Douglas County Federation members are reclaiming the promise of high quality education for our kids. Get involved by joining DCF and our Facebook group. We are reclaiming the promise of great schools because:
– The time is now to restore Douglas County to a great education system that values teachers, public and parent input, and puts the kids before over politics
- As taxpayers, we need a school board with fiscal accountability that puts money into the classroom instead of in exorbitant administrator pay.
Investing in our kids is our pathway to strong communities and schools.
- We want to restore of the partnership between teachers and administration that once made Douglas County a model of educational excellence.
- Our kids deserve a school board that keeps the promise of a high quality education by maintaining accreditation with distinction, increases instructional time and teacher support, and keeps high graduation requirements. Our kids deserve change in the current School Board.
Guest Commentary in Denver Post:
The number of education fads hailed as “the most innovative” or “the big breakthrough” but later discarded could clutter Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
What makes some reforms a flop and others a winner? The flops usually have some pizzazz value to them, as if they’re being marketed out of a Madison Avenue advertising agency. They’re usually based more on ideology than substance, and don’t actually help improve teaching and learning.
Winners are based on research, evidence, common sense and have the added value of being developed with the people who would be most affected: teachers, parents, community. These reforms have the greatest chance of making a positive difference.
If there’s room at Mile High stadium for one more fad that has all the makings of a flop, clear some space for the Douglas County School District’s latest compensation and evaluation scheme. The most offensive and destructive aspect of it would label some teachers as more valuable than others. Since it’s apparently easier to recruit a second-grade teacher than a 10th-grade science teacher, the second-grade teacher would be paid less. Is a great science teacher really worth more to a child’s education than a great second-grade teacher teaching that child to read?
The internationally renowned teacher evaluation/teacher effectiveness specialist Charlotte Danielson reviewed the evaluation and compensation proposals and declared, “I simply don’t think they’re usable as written.”
If this crazy scheme is enacted, it will exacerbate a huge and troublesome problem that is being ignored. Last year, 377 Douglas County teachers quit, a 42 percent increase from the previous year. This year, all evidence points to a similar (or increased) exodus. And this turnover isn’t the exclusive province of teachers: Nearly half of Douglas County schools have had new principals in the last three years.
Why are teachers fleeing Douglas County schools? Because teachers are not valued, trusted or engaged. Douglas County administrators and board members have no interest in hearing the voice from the classroom — the people closest to the kids, who have the greatest insight as to what’s needed to help kids learn, to improve their own instructional practice, and to recruit and retain great teachers.
It’s ironic that this “pay band” proposal is being made while the district is flush with an $84 million fund balance. It pays its top administrators huge bonuses — some as large as $17,000 — while it dehumanizes and devalues teachers by saying some are a dime a dozen and worth less than others. And while administrators take care of themselves handsomely, kids are forced to pay 50 cents to ride the bus to school, and debilitating budget cuts have decreased instructional time in the classroom and made high school schedules incredibly disruptive.
So how is all this demonization and devaluation working out for the district? Douglas County Public Schools lost the Colorado Department of Education’s most distinguished accreditation. Nearby districts were able to keep their top rating. Third-grade literacy has declined. Class sizes can now swell to any level, without teacher input. Teacher voice has been silenced by a board that makes most of its decisions behind closed doors.
So before Dougco jumps on the next fad, it would be more prudent to collaborate with teachers and look at research-based, evidence-based reforms that have actually worked elsewhere to raise student achievement, improve teacher quality, and help recruit and retain great teachers. Our kids deserve it.
Brenda Smith is president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers.
Read more:Fads vs. real reform – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_23437948/fads-vs-real-reform#ixzz2W1Bjqlpc
Follow us:@Denverpost on Twitter|Denverpost on Facebook
This course provides a cognitive research-based approach to lesson planning and design. To develop a comprehensive instructional plan participants consider the concepts of standards, curriculum, and a course map as they generate unit and lesson plans that promote independent learning for students. In this course instructional strategies are taught in the context of purpose and appropriateness for supporting student learning.
These cognitive strategies foster critical thinking and advance the transferability of skills learned. Course participants will learn how to develop scoring guides (rubrics) for student tasks; evaluate curriculum materials for any content area and create instructional plans that address the shortcomings of the materials. The information in this course can be applied in K-12 settings and is particularly helpful for students with special needs.
Class Dates & Times
- No classes scheduled at this time.
$250 for class & materials (CDE licensure hours are available for training)
$110 for 2 Adams State credits (optional)
Chicago charter teachers and staff vote to join AFT
Teachers and staff in the one of Chicago’s largest charter school networks overwhelmingly have chosen the Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS), an affiliate of the AFT and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, as their bargaining agent.
The decision involves more than 400 teachers and staff in 13 schools operated by the United Neighborhood Organization. In March, UNO and the AFT reached a neutrality agreement under which UNO agreed not to take a position on whether its teachers and staff organized. Some 87 percent of the 415 workers who voted approved Chicago ACTS as their bargaining agent.
The decision by UNO employees to join Chicago ACTS means that more than 20 percent of Chicago’s charter school teachers and staff are now unionized—the highest union density where charter school employees do not automatically have a union.
“This is a turning point,” says AFT president Randi Weingarten. “This has the potential to change the conversation between charter operators and teachers. It is a signal that the anti-union atmosphere and climate we’ve seen in charters may be changing. It is also an example of another charter school operator recognizing that it can’t succeed without the voices of those who work most closely with students and can best advocate for what students need to succeed—things like smaller class sizes and a great curriculum.
“I am humbled and honored that the UNO educators see our union as their voice, and we will work hard collectively to live up to that trust,” Weingarten adds.
Phil Mullins, chief operating officer for UNO, says a good relationship between UNO management and the union is essential in ensuring continued education reform.
“UNO has participated in a successful agreement with Chicago ACTS and the IFT-AFT. With this partnership, UNO continues to be committed to providing the very best public education for our more than 6,500 students and their families,” says Mullins. “This also provides an opportunity for UNO and Chicago ACTS to begin to elevate the dialogue around school reform in the spirit of cooperation rather than competition.”
In taking the step to unionize, teachers and staff recognized that having a collective voice enhances their ability to advocate on behalf of the students and families they serve, says IFT president Dan Montgomery, who is an AFT vice president.
“The UNO effort is a great example of what can happen when teachers and management work together for what’s most important—the students,” Montgomery says. “Teachers know firsthand what works in the classroom and how children learn best. Their ability to advocate for high-quality education with a collective voice will greatly benefit the students and our communities.”
Brian Harris, president of Chicago ACTS, says UNO’s position during the organizing effort sets a tone that should be followed by other charter school management companies.
“UNO’s actions set forth a reasonable standard for other charter school operators to follow, and we expect them to follow similar law-abiding standards,” Harris says. “Instead of taking a hard, anti-union line, UNO has simply followed the law and shown confidence in its employees.” [AFT press release]
May 1, 2013Read More
For over forty years, the Douglas County Federation has been working with teachers and school employees in the Douglas County School District. During that time the Federation has been a steadfast partner in quality education by instituting pay for performance for teachers and creating a culture of innovation in the classroom.
This work includes:
- Providing research-based, nationally recognized professional development to teachers and school employees so they can better serve our students.
- Providing free curriculum classes for parents so they are better able to be involved and assist their children at home.
- Providing research-based, best-practice information around classroom conditions and instructional time and, in the past, working hand-in-hand with the District to implement new innovative practices for the benefit of students.
- Honoring outstanding students, this May will be our 41st award ceremony.
- Providing scholarships for the continued education of teachers and other school employees