Vail Daily letter: Dig at charter schools
Like so many visitors to your beautiful high mountain valley, I have regular opportunity to come through, during which I always enjoy reading your newspaper. As a retired high school principal on the Colorado Front Range, I have especially been attracted to your editorial page segment “Valley Voices,” often featuring your second-year school superintendent, Jason Glass. Before I share a concern emanating from his Sept. 2 entry, “Reforms yield flat scores,” I acknowledge Dr. Glass for remaining connected in this way with his community and the stakeholders in his schools.
Read closely the above referenced article and that of Sept. 17 and you will see that Dr. Glass contrasts what he might call popular national reforms with measures, sought or in-place, that he believes are good for your Eagle Valley school system. In doing so, he claims there is little real evidence supporting outcomes of these national trends: Standardized testing and consequences for underachieving schools; market-based reforms, in which he includes charter schools; and performance-based compensation and the high-stakes employee evaluations that are essential to them. Like most public school educators, I too have bemoaned the workload and financial obligations that most of these implementations have put on my plate. Still, I urge school district patrons to be cautious about Dr. Glass’ contention that the world’s great school systems haven’t adopted these popular national reforms.
Specifically, I ask Dr. Glass to acknowledge the contribution being made to the children of your county by your own charter schools. I realize charter schools fall in the market-based reform category that he openly criticizes. On Sept. 2, he wrote, “The best systems on earth aren’t having discussions about opening more charter schools because they don’t have any.” I served in an incredible school district (with charter schools, alternative schools and parochial schools) and I disagree. But save that for another time. The more glaring problem with this dig at charter school education is his patronizing follow-up statement. He wrote, “This is not to say we should abandon Colorado’s charter schools. Many of them do a fine job.” Many of them, Dr. Glass? If I were in your system I would be interested in only those in Eagle County Schools. More to the point, does the Eagle County Charter Academy do a “fine job?” I have reason to know they do.
Editor, your school district has given its patrons the amazing gift of school choice, and a stellar school in ECCA to deliver on that gift. I believe this school has earned stronger superintendent support than what Dr. Glass’ editorials have suggested he is willing to give.
Dennis A. Baker
Principal emeritus, Fort Collins High School
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