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Letters to the editor

Why a boycottNow that I have your attention:WHY BOYCOTT CSAPs? As I stated in a recent flier distributed to boxholders in Eagle and Gypsum this is NOT a boycott of CSAPs but of this school district administration. BUT WHY BOYCOTT THIS SCHOOL DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION? A recent article published by the Vail Daily headlined me as the “school foe” in the article entitled “SCHOOL FOE TARGETS CSAPS: CRITIC WANTS SCHOOL TO SKIP CSAP”. The headline should have read: “CONCERNED PARENT FIGHTS FOR DISTRICT REFORM”!Let this serve as a wake-up call to this school district administration that change is required. My primary stand is that parents need to step forward and let the school district hear your voice. Many of you may have issues with CSAP testing. Many may have issues with your child’s education, or a teacher, or a principal. Many of you have serious issues with TAP and many of you happen to be teachers. The main question to ask yourselves is have you been listened to? When it comes to securing the education of our children, do parents and teachers do “all it takes” to bring about change? Or is it that as parents come forward they remain unheard and ineffective because they are swept aside one by one? How many parents have pulled their children from the district? How many home school or hire private tutors to meet their child’s needs? Parents need to be united. Teachers need to be united. BUT WHY TARGET CSAPS? Have I finally gotten the district’s attention? Have I gotten your attention? Some say this is the wrong way to go about change or expressing dissatisfaction with the system. To those people, I say that I have pursued other courses: My personal issues have centered on the Eagle Valley Middle School. For the past five years, when issues arose I have presented concerns about the school, or a teacher, or an issue my child was having in a succession of meetings. I have followed the chain of command by meeting with a teacher, a teacher and principal together, the principal alone, taking issues to my board member representative and finally to two separate superintendents. I have gathered concerned parents to write about their issues and we have met with John Brendza. Issues have centered on school personnel that are not appropriate to discuss in this forum. I have followed the process to no avail. I have removed my eldest child from the school system.My issue is not with CSAPs. CSAPs are important to the public image of this school district and have an impact on state funding (other tests, such as the NWEA, exist to give teachers a fair assessment and progress of their students). I am for the school, but against the district administration’s lack of response. BUT WHY MAKE A STAND? When a parent has a concern about their child, the district should make it one of their highest priorities to resolve those concerns. My experience in dealing with the district is that if it isn’t written down or documented, the problem doesn’t exist, and recently even when it is written down, it is ignored. There is a lack of urgency and a complacency that wears a parent out so that they eventually just go away. I am not alone. I urge parents to please document your concerns. Most readers are unaware that before mailing this flier it was presented to a school board work session. My final frustration was when I asked the school board about recent letters from concerned parents and my household that went unanswered. When asked about the lack of response, I was informed by John Brendza that the only signed letter came from my household. I know this to be untrue. No answer was given as to why there was no response. My concerns as a parent have continually gone unanswered, and I haven’t gone away. BUT WHY BOYCOTT THIS SCHOOL DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION? There is but one answer: REFORM. Reform hasn’t come from within. Things are worse now then when this valley voted on bringing more funds to the district. Quality teachers have left the system; there are less teacher assistance (TAs), and diminished special classes. Art classes are now in jeopardy. Funds are spread over running more schools. In fairness to John Brendza, his job is a difficult one that falls under the scrutiny of an entire county. But the district cannot stand as an ivory tower. The school board and the superintendent can not remain unresponsive. Parents and teachers need to step forward together as a united group. This valley deserves a quality school district. Our children deserve a better education. This district needs to be overhauled or control put back into the hands of parents. Mr. Brendza, school board, teachers, parents, let’s fix this mess!HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR REFORM: Eight ways the school district can reform itself:1. This administration should be responsive to parents and teacher needs. As John Brendza has stated on his Web site in an article entitled “John’s Message”: “To listen and communicate honestly and openly … parents play a vital role. … The partnership that exists between the schools and parents is a critical link in the successful education of our students.” This administration should start listening: we fund this district. Parents should not have to look to alternate forms of education in a valley with our tax base.2. The district should focus attention on our school principals. The principal is the key figure that ties the district administration to the school and ensures that we have the best overall education system. Quality principals will hire quality teachers. Quality principals will control the quality of education taught by their teachers, it need not be quantified or mandated. Let’s not micro-manage the system.3. The district should not waste school funds on programs like TAP, mentor/master, etc. If TAP has created an overly defensive administration, get rid of it!4. Continuing education for our teachers should be encourage and made available, it should not be mandated.5. Teach to the spectrum of students, not the “middle-of-the-road” student. Meet the needs of all students. 6. Increase our teachers’ salaries so they can afford to live here (this is what we fought for before TAP was implemented). The district should not cut back on school specials like art, music and physical education because funds have been squandered on other programs.7. Free performance pay from CSAP testing and do not waste class time on CSAP preparation.8. Save money on administration by returning schools to elementary and high school status only: grades K-8 and 9-12.How the press can help:1. Grant anonymity to credible sources who wish to express their concerns. There are teachers out there that would talk if they weren’t concerned about losing their jobs! 2. Inquire of the results of an anonymous survey conducted amongst teachers regarding TAP.Five ways for parents and teachers to bring about reform:1. Parents and teachers should stand united in solidarity. Contact one another, form a coalition of parents/teachers, call friends, write letters, network over the Internet. Don’t leave it for the other person to do. Stand-up and act! The lone voice gets attacked (case in point).2. Contact your board member and let them know of your dissatisfaction.3. Be prepared for things to get worse before they get better. Fewer funds will create a burden, but the quality of education is already suffering with less teacher time in the class, less TAs, fewer specials, etc.4. Do not give up! If this year’s boycott is unsuccessful there is always next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. …5. The current administration has not been responsive. By pressuring this administration we can make a difference. CSAPs are important to the district. That is obvious. By boycotting CSAPs, parents have leverage to bring about change.Parents please boycott this school district administration!Glenn HarakalOther waysIn reference to the recent article about the lack of street lights along Highway 6 in Avon: Isn’t there any alternative to regular street lights? Does anyone out there make solar-powered LED lights that we could put on poles, maybe every 30 feet along the guard rails, and 8-12 feet off the ground, to help protect the pedestrians without being a super expensive construction project and which would minimize light pollution, as well? They would save energy as well as possible lives. And while we’re at it, do the same for all the bus stops. Walt Halstead Avon Vail, Colorado


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