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Letters: Can’t compare Charter Academy

Compiled by Vail Daily staff
Vail CO, Colorado

There’s no comparison

There seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding the Charter Academy and perhaps I can lend another insight since I was on the Board of Education that approved the Charter at its inception.

I do not wish to get into any name-calling one way or the other, I just wanted to give some background for whatever it is worth and I would be happy to speak with anyone about my involvement.

When the Charter was first proposed to the Eagle County Board of Education it was presented as an “alternative way of teaching the curriculum” i.e., there would be longer blocks of time in the classroom spent on the core subjects and less frills, if you would. What the Charter was espousing was that they could get better test results with the alternative teaching methods and because they would not necessarily be bound by normal public school requirements they would be able to better educate the Eagle County students.

My concern at the time and one which I voiced loud enough to leave no question as to where I stood on the matter was that “I did not want to compare apples and oranges.” What I wanted was for the Charter to teach the way they stated would get better results but to teach a like student population so we could actually compare results, i.e., they should “mirror the district student population in their classroom” so we could compare apples to apples.

I was promised by the Charter members at the time that they would make every effort to “mirror the district” so an actual comparison could be made. I had hoped that if we could compare like student populations and they were actually getting better results then we could learn from the charter and make adjustments ourselves to get the same results.

I voted to approve the charter under the above caveat, but unfortunately the “mirror” has never come even close to being a reality.

Please understand that I do not intend to attack either parental choice or the charter school. I am merely pointing out some differences. I sometimes get a little riled when I hear the charter is so advanced academically over the rest of the district.

The problem is that we do not actually know if they are or are not.

Recently, I read an editorial comment by one of the Daily readers who commented that if you were to take a like population of students from the district that are contained within the Charter classrooms the test results are no different, as in the like students in the district score just as well as those in the Charter and this is with more than 16 students, of all levels of learning and nationality, etc. in the same classroom. The inference is that it is not the curriculum, class size or student makeup that gets results.

I guess you could say the classroom in the district actually “mirrors real life” in many ways.

I have not been involved in the district for some time now, other than having a daughter attending Eagle Valley High School, but if the above is true, and I suspect it just might be, what is actually being accomplished at the Charter that the district is not accomplishing itself under more complex circumstances?

I do not blame the Charter parents for wanting the best for their children, and I hope we all want the same for our children in the district. I understand the teachers of the Charter want the best for their students and I know the teachers in the district want the best for their students.

To me this is not about what school is best since we can not actually compare apples and oranges, or test scores or curriculum, and in reality we can not compare anything but parental choice as to where their child goes to school “for whatever reason.”

I hope the powers that be can get on the same page and we can provide the best for all of or students in Eagle County ” just do not espouse one school over the other, either way, until we can actually compare them and learn from each other. I have been waiting for years to do just that and most certainly would like to see that day come.

Gerry Sandberg

Eagle

Radio Free Minturn success

On behalf of Radio Free Minturn’s Board of Directors, I want to thank all the individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, schools, teachers and dedicated listeners who have contributed to building the valley’s own community radio station.

KLNX-LP, Radio Free Minturn is a public broadcast corporation and is operated by more than 50 volunteers. The station is commercial-free and presents quality music from citizen collections via locally produced shows. Radio Free Minturn’s signal is strong and clear from Vail to Edwards and from Minturn/Red Cliff to the Tennessee Pass.

The station’s goals and objectives over the past year were to launch and successfully operate a community radio station; to create a quality listening experience with locally produced music programs and nationally syndicated shows; to develop an after-school and/or summer alternative for valley youth; and to provide the community with a valuable service by disseminating important local information and promoting area events.

Thanks to a dedicated core of volunteers, we have made measurable progress in each of our focus areas.

On any given week, 40 or more volunteer DJs share their music with thousands of listeners. Radio Free Minturn’s unique programming format has attracted a wide and varied listener base among valley residents as well as visitors from the Front Range where the station’s bumper stickers and T-shirts are spotted on a regular basis.

The station continues to flourish especially among area youth. In the first year of operation, 30 Eagle County students became skilled broadcasters by participating in the station’s journalism programs. Three students now host their own radio shows and one has been offered a chance to write for a national music magazine.

As a service to our community, the station relays important community information. Hundreds of public service announcements are broadcast each week, many of which are from under-represented groups and organizations who cannot afford mainstream media.

In 2008, the board will continue training and coordinating a diverse group of DJs. Plans are underway to expand in-school and after-school programs for junior high and high school students. And, we continue to explore options to increase the timeliness of important and relevant community information.

Thank you again to everyone involved. A community radio station is a valuable asset. It took an act of Congress, an extraordinary volunteer effort and a supporting community to create a voice for the Vail Valley.

Liz Campbell

KLNX-LP Board President

107.9 FM


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