Where are these people coming from? The complaints about our school district and calls for reform show absolute ignorance. As a school board member, I spent the last four years immersed in policy-making and best practices in education. The Eagle County School District is at the forefront of this national movement to reform public education. Every conference I went to had speakers on how to improve education. And guess what? Every one of these experts’ suggested course of action had elements of our Teacher Advancement Program, if not an exact outline of the program: Imbedded teacher training with mentor teachers, collaboration time, holding teachers and administrators accountable and differentiated pay. As I talked with board members from other districts, they were amazed that we were already doing many of these things. Many wanted to know “how to do that?” Others had their own versions of TAP.
The ECSD Administration and Board have always had what’s best for kids in mind, and they happen to be ahead of the game. Just yesterday I heard on the Today Show that schools across the country were changing their start times to better reflect the “learning clocks” of children. Elementary students are starting earlier than secondary students. Denver Public Schools announced this change for next year also. We did this two years ago, and a few parents fought us all the way.
And to say we do not listen to parents is just not true. We have overhauled our English as a Second language program so that we can get students literate in English sooner, and we track them to ensure they do. Hispanic parents want their kids to learn English as soon as possible.
We have implemented Dual Language as a program of choice because parents wanted it. We have added more AP and Dual Credit courses because parents wanted their kids challenged. We are not just teaching to the middle!
Look at the bottom line, which in education is the “products of our system” and where they are going to further their education: Air Force Academy, Colorado School of Mines, Stanford, Pepperdine, USC, University of Colorado Engineering and Aerospace programs, Cornell to name a few.
I feel so lucky to have my kids in the Eagle County School District. They are getting a great education in a close-knit, nurturing environment by teachers who really care about them. And our family would not be here if we did not think so, because we live here by choice. We could live anywhere and send our kids to any private or public schools in the country if we wanted to. But we like it here!
Having served on a board and having dealt with policy-making and public opinion, I have a new appreciation for people who put time and energy in these volunteer positions. They are doing their best and to make iinformed decisions for their communities (granted not always easy ones that make every one happy). Thanks to those of you who serve in this capacity.
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