By Joe Brandstetter
Published Denver Post Your Hub
July 8, 2013
In his scramble to trash teacher unions and the media, Merlin Klotz has also trampled all over other facts and misrepresented what a recent Tell survey for DougCo. Schools actually measures. Nice try Mr. Klotz on your fairytale, but a more reasoned response is in order.
The overall Tell survey results for DougCo. Schools aren’t shocking at all and are in fact typical, at least for now, for any well-regarded, acclaimed district with nominal funding and with generally average to above average family incomes. Teachers like much of their working conditions, the parent community is supportive, there is reasonable access to programs and materials, building leadership is good and the students are doing well by western states standards. That refutes exactly nothing of what the actual concerns are within Douglas county education that has caused some bad press and good teachers going elsewhere.
The true story is in the 3 Tell questions that are well below state averages. Those questions revolve around how well the DougCo. District’s evaluation program identifies effective teachers; how well the district evaluation plan helps in improving teacher effectiveness and how fair this district evaluation process is. They range from 65% to 37% agreement which is on average a -18.6% difference when compared to the rest of the state. The non-fairytale story is in the three questions Klotz tried to dismiss. Consider that all Colorado districts must comply with SB 191, yet DougCo. School district has one of the lowest approval ratings of any district in the state for its unique approach.
Mr. Klotz, my school has been the recipient of several of the so called culled “least effective educators” from DougCo over the last few years and they have been what we like to say in our district, superstars. We have high standards as well so either your best teachers are super-duper superstars or you are making far too many assumptions for ideological expediency.
To conclude, there isn’t anything particularly shocking or refuting in the Tell survey but there are areas of warranted concern. The Tell survey doesn’t ask questions about the performance of the superintendent or school board and their decidedly right turn in ideology. That is what is causing community concern and some fine educators to reconsider their allegiance to a district being used as a laboratory for purely political reasons. Some of us don’t appreciate being used as lab rats.