The start of a new school year is often a time of hope and enthusiasm.
The sad exception to that rule is if someone in your family had the misfortune of attending a public school in Denver under its current governance and leadership.
In this age of enough cynicism and even loathing, public expectations of elected officials and those appointed to their top are limited. the bar is low. Saviors and miracle workers would be great, but we settle for minimal competence, hints of dedication, and the tiniest drop of goodwill.
For the DPS seven-member board, even baseline-level performance appears to be beyond their capabilities. As a group, the DPS Board missed the most basic lesson of damage control. In other words, when you enter the hole, stop digging.
Let’s start by setting some context. Overall, Denver’s public school performance indicators are better than ever. After two grades, the loss of learning became all too real for her one-third of students who were greatly affected by the pandemic.
According to data released last April, only 5% of DPS Black and Latino third graders read at grade level. please think about it. Her 1 out of 20 such students just meet the standard, not necessarily excellent.
For white third graders, reading that number at the grade level was a whopping 30%. Still less than a third. And it hardly deserves a parade.
Mathematics assessments were nearly as dire, with just 18% of fourth graders demonstrating proficiency.
As if more evidence was needed, statewide CMAS results released this week show a five-point drop from already weak pre-pandemic levels of DPS students meeting literacy standards. Along with this is her drop of more than 10 points when it comes to math standards, with her one in five Denver youth not meeting that target.
If not all screaming “crisis,” what exactly is it? do you need?
And if that doesn’t force elected school boards to put aside all sorts of tangential agendas in favor of Lazer’s focus on learning, perhaps, perhaps, those elected Those occupying the same seats are proving themselves worthless.
Far beyond the confines of the District Headquarters, it predicts rampant underachievers and dire futures for Denver’s vast numbers of children if these dire numbers fail to incite collective public outrage. , we are neglecting a basic duty of citizenship.
But with summer fun and, for many, buckets of anger drying up, reactions to Denver’s school failure have been lukewarm.
Shame on the people running the district. But those who give them power and then turn away should also be ashamed.
Naturally, this should be a cohesive, collegial board. One was recently nominated for a vacancy, and all six of her other members were elected on a similar platform, with the support of the Always Benevolent, Always Child Centered Teachers Union.
Instead, the board has become a dysfunctional spectacle. Worse, the breakdown isn’t about substantive issues or disagreements. It’s akin to high school low dramas of emotion, cliques, and grudges.
Xochi Gaytan tries to become student council president despite having little aptitude for the role. Tay Anderson and Scott Esserman are mean boys who make a ruckus in the halls. Scott Balderman drives the best cars in parking lots and dates cute cheerleaders. Michelle Quattlebaum belongs to many clubs and she desperately wants to join her ranks.
Carrie Olson is a serious student, wide-eyed at the absurdity around her. Newcomer Charmaine Lindsay comes home to her every day lamenting that she signed up for this place.
During the little time the board spends on anything other than personal attacks and grudges, they try to find a power-sharing approach called “policy governance.” But any governance is a shambles, and policy decisions like the current one are mostly for disease. Such as the nonsensical decision last spring to handcuff an innovative school that some of the districts actually do well.
The best service this committee can offer might be to visit high school civic classes for lessons on how not to behave. “Don’t be like us” has a certain ring to it.
It’s no surprise that a board focused on everything but education chose a superintendent whose jury had yet to come out, but showed all signs of having an equally fragmented and extravagant agenda. I’m here.
After a year on the job, director Alex Marrero recently announced a new strategic plan for DPS. It reads more like a dissertation on social justice than any kind of overarching roadmap to measurably and tangibly improving learning.
Let me be clear, I have nothing against social justice. But when academic performance is sinking and sinking below the surface, any overarching hymn to the fair ring becomes hollow. That’s true across the board, and it’s especially true for children of color. Where is the justice for inferior education?
Headlined “Every Learner Thrives” (Hunky, please), Marrero’s plan has three wobbly pillars: “improve the student experience.” “improving the adult experience;” and removing “ineffective and destructive systems” so that the district is “locally, regionally and nationally recognized as a leader in equity and sustainability practices.” to
Among other things, Stephen Covey preached: There is wisdom in that redundancy. For struggling school districts, the main thing, and perhaps the only thing, is educational background. Everything else, including massive amounts of progressive arousal, is extremely distracting.
My kids, both graduated from DPS high school, skipped co-op a long time ago. I am not envious of students who are still in school or their families. This is a district that screams adult supervision and constant focus on the main thing.
Until that is the case, the only commensurate reaction is rage. Eat more.
Eric Sondermann is an independent political commentator based in Colorado. He writes regularly for the Colorado Politics and Gazette newspapers. Contact him at [email protected] him at @Eric Sondermann