Visitors, last month I published a column detailing the flagrant incompetence of two teachers that my children had to endure at Evergreen Senior High.
That column has netted me several ugly comments, a couple of near threats, and several anonymous, cowardly reviews on Google regarding my early childhood facility, Evergreen Academy.
Regarding the comments, well, words have consequences, but if criticizing me for writing the truth is all you can do, then have at it. Regarding the threats? My course of graduate study could not have been better timed. I’m studying Criminology and Behavioral Deviance at a local university, and a very good name for the McCord-Fritzler-Kwasny crowd (who I am certain are behind the words) is “deviants”. It gives me great joy to now possess the digital forensic tools to track down these criminals, especially if they choose to escalate their behavior beyond harassing me. Wendy McCord, Shawna Fritzler, Scott Kwasny, Michael Blanton, Tina Gurdikian? I’m warning you off, so behave yourself.
Regarding the deceitful attacks through Google reviews? After my brother, John Newkirk, had the safety of his children and family threatened in Evergreen, I stopped being amazed at the lengths this crowd will stoop force their agenda on the Jeffco public. Evergreen Academy isn’t bulletproof, nothing is, but it’s a place full of love, kindness and skilled care for the youngest and most vulnerable in Evergreen. Keep up the lying reviews, anti-reformers, and you’ll likely find yourself at the mercy of a crowd of young parents who love what we do at EA.
Now, to the topic at hand. I’d like you to lean in with me here, Visitors, this is a little complicated, but I have faith in you. Colorado recently enacted a teacher effectiveness law, Senate Bill 191, in an effort to address teacher effectiveness.
In Jefferson County, new teachers are hired on a ‘probationary’ status for three years. Their contracts are year to year, and at the end of each year they can be dismissed for any reason allowed by law.
(For us civilians, that means that budget issues, student shifts, or poor fashion choices could lead to a dismissal during the three ‘probationary years’. Virtually any reason.) According to this law, probationary teachers must have three ‘effective’ evaluations to be considered for tenure.
“Ineffective” evaluations can be appealed, often at Union expense. You can appeal a poor evaluation and keep your job, and this can take months.
So, it hangs on the evaluations. Here’s where it gets interesting, Visitors. According to Senate Bill 191, HALF of the evaluation has to be based on student achievement. Seems reasonable, no? You are rated on all kinds of things: lesson planning, classroom structure, classroom conduct, can you play nice in the sandbox with other staff, and ARE YOUR STUDENTS MASTERING YOUR MATERIAL. Are they even close? Are they making progress from the beginning of the year to the end?
You have three years, THREE, to prove that you know your craft. Regarding effectiveness, achievement scores are NOT available to be included in your annual evaluation. Why is that? Generally, because the scores are returned to schools in July, long after ratings are completed. So, principals and fellow teachers who rate you, do NOT include effectiveness in your scores, even though they are required to by law. Here’s why that should concern you greatly.
Where is the emphasis on achievement? Where?! Jeffco has 87,000 of our children, and is UTTERLY ineffective in teaching them math. Grade schoolers, (my favorite population and area of specialty) start out well, likely because of their natural eagerness to learn. Please, Visitors, I’m pleading with you, note the terrible, precipitous drop by high school.
How will we advance? How will our children gain the technology oriented skills they must have without foundational math? Reading and science scores are similarly terrible.
By tenth grade, FAR less than half of our children are NOT proficient in math. Where else can we look besides disinterested teachers? Yet, out of 4,700 teachers in Jeffco, not ONE teacher will lose their tenure do to ineffective teaching. (http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2016/07/14/denver-public-schools-set-to-strip-nearly-50-teachers-of-tenure-protections-after-poor-evaluations/#.V_AUGJMrJE5)
Cheryl Manning is safe.
Dave Myers will keep his job.
Effective teachers, of which there are many, will continue to get lost in a crowd of disinterested, lectern-pounding, ineffective teachers who will keep their jobs until retirement. This must stop.
Again, Visitors, this is just exhausting. Jeffco is a mess.
Here’s what you can do, in fact, this is the only moral thing you can do.
DON’T VOTE FOR THE JEFFCO BOND ISSUE #NOTANOTHERDIMEJEFFCO
VOTE NO! This is a 565$ Million dollar ask for a system that is completely broken, disinterested in student achievement and thoroughly infested with corruption and inefficiency. More on that later.
IT REALLY IS A BILLION DOLLARS
You must, simply must, demand that Jeffco do its job, and that is to educate! This bond issue will take ONE BILLION DOLLARS to repay, while student achievement will continue to decline.
This simply makes no sense. Demand it, visitors. Demand accountability.
We owe it to our kids.