We all have been privy in recent years to the axiom “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I am hoping the same will be true of my axiom, “If you repeat the TRUTH often enough, the truth will become self-evident.” So I shall keep on keeping on.
I am not going to repeat the indisputable data showing education “reform” is not working in Denver Public Schools. You have read about it here repeatedly, especially in the posts, “Blog Launch,” “STOP,” and most recently, “You Can’t Even Know Half of the Truth.”
But even with the constant drone of emails and main street media coverage about the success of education “reform,” Superintendent Tom Boasberg and his administration appear to be concerned that their power and relentless “success” messages are being challenged, and that they themselves could be held accountable for the failures of “reform.” They must be feeling vulnerable, for they are expanding their power and silencing dissension. The opportunities for public discussion and questioning of policies and practices are being greatly reduced. How else can the following power plays be explained?
- District SIAC (School Improvement and Accountability Committee) has been disbanded and reconstituted in the superintendent’s image as the District Accountability Committee. Twenty four members, all appointed by the superintendent with only three holdovers from the old committee, make up the new committee. The Park Hill Community Newspaper has an excellent description of the SIAC process and the results. The message from the District is very clear: Questions are not welcome, people not in lock step with the superintendent are not welcome.
- Bond Oversight Committee has had two vacancies. This is the committee appointed to oversee that voter-approved bond money is being spent as promised. Three people applied, including me. (Please note, I was the Board of Ed representative to all the bond committees during my eight years on the board and even after retirement have continued to attend many of the meetings). The other two applicants had no prior knowledge or experience with DPS bond-related issues, yet were still selected. Message: Questions are not welcome and anyone with historic information and/or perspective – when it differs from the superintendent’s – is not welcome or appreciated.
- Board of Education elections are coming up in November 2015. This power grab is not new and in fact has been going on for some years now, resulting in a 6-1, pro-failing “reform” Board. The past two election cycles have seen spending of $250,000 – $300,000 for each “reform” candidate per race. This November the last community Board of Education member will leave due to term limits. A 6-1 majority won’t be enough for this “reform” crowd. As one current “reform” Board Member said during the 2013 campaign, “I’d love to see a 7-0 majority…” That is not a majority. That is totalitarianism where questions and policy challenges are discouraged or ignored and where little heed is given to the past. Elections matter, folks.
Those are just a few examples of the latest power grab by this administration. And even though I said I wouldn’t reiterate the facts, here are some that need reiterating after ten years of “reform”:
- Reading 54%,
- Math 47%,
- Writing 44%
- Reading GAP INCREASED 7 percentage points in 10 years to 36%,
- Math GAP INCREASED 20 percentage points in 10 years to 34%,
- Writing GAP INCREASED 9 percentage points in 10 years to 36%
- 65% of schools have over 70% minority students
- 10% have over 70% non-minority
- 75% of all DPS schools are segregated
ACT scores: 18.4 (21 is considered college ready with no remediation needed)
Graduation Rate: 62.8%
Remediation Rate: Last available percentage was hovering around 60%
My ask of you, the reader, is that you talk to your friends and family and give them the facts. Many Denver residents do not have kids in school, but that does not mean they should not know the truth. That does not mean they should vote without knowing the truth. “Reform” is failing DPS students, DPS employees, the city of Denver. Please help get the truth out. Silencing the opposition by a power grab should not be condoned, overlooked, or taken lightly.
UPDATES ON PAST POSTS
The magnet International Baccalaureate (IB) program has been demagnetized, and after 25 years the internationally acclaimed GW IB the founder and co-ordinator of the program is retiring. The program will now not require an application. All incoming students can choose to take IB classes. One can only hope accommodations for unprepared students, many of whom seem to have been ignored after ten years of “reform,” do not result in a lowering of the rigorous IB standards. GW should not lose its hard won IB accreditation at the expense of unprepared students. Imagine Denver School of the Arts (DSA) having to take unprepared student artists! Maybe that should be the next target of “reformers.” Allow all who wish to attend DSA in. After all that would certainly be more equitable, and “reform” is all about equity.
On October 21, 2014 a group of public education observors, spearheaded by the citizens’ oversight group A+ Denver, sent a letter to DPS asking for a revamping of the weights used in the School Performance Framework (SPF). The SPF is the measure used to evaluate schools and staff. The group wanted to hear back by the end of November, not an unreasonable request. To date the only response has been this mealy-mouthed explanation as to the status of the request by A+ Denver in its February 11, 2015 newsletter.
“School rating metrics
A+ and several partners have been pushing for more accurate and rigorous scoring standards for schools, or a better School Performance Framework. We’ve engaged in conversations with district leadership several months ago, and have been notified that DPS is in the process of revising the SPF. We hope these revisions will be publicly available soon.”
According to the A+ Denver website: The mission of A+ Denver: A+ Denver will aggressively and relentlessly focus the community on improving academic success for all public school students.
Does this February explanation, coming after a four month silence, sound like an “aggressive and relentless” pursuit of anything? It doesn’t to me, especially when there are still no specifics offered, especially when I, as one of the signatories, have heard nothing about the supposed conversations, and most especially when new schools are about to be approved and old schools bullied based on this bogus measurement. Talk about no accountability. But then, accountability is only for teachers, not for the elected Board of Education and its boss, Superintendent Tom Boasberg, nor evidently the “oversight committee” itself.
And on a lighter note…unless you are a 76ers fan
The 76ers record as of March 19, 2015 – 16-52 for a “winning” percentage of .235. And they are not even the worst team in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. The Knicks’ hold that honor at 14-53 and .209. And pathetically, the Knicks aren’t even the worst in the NBA, for they are tied with Western conference Timberwolves for worst in the NBA. Race to the Bottom. Who are the real losers of the business model gone awry? Basketball fans and public school students.
And finally, sad to say, the Broncos did not win the Super Bowl and my first sports hero, Cleveland Indians third baseman Al “Flip” Rosen, passed away at the age of 90.