Transcript of Grace Davis’ recording of a closed-door meeting with DCSD board members
0:00 –Background noise at Ponderosa High School
Colleen: The board of directors are here.
Colleen: Hello, welcome to Ponderosa. How are you girls?
Reynolds: Hello how are you?
Silverthorn and Reynolds: We’re ….great.
Colleen handling water delivery
Colleen:…I’m sorry. Are you hear to see David or ?
Silverthorn: Um..is he available..by chance? If not that’s totally fine.
Paula Williams: Is he what?
Silverthorn: Is he available?
Paula Williams: I can certainly check. Let me check. I’m sorry Judi Reynolds and ?
Silverthorn: Meghann Silverthorn
Paula Williams: oh ok well I’m Paula Williams by the way. So nice to meet you.
Silverthorn: Nice to meet you.
Reynolds greeting and laughing
Whispering by Silverthorn and Reynolds
3:13 Grace: I’m here to meet with Mrs. Silverthorn.
Haggarty: Hi, hey, nice to meet you
Silverthorn: Hi are you Grace? Delighted.
Silverthorn: How are you?
Haggarty: Good. How are you?
Silverthorn: We know you’re not expecting us but we just wanted to let you know that we’re here to meet with Grace.
Silverthorn: And we just wanted to keep you informed of that so it wasn’t a surprise to you.
Haggarty: That’s cool. That’s cool. Very nice.
Silverthorn: Is there a place, do you know where we can sit with her?
Haggarty: Yeah….Give me a few seconds
Haggarty: Oh hey. Nevermind. Let’s see. Probably. You know you can come in Diane’s office. She’s not gonna be back for a long time.
Silverthorn: A long time?
Reynolds: A long time? It’s Friday afternoon. Laughing
Haggarty: Will this work?
Silverthorn: I think so.
Reynolds: oh Yeah. Thanks so much.
Haggarty: Absolutely. You’re fine. You’re fine.
Silverthorn: Sorry we just crashed your….
Haggarty: You’re fine you’re fine.
Reynolds: Thank you so much.
Haggarty: You’re fine.
Silverthorn: Someone’s gonna eat good. Oh yeah
Reynolds: Oh yeah you missed DC culinary services was doing some…..
Silverthorn: I’m so bummed I missed that.
Reynolds: the high school kids were…
Reynolds: Hi Grace, I’m Mrs. Reynolds
Reynolds: Thank you for meeting with us.
Silverthorn: Sorry we’re a little disorganized here just to start with, we’ll be alright.
Silverthorn: So I know you’ve already met with Dr. Cook and with Mr. Haggarty of course and a few of the other administrators, but it is not the same for us to talk to them as it is to talk straight to you. So we’ve certainly read your materials.
Silverthorn: If you would just a take a few minutes to talk us through… about your idea and how it came about and how you put it into action and what you see coming out of that and then we can talk about after that about what you hope to accomplish
Grace: Ok. Do I have to answer them in order?
Reynolds: No (laughing )
Silverthorn: It’s fine you don’t have to
Grace: Ok, I started it last Friday with a petition website which I knew about previously because I had supported a previous petition on that page so like I knew it like existed. And the petition that I signed on that page was for Ms. Lechuga. I didn’t really think it was gonna make that big of a difference, but like I did have her before so I wanted to support it.
Silverthorn: She was your teacher before? Is that what you’re saying?
Grace: Uh huh, I had her at Sierra in 8th grade. I just I feel like I’ve been hearing parents, uh not parents, teachers complain and express how they feel about like the evaluation system and how makes them do a lot of extra work that they’re not compensated for and things like that. And being like kinda mad about it. And I’ve been hearing things like from a lot of teachers that over the years and so I thought I’d do it because I mean I had the resources to.
Silverthorn: What do you mean you had the resources?
Grace: I’m a really good writer and I don’t know but I feel like I’m pretty good speaking with adults and so I thought it would be really good to help them out cuz I think our teachers are really important.
Reynolds: How do you think this is gonna help your teachers?
Grace: I guess it’ll help our teachers… Well the petition, or our protest part is mostly to reach out to students because an effective way to get on their level and draw attention to the students. Because students can make like a huge change because they don’t have to worry about speaking their mind and being prosecuted for it
Silverthorn: What do you mean?
Grace: Like I feel like teachers are nervous to talk about it because they think their job is at risk
Silverthorn: Why do you think that?
Grace: Just cuz teachers have said that
Silverthorn: They said that to YOU?
Grace: Yeah I’ve heard it around the school
Silverthorn: That they’ll be PROSECUTED?
Grace: Well, prosecuted is kind of a harsh word. But I think they could they, they feel like it could affect their job. They feel like they could lose their job if they speak up about their opinions. So I’m just hoping it will be a window for teachers to kind of communicate with everyone including students their kinda views and what they hope to change about our schools.
Reynolds: So who do you think is gonna participate in this?
Grace: Anyone who wants to. I mean it is our 1st amendment right so anyone can really go who wants to express their opinion. Students are like the main goal I guess since it is on school property so students will be available to that.
Reynolds: Even though you’re doing this during the school day when you guys are supposed to be in class? And you don’t believe that students should be spending their time in CLASS? Especially this time of year?
Grace: What time of year?
Reynolds: Well this time of year. I mean my high school student has 5 AP tests coming up in a couple of months, the ACT, a whole bunch of other things. College applications that she’s working on and they’re spending time in school learning some of those (sic)processees. I believe she belongs in school. I don’t believe that you belong out on Parker Road or even on Bayou Gulch or even in the parking lot.
Grace: We’re not protesting in the parking lot or the streets.
Reynolds: Where are you holding this protest?
Grace: On the soccer field closest to the football field in between…
Reynolds: Ok well that’s not an appropriate place to be. You’re supposed to be in class.
Grace: Ok I understand that.
Reynolds: So why would you choose to do something like this during school hours?
Grace: Um, to draw attention to it. It’s what Jefferson County students did and it worked for them.
Reynolds: long sigh
Silverthorn: So I have a couple of questions. Did you receive legal advice on what your 1st amendment rights are?
Grace: Affirmative sound
Silverthorn: Was that from…ok do you have a parent who is a lawyer or do you know somebody who’s a lawyer?
Grace: Well, I did a lot of research on it and they were all credible. But yeah But my parents know a lot about…I don’t want to talk about their jobs.
Silverthorn: No, no you don’t have to talk about your parent’s jobs. When I say did you receive legal advice, I mean from a licensed attorney in Colorado?
Silverthorn: Because I think that is umm…there is a lot of misperception around what a student’s 1st amendment rights are. And I’m not suggesting I’m going to come try do anything in that regard. I’m just saying that what you believe to be your 1st amendment rights may not be correct. Again, you have not articulated what you believe your first amendment rights to be either in your press releases or today with us.
Grace: It’s on my petition page. There’s a link ….
Silverthorn: I’ve seen that. You link to the ACLU. That is not a student protest document. It is an adult protest document. So there are certain rights that students and people under the guardianship of others have and don’t have. So I want you to be sure that um…well I want to clarify as part of this meeting that if there are certain consequences for students and teachers that walk out of school to participate in this that that is within the bounds of your 1st amendment rights. So if you… I have seen people under the misperception that they cannot get in trouble if they walk out and their teacher walks out with them. That is not correct. That there will be no consequences for them because they have the right to free expression. That is not correct. So I would suggest to you that if you are advocating to other people about this protest and if you are telling people that they have a 1st amendment right to protest. At a 10,000 foot level that is true, but when you get down to the granular level I would not suggest that you go telling people what their rights are and are not. That is for them to understand with legal advice of their own. So I’ll just caution you about that because they might point back at you and say well Grace told me xy&z and then it’ll basically become your fault that they get in trouble for whatever they are doing because they believed their 1st amendment rights to be something that they weren’t. So I just want you to understand that. I’m not asking for a response. I’m just saying that that needs to be out there and you need to understand that.
Grace: I’m not expecting teachers to walk out.
Silverthorn: Why would you not expect them to walk out?
Grace: Because it is a normal school day and they should be working.
Silverthorn:What will you do if other adults show up?
Grace: Umm I can’t really control adults.
Silverthorn: Well of course not, But what will you do if they show up?
Grace: If they are protesting and show up?
Silverthorn: If they…People with agendas like protests so they will come and they will do whatever they are going to do. And I umm …Any number of things could happen. And here’s a couple of examples. They could show up and presumably if there’s media they will go try to talk to the media and try to define for you what the protest is and they will run away with the media coverage and you’ll be left without a voice. They could come and be disruptive to the school environment. People who ordinarily would not be permitted on the school campus could come. And people you would not anywhere near your peers and yourself could come. And that’s frankly one of my concerns is the safety aspect. Protests especially in open air like that, they will draw people who have no business being near students, no business whatsoever. Um and so I want to know what your thoughts are about that and how you plan to control for that.
Grace: Um, well I spoke I think it was yesterday with some other district leaders about this. They suggested I change the time just cuz parents are probably gonna be at work earlier in the morning. And they think if it’s at 9:15, less adults will show up. So I did understand that kind of safety precaution and traffic and everything. And people who aren’t participating can get to school faster and everything. So I did change the time to 9:15. I understand that parents and adults aren’t allowed on campus and that’s been articulated to me a couple of times so it is on our petition page and I’ve publicized that. I can’t um…They don’t want me to set rules because people naturally want to defy rules especially in like a protest setting. So I made it clear, but I didn’t make it “you have to do this” just because it can bring out the rebellious side in people. But I mean, since the rights do to apply to adults, if adults come and are on sidewalks and streets protesting, they’re allowed to be. Well not in the streets though, the police would probably kick them off the streets.
Silverthorn: Well speaking of Jefferson County or even Denver. Denver schools walked out because they saw Jefferson County walking out. And you might remember what happened to that police officer. He was trying to assist with the safety aspects of that protest
Grace: Denver or Jefferson County?
Silverthorn: Denver. And he was struck by an angry motorist and he was in the hospital for almost 2 months. So if there are people on or near the streets, that is something that we cannot control for and that is a risk and something like that…no one remembers Denver’s protest. Everyone remembers the police officer that was struck and almost killed. So understand that failing to control for the safety of this kind of thing can basically undermine the entire protest. So..
Reynolds: Have you worked…Have you worked with anyone to control for that safety aspect? Have you worked with the school administration? Did you when you talked with other people from the district was there a discussion about the safety aspect? Have you contacted the sheriff’s department? I mean it doesn’t sound to me like there’s much of a plan to deal with any potential safety issues. Am I just not hearing that yet?
Grace: I have done… I was like in an hour meeting about safety the other day. It is like the police’s job to show up and do like traffic and stuff and we have an SRO here. I’m trying to think what I was going to say. I mean I know that the district has already contacted the sheriff’s office. And if we were to contact the sheriff’s office, we want it to be before because sheriff’s departments are just… I mean I know how they work and they are fast paced and if we tell them too early it’s not gonna get as many people involved.
Silverthorn: What do you mean?
Grace: Umm well, I was suggested by a cop to do it more, to contact them more like within because protests aren’t on their list of priorities.
Silverthorn: So your police officer acquaintance suggested that you wait until the protest is ongoing before?
Grace: No, no just to wait until at least till Sunday or next week just cuz if you tell them too early it will get mixed up and so. I didn’t contact them because I knew it was going to be on school grounds and someone told me either being Mr. Haggarty or one of the other district, the vice-superintendent I think he said that the police had already been contacted.
Reynolds: So I’m still really unclear what you hope to gain out of this. I mean are you speaking or are you guys just carrying signs. And what do you, I mean what does this protest what do you think it’s going to gain for the teachers that you are concerned about?
Grace: So, by holding a protest this young in age and around kind of the school environment it does give students an opportunity to practice their rights which I think that’s important at this age because we’re not exposed to it as much just because we’re not over 18 and stuff. So I think that could be beneficial to a lot of students. I did encourage people to bring respectful posters and I have examples up on our petition page. And we’ve posted on our Facebook event page. Spirit wear is appreciated just because we are coming together as a Pondo environment like just cuz and people who aren’t from Ponderosa can wear their own spirit wear. But it’s really for our teachers and we really want to support our teachers who work in the district . I will be walking around and taking questions because I’m interviewing superintendent Fagen the Thursday afterward so I want to get like the questions that people are afraid to ask or they don’t think they have the ability to ask people higher up in the district. To like go to the root of the district and our superintendent and really ask those questions that people don’t really ask because they don’t think they can.
Silverthorn: Are you willing to tell people they can in fact ask those questions?
Grace: affirmative sound. I just hear there’s a lot of hoops that people have to go through. And since I….
Reynolds: Who do you hear that from?
Grace: Teachers say they have a lot of hoops to go through to talk and voice their opinions about the district and by the time their opinion kinda gets heard, it’s kind of ignored and I don’t think it’s as valued as it should be just because they are the ones interacting with the students in the classroom. And I think the students opinions on the teachers are really important because if the students don’t respect our teachers and don’t want to help them it’s gonna affect how we treat them in the classroom.
Reynolds: But how does this help them? That’s what I’m not understanding. How does this protest help them?
Grace: The teachers?
Grace: It helps the teachers because I think they’re scared. They’re scared to talk about it or they…
Reynolds: How does this make them less scared?
Grace: Because it’s drawing more public attention to it and it can be reached quicker without going through the hoops right now I feel like
Silverthorn: I guess I would submit there are no hoops. Because you saw what happened yesterday. At 6:00 I called you. You answered. We set a meeting and here it is less than 24 hours later we’re talking about things that matter to you. So any one can do that with anybody in the district administration. And anybody can do that with any of us on the board of ed. So it’s not…I guess I’m unclear as to what hoops there are. You know this may be a giant misperception on the part of some people. But I mean we managed to get it done, you and I, right and I invited Director Reynolds and here we are. So I’m I guess if someone tells you: oh there’s tons of hoops to jump through and nobody cares about my opinion. That’s clearly not the case right. I mean you’ve had a parade of district administrators and now us sitting in front of you and the only reason Dr. Fagen’s not here is because she’s out of town. So I know that you have arranged with here to interview her. I saw the correspondence that you and she had and I’m sorry you didn’t want to work it out with her ahead of time. With that being said, I guess I’ll go back to Director Reynolds’ question which is: ok You’re gonna raise awareness. You’re gonna be out there. You’re gonna be gathering anecdotal questions from people who may be either unwilling or unable to come to us themselves and talk about that.
Silverthorn still talking: As a side note, you’re probably going to have other board of ed members here who will be ummm. I don’t know exactly what other people’s goals are. I only know what my goals are and I’ve talked to Director Reynolds about her goals. What we want to do is actually understand what you believe that …is this just like a big awareness raising thing or is it? What changes would you like for us to make? Because what I’m hearing is you know opinions aren’t valued; people have to jump through hoops; people have a lot of work; people are not compensated. And those are all things that you are perhaps hearing from your teachers. And I hope that your conversations with administrators over the past couple of days have shown you that that is not strictly speaking the whole story. You know there are state laws that we have to follow with regards to evaluations. There are people that perhaps don’t have very much motivation or desire to change the way they present themselves for evaluation. And if you are hearing any this, anybody complaining in your classrooms about extra work or about being compensated, frankly that’s inappropriate. I mean if you go out to coffee with one of your teachers after class, that’s fine. But if someone is in front of your classroom talking about their compensation and their benefit structure or their evaluation structure, I don’t understand what that has to do with your education. I know you care about your teachers. I mean I still care about the teachers I had in high school twenty years ago. But I don’t …that is not relevant to my future as far as college, as far as learning, as far as career, technical readiness, none of that stuff. So those are things that should occur outside of the classroom.
Grace: They are
Silverthorn: So I am getting emails from angry parents who say whatever your experience is, their experience has been that teachers are standing in front of them not only complaining about their compensation and their extra work but that teachers are encouraging their students to participate in your protest. I don’t know if you intended, but that’s what’s happening.
Reynolds: That’s what’s happening. And I live in this community and I’ve had conversations with parents. In fact, I had one this morning that the parent who is very upset that this kind of stuff is being promoted by a teacher, by more than one teacher in this building. That’s not what she sends her son to school for. (laughter)
Silverthorn: And that’s true, and so I think that sometimes whatever your intent might be what actually happens is…that’s not it
Reynolds: And I guess, for me…ok if you want to raise awareness certainly a protest is one way to do that. But again, being the parent of high schoolers. A protest is also an opportunity to perhaps just get out of class and hang out, especially if it’s not my favorite class. It’s not, you know I guess to me something I mean if you really want to share with your fellow students how things work in the district, to me the way to do that would be through an assembly, through a meeting after school, through some other means where you are actually able to truly share information with people that want that information. You know as a student, that if there is something you don’t want to hear, you don’t listen to it, you don’t pay attention to it, you find a way to ignore it. I mean again I think all of us do that to some extent, but certainly teenagers are masters of doing that. And to do a protest invites a whole bunch of people that want nothing more than to get out of class. To hold a meeting or even have an assembly perhaps even during the school day allows people to gain information that may actually be useful or beneficial. It’s not just a big party out there on the soccer field. Does that make sense to you? Do you understand where I’m coming from as a parent? Why I… I don’t have an issue at all with you seeking to understand. That’s great, but there are better ways and not so good ways to do that.
Grace: affirmative sound
Silverthorn: So here’s what I see happening. And I really do want talk about what specifically you want to change. Because frankly, we’re the ones that can do it. And there are other board members who have expressed their intent to come to your protest who are not in a position to do that. So I think there will be people that have heard about this that will show up and they will come and corner the media that are here. They will make it about what they think. It will not be about what you think. And the only…I don’t know how to avoid that to be honest because there are people in this community that love this kind of thing and they have axes to grind and they’ll grind them using you and I hate that because you don’t deserve to be used. You deserve to have your own voice heard for what you think. So I hope that when that happens, it’s not a surprise to you. So I guess with that being said what EXACTLY what do you see is a problem that you want to change? Because I’ve heard your general comments about what people have told you about the evaluation system. Like I said it’s my understanding that Dr. Cook went through some of the particulars with you so you understand it a little better. What would you like to see change? And forget about what people think about it. What about the evaluation do you want to change?
Grace: Oh, we are encouraging kids to stay in their classrooms and come out during their lunch and off periods.
Reynolds: Ok, so you’re planning on this starting at you said 9:15 is what the time is changed to
Grace: It’s during a passing period.
Reynolds: So Is it just for that one period? What the plan for the length of time is what I guess? laugh
Grace: 2:45 or 2:30 is when we have to get off the field just because they have lacrosse games and they do need the field so I have talked to Mr. Haggarty about that.
Silverthorn: So you’re thinking 5 hours is that what you’re…
Grace: I think it’s gonna die down before that but I don’t want to like have a scheduled time but we do have to get off the field
Reynolds: Well and I have one other question because you said something about encouraging obviously the students here to wear their Pondo colors. But then you said something about others wearing their school colors. Are you expecting people to show up from other schools?
Grace: Um I know some people have been working in other schools because it is district wide, and I do understand that only Ponderosa students are allowed on property and I’ve put that out there.
Silverthorn: What do you mean it is district wide?
Grace: It’s not just about Ponderosa students or Ponderosa teachers, it’s about like the whole district because they all follow the same evaluation system and such. And it’s been heard from other teachers within our district the same opinions that are being voiced here.
Silverthorn: So you’re?
Reynolds: Ok so I’m confused. I’m sorry. Because you said specifically you wanted kids to wear their school colors and then you just said that they’re not allowed on school property so where are those people gonna go?
Grace: Well they’re not allowed on school property and I don’t expect all of the Pondo kids to be on school property either. I mean there are like sidewalks so I mean I guess we’re allowed to be out there.
Silverthorn: So you think that there will be people on your field and you also think there will be people on the sidewalk.
Silverthorn: How does that mitigate the safety issue?
Grace: How does it mitigate
Silverthorn: How does that mitigate the safety issue? There is a safety issue of people being on the sidewalk and the compromise was to move it to the soccer field and to change the time. If people are on the sidewalk anyway, then the same unsafe environment exists.
Grace: Well I wanted to do it on the soccer field anyways before we went in but now I know that Ponderosa students and or the media’s not allowed in. Oh and I’ve already talked and given the media my statement so I don’t think…
Reynolds: What media?
Grace: 7news, The Parker Chronicle posted something the other day, and 9news…
Silverthorn: Who from 9news? Do you remember?
(12 second silence)
Reynolds: so you had a question
Silverthorn: no, no…Judi no, no that’s not right
Silverthorn: The way protest coverage usually works is not that you give them your statement ahead of time and that’s it. They will show up and they’ll try to find you. They ‘ll want to come find you and they will put a camera on you. Ultimately one thing I have learned having been part of media coverage myself is that even if they can find you, they are going to find whatever they want their slant to be and they’ll make that the focus of the story. So if they can’t find you or they’re not allowed to talk to you. I don’t know if you provided them your cell phone number or anything like that.
Grace: I did.
Silverthorn: They may call, they may not. They may interview whatever adult is closest by and like I said the coverage may run away from you. I guess , it’s concerning to me that if there is a barrier to possible protesters whoever they might be to getting on to your soccer field and they are gonna be on the sidewalk anyway, then we’re ripe for the Denver police officer situation to happen again right there. Doesn’t matter if the bulk of the students who are gonna be there are moved the soccer field or can’t or won’t go onto the soccer field. There may be people from your school too who just go out front and say I don’t want to go on the soccer field. That looks where all the action is. You know they’ll be 5 people on the soccer field and they’ll be 50 people on the sidewalk and that is a problem.
Grace: Most police officers in Colorado have to attend preliminary schools or go back to college for training and they do learn how to train or they are trained to deal with situations like that
Silverthorn: What do you mean trained to deal with situations like that?
Grace: They learn about how to handle different situations in a positive manner. I don’t not trust our police but if they… I do like have faith that they’ll do their jobs.
Silverthorn: I’m not sure if you understand exactly what I’m talking about. The police officer, it’s not about them not doing their job. It’s about someone from either someone who accidentally or with malice targets one of the police officers. If a car is bearing down on you at 50 mph….
Reynolds: Or a student
Silverthorn: Or a student
Reynolds: Or a community member
Silverthorn: If someone brings a gun or someone brings some other kind of weapon. It doesn’t matter how well you’re trained. I mean my sister is studying to be a police officer so I’m familiar with some of what that entails. It’s not about them corralling the people or them making sure the people are where they need to be. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about the unsafe situation. People we have no idea who they are being on the school campus and the possible risks of angry or distracted or just otherwise indisposed citizens wreaking havoc. So if moving to the soccer field really does nothing, if there’s still an unsafe situation in front of the school, to me that’s an issue.
Reynolds: Well, I want to go back to this whole rights thing.
Silverthorn: Oh right
Reynolds: Because you could argue that you do have rights to do certain things. Although as a minor there are limitations on some of those rights. However, with rights come responsibilities. And among those responsibilities you keep talking about the police or sheriff’s department who would take care of this because of the part of the county we live in. Um, that takes those officers away from their other duties. The district will incur a charge for that. So I should assume that you’re willing to carry that financial responsibility. Our taxpayers expect our students to be in school because our taxpayers are the ones who pay for you to be in school. They pay for the sheriff’s department. Do you understand that rights come with responsibilities? And if things go sideways for some reason or even on the issues of perhaps how all this gets paid for that that may land squarely on your or your parents’ shoulders since you are a minor.
Grace: Ok well we don’t have to be on property if you don’t want us on property, we can all be on the sidewalk.
Reynolds: But that still falls on your shoulders.
Silverthorn: Yeah, it’s not…
Reynolds: It doesn’t matter if it’s on school property or not.
Silverthorn: Yeah, it’s not. The purpose of moving it on to school property was to bolster the safety of the students. If there are people on the sidewalk anyway, it doesn’t matter who is on the soccer field and who’d not. It matters who was on the sidewalk when the incident happened. And even if there is no incident, if there are people on the sidewalk because of an event you organized the police will come and that whole scenario will happen anyway. So it’s not about us caring about whether you guys are on the soccer field or not. The purpose of the soccer field is to keep all the students safe. But there are other people in front of the school. So it doesn’t matter where you move them to. Those costs will still be incurred.
Grace: I’m not responsible for what other people do. I’m responsible for myself.
Talking over Grace: You are if you instigated the action and the reason they are there.
Silverthorn: This is why I’m telling you to seek legal advice.
Silverthorn: I mean I want you to be 100% informed of all the contingencies. you know. We’re not here out talk you out of anything. We’re here to make sure that not only do we understand what…and we somehow got off the rails of what you were gonna say about the evaluations, but that we understand where you’re coming from with specifics. Because again, I thought that was missing from your press release – the specifics. But also that we’re assured that you understand those specifics of the ramifications of your event. So we can go back to that but let’s go back to what you were talking about with the evaluations and stuff.
Grace: So I’ve heard about … I’ve been doing like education on some other teacher evaluation things and lot of them have student evaluations like coinciding with it and that’s like part of it and I think that would be really cool if we could add that to the rubric just because the students are the ones in the room with the teachers all the time and having a couple people go in a few times a year could like..you don’t know if students are just randomly misbehaving that day or if the teacher’s having a bad day. Like I think since…like that could still be a thing people could still see them, but you could not know the context of the situation and having an extra student evaluation I guess would help kind of bring in the opinions of what is going on every day.
Silverthorn: There is a pilot on going for that. There is a study being done about how to integrate that as well as parent evaluation. Once you get to college you have the opportunity to rate every single one of your professors every semester for every class. So and those are made public by the way which this would not be because of state laws. But those are made public so you can look and see what professor you are interested in studying under. Ok what else?
Grace: Sorry I messed up here…so I know that Charlotte Danielson made a model for that kind of teacher evaluation I think it’s called the Danielson model so that ‘s where I kinda got that. I think with CITE or whatever – that’s an acronym, right?
Silverthorn and Reynolds: affirmative sounds
Grace: It could ..either our district isn’t applying it as efficiently as it should be or it’s being slacked on because I think some teachers who don’t live up to kind of all of the most important type of categories are slipping through just because they have higher effectiveness in different areas. Like I think how they interact with students and… affects the way…how successful they are as teachers. Because if you don’t get on the level with the students it can affect how much they want to learn and if you just have a teacher speaking monotone the whole time but he’s doing everything else and like on paper is like highly efficient because he’s doing everything else but not actually like connecting with the students connecting with students in a way they really really want to be engaged and really excited about the subject I think some teachers are slipping through that because we’re not having student evaluation or we’re having too few in room or like people going inside the classroom to evaluate them. Because I know some of my teachers are really good at interacting with students and others are just monotone the whole time and I don’t understand why they are teaching. So I think some of them are slipping through.
Silverthorn: Why do you think that? Are they sharing their ratings with you?
Silverthorn: Are they sharing their ratings with you?
Grace: No, but I did research on CITE so I know a little bit about how it works.
Silverthorn: Well, yes, but then so how do you know … do you know who is receiving what ratings? You’re saying that the presence of…
Grace: No… I know 12%
Silverthorn: I’m sorry
Grace: 12% of our teachers are like rated highly effective or something in schools and then they get…
Silverthorn: It’s a little more than that.
Grace: Oh ok, Well that’s what I know so
Reynolds: Well but You do realize that before senate bill 191 happened and all of this, that the teachers were still evaluated and after a teacher had ….was it either the 3 or the 5 year point… that they’d essentially get someone in their classroom observing them every… again it was every 3 to 5 years.
Silverthorn: It was no more than every 3 to 5 years.
Reynolds: Yeah, every 3 to 5 years. Now there is someone in their classroom multiple times a year doing an observation watching how they teach and interact with their students. So that’s actually significantly better than what it used to be, not worse.
Silverthorn: This system is not unique to our district. Every district in Colorado has a form of this evaluation.
Grace: I was told that CITE was created by…
Reynolds: It is, but it has to meet the guidelines of the state evaluation and there are …again it’s either 7 or 9 districts that created their own system but it still has to comply with the state system. So everything that is in CITE had to be approved by the state. The state actually had to go and approve it and if we make significant changes to it the state has to approve it.
Grace: Um, I think that…shoot what was I gonna say
Reynolds: I’m sorry laughter
Grace: the ….dang it…maybe I wrote it down…um…so… oh and I think people like teachers get really stressed when they only have so many…oh I remember what I was gonna say
So, I believe that our principals do the in room and they show our teachers. I think Mr. Haggarty and Ms Garcia told me about that how the people like work in the school do it and I think that could come with bias.
Silverthorn: Do you know there is an appeal process?
Grace: No, well I’ve heard of it, I don’t know how it works.
Silverthorn: There is an appeal process.. let’s say if you’re a teacher, if you believe that your evaluation was not fair or didn’t contain certain pieces you believe to be essential, you can appeal up a chain in the district and say, you know, I believe that my evaluator left this out. And you can have an independent body that is not in your…like say Mr. Haggarty or Ms. Garcia – let’s say nothing to do with them. Not your boss, not their subordinate. Someone else comes in and looks at your work. That’s part of the appeal process.
Reynolds: So you think that should always be somebody who’s not in the building that does that? Is that what you’re saying?
Grace: Yeah, because I feel like the people who are… or even not if it’s a bad, like not if they got a bad rating, but even if they got a really good one. Like you don’t want to change a really good grade even if you don’t think you deserved it you know. So I think being in the same building and creating like co-worker relationships and being friends and stuff can affect that. And I think it would be better if people came in that don’t know them personally just because when you get to know someone personally, you want to keep them around you and you don’t want to hurt them you know. So if you gave them a bad grade it’s like awkward when you see them the next time. It’s like well um I don’t know how you feel about me, you know. So I think that having someone else come in is better and then adding on with student evaluation would even it out. Just because the student sees them everyday and then this other person is professional and comes with no bias.
Silverthorn: Well I agree with you as far as student evaluations. As far as… um I mean I guess…do you have a job outside of school?
Grace: Not one I’m paid for.
Silverthorn: I’m familiar with that. So when you get a job, I mean if you’ve had one in the past or you have one in the future, the person who evaluates your work is your boss is your supervisor. So that’s the case here. The principals here are the supervisors of the teachers that are here and that’s the reason why they evaluate them. It’s just like any other place of work. You say I’m here, I am your supervisor, both literally and figuratively. On paper in the district system they are the supervisors. So it is part of their expectations as supervision that they evaluate teachers. So that entire structure would have to change and I think a lot of people would say wait a minute – you want someone who isn’t here in school with me, isn’t part of my peer group, isn’t – has nothing to do with me is going to come in and evaluate my work?
Reynolds: Well, and in fact in some instances that that’s happened, that’s exactly the complaint. Is someone’s looking at this – They don’t know me ,they don’t know my work per se. You know so I don’t-I mean it’s – is this something that you’ve found just – that’s something that’s recommended in the research that you’ve looked at – is this something that’s come about in part because of conversations you’ve had with teachers that you know? You know how did you kinda come to that would be one of the things that might be a good change? And I honestly don’t know. I see advantages and disadvantages to doing it both ways. Um, but how did you kinda come to that?
Grace: Um, all of the above…? I think if you have someone coming in from another school, it balances it out if you have students do it as well. Like I think those go together, just because the students like you’d say they are familiar with the teachers work every day so I think it’d be…I do agree if it was just people coming in from wherever, not from the school, it could be like frustrating. But then again you’re also getting student’s opinions who always see your work all the time. So you’re also getting that type of thing.
Silverthorn: I just had a ——-? Have you talked to any teachers or many teachers about the possibility of student evaluation making up a substantial portion of the teacher evaluation?
Grace: Um not really. I mean I’ve talked to people you have moved from other schools. Like my friend used to go to school in Utah and they were really, the students were really involved in evaluation and they did it a couple times a year and put in their results and I thought that was really cool. Like I thought yeah why don’t the students do it cuz we see them every day. I’m not saying that would be all of their evaluation but I do think it should be added or substituted for something else.
Silverthorn: I think it should be added in as well.
Silverthorn: One thing that I’ve heard from and this is not a representative sample, but when I’ve heard it, the majority of teachers who hear about it say that students are not qualified to evaluate them and it is very unfair. And maybe you know people’s complaints about fair typically are not without their own bias.
Grace: Affirmative sound
Silverthorn: Oh yeah. Ok so from what I’m hearing for your concerns about CITE
Reynolds whispering …different forms I’ve used (laughter)
Silverthorn: The student evaluation…you are wondering why teachers who don’t connect with students in a meaningful way are still in the classroom
Silverthorn: And the people who are doing the evaluation of teacher work, you’re concerned about bias.
Grace: Affirmative sound – I’m not concerned about bias NOW. I just think
Silverthorn: It’s possible
Grace: it is a huge possibility.
Silverthorn: The rubric is written in such a way that some of that stuff is subjective –so either you did or you didn’t. Either you’ve done it this amount of time or you haven’t. so it doesn’t matter how much Judi and I are best buddies, it’s like sorry you didn’t show up to half the board meetings. It’s not good. You know so I mean I think we had this concern when we first rolled this instrument out. And please understand, I’m not saying that that doesn’t exist. I’m not trying to minimize. I’m just saying we had this conversation back in 2010 where people would say gosh what if my principal hates me? What do I do? And you know we tried to make it as subjective, objective excuse me as possible like yeah either you did or you didn’t. if you have a concern here’s the appeal process. And then when state looked it over and they said ok your instrument is good. So ok now that we, is there anything further as far as…?
Grace: Um I think it’s difficult for our teachers to get the proper equipment to teach us in like a way they want to. Cuz I know a lot of my teachers have put up their own whiteboards. They couldn’t get whiteboards so they would paint it themselves, you know. They have to do a lot of things around their classroom and supply their classroom with the tools they need to teach and I think that with all of like the planning that goes along with CITE and stuff, the amount of time that you’re like using for that like planning for class and everything and also like having to put up a whiteboard in your free time like over the weekend. Like I think it’s really inconvenient and it should be supplied for the teachers. You know they’re already doing their job, but now they have to do something else that shouldn’t really fall on their shoulders.
Silverthorn: You mean the actual putting up of things or the acquisition of things?
What’s acquisition mean? Like asking for it?
Silverthorn: Well no, well sort of… when they get…so like if I go out and….what I mean by that is…do you mean it should be bought for them and set up for them? Or?
Grace: Yeah I don’t think they should have to come in on the weekend and set up the tools they need to teach. Like I would say every classroom in at least this school probably needs a whiteboard. So just like necessary things that teachers are having to do in their free time. And like teachers are going above and beyond and they aren’t really getting recognized for it, but they do do it.
Silverthorn: What do you mean by not getting recognized?
Grace: I think if you’re doing something that isn’t entailed in your job, you know I mean that’s going above and beyond. And I mean if people aren’t seeing that but it like is your job so maybe that should contribute to evaluation. I mean if it’s gonna be entailed in their job then they should be evaluated on it. But I mean I doubt it is.
Silverthorn: There’s a whole professionalism segment and effectiveness. A lot of that stuff does get rolled into that. You know principals will say hey you know you’ve got a great classroom, kids love being in here, you’ve given them direction over how they want to sit in it or how they want to congregate or how they want to learn whatever they are learning. And so that will earn them marks on their evaluation. Ok, so this is…were there other things? Or were those kinda the main things?
Grace: Those were the main things. I just..like I understand that you probably talked about it and those are all the things that fall into evaluation. But maybe since there are people unhappy with it, maybe it just isn’t working.
Silverthorn: Sigh.. Well as long as people understand that we have to have a teacher evaluation and it has to be under the strictures of the state law. We can’t dump the evaluation system.
Grace: Affirmative sound. No, I just mean that maybe we switch to a different one or maybe edit the one we have now or somehow or something like that.
Silverthorn: Well, editing the one we have now is certainly within the realm of possibility and that is done every year, just so you know. Over the summer, teachers are gathered and compensated to make those changes. So, I’m sure the administration has a list of things they change every year and that they can provide you if you want to see it.
Silverthorn: What kind of concerns do you anticipate picking up when you make your rounds at the soccer field next week?
Grace: I’ve already gotten some questions kind of on the comment section of our petition page so I’ll probably take some off there if they’re respectful. I’m trying to delete all the ones that aren’t and it’s really difficult just cuz I can’t go through all of them all the time. I’m really busy. Just like basic things. Probably I’ll go over that students don’t really know, like a lot of them aren’t familiar with how our county like our schools work. And I think that’s important for us to know. Just cuz we are constantly involved with it. Like we spend 8 hours a day like in this environment. And I know sometimes in government they do projects on how it works. But I think it should be like everyone should know how it works just so we can be involved. And if people do have questions they can like contact the people that they need to and they know how. I think that’s a big reason why people are using this as like a way to talk and ask questions about it. But , probably mostly questions about ..people might ask …like specific things like things about what control she has over certain…
Silverthorn: The superintendent?
Grace: Yeah Mrs. Fagen, er I mean Dr. Fagen. Certain parts of our school district that she has control over. Or how she can have power over certain things. Oh I also want to talk about the assembly thing. I did originally think that would be a good idea, but knowing how many people don’t attend assemblies just because, as a student, like hearing from other students. They don’t show up to assemblies. I don’t think they’re as effective the older we get. Like the older we get, we are more understanding about how schedules work and like people want to leave so I know a lot of people just don’t go to assemblies. And I think by having something that teenagers can relate with I guess, like a protest or something like that it kind of gets on their level in more of a way, where it’s not like an assembly where like you’re required to sit down here. You have to do certain things…
Reynolds: Ok but they serve two different purposes. A protest is about you voicing your opinion, regardless of what my opinion may or may not be. An assembly is an opportunity to listen and learn something. So they serve two different purposes in my mind. I mean, how are you gonna speak to everybody at this? I guess I uh..obviously (laughter)
Silverthorn: How will you educate them? I mean if an assembly is something you believe…and I’m not sure what you mean by effectiveness so maybe we could talk about that. But if I guess if we…and I’m not saying that I’m asking you to do this or anything. But let’s say that we make ourselves and Dr. Fagen and administrators who can answer questions about CITE available to students, you think no one would show up? Like no one? I mean no one who might want to learn about this? You think they’ll come to a protest to learn about it instead? I guess I’m trying to understand
Grace: Yeah I do. I think that like from a student perspective it’s more appealing.
Silverthorn: How will they LEARN about things though?
Grace: Well most of them have already like referred to our petition pages and stuff. And I’m planning on… If they don’t understand it, they won’t go. That’s like most of it. But I think most of the students here know like the gist. So If they believe in it, obviously they’ve shown up. And um Yeah
Silverthorn: OK so I guess let me back up a little bit. Maybe we’re talking about education on two different things. If we want to help students who don’t understand and have questions about CITE or about anything else relating to teachers and how they are part of our district. I guess I’m still not sure I understand how a protest will help them understand that. I understand that they might be…knowing what they know or don’t know, they’ll show up and be like yeah I want our teachers to be treated better. Everybody loves teachers. Everybody wants our teachers to be treated well. What does that mean to different people? What is different people’s understanding on that? What would that look like? You know if I ask 10 people in the hallway what does the teacher evaluation? 10 of them will have different answers. And they’ll be like oh I don’t know, but nobody likes it. Oh I don’t know, but my teacher was terrible and now she’s gone. Or whatever. You know so I guess I want to know how you think the protest is going help people learn like the facts not just word of mouth or whatever. Even if you were perfectly informed about every last thing, you running around on a protest field trying to help people understand is not effective. So how is this going to make that effective?
I mean I’m planning on handing out just like one paper, not like a bunch but like papers kind of with excerpts from articles and different things cuz on my petition page. I’ve done a lot of research, but like some of the links I posted on the petition page that I thought weren’t too long or like students would actually take the time to read. And so they talk about pay for performance. They talk about teacher pay in our district. I have some from Douglas County Parents which is by our SAC group. So…
Silverthorn: Douglas County Parents is not affiliated with the district. Do you know that?
Reynolds: And they’re not associated with the SAC.
Silverthorn: No they’re not associated with the SAC either.
Grace: I’ve been told they are
Silverthorn: No they’re not
Reynolds: No they’re not
Silverthorn: The SAC is a statutory body that is an official part of the district – of this school. Douglas County Parents is an activist group of people who don’t like the district.
Silverthorn: So you should know that linking information to Douglas County Parents is generally not accurate. They will tell you that information is accurate but that would be like, like gosh me…
Reynolds: Do you have any links to anything on the district website about CITE because there’s quite a bit of information there?
Silverthorn: There is
Grace: I don’t…Like I said I wanted things that people would relate to and a lot of them have excerpts from the district website and they lead to the district website. Like one page was…I don’t remember what it was called…but it talked about Douglas County and it compared all of the pay of different districts in Colorado and then it like said refer to the website or whatever . But… I would try to find unbiased articles just because I want people to make up their mind for themselves. Like I want it to be a choice. Like I don’t want people to be like forced to go to an assembly and sit down and listen to it. Because I know kids especially, they don’t want to be forced to do anything, especially at this age,. So I think having the opportunity to make up your own mind kind of helps.
Silverthorn: I’m not interested in forcing people to do anything. But I would also tell you as straightforwardly as possible that Douglas County Parents is not an unbiased website. The district.. you know I guess….here is an elephant in the room and I’ll just say it. People think the district’s information is biased which is amusing because the district is the author of the information. The district wrote CITE, the district controls pay for performance, the district publishes the market pay scale. That is the fact. People can come to whatever conclusion they want to come to about it. They can say oh I think everybody should be paid exactly the same.
Reynolds: Well But I guess if your purpose is to inform people about CITE and perhaps the changes that you see might be beneficial to make it a better thing, it certainly seems to me that the very first link you should have in an effort to educate is a link to that document.
Silverthorn: Yeah, I don’t know if you have…
Grace: The CITE document?
Reynolds: Yes. Yeah.
Grace: Oh ok
Silverthorn: And so if people can look at the actual and say this is what my principal has in his or her hand when they walk around and look at what teachers are doing. This is about as original as it gets. It’s not an article. If people want to see what’s going on, anything that’s written about it from an external website is going to have some kind of misunderstanding because those people are not administrators in our district and they’re gonna have some kind of bias. I mean there are people everywhere with opinions you know. So I guess I would say if you want people to have information about what’s happening in our district, our district has that information. And then people, like you said, can look at it, read it, come to their own conclusion. If you are linking to external groups like Douglas County Parents, then there will be a certain perception about what your agenda is.
Grace: affirmative sound
Reynolds: And I want to go back to that…why do you think there is a link between our school accountability committee and Douglas County Parents?
Grace: I was referred to some of the websites by people in our sac group. Er well Like…I don’t know… just one.
Silverthorn: Your sac chair? Is that who you talked to?
Grace: Well Like a couple have reached out to me but I think Laura Welch. I think it was
Silverthorn: She’s the chair so that would be…
Grace: Yeah I think it was a Douglas County Parent website. But yeah that makes sense. I can edit them whenever I want to so I can take some of them off. I didn’t know they weren’t directly….like I thought it was directly associated so…
Silverthorn: And I appreciate that information. SACS are independent groups and Douglas County Parents is not affiliated with anything having to do with the district and vice versa the district is not promote or affiliate itself with Douglas County Parents. They’re an independent advocacy group.
Grace: Oh alright ok I’ll probably take most of the articles off except for there’s one with like a letter from a past teacher and a response from Dr. Fagen which I thought was really cool so I’ll probably keep that on there.
Silverthorn: And that’s fine. That kind of back and forth is perfectly appropriate. So if you want…if you know where those links are to the actual CITE instrument then it would great if you posted that. You know I’m not telling you what to do. If you need that, we’d be happy to send that to you. And you can do whatever you want with it. I just think if you’re looking to educate people about evaluations and what all of that system looks like then our district has the facts and then people can look at it and make up their minds. You know that’s what you guys are learning how to do and in a lot of cases you guys are great at it. You know you guys are at a great time in your lives academically. You know you’re getting to the point where you’re doing all kinds of analysis, you’re doing all kinds of research on your own, you’re figuring things out. I don’t…um..I think it’s difficult when you’re pointed to incorrect information like in this case with the SAC. But I mean regardless of any of that you have come up with some reasonable things about CITE that you think could be changed so I appreciate that. I guess the …maybe I’m still missing the link between the protest and CITE but…ok, let’s say the protest has come and gone, it’s over. Now what? What do you want to happen?
Grace: Well like I said, I’m gonna collect things and I’m interviewing Ms. Fagen that Thursday after and hoping to kind of enlighten her on like some of the things that people have been asking because I know a lot of people are saying like the protest came out of nowhere but I feel like these problems have been piling up for awhile and they’re just not getting the attention that you would expect I guess.
Silverthorn: You might be surprised. I think and I’m not gonna speak for Dr. Fagen and again she’s sorry that she’s out of town. But I think we believe this came out of nowhere because you or your fellow students who may be working on this with you…in that regard, you’re basically the leader. You’re who the idea started with.
Grace: Yeah, I’m in charge of all the websites except for our Facebook event page which Bailey Conrad works on I think.
Silverthorn: ok The reason that we think it came out of nowhere was because suddenly last Friday, like a week ago, there’s this huge petition page that started and you know and so I don’t know about anyone else, the conversation I had with Judi was did anyone talk to you about this? No no one talked to me about this. And I mean these are not new concerns and when you talk to Dr. Fagen about this you will find that she knows this is out there. But I think this kind of thing. Frankly this kind of thing that you’ve outlined is more specific than a lot of people get. A lot of people are just like oh I hate the evaluation. Well why? Oh because it’s not fair. Well why? And it’s like a little kid. You ask more why, why, why, why, why and eventually you just reach and end game and oh I just don’t like it. And so this I think…
Reynolds: yeah there’s some good specifics in there
Silverthorn: and I think frankly
Reynolds: And some of it like Director Silverthorn said some of it is stuff that’s in process because the whole idea of the student evaluation piece has been around for several years and quite honestly at one point I think they thought it was ready to go and some teachers raised some grave concerns about it and so it kinda went back to the drawing table to find a way to perhaps make that a part of it because I think all of us think yeah our students are sitting in class all day every day and, at best, I pop in and out occasionally. They may well be the ones who are the best judges at least on certain aspects of a teachers teaching to give us the best feedback on that. So I mean I would agree with Director Silverthorn that that’s something I would like to see integrated in some way shape or form and I guess the question is how do we do that in a manner that our teachers feel comfortable with?
Silverthorn: Do you know about our student advisory group?
Grace: Does it have an acronym?
Grace: I’ve heard of it. I don’t know tons about it.
Silverthorn: Ok so it is an official committee of the board and it’s made up of students from every high school. So this is the kind of thing they look at. Students look at and advise our administrators on how to integrate this kind of thing. They came, the administrators came to SAG – I’m the board liaison on the SAG. So they came to SAG last year and they said hey students tell us what you think about evaluations should be applied from a student perspective and so we had a whole discussion about it for like an hour. And you know there are probably like 4-6-8 kids from each high school and we all meet once a month and the administrators come seek feedback from those students. So that’s something you may want to consider applying to if you are interested in this kind of thing. If this is the kind of thing you want to opine about and make your voice heard, then please apply. I don’t know and I can get you information on the application process but now’s about the time to apply for next year. So if that’s something you would like to do. It looks great on your college transcript, I mean your college application rather. You’re welcome to come to a board meeting. We have a spot on the ….up front with us for a student from that group. So if this is something that you want channel your energy into and if you have ideas like this we’d love to hear them. And if you want to be part of that group, that is like the direct pipeline to the administration to talk about it. Which is not say that you can’t contact us at any time. I called you from my cell phone last night and you are welcome to call me at that number whenever you want. And I know Director Reynolds makes herself available and other administrators do too. So in the future I might suggest to you…the reason people are saying this came out of nowhere is because you kinda did it in the opposite order of what most people think about doing it. Most people will sit with their principal, then they’ll sit with district administrators and then they’ll sit with board members to say here’s what I think. I’ve got a problem with what’s happening in the school. Or I have some great ideas, let me share them with you. And then you know if we blow you off and say sorry we don’t care about what you think, then you have a protest. So with everything being turned on it’s head that’s why it felt to me like it came out of nowhere. Because I’ve heard some of these things but you know at the same time…to me it’s like hey great over the summer our teachers are gonna work on fixing some of that. Or you know we’ve gone through this and there are issues that weren’t workable. There are all these things that we’ve done and it’s not like that’s not part of the churn. So for someone like yourself..I mean you see what’s happening with your teachers and whatever that may look like. I don’t what that looks like because I’m not here with you in the school… and then to say oh my gosh I’m gonna jump straight to protest. And to me that was like…I mean I wish we could have had this kind of conversation first. And then if you say gosh Meghann and Judi just blew me off. I don’t like that. I’m gonna go out and protest. Ok. At least we talked first. That’s why we’re reaching out to you ahead of time and again it’s not to dissuade you from doing anything but it’s more like clearly I’m concerned and let’s talk about what that is. So regardless of whatever event is gonna go on, I wanted to know from you what that looked like. And so I think if you speak to Dr. Fagen about these things I’m sure she’ll have a great conversation with you. If you think students need to know about the way any of this or all of this works, I really am having a hard time understanding how this is going to get us to that point. I don’t want to force anyone to do anything but if someone wants to come talk to me either one on one, in a small group, in a session, in an assembly, whatever the scale. If I could find a venue big enough, I’d have every kid in this district come talk to me then that’s a better way to educate people. So you know take that for what you will. I’m not forcing anybody to do anything.
Grace: Um…oh I think there should be a teacher coach. I don’t know if we have one of those. Do we?
Silverthorn: We have professional development where teachers can go to classes and have mentors and they can learn different things. What do you think that’s lacking in?
Grace: I think that teachers aren’t fully or it’s not advertised enough that is something they’re available to and if they do want to grow in their professional development and I think they’re not aware they have all the opportunities to so maybe that needs to be…
Reynolds: Are you aware each building has a PLS? A teacher who’s job is nothing but to teach teachers?
Silverthorn: Why do you think that they don’t know that that’s available?
Grace: I don’t know …I just…they…
Reynolds: Have you had teachers tell you it’s not available or is it just something you’re not aware of?
Grace: I have asked teachers if there’s like a coach or whatever and some of them aren’t aware. But I think that they just don’t know exactly how it works or something. And I think teachers are scared to talk about the evaluation process I guess just cuz it’s so closely aligned with the district that they feel like they are defying the district and they feel like that could affect their job or their job stability. And maybe like creating an anonymous or a like a safer environment for teachers to really voice their opinions about how they feel about extra workload or the evaluation system or whatever it is. I think that needs to be addressed.
Silverthorn: I know one person saying one thing is not something that a lot of people will accept. But, I say this until my face turns blue. No one is gonna get fired for expressing concerns about the evaluation system. If they are threatening, that’s different. If they are abusive, that’s different. But if they say you know I’ve just got some concerns. I don’t like it. Here’s some things I think can be done better. No one’s gonna get fired for that. No one. And so you can tell that to anybody. You can tell them I said that if you want. You know they might not care. But I mean there has been this pervasive perception that there’s this issue there and no one has gotten fired for expressing concerns in the 6 years I’ve been here, not a single person has been fired for that. People have been fired for performance problems that are documented, not expressing concerns about the way they are evaluated. So just so you know about that. I don’t know…there has been an attempt in the past on the part of motivated people to make it seem like someone’s gonna get fired, make it seem like there’s some issue. I want you to know about that. Because people have an axe to grind and people have agendas. So you should know that no one will be fired for that. If someone calls me up tomorrow, if one of your teachers calls me up tomorrow and says I got brave and I called you and I want you to know I have a problem and ok let’s work it out.
Reynolds: Well and I think we’ve all talked to teachers or principals I mean some of them are people that I know. I’ve had phone calls from teachers that I do not know who’ve wanted to either ask a question or discuss an issue or a concern. There never has been anyone fired for asking those kinds of questions or raising a potential improvement. I mean that’s part of why this teacher group meets over the summer – it’s not just like one group of teachers, it’s multiple groups of teachers because CITE’s differentiated among different teacher positions. For them get together and make suggestions I mean that’s how that whole process happens. Is because people are willing to step in and talk about it and say you know we think this needs to happen to make this better or one of the things maybe that myself or my colleagues struggle with is this particular section, or the language in this section isn’t clear and so it doesn’t give us good guidance as to what we should be doing, you know or that kind of thing. So I think it’s really important to understand that a lot of this is a really collaborative process but just like in any organization there are supervisors and there are bosses and there are people and in education the additional layer to that is government. Because there’s laws that regulate at least some of it not all of it not down to the minute detail but laws certainly are a very integral part of education good or bad. (Laughter)
Reynolds: So you know I guess if someone is saying they are fearful of expressing their opinion about there job, I would just point you to Facebook. Dozens of teachers get on there are blatantly honest and abusive honestly. A lot of the times they are very abusive. But they have not lost their jobs. And so to me I would prefer that no one personally attack anybody else but you know that’s the way it is. People are that way sometimes, but not one of those people has lost their jobs. I would I mean if anybody says to you oh I’m worried about losing my job point them to social media.
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