An open letter from a Centennial parent

Last night’s Board of Education meeting was a wild ride,and there’s so much to tell you.  First, this open invitation from one of the dads of Centennial, the school in which we stand in firm solidarity:

Dear NW Denver Parents, Teachers, Business Owners, Citizens, Press, DPS board;
This message is intended for anyone who wants to protect the NW Denver community & have great schools for our children.

I don’t want to choose the education of my child like I choose my socks at 6am. Things don’t always end up well for me when I am quietly trying to match socks up in the dark. I do a little better when I plan ahead and know what I am putting on.

So, I am holding an open meeting at Zooks Coffee Tomorrow Morning, Saturday 2/23/13 at 8:30am (MST).

You are welcome to come. I would like to talk about overall unity among our community to discuss the one thing we can unite on.
We all want what is best for our kids & what is best for our community.

Let me get to the point.
On this email, there are people for and against every issue that is rolling thru the NW Denver community. Included are Centennial K-8 parents and community members who want the principal to go and those who want her to stay. I have copied parents and community members who are very excited about innovation and those who are against the change. And many who were a little heart broken when we didn’t see the name(s) of a special teacher on the lists of returning teachers.

I am excited that NW Denver has the attention of the school district to improve our Schools in NW Denver.
I am fearful that the process and recent series of events, may seriously harm our neighborhood as it proceeds unless we unite.

Some of the ripple effects of change are AWESOME. These issues have caused community involvement in Centennial (and North High) to grow exponentially and we now have a very invigorated parent community who is involved and will fight for what is best for our children.

BUT, some of those ripples are driving a fracture in our neighborhood. And with a larger, caring community population, we now have a community that is divided.
We will never all agree on politics and religion, but I am sure that we can all agree that we want what is best for the place we call home. The handling of this matter has caused us to fracture, and divide. Even if DPS’s goal is to provide the most efficient, fulfilling and effective education to every child in our neighborhood, their methodology has caused a fracture in our home.

As admitted by a DPS board member last night at the board meeting; fractured and wounded neighborhoods are in the wake of changes DPS has made in the past. But the fracture that it has caused in our community cannot be repaired unless we unite on one thing and one thing only; We will defend our community.

Denver Public Schools will continue press change and improvement. We demand that of the School Board. However, in this case, they expect us to choose our children’s future like I choose my socks at 6am….in the dark, trying not to wake anyone.

So, the community has come together, even if it is on opposite sides of an issue. We can unite in support of our community. I owe my children the duty of ensuring I fully understand what kind of school I am putting them in.

This invite will be sent to SOS Colorado, Defense Denver, North Siders of Denver, Centennial School, Occupy Denver Public Schools, Our DPS, HUNI, Lohi and 32nt avenue merchants associations.

The worst thing that will happen is that I will have one of the best cups of coffee in the neighborhood. Or, some people will come together and discuss the things we have in common.
Location: Zooks Coffee (tied to the Denver Puppet Theatre in NW Denver) 3156 W 38th Avenue, Denver Colorado, 80211 in the Highlands.
Time: 8:30am (MST) Saturday 2/23/13.

I know this time may conflict with other events in your calendar and I do apologize. The media has been invited.

If this is news to you, I have summarized my experience below

NORTHWEST Denver School removes 75% of the teachers the day AFTER parents can choose to send their kids to another school.

If your school would have told you that 75% of the existing teachers at your school would be released from their position at the end of the school year, would you choose that school for your child? Parents of Centennial K-8 in NW Denver were not given that choice. Denver Public Schools, and the current principal of Centennial K-8 in NW Denver decided to remove 75% THE DAY AFTER PARENTS COULD CHOOSE to send children elsewhere.

I am not going to passively sit back and watch this continued, calculated, deception effect my son’s education.

The process was outlined to the parents in the CEC meeting at the end of November 2012. Was this the process followed when they decided to gut our school and remove 75% of the teachers the day AFTER we were able to make our choice of schools?

This was a very strategic, and calculated move. I really worry about the true underlying motives for the timing.

Dear DPS,
Not only was that move underhanded, it was dishonest. If you say that the choice out date had nothing to do with your decision, then you are oblivious to what is important to parents. That makes me not trust you. If you did this with the date in mind, and thought of it as little important, then you are again oblivious. And I still don’t trust you.

Finally, a Majority Vote was cast last night in support of slowing the wheels that are in motion to ensure all variables have been addressed. That vote, although a majority in favor, is in question as the board is a member shy, and the Superintendent stepped out of the meeting before the vote was cast.

–Dustin Tidwell, Centennial parent

Can you come and join the meeting in solidarity too?

More about the majority vote situation last night

After last night’s public comment, Board Member Andrea Merida introduced a motion to stop the progress on the Centennial school redesign until a full community process had been had and other variables had been considered.  She pointed out that the board may have been deceived in their vote on December 20 to phase out the middle-school grades, because though the resolution does give the principal the power to make changes to staff, it was requested in the context of phasing out those three grades.  She called it another “bait and switch” from the administration.

The vote was taken, with the result of 3-2.  Board president Mary Seawell was not present.  The district’s legal counsel declared the motion failed, citing board policy BEDA, which says that “voting shall be by roll call with each member present voting “Aye” or “no” alphabetically. To pass, any motion must be approved by a majority of full membership of the Board.”

So what exactly does “a majority of full membership of the Board” actually mean?  A majority of the current existing board was present, 5 out of the 6.  The district’s legal counsel said that the motion failed because they needed 4 votes to pass.  But the board isn’t currently a 7 member board because of the vacancy created by the resignation of Nate Easley.  It’s currently a 6 member board.

So what now?  Community members are filing complaints with the Colorado Attorney General’s office, as well as with the Colorado Department of Education.  You can call too.  720-508-6000.


On Boasberg, blowing up Centennial ECE-8 and Cambridge Education’s hit job on neighborhood schools

Several of us had the great opportunity today to sit in and observe the meeting organized by parents and teachers to push back against the restructuring of Centennial ECE-8 school in Northwest Denver.

To recap, on December 17 the district made a recommendation to the board (start with page 7 at the link) to reconfigure the school by eliminating the middle school grades (6-8) and to “Grant full flexibility to current principal to develop and implement a new educational program and select staff.”  The justification for this drastic change was “persistently low performance over the last 5-7 years,” of course, referring to CSAP/TCAP data.

Also part of the basis for the recommendation was a review by Cambridge Education LLC, the same Boston-area company that did the hit job on Smiley Middle School.  Citing such things like lack of consistency in instruction, low expectations and lack of rigor (reformy terms that really mean a preference for standardization for widgets, making “excuses” for economic status or family issues and teaching that isn’t a slave to the test), Cambridge was paid to set the stage to convert the ethnically- and socioeconomically-diverse Centennial into an isolated, exclusive designer school for northwest Denver’s toniest parents.  Among them are Ethan Hemming, formerly of DPS’ Office of School Reform and Innovation but now the Executive Director of the Charter School Institute…in other words, high-stakes, no excuses charters for thee, but chic designer schools for me.

And they’re going to use the taxpayers’ turnaround money to do it, even though those federally-mandated funds are to be used to make things better for the existing kids in the building, not push out a third of your most troublesome kids and hoard the turnaround funds.

And who is this Cambridge Education, who has a penchant for making cookie-cutter recommendations just when more affluent parents want to take over a school?  This privately-held company and nonprofit seems to have a talent for commingling the efforts of private charter interests and public oversight conduits that creates serious conflicts of interest, causing a California state whistleblowing attorney to be “…opposed to such activities between public officials, private interests, and public charter schools.”  There is extensive information about the company here.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), on the very day that the district made the recommendation to the board to blow up Centennial, at that evening’s public comment were parents who were obviously fully up-to-speed with the proposal, and they even offered public comment that evening to support the school reconfiguration.  There is something rotten in Denmark, because most DPS parents are caught completely unaware by drastic changes, never having a chance to be part of the decision-making process.  Typically the district calls a meeting where drastic changes are announced, as in the case of the blowup/closure of Smiley.  By the time Smiley parents realized what was happening, the decision to close it and move in McAuliffe had already been made by Stapleton parents.

How did this small group of affluent parents come to have so much information and buy-in so quickly?  Watch the full public comment section.

A recap of the conversation

It’s always best to hear the situation from a parent’s own words (emphases ours):

I am parent of Centennial Elementary School in Northwest Denver. For months we have been listening to the words of our administration, Laura Munro and Sharon Jones, tell us

  1. That our school is failing
  2. That they want our input to collaboratively redesign our school for improvement
  3. That we should come to their meetings to work on the plan for improvement.

I went to all of those meetings whether it was PTA, CSC, and community and this is what I experienced:

  1. I learned that 2 years ago a community leadership principal was removed and replaced by Munro. She had absolutely no experience as an administrator and is Tom Boasberg’s neighbor in Boulder.  (wait…WHAT??)
  2. While before Munro’s arrival our scores were in the yellow, now they are in the red. Our school had two years to make drastic changes or we were facing a turnaround. Laura Munro and Patricia Paredes assured the parent community that this was not yet a turnaround school and large amounts of teachers would not be let go.
  3. Our input was not really wanted for productive or constructive purposes but rather was a formality in this process of cleaning out our school. Two of the first meetings I attended we were not encouraged to speak and were asked to write our concerns on paper to be selectively handed to Munro for answers.
  4. After close to 10 very unproductive meetings (of which participants were not representative of Centennial families and demographics) of expressing concern with no real feedback Munro decided not to rehire 70% of the teaching staff.

I feel like I have been led through a dark maze only to find I have been duped into their cycle of cleaning house and turning over our school. A large group of parents are really upset and with the bravery of some parents handing out a flyer at afternoon dismissal we gathered and stormed the evening CSC meeting with our presence and concern. The administration tried to contain our questions, did not record our concerns this time, and was extremely defensive and suppressive to our feedback of personnel decisions. This morning those same upset parents and a few more gathered on their own at the Oriental Theater. We are looking for connections to others in our community, Northwest Denver and wider, that have also dealt with the struggle of this DPS machine breaking up community, standardizing the curriculum, and creating a machine instead of improving the quality of learning in our classrooms for ALL kids.

Sounds familiar, right, DPS community?

Their next meeting is Saturday, February 16 at 9:30 a.m. at the Oriental Theater on 44th and Tennyson.  They’ll be preparing to make public comment at the next board meeting.  Will you come and lend a hand and share your story?

Their Facebook page:

Their online petition (please sign):


What 9News needs to know about Montbello

Considering what has happened at Manual, why would DPS continue to perform such drastic and expensive changes? Mr. Garcia, Channel 9 is well-known in the metro area as being a top-notch news provider. Please make sure that you continue to deserve that title while you do this story. Please be fair in your reporting. There are always two sides.

We got word that Denver’s 9News was planning to do a big story on the “success” of the turnaround efforts in Montbello. The writer of this letter asked us to publish his letter to Nelson Garcia, news anchor at 9News.

Mr. Garcia,

I urge you to make sure you tell both sides of the story as you investigate what has been happening at Montbello. When you ask your questions, make sure you include random community members, random students, random teachers, not just people that Denver Public Schools has hand-picked for you to talk to. I challenge you to ask both sides the same questions and see how their answers compare.

Some questions to ask the random people might be as follows.

What’s happened to the experienced teachers who have worked there? If the old teachers were so bad, why did they wait until now to let them go? What’s the average age of the teachers who are coming into the new schools?

Why didn’t DPS support the school that already existed with the same amount of money that they’re spending on this change? What’s the difference in the per-student money being spent between now and before the change?

Why didn’t DPS support the school that already existed by providing a consistent principal? How many principals has Montbello had in the last five years? How might a consistent leader have made a difference?

Who stands to make money from this drastic move in the Montbello neighborhood?

What was the community input about these decisions? How do they feel about their kindergarten children riding on the same bus as the 12th graders? How do they feel about their school and community being dissolved?

Check the background of some of the administrators at Montbello and DPS. Do they have teaching experience? Do they have criminal records? Do they have ties to entities that would stand to profit from this change?

Considering what has happened at Manual, why would DPS continue to perform such drastic and expensive changes?

The Denver Public Schools is reporting the myth that things are going extremely well with the turnarounds that are in place in the schools, and that the community is happy with the school situation. That is not exactly the truth. The parents of the students who were lucky enough to get into the new schools, DCIS, DSST, College Prep, are probably extremely happy because approximately $11,000 per pupil is being spent to make sure their children are at grade level or above academically. Check out  Blueprint Denver at for information.

On the other hand, students left in the “phase out” schools are being warehoused until their schools close. Although DPS will tell you differently, our community did not agree to  have the majority of our students in schools that will be closing soon, depending on the choice process to gamble on a chance to get into a higher performing school.

Mr. Garcia, Channel 9 is well-known in the metro area as being a top-notch news provider. Please make sure that you continue to deserve that title while you do this story. Please be fair in your reporting. There are always two sides.

Thank you for your time.

Big corporate money coming in to suppress community voices in DPS school board election

Well, the campaign finance reports are in, and just as we’ve suspected, corporate Denver, Stand for Children and DFER are coming to the rescue for their slate.

Kind of puts everything into perspective, right?

Give to the pro-community campaigns, or volunteer, today.


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Southeast Denver evaluates school board candidates

Over the din of most political campaigns, we sometimes have trouble discerning one candidate from another. We were curious about how the at-large and southeast Board of Education candidates would vote on the proposed co-location at Merrill. So, we asked each of them to answer two questions.

Our friends in southeast Denver that are fighting the impending co-location of a program nobody wants into Merrill Middle School have shared their “candidate litmus test” with us.  They’re calling it the “Candidate Performance Framework,” which we find very apropos.  Further down, they’ve shared the unedited candidate responses with us.  Read on…

At present, the Denver Public Schools administration is proposing to co-locate a new elementary school concept called “C3” at Merrill Middle School in south east Denver. I have attended countless community meetings and talked with literally hundreds of people across the south east related to this issue. Through these conversations, it became evident that the majority of south east Denver apparently does not want this co-location of C3 at Merrill.

Over the din of most political campaigns, we sometimes have trouble discerning one candidate from another. We were curious about how the at-large and southeast Board of Education candidates would vote on the proposed co-location at Merrill. So, we asked each of them to answer two questions; please see the table below.

Using a similar approach as the district does with its School Performance Framework (“SPF”), we’ve assigned the candidates’ answers color-coded ratings of “green” or “meets expectations”, “yellow” or “approaching expectations”, or “red” which means “does not meet expectations”. This Candidate Performance Framework, or (“CPF”), has colors which, for the table below, symbolize how the candidates will vote (on the co-location issue) as compared the apparent desires of the majority of the constituents they (will) represent. No response from a candidate also equals RED, since one person chose not respond to this community member’s request.

CPF Color Key
GREEN = “Meets expectations” – Candidate will vote in accordance with the community’s apparent wishes.
YELLOW = “approaching expectations” – Candidate’s answer was inconsistent/noncommittal/unclear.
RED = “does not meet expectations” – Candidate will vote with the DPS administration, or is unresponsive to community requests.


click image to enlarge

Unedited candidate responses

Southeast Candidates:

Anne Rowe

Response # 1 from Anne, Monday 10/10/11 at 2:32 PM:

As I stated at the Denver Decides Forum, Oct. 1st, I do not support C3 at Merrill. I believe the community engagement was done poorly by the District (which I’ve shared with the District and current board members Bruce Hoyt, Theresa Pena and Mary Seawell) and that the broader strategic thinking around Merrill has not been considered in the District’s proposal. We need great middle schools and I want to work with both Merrill and Grant.


Follow-up  question to Anne’s Response # 1, Monday 10/10/11 at 2:37 PM:

If the C3 co-location at Merrill is voted in by the current board, would you move to reverse that decision?

Response # 2 from Anne, Monday 10/10/11 at 3:03 PM:

That’s a tough one. I would have to see the details of the proposal voted on by the current board. Considerations would include:

  • “real” community engagement/input
  • strategic thinking/plan around Merrill
  • examples of co-location of an elementary with a middle school (I think most co-locations have been of similar age students)

Follow-up question to Anne’s Response # 2, Monday 10/10/11 at 3:35 PM:

Hi Anne,

Please see question # 2 again, exactly the same way as I first posed it to you and the other candidates.  I understand your answer to question # 1 is “No”.   I am unclear as to your definitive answer to question # 2.

Here’s the question:  2.  In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?



Emily Sirota

1. If you were already a member of the BOE right now, would you vote “Yes” on the DPS administration’s proposal to co-locate the C3 at Merrill?

NO.  In my many conversations with Merrill parents they have made known to me they do not want co-location of C3 at Merrill.  The DPS administration “engaged” the Merrill community after the administration had already made its co-location decision.  The district must do a better job of listening to the community, taking their input and working with parents to determine the best course of action in our schools.  We need our parents to feel and be invested in our schools, and by telling them what is going to be done we potentially loose a vital component of student success.

2.  In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?

YES – If the building has not been retrofitted.  When I am sworn in I will immediately move to reverse the decision on co-location of C3 at Merrill if no funds have been spent to retrofit Merrill to accommodate C3.  However, if the retrofit is underway or completed, I do not believe it would be fiscally sound to retrofit then move locations.

At-Large Candidates

John Daniel

Thanks for your interest in this race.  We need all the help we can get from parents and people involved with their schools.

1. If you were already a member of the BOE right now, would you vote “Yes” on the DPS administration’s proposal to co-locate the C3 at Merrill?

This has become a complicated issue.  My understanding is Merrill is under-subscribed.  There are too few students of Middle School age registered in the school..  It was designed to hold more students.  We have a number of Elementry schools that are over-subscribed.  This is a less than ideal solution to the situation.  I would vote to co-locate C3.  We only have access to so much relestate and a constrained budget.

2. In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?

I would not vote to reverse a co-location of C3 at Merrill.  This is an important issue, but as I feel we need to maximize our use of the available buildings and resources, the co-location is an example of the type of decision we will have to make to maximise our use of funds.  I would prefer to keep the Elementry Children segregated from older children.  That is not always possible.

Frank Deserino

In answer to your first question, NO, would be my vote to have any type of school, especially a charter like C3 to co-locate at Merrill.

In answer to your second question, YES I would vote to reverse any decision that would place / co-locate a C3 at Merrill.


Roger Kilgore

I can see why you have been successful in achieving the community-based goals that you have tackled in the past and no doubt will continue to address in the future, like the issue you are raising today. I have to say, I am not a fan of color-coded ratings because they tend to simplify our discussions too much.  Given that, I would request that you distribute my comments, and those of the other candidates, not just the color-coding.

Here are my responses to your two quesitons:

Question 1: The administration has a record of poor to little consultation with the community in co-location and turnaround issues. That comes for a belief that the central administration knows best.. I am running to help strengthen school-centered decision making where parents, teachers, the principal, and the community identifiy issues, develop improvement plans, and work on the implementation of those plans, all with the supporting resources of the administration.  There is clearly a need for more elementary school capacity, but you and others had been working on a Cory-Merrill K-8 scenario that was ignored. It also appears that other options such as the use of Rosedale were not considered. From this the co-location of C3 at Merrill was premature and should not have been approved in June. If I was on the board right now, I would vote NO on the proposal.

Question 2: The board of education is currently hampered by challenged working relations internally and with the Superintendent. I firmly believe that this is not in the best interest of our children. I think it is in their best interest to have a broad range of opinions so we do not get into a “group think” about our education system. If elected, I will commit to investigate this issue immediately with my colleagues, with you, and with other stakeholders. There is more I need to know before taking a stand to reverse the previous board’s decision.  I hope you will not judge me too harshly for not providing an unequivocal yes.


Jacqui Shumway

1.   If you were already a member of the BOE right now, would you vote “Yes” on the DPS administration’s proposal to co-locate the C3 at Merrill?   Please answer “Yes” or “No” and explain if you like.

No.  Based upon all of the information you have provided here, it appears that there is not enough room, and would inhibit the efforts to expand Merrill as the community middle school option.  Another location should be explored if Rosedale Elementary is not an option.

As I mentioned in an earlier e-mail, this situation sounds very similar to the 2008 situation at Smiley Middle School.

2.  In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?   Please answer “Yes” or “No” and explain if you like.

Yes. We would need to look at other locations and determine if space is available to house C3.  Since the “Prime Choice” time for middle school selection is November-January, we would have to move quickly to inform parents of the change which could greatly effect their child’s choice to attend Merrill.


The state of DPS

Let’s stop with the discussion about whether Tom Boasberg is a nice guy or not (he seems to be).  Let’s end the rhetoric about cheating Latino kids (or any kids, for that matter) out of their ONE CHANCE to get a good education.

Here’s the proof that what the “reformers” want is not working.  In fact, it’s hurting Denver kids.

The status quo has become Tom Boasberg’s administration.  Are you willing to defend this abysmal failure of the promise of opportunity for our kids in Denver?

We’re not.  It’s time to take back our school district.

Watch replay of SE Denver school board race forum

Are we on the right path or not? Ms. Rowe, make up your mind. If you’re this indecisive now, how can Denver’s families rely on you to make the tough decisions? Watch the first televised video.

We just have one question for Anne Rowe.  Stand for Children, the hedge-funded politics-instead-of-kids group that has endorsed her, points out problems with DPS, like the approximately 50% graduation rates and the problems our 3rd graders have with reading.  So, if Stand for Children says we need to change course, but Ms. Rowe keeps saying we should NOT derail from the path DPS is on…then, WHICH IS IT?

Are we on the right path or not?  Ms. Rowe, make up your mind.  If you’re this indecisive now, how can Denver’s families rely on you to make the tough decisions?

Merrill Middle School community fights collocation – you can help

Our children deserve better. Our community deserves better. We are working diligently to see that the location of C3 is not at Merrill, but elsewhere.

From concerned parents and community at Merrill Middle School:

Merrill Middle School

Merrill is in jeopardy of losing valuable space for our middle school students.  Through the joint efforts of a group of Cory and Merrill parents, a master plan, which will soon be presented, is in the works for an incredible neighborhood community-oriented middle school right on our campus.  Having C3 move into the building and take away our computer labs, gym space, art space, outdoor space, etc., we will no longer have the opportunity to use our middle school building for its intended purpose, and we will not have the chance to implement our master plan into our campus.  The Merrill building, by today’s standards, holds much less than the 1,000 students DPS is trying to sell us, unless, of course, you are counting closets and bathrooms as classroom space.  Our children deserve better.  Our community deserves better.

We are working diligently to see that the location of C3 is not at Merrill, but elsewhere.  But we do need your help.  Please consider signing this petition (below).  Each signature counts. Thank you, and please pass along to others!!!!

Also, please join the Merrill community at the following two meetings:

  • Wednesday, September 14th at 4:30 p.m. – meeting with Tom Boasberg at Merrill Middle School.  Q and A session.
  • Thursday, September 15th at 6:30 p.m.- Denver School Board meeting at 900 Grant Street.

Your presence is important. P.S. – for more information on the new Merrill master plan on the Cory Merrill Campus, please contact

A little background

DPS proposes collocating a new concept elementary school, called C3, in Merrill Middle School. As with the charter schools, this admission-by-application program would be available to students throughout the region and would not specifically alleviate southeast Denver’s elementary overcrowding problem. If placed at Merrill, the C3 will take up to 1/3 of the Middle School space, including the Computer Lab and Art Room, eliminating elective courses and cause overcrowding in the classrooms. It would also inhibit the community’s ability to expand the Middle School with neighborhood kids.

DPS is prepared to spend $750,000 to retrofit the building to accommodate a younger population of students, but fails to take into consideration how it will accommodate these students when they grow to middle school level.

Please sign and share this petition.  It’s only through this type of grassroots action that we can tell the DPS administration that we want our community-centered schools.

Here’s the petition:

SIGHTED: SE Denver’s mystery school board member

Contrary to popular belief, southeast Denver’s school board member, Bruce Hoyt, does actually exist. We’ve sighted him!

Guess what, southeast Denver?  Your missing school board member, Bruce Hoyt, has been found!  He was sighted at Anne Rowe’s party the other day!

Whew!  Hopefully he hasn’t adopted a short-timer’s mentality and will finally listen to constituents on the way out the door.


Term-limited southeast Denver school board member, Bruce Hoyt (center, white shirt and glasses)
Term-limited southeast Denver school board member, Bruce Hoyt (center, white shirt and glasses)

Struggles at Smiley Middle School

Below is a letter from a parent of a student a Smiley Middle School.  The letter below protests the removal of both the principal and the assistant principal from Smiley Middle School. The principal was hired at Smiley just after a charter school, Envisions Leadership Academy, was collocated at Smiley. (Envisions Academy would fail spectacularly and then rise again with a new name as another under-performing DPS charter school.) During this crisis to Smiley’s culture, the school’s principal provided strong leadership, helping to heal the community.

The letter was addressed to the principal at Smiley as well as to the Board of Education.

Over the last several years Park Hill parents have had to make active choices for their childrens’ schools. The parents currently at Smiley and those coming to Smiley next year made the active choice to be there.  We choose our neighborhood school, we choose the IB, we choose to ignore the charter-of-the-day next door.  And we chose Smiley because of the principal.  We trusted the administration to honor our choice.

But again, the administration, inside and downtown, doesn’t honor these choices.  The parents are betrayed — we have been used.  The administration is not a partner at this school and does not own their role at this school.  Can a school be successful without this partnership?

Andrew Rotherham, a leader in the charter movement, states that the single most important factor in making a successful school is intentionality –everything matters, nothing can be left to chance.  And yet, this change of administration, both principal and AP, defies this one, most important intentional action.  DPS administration throws a stone into the pond, unaware or uncaring of the ripple effects that their action causes.  And after so many stones being cast, the parents not only bear witness to the effects, but can predict them, and can scream them out loud, but no one hears.  The administration has walked on, casting stones in other ponds, and walking away from them too.

Does it matter who initiated this loss of the principal at Smiley?  Not really — both inside and downtown administration are complicit in not fulfilling their compact with the parents who made Smiley their choice.  And so it goes- we make our choices but they are empty because we cannot trust that the school we choose is going to be the same school when we walk in the door or the same school two years later when our child is there, trying to finish and get to the next choice.

What else will the administration do to Smiley?  Parents live in the realm of the unknown, only sure that we don’t know and we are not going to be told, included or considered. We have learned not to trust. What other insults await? IB and Singapore math at Stapleton.  Overflow students from the far northeast, where money goes for half a dozen new administrative hires repair the tidal wave of damage, money that could go into classrooms. And at Smiley, cuts so deep that we loose our school adviser; our art, music and PE are reduced to puffs of air- breathe in once, then their gone. Cast those stones and move on.

The administration will deny this is so and refuses to own the effects their actions on our school.  But even when the administration denies it, everything matters.  Everything matters — in every school, successful or trying to be successful — everything matters. The parents know this and we did our part.  We can only conclude that the administration doesn’t know or doesn’t care….