# [×ªÔØ]Stop trying to "fix schools" and just "fix a school"

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Mazenko: Stop trying to "fix schools" and just "fix a school"

By Michael P. Mazenko

POSTED:   12/26/2015 05:00:00 PM MST130 COMMENTS

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to help improve schools in Newark, N.J. (Getty Images) It's been 32 years since a U.S. Department of Education report declared America "A Nation at Risk." It's been 15 years since Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates began his education philanthropy, naively believing his wealth and business acumen could solve the country's supposed "education crisis." It's been 14 years since No Child Left Behind promised all students would achieve at grade level by 2014. It's been seven years since the launch of the Common Core initiative to standardize education. It's been five years since Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg gave$100 million to "fix schools" in Newark, N.J., and turn that poverty-plagued system into a national model of education.

In all that time, academic achievement has remained roughly the same, with national tests like NAEP and ACT indicating a relatively stable, or stagnant, state of education.

Education laws and reformers like Gates and Zuckerberg have had little success in changing neighborhood dynamics that inhibit school achievement. Their shortcomings are reflected in the recent rewrite of NCLB, Gates backing away from ideas like his "small schools" initiative, and Zuckerberg's Newark experiment exposed as a colossal waste of money, as documented in Dale Russakoff's "The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?"

Clearly, none of the actions of education reformers have been able to change the fundamental societal problems of poverty at the root of low achievement. And there's one simple conclusion. The education reform movement led by billionaire philanthropists would be far more effective and much less controversial if it focused on "fixing a school" and not on "fixing schools."

Despite new standards, new tests, new laws, new accountability systems, and new ideas, academic results in poor neighborhoods remain, well, poor. And these results are no surprise to anyone.

Recent news of continuing struggles in Aurora Public Schools and the apparent re-segregation of many Denver-area schools indicate specific socioeconomic and geographic challenges that require a "neighborhood focus." Such an approach requires directly supporting struggling students with school supplies, tutoring, after-school programs, parenting classes, health care, food and more. That's the focus of an intervention program in northwest Denver called Blocks of Hope, where school and community leaders plan to attack the issues of poverty and struggling schools "one neighborhood at a time."

Poverty intervention and whole child/whole family support for education is modeled on Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone. A similar approach has shown dramatic results at Camden Street Elementary School in Newark, where principal Sam Garrison teamed with a wealthy business owner to improve the school through community building programs. Clearly, Zuckerberg could have had more success in Newark if he followed the Garrison model and used his \$100 million to directly support struggling schools.

Despite claims by reformers like Gates and College Board president David Coleman, the establishment of common standards and yearly standardized tests have not improved education. The root causes of education failure often reside outside the school environment, and these are too often ignored by reformers. Non-school factors are the primary drivers of low achievement, and there is little doubt where these needs are greatest.

There is no crisis in public education, but there are many crises in individual communities. Thus, declaring a crisis in "education" and instituting state and national programs is not helpful because it aims at too big of a target. There is no reason to declare a crisis in the thousands of successful schools. Education is not "in crisis," but 30 percent of schools and neighborhoods are. We already know which schools and students struggle. Thus, reformers and educators and media and legislators must focus directly on them.

Now that NCLB has been replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the federal government has returned education reform to local control, perhaps it is time for all those interested in fixing schools to act locally and simply fix a school. That requires looking beyond the charter school model.

While charter schools are touted as a solution, they have not helped struggling communities, and they do nothing to improve neighborhood schools. Often charters simply weaken neighborhoods and increase segregation by leaving behind many children who cannot access schools outside their neighborhood. The charter school movement should only be considered successful if it succeeds at "motivating students" and not just when it educates "motivated students."

Programs like Blocks of Hope will address problems directly where they exist. Thus, true change will come when education reformers, including the billionaire philanthropists who have promoted a variety of wasteful and unnecessary initiatives, commit to supporting those students who need it most where they need it most. And that's where they live.

Michael P. Mazenko works at Cherry Creek High School and blogs at

Join the discussion¡­

• Thank you for taking the time to write this column. It expresses everything parents have been saying about education reform. Education reform is a disaster.

The taxpayes deserve a full accounting of how much has been spent by the state and all the districts on the new mediocre standards, new testing, new curricula, technology and software, etc. Where are the results? This spending is especially egregious here in Colorado where schools are so poorly funded due to TABOR restrictions.

Blocks of Hope is an amazing organization.

• Thank you for writing this. As a fellow teacher, I could not agree more. Unless we have the harder conversation regarding families and their personal investment of time and energy in their children's education, nothing will ever change.

• Of course parents love their children, but love is not enough. DPS is not supposed to love your child. Maybe you've hit the nail on the head. Too many parents expect everyone to love their child; they expect a trophy for showing up. Everyone has work to do, and yes, parents are the biggest factor - not the only factor, but the biggest.

• Here is what I can tell you....

Do you know who shows up at PT conferences? The parents of the A/B students (generally).

You should politely ask your principal what the estimated turnout at conferences are.

• it was obvious when i moved our family to the mountains in 1990 (exiting from 32nd & Raleigh which later boomed but still could not safely educate a single child) and now it is SO obvious that I can't even FIND this kitchen in the so-called house anymore.

• Is it all on the parents or are they just part of this equation ? Most Parents Love and CARE about their Children and DPS does not. And this is obvious !! God Bless

• It is important to remember that home environment is not the kids¡¯ fault. It parental involvement can be improved that is great. But in many cases that cannot happen or is not sufficient in which case the school along with other community service projects must fill that role.

• Fixing schools, is about making money. Fixing a school is about giving people a chance. Public dollars are juicy to those who want to fix schools. Fixing a school can juice you.

• you forgot this part, Henry.....the punctuation. should have had some "!!!!!!!!"
thanks.

• All of these "fixing education" excursions are just a massive waste of money. I taught middle school at Flood in Englewood and have a friend who is an elementary school administrator in MN and he can tell you with about a 95% accuracy which students are going to succeed or fail based on PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. Unfortunately, if Dad has checked out (or never was a part of the picture to begin with) the kids' future prospects are pretty dim - no matter how much money you throw down the tubes.

• You make it sound like teachers are out there actively as a group discriminating against children who are poor or that lack a parent. I don't think that there is any evidence that would support this assertion. On the other hand there are a lot of factors that being in this situation has associated with it that frequently lead to poor academic performance. The most common one that I have seen being the need to work to provide enough income to survive..

• My mother died when I was barely 19, I do not think it is coincidental that we are still effecting their own dreams and aspirations for us as kids. God Bless. xx

• You know what I grew up without a Father (he died when I was Seven) and my mother had a third grade education. Though the Teachers and Administrator's CARED about educating Children. I am now and Accountant, so please Stop Patronizing the FATHERLESS or the POOR Please. And let us identify the problem with Adults (Teachers or Administrators) that cannot, will not or should not because of their up bringing, Educate Minorities or Poor Children. We all know that a Good Public Education will Ultimately break the cycle of poverty and improve our society as a whole. Let US Taxpayers, Citizens and FIX THIS PROBLEM. God Bless

• Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful perspective.

• Bill Gates is not a philanthropist in the usual sense of the word. A philanthropist gives money for the good of a social cause with no expectation of reward in return. Bill Gates is a VENTURE PHILANTHROPIST which means that he is expecting a return on his investment. He gives REAL philanthropists a BAD NAME.

• Nonsense. His foundation takes on diseases that plague third world countries. Much of his money goes to projects that simply help millions of the poorest people to become healthy.

• How about this- --- thin out those administrators maybe by 70%, raise teacher pay, reduce all class and case load sizes. Watch things get better way faster than all these other efforts... and see retention and morale rise for school staff AND students/families. Let teachers TEACH and kids learn (rather than test all the time).

• It's more like getting 32 down to 24 would be a noble goal. I don't know which schools you walk into.

• I believe there is a lot more value in giving teachers the tools and structure to work with students as individuals rather than just reductions in class sized. By dealing with readiness and learning styles in the early years it is possible to keep students excited and motivated about learning while helping them become independent learners. Quality preschools do present excited learners to the standard school structure but the advanced ones are quickly bored and the ones who are not at readiness levels (which are biological more than experiential) are left to feel discouraged with negative feelings about school.

I taught in one school that was resource limited and competitive so the students in the classes were at similar levels and learning styles along with high motivation by the time they were in high school. It was possible to cover more material in more depth with 5 periods of 40 students and no textbooks than it was when I taught in a school where class size varied from 30 to 5 with textbook and other resources. In both cases I would have like to have materials to help the more advanced students do more. In the smaller school I needed more materials to better help the struggling students who were stuck in the age grade level problem.

I have seen cases where increased staffing beyond just
administrative staff have actually decreased the effectiveness of education
while increasing costs. A change in structure with individualization and
readiness as guides can produce a far more cost effective educational system in
terms of absolute dollars while producing significantly improved outcomes which is the
most important measure.

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• Could you please explain to this Bendonkohe Apache, what is the difference between a "bad teacher" and a good teacher ? God Bless

• Just asking for how it once was for my kids. The money don't get into the classroom like it did. And you are right about teacher shortages, I hear my own kids teachers telling their own college aged children to avoid the profession. Too many cooks in the kitchen these days.

• Or in a school with a structure that gives the students to have access to multiple teachers. For example, look at Morey Middle School math in DPS.

• There are many different factors that make a teacher 'good' or 'bad'

You have the obvious example of a bad teacher that simply doesn't know the material that they are trying to teach and therefore cannot actually teach the material that they are supposed to teach.

But within teachers that are competent that do know the material and meet all of the basic guidelines to teach there are teachers that are good or bad. A good teacher helps the students where they are and either builds them up to the level of the class or pushes those already beyond the class even further so that they don't become a distraction to the rest of the class. The bad teacher teachers the same content to every kid exactly the same way no matter how well or how poorly the child understands it being taught that way.

The good teacher inspires the student to want to learn more. The bad teacher makes the class so boring they never want to approach the subject again.

The list goes on and I have posted here what I consider to be adequate teachers good teachers and great teachers... Unfortunately I can't remember which thread I posted it on (related to the JEFFCO recall)

• Don't feel bad, I am half Jewish and half German Catholic, raised Unitarian -- and therefore should have been able to get it too, but didn't.

• Why do you want more teachers? Teachers need materials to better work with individual students. That can lead to a structure where one teacher is doing a group lesson while another teacher helping is students who are working on individual materials but instead of 30 kids in each teacher¡¯s class room there may be 15 in a group or 45 in a group with the rest doing individual work. There might be 90 kids doing different things with a master teacher supervising less experienced teachers.

• I don't want more teachers unless they are good high quality teachers to replace the poor bad or inefficient teachers that we currently have within the system. I just was pointing out the economics of reducing the class size to a level where you might get some benefits from having smaller class sizes.

• If the current student teacher ratio is 24 to 1 in order to reduce that ratio to 12 to one you must either reduce the number of students or increase the number of teachers. If you want to reduce class sizes to 12 to 1 where the research suggests there is an improvement in learning due to a small class size then you probably need to actually have those classes in separate rooms.

I am not saying that more teachers available for the students wouldn't help... it would. If you had 90-100 third graders in one school and the students felt that MS X showed them how math worked better than MS Y and they were free to pop over for help in math to MS X then that would certainly help the students. The same would be true if schools had specialized folks that were great at assisting multiple grade levels on specific topics like a school wide specialized tutor.

The problem is that most of those proposals come down to hiring significant additional numbers of staff and what do you cut to be able to afford that within the same budget?

• In which case your costs would be merely an additional 50% of current costs on both buildings and operating/salaries. The teacher shortage would still exist. In fact the smaller the class size gets the more likely students are to have a 'bad teacher' than they are to have a good teacher. I would personally rather my child be in a class with 30 and a great teacher than in a class of 10 with a terrible teacher.

• What you describe is a part of what I am talking about. Crude measures as age do not give good learning readiness measures. Someone who is ready for math may not be ready for verbal skill subjects or verbal skills develop before reasoning skills. A lot of the readiness in early ages in particular, but later as well, is biological neurodevelopment defined. The Montessori methods use these ideas. It was difficult to maintain records of learning objectives mastered and also difficult to have materials for increasingly differentiated students. Individualization does not necessarily mean that there are not classes of similar students because there are forms of learning that take place best in classroom settings.

This type of environment has been tried and is happening in places like the Morey middle school math. A problem is that unless this system is widely adapted it is difficult to maintain the progress that happens in a small area.

• I agree. I would much rather have my child in a class of 30-50 with an awesome teacher than in a class of 10 with a terrible teacher. Class size only matters if you can maintain the quality of the teachers (and its obvious that we cant do that with the current system).

What I would really like to see although it will probably never happen is students placed with other students at least somewhat close to their ability level regardless of age as they advance through their education. This would group students who are working on math concepts at the level they are ready to be challenged with the concept. So in the instance of Algebra a student as young as a 3rd grader if they were ready could be in a class with a high school senior that was struggling with the topic. But those students would be learning at a level appropriate to them rather than moving along at the level of the slowest in the class ... or being promoted without understanding the material.

• Administrators or Staff within the school? I have seen lots of teachers lounging around but there typically aren't all that many administrators in any school.

• Every time I see over filled classrooms in my kids schools with administrators sipping coffee together in the lounge, I always wonder what the exchange cost on more teachers and fewer administrators is.

• The sad truth is studies show that in order to get a meaningful impact based on reduced class sizes the class size has to be reduced to around 12 students. If the average class now has 24 students that is a reduction in class size by 50%. That means 2X the number of classrooms and 2X the number of teachers. Given that 80% of most school district budgets is Salaries you are looking at doubling most school district budgets and doubling their capital infrastructure costs (over 1 billion each from Adams 12 and BVSD and nearly 2 billion each for Jeffco and DPS). There is simply no way that any school district in Colorado can afford to reduce class sizes to a point where it would make a difference and there are not enough quality teachers out there to fill the positions even if you could double the number of schools to have space to hold the classes this size. Then if you wanted to raise teacher pay say 10% you could really throw a wrench in the budget...

• Until the teachers gain control of the schools, and they remove the excessively costly overhead - management takes 40% of the budget, you will see no improvement in the productivity of our students. Throwing more dollars at our schools under the currents system is a total waste.

• It is totally a coincidence! that dps admins are now being distributed out to individual schools. totally. purely, in fact, coincidence.

also I wonder how much public money is spent improving buildings that the district either does not own IN ITS OWN NAME or has no equity in due to financial bond exchanges requiring a mortgaging of these incredibly! valuable assets belonging to the HISTORY OF DENVER?

• When you count ALL the administrative costs, beginning with the Principals' exorbitant salaries, you will find it comes to between 35-40%. There are NO public schools in America that have anywhere near the figures you quote.

• Strive is a good example

• One of the big arguments against COP's which all to many districts have been using to avoid TABOR.

Most of the budget work that I have seen from the various districts in the state make it difficult to directly determine 'administration' from teacher salaries. All of them muddle the water when it comes to support staff vs teaching staff and that is likely because neither union nor the districts represented by those positions have any interest in making that information public...

Who in education really wants the public to know that the lunch lady and custodians and so on and so on make money that takes away from the teachers salary... and who really wants to know that the teachers demands for higher salary is taking away from the amount that can be paid for the bus drivers that get kids to school and the food prep folks that have to make their lunches... People might demand that teachers take less money to pay those support staff a 'fair living wage'

• Which schools have 40% management budget in the Denver metro area. I have not seen a budget with that level of 'administrative loading'

The lowest I have seen is around 6% at Adams 12 and the highest I have seen was around 18% at DPS

• The reformers have started out by assuming they know the answers in the form of administrative fixes. The have failed to look at what is known and ask what do the kids need.

I started at a school that was primarily composed of poor minority students. My mother taught there so I started wondering why the kids had problems even before I started school. The area has no improved much in the last 60 years which is discouraging and disappointing because even then such problems as readiness were known problems. I went on to get a teaching certificate in the early 70s and learned more about what could be done. In school the paths to improvement were being tried and were reasonable well understood. I when on to do research an assumed the schools would follow what was known. When my kids started school I assumed there would be changes but there were none. My kids have finished school and little has changed. I see nonsense like NCLB and CC which are almost the opposite of what is needed while using significant resources and distracting from teaching.

Certainly programs like Blocks of Hope by involving the community, improving nutrition, early childhood, and after school, as well as, summer programs can make a big difference. Ultimately the cycle of poverty will be broken with improved education.

The fundamental things kids need to learn are concerned with readiness and learning styles which need to accompany structure that will maintain learning excitement and motivation. While doing these things on a local level helps it would be far more effective if the federal government would help develop the materials and methods so such a system could be widespread and the level of sophistication of the system could be much greater than locally developed material.

• Actually the Common Core sets up learning objectives that are based on the crude readiness classifier of age based grade levels. The state has spent at least a half a billion on aligning instruction to those CC objectives. Then it has spent more on test like PARCC which are supposed to test for those objectives. While some improvement has been made in instruction in some areas it has mainly been an exercise in setting expectations without dealing with the reasons those expectations were not met in the first place.

• It is without Power or Control to do so according to the text of the state constitution. Curriculum issues are EXCLUSIVELY within the control of locally elected members of local Boards of Education. STOP THERE.

By comparing this state to others or to the "national picture" on these same issue? BOY we have ended up with a whole lot of oranges up there with our pile of apples.

GOOD NEWS and the reason there IS A REASON to add words to this discourse. Colorado citizens are in LOCAL CONTROL over their piles of oranges AND APPLES. All they have to do is WAKE UP.

In a state that has just legalized an otherwise-illegal drug, we should use this opportunity to demonstrate we are not ALL THAT! stoned.

• Henry, please sit down and pour yourself a stiff drink, because you are going to need it. I actually agree with you. We moved to Colorado from a place where a dramatic improvement in PISA results was in significant measure driven by the establishment of a fully aligned set of provincial standards, curriculum, and assessments that got everyone -- parents, teachers, administrators, employers, and politicians -- onto the same page. Local education authorities could deviate from the curriculum if they wanted to, but if their results on the provincial assessments declined they suffered real consequences. I have never understood why Colorado has never developed a model curriculum that was aligned with state standards and assessments. Deference to local control seems like a flimsy excuse.

• No, the state is not constitutionally entitled to do this, as it is in other states. We are really a collection of state COUNTRIES being protected by our fed collective funds.

• Other states create curriculum, that districts refine into specific targets, and end of curriculum exams keep standards set for all schools. Individual districts can decide how to adjust instruction while having clear objectives. Colorado has failed to create anything close to the specific learning objectives other states have and has squandered resources into the data hole with nothing to show for the investments.

• THANK YOU, NEWPORT!!!!! for putting your last sentence into actual print so that it can receive a solid and appropriate as well as immediate as possible!!!! response, as follows.

RELYING UPON THE CONSTITUTIONAL TEXT OF ANY STATE OR COUNTRY, CORPORATION OR PARTNERSHIP OR EVEN MARRIAGE, IS NEVER AT ANY TIME, A FLIMSY EXCUSE.

The argument itself, on its face, suggests a negative and anti-social!!!! agenda. The mechanism approved by THIS society is to FOLLOW THE RULES and they are SET FORTH IN THAT CONSTITUTION and effected through the legislature's own shifting acts that we call STATUTES. These rules are interpreted by judges and juries through the system we call THE JUDICIARY.

PLEASE GO BACK TO SCHOOL and PLEASE DO NOT! GO TO DPS. You deserve a MUCH! better education and to be candid as well as respectful at my age, Newport? You are old enough to NEED ONE going ahead if you want to succeed yourself at doing ANYTHING except destroying what others have built before the day that you were born.

There, consider yourself lectured like Mrs. Ihme at DPS in FIRST GRADE! would have delivered this speech and if your eyes have not yet teared up, then she would have gone on and pointed out

THIS IS FOR YOUR! OWN! GOOD!!! this WHOLE thing we call "education." and if I didn't care about you......blahblahblahblahblah..............

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• The state spends millions on testing yet never made curriculum. What a terrible joke.

• Here is the part that really will make ya dive for the box of Kleenex, I am sorry to say.

This entire STATE was founded on L-O-C-A-L C-O-N-T-R-O-L.

Keep in mind, we were in the Gold Rush and did not think we would NEED anybody else's money. We HAD the money! Like Tabor itself, the "theory" was that the run would never run out.

• Not one MORE CENT until DPS makes Quality Neighborhood Schools for all DPS Students, this is very possible. No more failing thousands if not tens of thousands of OUR Children, for what any reason.

• I am not asking for your apples, I am stating that we have to leave the Bigotry, Racism, and Idiots behind in our history, and not give one more CENT to it. And Educate all Children as persons, knowing that someday soon they will be adults in our society. We know an Educate person most of the time will make better decisions, not to profess to solve our Public Educational problems by passing out APPLES. God Bless

• Though WE HAVING this kind HEART can ask others that have this kind of Heart to assist in solving the problem. DPS is Broken. God Bless

• Thank You because the USA is a Citizenry country. I know you have a kind Heart, Sorry. Now it is time to Fix Public Education. God bless

• Citizen Dear, I am NOT AT ALL PROUD of what my fingers are going to type out next about myself.

i do have a kind heart.

but I will also sue the state government and in specific, denver public schools. When I do so, I will "feel" that this is God's own Intention and part of his Divine Will in the Making, this is what we live for and especially after our parents are deceased. The future. and the health of her children.

• No i have not been sarcastic you have earned the apple and i am polishing it as fast as I can, lol. I am authentically and honestly asking you to agree with me which I know that you will, in making this statement....we could personally! teach those children better ourselves. If you do the math on those numbers? I am betting that my own fair share would fit in my own teeny little livingroom, even. they would never even get into my little bitty kitchen where your apples are kept.

• It is just impossible! to argue with your sentiments. If you simply divide the dollars by the number of children? you could divvy up the kidz and teach your fair share all by yourself. I can tell.

I will supply apples for your desk. Just teach them and send them onward. That is the only job and it should be a rewarding one, not like this.

• I was involved at a low performing school as a very peripheral volunteer. They had significant assistance including tutoring, school supplies, provision of clothing, etc. We instituted reward programs to encourage reduction of tardiness. There was never improvement. Children in a dual language program often failed to learn English after several years. I was told it was a cultural difference.... a primarily Hispanic community that was satisfied with the status quo. Schools cannot make up for what is not happening at home. I would be thrilled to hear this is not true but I did not see anything to indicate it wasn't.

• Well....when you write 5 x 5 = 25 as the answer and get a "fail" on the test because you didn't write down some convoluted scenario as to how you know 5x5 =25, then you know the fruitcakes have overtaken the schools. Get back to basics and stop experimenting on these children.

• What the author has failed to consider is that many of these reformers have attempted to do just what he recommends... only to be met with organized opposition from teachers unions and neighborhoods that insist that they are being discriminated against rather than being helped. DPS had one charter school proposed that would have gone into some of the poorest neighborhoods and taken on the students most at need and through their program and additional outside grants made a difference in not just the school lives but the home lives as well of many of the students. The teachers union organized against it and killed it... because it would have likely ended up in the elimination of 2 failing (badly failing) neighborhood schools. Instead they continued to do the status quo and both neighborhood schools are still badly failing neighborhood schools.

• Thank you for recognizing the evil adult emotions in our Public Schools. God Bless

• There are really two related problems. This article deals mainly with the need to the school to be a major assistant to kids who may have parents or other environmental factors that reduce their chances for success. That problem deals with developmental and readiness issues plus the fact that significant amounts of learning happen outside school. If the school can provide additional resources for early learners and help establish a community environment so that later peer interactions are focused on positive aspects of learning then the poverty and crime cycles will be reduced.

This does not mean that schools do not need fixing. There were problems when I went to school 60 years ago and those problems have not been systematically addressed so all students can benefit. If only individualization policies had been introduced 30 years ago poverty problems would have been reduced without the other interventions.

• The whole reason we have Elections is to reinforce OUR Founding Fathers and the Constitution of the United States of America, Ideals. And it not only is it our right, though it is Our Responsibility to question and bring grievence to Our Government when the job is not getting done. And Educating all Denver Children is a job that our Elected Officials are not making sure is getting done, thus we Citizens, Taxpayers, Voters must question and bring Grievance to Our Governments. And if Denver's sweet children were all SO LOVED, there would not be Thousands if not Tens of Thousands DPS Children not getting Educated. Where is the LOVE FOR THESE SWEET CHILDREN, now DPS is BROKEN lets join together and FIX IT. God Bless

• RUN FOR OFFICE and I WILL MOVE so as to VOTE IN YOUR JURISDICTION.

This is a government of CITIZEN PARTICIPATION and that is what this school district entity is SUPPOSED TO TEACH THOSE CHILDREN.

• The WHOLE REASON that in our country and state we celebrate an election system is so that single individuals do not HAVE THIS DEGREE OF POWER.

Wake up, DENVER! YOU ARE LOVED and so are your sweet children.

• Bingo!

• Yikes.

I earlier posted info to you of a factual nature on this same thread, please note your idiocy. Teacher unions have NO POWER IN COLORADO that is beyond the political. None nada zip zero zilch.

that is not the problem.

go back to the drawing board.

• Thank you for the compliment. I might note that you seem to be an ignorant person who lacks vision but those descriptions are irrelevant to the discussion just as trying to fix the system by worrying about teachers and the union is not productive when the problems are primarily structural.

It is not always possible to have different schools but that is no reason to not have the best possible education for those kids. My mom and aunt taught in one roomed schools. Perhaps that is not an optimal situation but there are lessons on how to deal with students at different readiness levels. I taught in a school in a rural district where there is only one school so there is not a possibility of some other school to deal with the educational problems of readiness and learning styles.

However, there are methods that have been around for a long time but have not been widely implemented to deal with these problems. Individualizing requires a lot of instructional materials and tools for the teacher and a record keeping system to deal with students at different points. These are being developed in a somewhat haphazard way but are becoming useful. Unfortunately, those who control the educational bureaucracy are ignorant of what has been done, lack vision, and are resistant to change.

• YIKES, please edit your comments to refer to my real name which is KATHY (like lotsa ladies my age, right? me and debbie and linda and mary??).

I would NOT want for ANDREA to take the DING for MY LOUD MOUTH.

ha ha, this is why I do not run for office personally!!! lol. thank you for responding, I am busy just now but will get back to you asap.

• Andrea...

Of course the unions power is political... Decision making is political. You are an elected school board member and if you don't think that your decision making is political in nature you clearly have no understanding of the position you hold.... However having done some research you clearly know that the teachers union power is political.

Do you feel that you can come up with a perfect solution for every student that is the same for every student?

• JSB, this is for your own education, please take these FACTS into consideration.

1. The State of Colorado enacted the STATE LABOR PEACE ACT in response to the catastrophe occurring outside of Pueblo, called the LUDLOW MASSACRE. this labor encounter between workers and officials of the state itself, led to the country's FIRST AND BEST union regulating legislation.

2. The Labor Peace Act applies ONLY TO PRIVATE WORKERS.

3. There IS no Colorado legislation either controlling or legitimizing a public labor union AT ALL. NONE.

• I will agree that unions are a part of the educational bureaucracy that resists change. In a number of industries unions have resisted modernization and productivity gains for the short term benefit of workers but to the long term loss.

There have been a number of free on line educational progra

• I'll be happy to digest and respond to your comment, and thank you for taking the time to suppply it.

However by way of IMMEDIATE and URGENT INFORMATION, please NOTE, I AM NOT!!! Ms. MERIDA!!!! who has a political history as well as future to protect.

My name is Kathy Hansen. I am the ex wife of a former classified worker of over two decades' time. Again, I am NOT! ALTHOUGH I MAY WISH I HAD BEEN, ANDREA.

• Thank you Andrea for your post. A few responses.

1. Since we are talking about teachers unions here 1 and 2 do not apply.
2. Since we are clearly talking about public labor unions when we talk about teachers unions it is fair to bring up the following points. Public unions exist to benefit their membership at the expense of the taxpaying public as a whole. Public unions can and do influence the election of officials that will determine what their contract looks like and in so doing have at least the appearance of corruption no matter how good the intentions are of those elected public officials. As you posted on your own website regarding issue 2C this last ballot cycle certain interests in that election were donating money to ensure that they got access to contracts during or after the election cycle. The same is true of public unions donating to candidates that directly approve their contract with the public agency.

How many school boards that were just elected with massive contributions from a teachers union are then going to turn around and decertify negotiating with that same union. How many school boards do you know that are likely to turn on their massive contributors and say well we know you don't like charter schools but we are going to approve charter schools that won't let you in to unionize their teachers. How many school boards that took significant donations from teachers unions can legitimately claim that they represent the interests of the taxypayer in the district over the interests of the union that got them elected? How many unions are going to just go all in on an agenda of changing things from the way they are to more accountability and a higher standards required bar when that stand will cost them membership and political power?

The truth is the union has no incentive to change standards or increase accountability. Its goal is not and never has been having an exceptional education system. Its goals revolve entirely around how do we get teachers the best deal possible. Sometimes this will be in the best interests of students... Frequently it will not be in the best interests of students.

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• THis time i have a correction, dear. That comment was not from one "seeming to be an ignorant person who lacks vision," that was a moron with no class.

Then we wonder "WHAT IS WRONG WITH KIDZ THESE DAYZ??"

• In my experience the biggest structural impediment to teaching children is the teachers unions that resist all change or that promote changes that benefit them but do not benefit the students they are charged with teaching.

Ironically your mom and aunt probably are far better teachers than the average teacher in our average public school for a couple of reasons. One they had to know multiple levels of educational material and could help students that were behind and actually challenge students that were ahead of their respective 'grade' level. Most average teachers in the average school have no clue what to do with students that are outside their very narrow window of 'what they teach.' For another the discipline structure of a 1 room school house makes for a much less 'scattered' discipline than what happens in far too many of our schools. You blame lack of individualization on the school bureaucracy... I highly doubt many of them unless they are reformers already ever are presented with individualization as a possible solution. The unions as a whole HATE individualized education. It directly undermines their primary arguments to maintain unions in general in that each student is dealt with individually rather than collectively. If students should be taught individually then they lose the argument that teachers contracts should be negotiated collectively.

• At my school we spend a ton of time trying to fix a problem we don't have- solely because Governor Brownback says we have to.

• wish you would come back! hey, a beautiful!!!! woman of about 90 years old told me years AGO that "life begins at sixty!" (with a twinkle in her eye, she really was not just k-i-d-d-i-n-g) so I figure that I am just a baby now. lol.

• Anyone that says they have come up with the perfect model for teaching all kids in a single school... is an idiot.... the current public school system and some charter schools have doubled down on this philosophy with a vengence.. and then wonder why they get substandard results. Whats worse is they then paint those substandard results a 'excellence'

• Please identify the DPS charter proposal that was defeated by the teacher union, as well as the two "badly failing neighborhood schools." The union in Denver does not have much power. Its candidates did not win in the last election. I think your comment needs documentation.

• Talk about missing the point.

There are issues with about 30% of the schools in the US, but there seems to be a focus on "fixing" all of them. The majority of the public schools in the US- even the ones with evil unions- do a good job educating kids.

That's the point of the article.

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• When you were educated by the Jesuits, you don't disprove God. Capitalized

• You probably got stats to disprove god too, but he don't care either.

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