( - promoted by Fong)
February 12, 2011
Dear Superintendent Boasberg,
When I opened The Denver Post this morning and read about the 52% graduation rate in DPS, I was stunned. We have had The Denver Plan for six years now, and all we can manage is a 5% improvement in our graduation rate? Particularly when this "improvement" is due to nothing other than a "lowering of the academic bar" to make DPS numbers look better than they are? Proof of this is in the increased remediation rate to 55% of our DPS graduates who attend college. That is outrageous!
It is time to fix our schools, starting with the high schools. By "fix" I do not mean closing the schools and replacing them with charters. Find six excellent principals, or pairings of competent assistant principals with smart business people, (not those from education corporations), and put them into the failing high schools: Manual, Montbello, North, West, Lincoln, and possibly Kennedy. That leaves only five decent high schools remaining to serve the students in DPS: East, GW, TJ, and South. How can you spend six years not addressing the most pressing problem in DPS, that three fifths of our traditional high schools are failing their students and the remaining two fifths are struggling to competently serve all of their students?
I am tired of reading quotes from you in the paper which frequently contain the following words, "we are very concerned," and "it speaks clearly to the need..." Clearly, the DPS Administration knows what is wrong. Quit being "concerned" and do something constructive. Parents, teachers, and school administrators have turned around many DPS neighborhood elementary schools in the past decade. Even some of the middle schools have been turned around or are making significant progress. If the community can do it, surely 900 Grant with its wealth of human resources should be able to accomplish the same feats on a much larger scale.
Bill Gates is an accomplished businessman. He has yet to prove himself an esteemed educator. Gambling our kids' education with a bet on corporate America seems very shortsighted. "Rolling up one's sleeves" and getting to work is a time-tested method of success. We Westerners still have that quality in our fabric. We would embrace that type of effort.
A DPS Parent & Graduate
P.S. While writing this, I received your e-mail letter to the DPS Community. Your "spinning" of the story is, in fact, quite misleading. What truly is important is the quality of the DPS high school graduate. I would like to see a true measurement of the academic level of our graduates as demonstrated by results from the ACT or SAT. With remediation rates as high as 55%, one has to infer that our students are not as prepared for college or a career as they once were. Tragically, this truth is never told.
We at DeFENSE know what works. It includes:
Building trust among school leaders, teachers, and students. A four-year study of over 400 Chicago elementary schools found that higher levels of trust in a school community is associated with higher levels of growth in student achievement. When members of a school community support one another, listen to and respect input from all levels, and work together toward common goals, students show greater achievement gains.
Collective leadership. School communities led by principals who meaningfully involve teachers, parents and community members in making school-wide decisions are more successful than those where the principal makes decisions without others' input.
Reducing class sizes. Smaller class sizes have been linked to benefits as wide-ranging as increased student achievement, reductions in the achievement gap, greater effort and engagement among students, reduced health care costs, and more.
Read more at our "What Works" page. Thanks for reading.