by Pat Crowley, community member & parent of DCSD graduates
Lone Tree, CO
Published in Your Hub
September 9, 2014
After reading through the new “world class,” “twenty first century,””choice”-laden, reform jargon-filled strategic plan being rolled out in Douglas County School District, all I can think is, why the need for all this “reinvention?” I have lived here for over twenty years, my children and my neighbors’ children are all graduates of DCSD.
The current School Board and Superintendent, all coming to power after 2009, claim that our schools were outdated, not innovative enough and there wasn’t enough choice. That is not what I remember, that is not what my now adult children remember. What I remember is a school district that worked cooperatively with teachers, parents and community members. I remember a district where the public was welcomed and encouraged to speak at school board meetings. All opinions were valued and political affiliation and politics were not part of the discussion. I remember a district where every neighborhood had a well-funded, well-rounded school where all students were welcomed and the school was the fabric that held the community together. I remember when parents did not have to attend a “choice fair”or go to a website and use a “choice tool” to find a school for their children, instead, they could simply go to their neighborhood school because they knew it would meet their children’s needs. I remember when music, art, PE and a certified librarian were present in every elementary school. I remember when principals were given the funding they needed to hire enough teachers to keep class sizes down and purchase curriculum without being forced to choose a “niche” or prove the funding was being used for a “new, Superintendent approved, innovation only” project. I remember innovation occurring organically from energized and experienced teachers. I remember collaborative learning practices. I remember “twenty first century” education techniques occurring in the 20th century. I remember choice being available including charter schools, alternative schools and online schools. I remember a truly functional school district that allowed students to become anything they wished. My children and their peers are now engaged in every occupation imaginable. They are doctors, nurses, artists, lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs. They were not taught to be assembly line workers as is now being alleged, they have become successful college graduates, have entered the workforce and are compassionate, contributing citizens.
Was the district perfect? No, nothing ever is. When issues arose, they were dealt with cooperatively and effectively. The focus was always on what was best for the education of the children and what was the best use of taxpayer dollars to achieve that goal.
Our district was not broken and did not need to be reinvented. That is a myth being circulated by the current School Board, Superintendent and big money, outside individuals and corporate interests that only want to profit off our community and students. Unfortunately, the ones being affected the most are the over 80% of children and parents who choose neighborhood schools. They are under attack, being defunded and micromanaged to unsustainable levels. The fabric that holds our neighborhoods and communities together has been ripped apart, all to the detriment of the children, parents and taxpayers of Douglas County. We must demand better, and hold our elected board members accountable for their actions.