Category Archives: DPS

Christmas in May for Far Northeast Children

May 5, 2011

DPS Board of Directors, and Superintendent,

No Christmas for Montbello students

You have seen me at board meetings, some of you have seen me at events and   locations within the Far Northeast as well as in other  communities. Director Pena, we spoke at one of the A+ meetings held in the  Far Northeast where I asked you to “do the math” before supporting the  “turnaround” plans for Far Northeast.

I joined the board meeting/conference call held Monday, May 2, 2011;   subsequent to that call, I want you to know that I am  disappointed in and disgusted by your willful and blatant disregard  for the law, the teachers, the staff, the students, the parents, the community  members, and the school process mandated by SB 08-130 to govern approval of  innovation (autonomous) schools.

I am whole-heatedly supportive of improving education, the access to   education, and the system of education for ALL students in the  existing public schools which are supported by 60% of my personal property tax  dollars.

I am supportive of sincere and honest efforts to respect and  include students, teachers, parents and communities in the development  and implementation of educational plans which affect us as  stakeholders in the Far Northeast.

I am supportive of the DPS board, administrators, and staff –  including yourselves – respecting and following the requirements  of Senate Bill 08-130 Innovations School Act in all matters concerning  the application and approval of such schools.

On Monday, May 2, 2011, Superintendent Boasberg, DPS  President Easley, along with Directors Pena, Hoyt, and  Seawall demonstrated a blatant disregard for the process of  consent – by administrators, teachers, other school employees, students,  parents, school advisory councils, and community members – required by SB  08-130 to approve innovation schools.

I object – along with thousands of other residents in the Far  Northeast –   to the mass privatization of our public schools in the  Far Northeast where I live.

I object to subjecting teachers; especially those who are minority and pension-invested, employed in the Far Northeast “turnaround” schools, to at-will firings and the so-called reduction in building process. I  object that you and other proponents of the “turnaround” process did not  have to sit before those teachers to see their faces when they cried.

I object to mass, ivy league, non-credentialed, 5 and 6-week  trainees being hired to replace stellar, credentialed,  experienced, mostly minority teachers in the Far Northeast.

I object to the blatant disregard of the expressed wishes and needs of   students, parents, and community members in the Far Northeast.

When you visit your doctor or designated hospital, God forbid that you   and/or your family will be forced to be treated by non-certified, non-licensed,  inexperienced, 5-6 week trainees who have been hired to replace   certified, licensed, experienced physicians, nurses and staff because  corporatist think that somehow the goal is all that matters. Intelligent people  realize that the goal is important but, who takes you there and how you get  to your destination are essential.

As elected officials of the “people” who elected you, you owe your   constituents the respect and dignity to be PRESENT in your  communities, to LISTEN, and to VOTE THEIR WISHES – that is why you were  elected.

Speaking OF the children does not equate to working FOR the  children. Supporters of the so-called “turnaround” plans, school reform,  and the charter school movement seem to operate as though they  are preparing for a poor kids Christmas party (charter schools)  where exciting “presents” (various school curricula) can be opened,  and there, the children and families will sing Christmas songs (hale to the  charter schools) and the communities will realize how wonderful the givers  (turnaround/reform supporters) are. Ignored was that the givers  didn’t ask the parents what the kids needed or what they wanted them to have.  The kids are pleased for only a short time because the “presents” were  not what they really needed, or wanted.

The DPS board of directors and superintendent tip-toeing around 900 Grant  Street hiding injustices is not the same as parents tip-toeing round  their houses, hiding Christmas presents.

“The power of the people is more  powerful than the people in power.” Perhaps that is what you are fearful of; however, if you are  a part of the people, you are a part of the power.

Earleen Brown
Far Northeast Denver resident
Concerned Citizen
DeFENSE member

The New York Times on Education

We may have to add the New York Times to the list of DeFENSE’s list of community friendly media.  In the past few weeks, the NYT has published a number of interesting stories about education reform and how it is failing. This past Sunday, the paper out did itself, however.

In A New Measure for Classroom Quality, the Times addresses the ill-advised notion of measuring teachers’ performance based on test scores:

Test scores are an inadequate proxy for quality because too many factors outside of the teachers’ control can influence student performance from year to year — or even from classroom to classroom during the same year. Often, more than half of those teachers identified as the poorest performers one year will be judged average or above average the next, and the results are almost as bad for teachers with multiple classes during the same year.

The alternative? Amazingly simple — measuring the amount of time a teacher spends delivering relevant instruction. According to R. Barker Bausell, the piece’s author and biostatistician in the School of Nursing at the University of Maryland —

Thirty years ago two studies measured the amount of time teachers spent presenting instruction that matched the prescribed curriculum, at a level students could understand based on previous instruction. The studies found that some teachers were able to deliver as much as 14 more weeks a year of relevant instruction than their less efficient peers….

There was no secret to their success: the efficient teachers hewed closely to the curriculum, maintained strict discipline and minimized non-instructional activities, like conducting unessential classroom business when they should have been focused on the curriculum.

Of course, if we want more efficient and more talented teachers in the system, we have to recruit them and make sure we hold on to the one’s we’ve got.

In the second education piece in Sunday’s New York Times, Dave Eggers and Ninive Clements Calegari address The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries. The opinion piece’s opening paragraph is pithy, to say the least.

WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.

And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.

If we are to attract truly talented teachers to America’s schools, we have to first change the culture of blame for the predicament we are in. Second, the authors argue, we have make becoming a teacher a lot more attractive.

At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible.

With data like that, it isn’t hard to understand why (1) it is very difficult to attract top talent to the teaching profession and (2) keep the talent in place when it is in the classroom.   In fact, if money would really help solve the issue of improving public education systems being unable to attract “top talent,”  then any good business would find a way to get the talent through the door and reward that talent once it was in front of the customer, in this case, kids.

And looking at Denver Public Schools’ own situation, a real difference could be made just based on District a management’s own claims related to our school district’s fiscal standing. Yes, it could be done even with the state’s cuts in the education budget…

Let’s say we really want to increase teacher pay in DPS in a meaning manner. I like the number $10,000 rather than a percentage of a teacher’s salary.   If the average teacher’s salary in DPS is currently ~$50,000, it would go up to $60,000. Lets do the math:

  • Say DPS has 4,000 full-time teachers (I know, the number is probably high, but go with me for a minute)
  • We want to inject a noticeable salary increase for teachers who fit the quality model, the ones who are really making a difference
  • Let’s be generous and say that 60% of all teachers fit the model of excellence, and we want to reward that with an extra $10,000 per year, salary, not bonus
  • The math works like this — (4,000 * 60%) * $10,000 = $24 million, or roughly the amount saved by the 2008 retirement funding transaction (aka the PCOPs), at least that is our superintendent Tom Boasberg keeps telling us

While $24 million sounds like a lot of money to you and me, it is only 2.6% of DPS’ overall 2009/2010 revenues of $922 million.

In fact, the District spends about $680 million at the classroom level of the system based on it student based budgeting numbers reported to the school board.  That leaves $242 million running around the halls of 900 Grant Street.

If 10% of this $242 million were spent on a real teacher performance reward system, you’d see DPS skyrocket to the top of public schools systems for job seekers.  Heck, you might even be able to hire a few hard working professionals from other walks of life, especially if those professionals didn’t have to drive a Yugo, subsidize the pantry with government cheese, and serve as the scapegoat for all of our school systems’ failures for the past 40 years.

It’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Lead Denver Public Schools reformer leaves district for Chicago

Many will not know the name Noemi Donoso.  Donoso led the DPS Office of School Reform and Innovation for just about 10 months, which isn’t a long time, but it appears it was long enough.

On Tuesday, DPS announced that Donoso will become the chief academic officer of Chicago Public Schools.   Donoso is the second member of DPS’ senior staff to leave the district in the past 6 weeks.  Denver Public Schools Chief of Staff, Amy Friedman, recently left the District to become the executive director of a not-for-profit organization in Fort Collins.

As director of OSRI, Donoso had a reputation for being hard charging and passionate about her work, impressing many in the education community with her ideas and ability to get things done.  Unfortunately, not many in the Denver community got to see Donoso in action.

In an email to DPS staff, Superintendent Tom Boasberg said Donoso would begin her job in Chicago in June and that DPS will begin an “intensive” search to find a replacement, a process that is demonstrated by the DPS employee recruitment training video provided below.

Caution: video contains DPS-proprietary and confidential business information

Recall petitions multimedia

Below is a gallery of photos of copying the petitions:

[nggallery id=2]

And here are videos of the press conference:

Best quote: “In that document, it says ‘we the people.’ But in that document, it should also say, ‘power to the people.'” –John McBride

Part 2:

Best quote: “…DPS’ ‘magic math;’ that is, disappearing students.”

Part 3:

v

Best quote: “We stand with the 6,000 people who understand that in these hard economic times, elected officials should not be firing hundreds of dedicated public servants, or the people will rise up and fire these same officials.”

November’s coming, Denver. Will you stand with us to take back our schools?

Mas de 5.000 personas están de acuerdo: ¡Fuera con Easley!

el 28 de marzo del 2011

Contacto: John McBride 720-270-0327 o Larry Borom 303-355-4635
Organizaciones: Northeast Community Congress for Education, Black Education Advisory Council, and Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education (DeFENSE)

Correo Electronico:info@defensedenver.com

Sitio del Red: http://defensedenver.com

Evento: Entrega de peticiones para la retirada del representante del DPS Distrito 4

Fecha/Hora: Martes, 29 de marzo, 2011 3:30 pm

Lugar: Denver Election Commission , 200 W. 14th Ave., Suite 100 (esquina suroeste, 14th y
Bannock), Denver, 80204

Más de 5,000 votantes del Noreste de Denver Apoyan la Retirada del Presidente y Representante del Distrito 4 del la Mesa Ejecutiva de DPS, Nate Easley

Denver, CO – Mas de 5,000 residentes de Denver, incluso Montbello y Green Valley Ranch, firmaron en favor de retirar al presidente y representante del Distrito 4 de la mesa ejecutiva de Denver Public Schools, Nate Easley por su conflicto de interés que resulto en una falta en su capacidad en representar a las familias del noreste de Denver en una manera independiente.

Easley está empleado como el subdirector de la Fundación de Becas de Denver cuyos miembros incluyen oficiales de las escuelas públicas de Denver (DPS), Theresa Pena y Tom Boasberg, que apoyen abiertamente el cerramiento de escuelas que han recibido pocos recursos para convertirlas a escuelas privadas (charter) como parte de la estrategia “turnaround” de DPS.

Ahora hay más gente que lo quieren fuera de oficina que los 4,500 que votaron para ponerlo en oficina. Apoyo para el retiro está particularmente fuerte en el área de Montbello así que muchas familias ya saben cómo se siente el impacto de cerrar escuelas y reducir la capacidad de escuelas. Muchos padres reportaron que sus hijos fueron puesto en una “lista de espera” de mas que una lista después de las loterías que tenían lugar para determinar la matriculación de estudiantes para el año académico 2011-2012. Padres expresaron su frustración y enojo por tener menos “opciones” ahora aunque llenaron las formas de matriculación muy a buen tiempo. Antes padres podían matricular a sus hijos en escuelas del barrio, y esas escuelas los aceptaron abiertamente sin que importara sus necesidades, dificultades o capacidades.
Ahora, familias enteras han sido rehusados de las escuelas chárter más selectivas. Familias están en pánico por conseguir opciones para sus hijos que tendrán que asistir varias escuelas por todo el noreste para matricular a sus hijos en escuelas que aceptaran a sus hijos. Es probable que cientos de niños vayan a estar desplazados y forzados a asistir escuelas fuera de sus barrios y además fuera del distrito en los condados de Adams y Arapahoe. También hay reportajes de que DPS y Easley no respondieron a llamadas de padres con preocupaciones.

“Hemos hablado con mas constituyentes de Nate Easley en los pasados 60 días – que es más de los con quienes ha comunicado durante sus 18 meses en oficina,” declaró John McBride.

Una coalición comunitaria de padres, abuelos, educadores y vecinos juntaron por dos meses para circular peticiones. McBride explicó que este grupo tan dedicado sin fondos ningunos de grupos políticos y fundaciones adineradas alcanzo a comunicar con miles de residentes, aunque un avalancha de dinero vino al lado de Easley de fundaciones adineradas para ayudarle en su lucha contra el retiro.

Otra cosa que escucharon los residentes es la gran cantidad de terminaciones de empleo que ocurrió durante la época de Easley. En los pasados 18 meses, Easley apoyaba la clausura de siete (7) escuelas públicas que dejo a más de 400 personas sin su trabajo sin sin ninguna evidencia de que los maestros eran inefectivos. “En esta economía tan difícil, nuestros oficiales elegidos no deben de estar en el negocio de poner más gente en desempleo, especialmente a los que trabajan cada día dedicados al servicio público como nuestros maestros,” declaró Mary Sam, una maestra jubilada y 8voluntaria para el retiro. Organizadores del retiro encontraron a muchos maestros que apoyaron privadamente el retiro porque tenían miedo de firmar la petición por el ambiente de intimidación que existe en DPS. Easley ha recibido más de $35.000 de contribuciones para su campaña de anti-retiro; pero, la mayor cantidad de fundadores viven fuera del distrito de Easley. Casi $20.000 de estos fondos vienen de miembros de la mesa directiva de la Fundación de Becas de Denver, los mismos que lo supervisan como empleo. Scott Reiman, Jack Kim, David Scanavino, Terry Leprino, Barbara Grogan y Steve Kris son fundadores y también empleadores de Easley. Un fundador, Wesley Brown, es codirector de St. Charles Capital con una colega de Easley en la mesa directiva de DPS, Bruce Hoyt, quien es apoyador de escuelas charter. También la corporación, Oakwood Homes, que desarrolla nuevos barrios en Montbello donó $5.000 para ayudar a Easley a luchar contra este esfuerzo de sus constituyentes.

Cuando se enteró de las contribuciones a Easley, un padre de noreste comentó, “Esto da mas fuerza a la creencia que “ya compraron” a Nate Easley los interés corporativos.”

Organizadores del retiro tendrán una conferencia para la prensa el martes 29, 2011 a las 3:30pm en frente del Denver Election Commission en 200 W. 14th Ave. Por las incertidudes de las listas de registración, organizadors sugeran que los firmadores que chequeen su estatus de registration de votante por hacer click al buton rojo “Register to Vote”
en www.defensedenver.com.

More than 5,000 support recall, press conference tomorrow

Over 5,000 Northeast Denver Residents Support the Recall of

DPS Board of Education President and District 4 Representative Nate Easley

Denver, CO – Over 5,000 Northeast Denver, Montbello and Green Valley Ranch residents signed their names in support of recalling DPS Board of Education President and District 4 Representative Nate Easley due to his conflict of interest resulting in his failure to independently and adequately represent Northeast families. Easley is employed as the deputy director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation whose board members include Denver Public Schools (DPS) officials Theresa Pena and Tom Boasberg, strong proponents of shutting down or phasing out under-resourced public schools and converting them into privatized charter schools as part of the DPS “turnaround” strategy. There are now more residents that want Easley out of office, than the approximately 4,500 people that voted to elect him.

Support for the recall was particularly strong in the Montbello-area since many of those families have already felt the impact of school closures and seat reductions.  Many parents reported that their children were “waitlisted” on more than one list after lotteries were held to determine enrollment placements for the 2011-2012 academic year. Parents expressed extreme frustration and even anger that they had fewer “choice” options now despite filling out enrollment forms early. Previously, parents could readily enroll their children into neighborhood schools, and those schools openly accepted them regardless of their needs, challenges and abilities. Now, entire families have been shut out of the smaller and more selective charter schools. Parents have been left scrambling to find options for siblings who will be dispersed across the Far Northeast area, searching for schools that will accept all of their children. Potentially, hundreds of children will be displaced and forced to attend schools outside of their neighborhoods and even outside of the District into neighboring Adams & Arapahoe counties. Parents also reported that their phone calls were not being returned from DPS representatives, including from Easley.

“We have talked to more of Nate Easley’s constituents in the past 60 days than he has talked to during his entire eighteen months in office,” stated recall spokesperson John McBride.  A volunteer grassroots coalition of parents, grandparents, educators, and neighbors joined together for nearly two months to gather the required signatures. McBride explained that the dedicated and unfunded group of diverse volunteers reached thousands of residents, despite the avalanche of money that poured into Easley’s bank account to help him fend off the recall.

Another sore point for residents was the high number of teacher firings that have occurred under Easley’s watch. In the past 18 months, Easley has supported the closure of seven public schools and was complicit in putting 400 teachers’ jobs in jeopardy when there was no objective evidence that the teachers were incompetent. “In this difficult economy, our elected officials should not be in the business of putting people out of work, especially dedicated and hard-working public servants like our public school teachers,” stated Mary Sam, a retired DPS teacher and recall volunteer. Recall organizers encountered many teachers who privately supported the recall, but who were too afraid to sign recall petitions due to the environment of fear and intimidation within DPS.

Easley has received over $35,000 in contributions to his recall campaign; however, almost none of the donors listed live in Easley’s district. Almost $20,000 of those contributions came from Denver Scholarship Fund board members, the very same people that ultimately oversee his employment at DSF.  Scott Reiman, Jack Kim, David Scanavino, Terry Leprino, Barbara Grogan and Steve Kris are all on the DSF Board. One donor, Wesley Brown, is a co-director of St. Charles Capital along with Easley’s school board colleague Bruce Hoyt, another proponent of charter schools. In addition, Montbello-area development corporation Oakwood Homes donated a hefty $5,000 to help Easley fight off his own constituents. When told about Nate’s big money contributions, one Northeast parent commented, “It certainly reinforces the growing belief that Nate Easley is ‘bought and paid for’ by corporate interests.”

Recall organizers will hold a press conference Tuesday as they prepare to submit and report their final signature tally on March 29, 2011 3:30pm in front of the Denver Election Commission office at 200 W. 14th Ave. Due to inconsistencies in the voter registration lists, recall organizers encourage signers to check their voter registration status by clicking on the red “Register to Vote” button at http://www.defensedenver.com.

Montbello teachers on the chopping block

Readers will no doubt recall that there has been a massive hostile takeover of six different schools in the greater Montbello area. For those that aren’t familiar, this is a neighborhood in Denver, traditionally predominantly African-American but now populated by large numbers of Latinos.

"Northeast" Nate Easley, a.k.a. Mr. Neighborhood Schools

Montbello High School will now be broken up into three different schools. The current high school, now dubbed “Legacy,” will phase out students one year at a time. The other two schools are a “high tech” school and a “college prep” school, all application only and only accepting one grade per year, starting with 9th graders in the fall. If students are not accepted into either of the new schools, they will have to find somewhere else to attend, and there are a finite number of seats available at the two new schools. The estimated number of displaced students under this scenario is around 1300 next fall.

The last time DPS tried this was at Manual High School, more than 200 students were lost in the system, either because they were not properly tracked to the receiving school or because they simply gave up and dropped out. The Denver Post’s Allison Sherry ran a great series of this diaspora, called the “Manual’s Missing Series.”

Article 1: Reaching out to dropouts
Article 2: Brothers juggling, slipping out of school
Article 3: One girl’s soap-opera mess
Article 4: Trying, failing to get teen to take wing

Now the transition process at Montbello High School, a very messy affair, has begun. This week, 40 teachers and the principal from the middle school were summarily given their pink slips. Meanwhile, because 50 percent of all teaching positions at Montbello High will be cut next year due to the restructuring, all teachers are being forced to interview for next year’s positions that will be left.

There is currently no indication from DPS about whether displaced teachers will be allowed to apply for positions at the new school.

We received a note from a parent involved in the personnel committee that’s overseeing the interview process at Montbello High School:

I just wanted to let all of you know what I have been through in the last couple of days and will be tomorrow. I was on the teacher interviewing committee up at Montbello HS. We were told that the parents did not have a say but were there just to observe. We knew that this didn’t sound right so we made some calls and tried to get some clarification, which of course didn’t come. The powers that be also were consulting legal.

This was quite humbling. You sit in this room around a table and hear teacher after teacher interview for their job, a job that they shouldn’t be interviewing for. Yes, there were tears in their eyes and some even started to cry. We interviewers had to stay completely straight-faced and say nothing at all; well, I couldn’t say anything anyway as my opinion didn’t count. This process drains you.

As I sat on the sofa this evening looking or reflecting back on the past 2 days, I started crying, as I am now. I realized that half the teachers that were interviewed by the team I was on will not have a job in about a week but they are required to continue to work until the end of the year.

This really sucks; there is no other word for it. They are all great teachers and people and don’t deserve this. Nate (Easley), Theresa (Pena), Bruce (Hoyt) and Mary (Seawell) should have to sit in on these interviews and see the sadness and the wondering if they will be the one cut. I really don’t know how they are going to finish out the year. I talked with several of my son’s teachers; some have already given notice so that they wouldn’t have to go through the process and others didn’t. They knew that the teachers at Noel (middle school) had already gone through this process and asked how things are up there. I told them that things are more than miserable, no one wants to be there, the kids know what has happened and they don’t want to be there. Families that didn’t understand what was happening now know what is happening.

This community is losing a lot and no one seems to really care or that’s what I am hearing. There are several things that I want to say about Nate, Theresa, Bruce, Mary and Tom (Boasberg) but it wouldn’t matter because they don’t have hearts.

While no one agrees that the schools were up to snuff, some of these schools were in the midst of federally-funded “turnaround” plans that were showing great progress. Some basic indicators, like skyrocketing student attendance and homework completion rates were telling the story. But the Board of Education ignored all the successful markers, including the improving CSAP scores, and have completely disrupted the community and demoralized students and teachers. They apparently do not believe in fixing what needs to be fixed; they only believe in wiping the slate clean, regardless of the cost to kids and teachers.

Nate Easley, employed as the deputy director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, has shown his conflict of interest is sharp detail over and over. He has never once voted against the Superintendent’s harmful schemes, such as what has happened in greater Montbello. He has never raised issue with the ramifications of any of these changes on his own constituents and on the high school from which he graduated. And now comes the new report of financial contributions to his “Easley for Better Schools” campaign committee, showing substantial contributions from members of the DSF board. Apparently, they have a stake in whether he’s a member of the Denver Board of Education.

Look for the filing here, and look at the list of DSF board members here. We can only assume that these are well-meaning people from whom the truth is being kept.

On the flip side, keep your eye on the recall committee’s campaign finance report. The committee is called Take Back Our Schools, and their reports will be found here. The first is due March 3.

It is, indeed time to take back our schools. If you would like to help gather petitions to recall Nate Easley, call Mandy at 720-224-4125 or email her at info@defensedenver.com.

DPS Parent: Boasberg, the Denver Plan is a failure

February 12, 2011

Dear Superintendent Boasberg,

When I opened The Denver Post this morning and read about the 52% graduation rate in DPS, I was stunned.  We have had The Denver Plan for six years now, and all we can manage is a 5% improvement in our graduation rate?  Particularly when this “improvement” is due to nothing other than a “lowering of the academic bar” to make DPS numbers look better than they are?  Proof of this is in the increased remediation rate to 55% of our DPS graduates who attend college.  That is outrageous!

It is time to fix our schools starting with the high schools.  By “fix” I do not mean closing the schools and replacing them with charters.  Find six excellent principals, or pairings of competent assistant principals with smart business people, (not those from education corporations), and put them into the failing high schools:  Manual, Montbello, North, West, Lincoln (and possibly Kennedy).  That leaves only five decent high schools remaining to serve the students in DPS:  East, GW, TJ, and South.  How can you spend six years not addressing the most pressing problem in DPS, that three fifths of our traditional high schools are failing their students and the remaining two fifths are struggling to competently serve all of their students?

I am tired of reading quotes from you in the paper which frequently contain the following words, “we are very concerned,” and “it speaks clearly to the need…”  Clearly, the DPS Administration knows what is wrong.  Quit being “concerned” and do something constructive.  Parents, teachers, and school administrators have turned around many DPS neighborhood elementary schools in the past decade.  Even some of the middle schools have been turned around or are making significant progress.  If the community can do it, surely 900 Grant with its wealth of human resources should be able to accomplish the same feats on a much larger scale.

Bill Gates is an accomplished businessman.  He has yet to prove himself an esteemed educator.  Gambling our kids’ education with a bet on corporate America seems very shortsighted.  “Rolling up one’s sleeves” and getting to work is a time-tested method of success.  We Westerners still have that quality in our fabric.  We would embrace that type of effort.

Sincerely,

Kristen Tourangeau
DPS Parent & Graduate

P.S.  While writing this, I received your e-mail letter to the DPS Community.  Your “spinning” of the story is, in fact, quite misleading.  What truly is important is the quality of the DPS high school graduate.  I would like to see a true measurement of the academic level of our graduates as demonstrated by results from the ACT or SAT.  With remediation rates as high as 55%, one has to infer that our students are not as prepared for college or a career as they once were.  Tragically, this truth is never told.

The Campaign for Truth in DPS and The Denver Post

by Edward Augden, retired teacher and community activist

Reading Alicia Caldwell’s commentary on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, one could easily believe her assertion that the campaign to oust Denver Board of Education chair Dr. Nate Easley was just about his voting record as a board member and that the effort is a “big money campaign” spearheaded by “education anti-reformers.” Many voters and taxpayers might be shocked and/or offended by such an effort if they only read the Post. Unfortunately, her column, as with a previous one by Ms. Caldwell on the topic, included mostly half-truths and omissions. As a former journalism teacher, and after reading this and other editorials on public education, I’ve concluded that The Denver Post editorial staff
has become a purveyor of propaganda for Denver Public Schools (DPS) rather than a seeker of truth.

For example, Sunday was, probably, the first time that Post columnists have even mentioned that Easley might have a conflict of interest. For the record, Mr. Easley, as board president, supervises Tom Boasberg, DPS superintendent. Boasberg, as ex officio member of the Denver Scholarship Foundation board of directors can influence Easley. A pertinent fact omitted by Ms. Caldwell, is that Theresa Pena, another school board member, also serves on that board, of which Dr. Easley is the deputy director. In that capacity, Ms. Pena has influence and control over Easley’s  employment. During the campaign Mr. Easley stated that there would be no conflict of interest. Since his actions as board chair contradict his campaign rhetoric, it would seem that the influence of his bosses is having its effect.

There are several glaring half-truths and omissions, but the slur against Diane Ravitch, a “darling of the anti-reform movement”, – really exposes the Post and DPS as being too blind to see what real reform is or – as still in denial that a student’s family background and poverty are greater factors in student achievement than teacher quality. Even more important, advocates of real democratic and creative reform reject the false notion that testing should play the dominant role in evaluation of student achievement. Ms. Ravitch, in her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, debunks many of the myths being perpetuated by so-called “educational reformers” such as the
myth about testing and choice. An ethical, well-trained, journalist seeking truth would investigate whether or not Ms. Ravitch represents true reform or not. Ms. Caldwell, in her column, provides no evidence of that kind of curiosity.

“Choice” is being offered to parents in northeast Denver and that means school closures, teacher firings and/or  reassignments, hardship for students and parents who may be required to “choose” another school other than the one they currently attend. Such a choice is likely far away from the neighborhood school that may be converted to a charter school they would not be eligible to attend.

Another factor consistently ignored by the Post and DPS is that of ethnic and socioeconomic segregation. Despite the fact that the 2006 Harvard Civil Rights Study Project, “Denver Public Schools: Re-segregation, Latino Style”; has been published and is available on the internet, that study and its possible ongoing effects have never been mentioned either by DPS or the Denver Post. What might capture the attention of these two collaborators as to the destructive effects of segregation and poverty on disadvantaged, impoverished children? What might convince the Denver Post to report all the truth about Mr. Easley, his conflict of interest and how it’s influenced his voting record and behavior toward his constituents (missed meetings, unreturned phone calls, etc.)?

Although this commentary is less than the 780 words written by Ms. Caldwell, it will not likely be printed in the Denver Post because it exceeds the 150 word limit for letters to the editor and, most significantly, it “speaks truth to power” as do other letters to the editor that the Denver Post fails to print even those within the 150 word limit.

As the only major daily newspaper in the Denver metro area, the Denver Post could and should be a beacon of truth instead of propaganda on educational issues. Sadly, it is not.