Beware ECSD, the Ides of March |

Beware ECSD, the Ides of March

Elizabeth Chicoine

School is my number one concern. What about you and your mother’s dreams for you?

A gathering of input from citizens here tells me that many of us share the same concerns.

Have you heard the warning, “Beware the Ides of March?”

William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” presents a soothsayer who warns Caesar that on the Ides of March ” March 15 ” Caesar will be in great danger. The soothsayer says that if Julius Caesar takes care on that one day, then all will be well.

As it plays out, Caesar either mixed up the date or was arrogant and simply proclaimed, “The Ides of March are come.” After attending the senate that day, Julius Caesar was assassinated.

History shows that in the ancient Roman calendar, each of the 12 months had an “ides.” In March, May, July and October, the ides fell on the 15th day. In every other month, the ides fell on the 13th. The word “ides” was derived from the Latin word, “to divide.”

I can’t avoid the Ides of March feeling that I have about Eagle County public schools. We seem divided in regard to our views of what education should be in Eagle County School District.

Let me pass along what soothsayers of our valley have been sharing with me:

#1. ECSD is in denial that the customers ” the students and the parents ” are looking for alternatives to our schools.

#2. ECSD must start servicing its students and parents as customers, with “vouchers” prepared to go shopping for a charter or alternative school if their needs are not being met. The future is coming. The dollars lie with the taxpayer.

#3. TAP (Teacher Advancement Plan) must be eliminated. Voters are tired of hearing that this is a contract with The Milken Foundation. America was founded on the basis of breaking ties that bind us. Surely, a good lawyer could get us out of this mess. Cut our losses. How many teachers and kids must ECSD lose before this program dies? Teachers and kids count on us to

do so.

#4. The arts are important to education. Stop eliminating minutes of student contact time in P.E., music, and art because of the scheduling of TAP. On the surface, specials still exist, but contact time seems to be diminishing.

#5. Parents are standing up to CSAP exams. Fear of not taking them is no longer a threat. In the opinion of those boycotting, “it can’t get any worse than this.” They see this boycott as a voice with a vote. Learning should be measured by more than a test that is tied to the performance-pay component of teachers to exam results. Can you spell SKUNK?

#6. Parents need to be held more accountable. Charter schools demand X amount of volunteer time from parents of students. Fabulous idea! Maybe local businesses could award Parent of the Month for a parent who schedules him/herself out for “school time with child.”

Upon the warning to Julius Caesar of his demise, Caesar replied, “He is a dreamer; let us pass.”

ECSD should not be ignorant of the soothsayers of education in America. Change and choice are upon the taxpayers. Let us not allow the best of freedoms of America die with foolish denial. The right to an outstanding, free and public education in Eagle County should exist.

Before more charter schools drain our local budget, let’s change our mentality and serve the consumers so that they will not need to look elsewhere. Look back to the derivative of the Latin word, “Ides,” and its meaning, to divide. Let’s heed its warning and start standing together, through leadership, listening and change.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson proposed adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution based on the right of all Americans to have a public education of equal high quality. It was introduced on March 2, 2005.

Such amendments will be forthcoming in America. Is ECSD prepared to offer such high quality for all, and what would be on your list as a soothsayer for ECSD?

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