I found Glass’s latest Advance Jeffco blog post (https://advancejeffco.blog/2019/11/08/breaking-down-the-2019-election/) regarding the election to be a carefully crafted spin on the election and his side-stepping of accountability for the state of education in Jeffco Schools and almost an implied threat to the new Board members..
On the most important topic of the district’s instructional philosophy Glass stated: “our board going forward will need to wrestle with the choice between following through on building an educational experience emphasizing real-life experiences or an approach focused on standardized test scores.“
This is just flat-out wrong and an attempt by Glass to distance himself from any accountability whatsoever.
Why can’t the District provide an educational experience emphasizing real-life experiences and ALSO ensure that kids have mastered the fundamental educational skills they will need to succeed in the world? This is NOT an Either-Or choice as Glass would like people to believe.
Let’s look at this from another perspective. Schools exist to educate students. Fundamentally, schools need to teach students to be able to read and do math (among many other things). As parents and taxpayers, how do we know if schools are doing their jobs? There has to be some form of measurement. To me, it is pretty simple, if kids are being taught what the state has determined they should be taught, then their test scores will reflect that. People can complain about tests and evaluations all they want, but isn’t that what real-life is about? Aren’t tests one of the real-life experiences that Glass is talking about? Aren’t sports competitions merely an evaluation? Aren’t corporations’ quarterly and yearly earning results really a measurement of how a corporation is doing? Don’t many people have some measurable objectives at their place of work? Is there a better way to understand the academic growth and achievement of our kids and a way to hold schools, and Superintendents, accountable than through the use of standardized tests? Can’t schools practice those tests and use those practice tests as a learning experience? I always found that I learned a lot when my test results were reviewed. And, even as Glass talks about this he himself put numerous Academic Indicators of Success, based on standardized tests, into the Jeffco Generations document he likes to talk about. Are those goals suddenly meaningless now that the indicators are trending in the wrong direction and he’s looking bad?
Glass is getting paid good money to ensure our kids get an excellent education. On a high, conceptual level it sounds great that real-life experiences should be part of the education process and that kids need more skills than just reading and math. HOWEVER, don’t kids first need those fundamentals as a foundation for Glass’s Deeper Learning? When only 50% of Jeffo’s students are reading at grade level and even fewer are at math grade level, I think that the emphasis, first and foremost, in Jeffco should be on those fundamental skills. In addition, have Glass and Jeffco defined what “real-life” experiences every student should have before graduating? Is there a measure or check-list of those? How will we as parents and taxpayers know if this effort is successful? There have to be definitions and measures of success, otherwise, it is just a bunch of meaningless words that are written on a fancy looking Powerpoint presentation.
Regarding the closure of neighborhood schools, I would like to know how many of these are K-5 schools that were put at risk of closing due to the moving of 6th graders to Middle School? Did the Board consider this when they made that decision? Making the K-5, 6-8 model decision should have come with the implied long-term support for the small(er) K-5 schools that the Board created.
The next part of Glass’s narrative was off-putting and disturbing to me, particularly his use of the terms “factions” and “divisive partisan politics”. Is it “divisive partisan politics” when people have different philosophies on improving education? Can’t, and shouldn’t there be, real discussions on philosophies of education and how to improve our schools? It might be one thing if the measurable results in the District were great, but the truth is, they aren’t. That means that there NEEDS to be open and full-ranging discussions, particularly since the path Glass is now taking the District is unproven and has so far yielded negative results. That’s not being ‘divisive’, that’s doing what’s best for our kids!
So, the real challenges before the Board members are how they do what is best for our kids and community. How do we as parents and taxpayers measure if Glass and the Board are successful (the number of positive social media posts don’t count)? How much longer do we continue to fool ourselves, or be fooled, into thinking that Jeffco schools are great when there are so many kids who are being failed? Shouldn’t proven and science based approaches be used in our schools instead of nice “sounding” philosophies that haven’t been proven anywhere else? In the tech field, people would call the path that Glass is leading us to be on the bleeding edge – usually not a good place to be.
Glass also expounded on Jeffco 1A with the same type of over-simplification he decried about people in categorizing the Board candidates. Glass wrote that 1A “would have allowed the county to keep (and not refund) $16.1 million in revenues collected over the formulaic cap set in TABOR.” However, that was only for the first year, as in the 2nd year that amount could have been $32M. That was only part of the deception of 1A, and it looks like Glass fell for that.
Glass continued his attempted deception of Jeffco readers with his comment regarding CC when he wrote: “As such, Jeffco Public Schools will begin making budget forecasts for next year and into the future without these incremental funds.”
Again, a misleading over-simplification. CC funds would have been variable. The amount, and even if there would be any available at all, would change yearly. You can’t really budget for that funding into the future if you don’t know if it will even be there.
It might be nice if every now and then Glass wrote about the real education issues in Jeffco instead of his continued pandering to the white, activist soccer moms whose kids can read. But, if he did that he would have to admit to his failure to make improvements and get more than 50% of Jeffco students reading above grade expectations. It’s obviously easier, and more financially rewarding, for him to talk politics than improve education.