectful.” As kids, I believe there is no excuse for being mean, rude or disrespectful to peers or adults. I want my kids to practice every day so that they will grow up knowing how to treat each other as they would want to be treated.
As you now know, from so many teachers, principals, parents and community members standing where I stand tonight and trying to tell you, there are countless educators and principals who have left this once-great district because they did not feel they were being treated with kindness and respect. They do not believe an evaluation system that demeans them, pits them against each other and requires hours of time away from the classroom is a kind or respectful way of measuring what they do in the classroom every day. I know you say there are not that many teachers leaving, and to be quite honest, in my and my kids’ lives, if just one incredible teacher leaves that is too many for us.
A teacher who was life changing for my older child left last year to teach in Cherry Creek, and it broke my heart when she told me a few weeks ago that teaching in Cherry Creek this year for the first time in a long time she felt valued and respected by her building admin and upper admin. My younger child will never have the benefit of her incredible teaching ability. Perhaps if the simple life lesson of being kind and respectful had been implemented in the district, she would be happily teaching in Douglas county.
The second idea that I’d like to share is “Do the right thing – even if it isn’t the easy thing.” There are lots of times throughout childhood that this saying is important to keep in mind, but I believe it carries over to our adult lives as well. In life, it’s easy to do the wrong thing, because many times it’s the easy thing. However, it takes real courage, strength and humility to do the right thing – it’s oftentimes the difficult choice to make.
This is a life lesson that I implore Meghan Silverthorn and Judi Reynolds to bear in mind. Meghan and Judi, would it be easy to brush the whole “Grace Davis situation” under the rug and go back to business as usual? Of course it would. But is that doing the right thing? Is that the choice that would make you proud of your actions? I don’t believe we need an “independent investigator” who charges $720 an hour to tell us right from wrong in this case. Do the right thing, not the easy thing, Meghan and Judi – resign.
Lastly, I have always taught my kids to stand up for what they believe in. Again, it’s not always the easy or convenient thing. Trust me, I would rather be taking my kids to see Zootopia right now than making them sit through a school board meeting. But I want them to know that standing up for what you believe in is the right and honorable thing to do. Tonight, I Stand with Grace, I Stand with our Douglas County teachers, and I Stand with our Kids, the future of this district.