A different perspective on the current state of Jeffco schools

Month: July 2017

For transparency, the Board’s and District’s actions speak louder than words

The Board can deny, disagree with or ignore the lack of transparency with the recent Alternative Pathways BFO, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lack of transparency.

On June 9th I wrote a letter to the Board regarding transparency issues with the changed Alternative Pathways Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO). Specifically, the wording of the BFO budget document was revised from the original posted in the May 4th Board Docs. Then, instead of posting the new document in the June 1st Board Docs just like every other financial document that was going to be discussed and voted on at that meeting, the changed document was reposted to the May 4th Board Docs. This essentially “hid” the changes from the public who may have wanted to comment on the changes during the Board’s public comment. To compound the transparency issues, the document retained the original date and signature of April 14th which was clearly false as the changes were made sometime after May 4th.

When I brought these transparency issues to the attention of the Board in my June 9th letter, the response I received was:

“In regard to your note of June 9, I would disagree with your assertions that there is an attempt to hide information from the community.”

Really? Is that the best response the Board could come up with to a blatant transparency issue? They couldn’t even counter the facts. Guess what – “Perception = Reality” and in this case my perception is that this was a blatant attempt to hide information as I had previously written to the Board and publicly commented on this BFO at the May Board meeting.

Actually, my assertion was that “hiding these changes in the May 4th Board Docs was deceptive in nature and violated all Board stated intentions of transparency.”

Disputing “attempt to hide information” does NOT dispute my assertion of a lack of transparency, which this clearly was.

In addition, the April 14th, 2017 signed date on the document is false. Where’s the transparency there?

I even wonder whether this is a legal document since the date does not reflect the actual date of the changes.

The Board says that they are all for transparency, but by ignoring and refusing to take corrective action on the non-transparent changes to this BFO, their actions certainly speak louder than their words.

Should I embrace or be insulted by being labeled “Community Critic” by Jason Glass?

Or, should we all be more concerned when the new Superintendent, with the stated goal of bridging the divide in the community, 2 days into his position, labels someone with potentially different views than his “community critic”? This is what is most disappointing to me. If he truly wants to listen to all sides, then no one should be a “critic”.

In his blog, Jason Glass labeled me “community critic” while posting a twitter exchange we had regarding the Profile of an Ideal Jeffco Graduate.

Since I prefer to think of myself as a GT and education advocate, I was insulted when I read that label.

Yet, Dictionary.com defines “critic” as:


  1. a person who judges, evaluates, or criticizes.
  2. a person who judges, evaluates, or analyzes literary or artistic works,dramatic or musical performances, or the like, especially for anewspaper or magazine.
  3. a person who tends too readily to make captious, trivial, or harsh judgments; faultfinder.

Initially, I applied definition number 3 to the label. However, my wife counseled that definition number 1 may be applicable. The truth is, I don’t know what definition Glass applied to me. However, I do think that someone who loudly and proudly touts his 2 master’s degrees and PhD would understand that the word “critic” is ambiguous enough to mean different things to different people.

I would also think that someone who touts Deliberative Democracy would treat participants in his conversations with civility and respect (“Conscientious”) and labeling participants doesn’t necessarily meet that criteria.

The bottom line is that I’m extremely disappointed in Dr. Glass in his labeling of me as “community critic”. Am I the only “critic” in the community? I think not. Was his intent to intimidate anyone else with different views to keep those views to themselves for fear of also being labeled “community critic”? Again, I don’t know. But, I will say it is not going to intimidate me. Actually, it will have the opposite effect.

Therefore, I’ve decided that I’m going to proudly embrace the label, and role, of “community critic” until such time as we can truly and freely have real conversations about education issues in our district. The district is divided, and it will remain divided until both sides feel that they are being listened to, middle ground is found and compromises made. 5 – 0 votes with no real and meaningful discussion aren’t going to get us there. And, being ignored, as I feel I’ve been for 5 months after suggesting that a collaborative committee be formed to discuss sustainable funding for the District’s HS GT program, certainly doesn’t get us there either. The only thing that does is turn couch potatoes, like myself, into GT and education advocates and “community critics”.

Let the criticism continue!

Kevin Carroll’s meeting with the HS GT Community was Horrendous

I laughed when a Board member recently told me that Kevin Carroll had told the interim Superintendent that a May meeting with the District’s HS GT community “went well”.

I was at that meeting. I don’t know whether Kevin Carroll is delusional, from another planet or wanted his boss to believe something happened that didn’t happen. But calling what transpired during that meeting as “went well” is far from how the GT parents and students would characterize that meeting.

Maybe if you want to define “went well” as having the opportunity to present a completely misleading and intentionally deceptive set of SBB numbers to the HS GT community, but from the first question onward, “went well” is not how I would describe that meeting.

Maybe Kevin doesn’t quite grasp the concept that there is a high probability that GT students have intelligent parents. Maybe Kevin doesn’t understand that these parents are not going to be fooled by some attempted slick presentation and they will call him out for attempting to intentionally deceive and mislead them with a set of SBB numbers that don’t match the reality of what actually happens at a school. He was called out for that attempt by a parent.

But, that’s not all.

Kevin was called out by a student for his continued attempts to mislead and deceive everyone he talks to about how the HS GT program is similar to “the other 15 GT programs in the District” with regard to services, educational opportunities and support when it isn’t. The student told Carroll that the elementary and middle school GT programs he attended were just advanced learning programs, and that the high school GT program was the first time he had ever experienced social-emotional support and the autonomous learner model.

Kevin even upset my meek and mild-mannered “on-the-spectrum” daughter, who also has ADHD, with his comment that money earmarked for the high school GT program might be better spent on students “who have real needs.” Really, Kevin? And you oversee the GT program? And Special Education? Do you understand who is in the GT program and what it does? Do you not realize that with their high probability of co-morbid developmental and mental health challenges, and with their different way of thinking and feeling, gifted students have “real needs” as legitimate as those of special education students? He should be fired for incompetence for that comment.

Kevin was told straight up by one parent that he wasn’t trusted, nor was the District. After his presentation, it was easy to see why.

Another parent asked why, if the program is such a success, the District would seek to pull money from it instead of investing more into it like a successful business would. No answer to that question.

Kevin was also called out for making this presentation without including the school’s School Accountability Committee, and doing it at a time when the school essentially didn’t have a principal to refute his numbers. That felt pretty sneaky. I guess that’s one way to ensure only one side of the story gets told.

The parents and students at that meeting weren’t fooled by Kevin and his misleading, manipulative and deceptive SBB numbers, and trust me, they let him know that.

For him to go back and tell his boss that the meeting “went well” is just another in a long line of statements by Kevin Carroll that just aren’t true. We don’t need or want Cabinet members like Kevin in our District!

To put it simply – this meeting couldn’t have been much worse! And the high school GT community deserves better.

Good riddance, Terry Elliott

It’s a great day in Jeffco knowing that Terry Elliott has left the District. You’d be hard pressed to find anything he has done that is either ‘Innovative’ or ‘Effective’ as one would be led to believe from his title ‘Chief Effectiveness Officer’ in charge of the Innovation and Effectiveness Team.

He’s certainly no friend to the District’s highly successful HS GT program either. From putting program de-funding in Phase 1B (certain to be implemented) of the Cabinet’s January 26th proposed budget recommendations, to not taking a collaborative approach to finding a sustainable funding solution as interim Superintendent, to a back-door cut to the program with an Alternative Pathways Budgeting For Outcomes (BFO) recommendation, it seemed he did everything in his power to hurt the HS GT program. In addition, he refused, or ignored, multiple invitations over multiple years to visit and get an understanding of the program.

The District is better off today. Good riddance!