by Patricia Crowley, community member (parent of former students)
Submitted to Your Hub
After my two children graduated from the Douglas County School District, I thought my volunteer responsibilities ended. During their K-12 years, I was a parent volunteer.
A few months ago, I began reading and hearing from trusted sources that conditions had changed in the schools, so I went on a quest for the truth. I heard that the district was “reforming.” I wondered why? It wasn’t broken from my perspective. I read newspaper articles and websites. I followed the conversation on DCSD SPEAKS Facebook page. I found links to suppressed important district related documents. Slowly I began to find the truth. I discovered that in Douglas County, “reform” really means privatization. I learned that the entire Board of Education and the Superintendent believe in this philosophy. I learned politics trumps good education policy and that the current BOE members believe they alone have all the answers and therefore need no community, parent, or teacher input and spend almost half of their time behind closed doors. I learned “market based pay” really means teachers in Douglas County make less than neighboring districts. I learned Douglas County’s unique, new, “Pay for Performance” system is seriously flawed and read the report stating as such. I looked at the budget and saw multiyear failures to budget accurately, resulting in unnecessary budget cuts which included cuts to instructional time in the High Schools while increasing the workload of the teachers to unsustainable levels. Elementary schools no longer have instrumental music on site and parents have to drive and pay for the instruction. Some Elementary schools have no art or music at all. This is not the district I remember.
Because of this I walk. I walk for Douglascountyparents.com. I walk and pass out simple flyers that I pay for myself to let other parents and community members know what has happened to our school district. At first I was walking out of anger about the damage done in just four years. Now I walk to celebrate. I celebrate with the knowledge that we, as a community, can turn things around at the upcoming School Board election. I walk to celebrate the achievements of my children and their peers who are now enjoying success because of the wonderful public education they received. I walk for the teachers and principals who continue to work and teach in a climate of fear and intimidation coming from the Superintendent, District Administration and School Board. I walk in honor of the very talented and dedicated teachers and principals who have retired early or left for neighboring districts where their talents are valued and respected. I walk because I care. I will walk and distribute my flyers because I know the citizens of Douglas County also care. They just aren’t aware of what is occurring. We never had to worry about the School Board before. This is new to us. The solution is easy. All we need to do is vote. Vote for the four candidates who care about good education policy and not about political agendas. The names on my flyers are: Barbra Chase, Bill Hodges, Julie Keim and Ronda Scholting. I am Douglascountyparents.com and I walk.