Yesterday, the Superintendent of Jeffco Schools, Jason Glass, released a blog post titled: ‘Road to Recovery – How Lawmakers Can Ease the Crisis for Schools’.
As with most things related to Glass:
1. The post is political in nature. There is literally nothing in the post about educating Jeffco’s kids. Specifically, Glass does not talk about what Jeffco Schools are or will be doing to mitigate the effects of the, in most cases, lower quality of remote learning education.
2. Glass makes a big effort to shift responsibility and accountability to the state and away from himself and change the way in which he is measured and evaluated.
I particularly find his plea to ‘Stabilize enrollment counts and projections’ to be interesting, especially in light of the fact that Jeffco’s CFO was already publicly stating that the District was projecting a loss of 350 students and $3M in revenue.
Because of this, it is to Jeffco’s advantage to ‘hold-harmless’ school Districts for student losses as Jeffco’s losses are likely to be proportionally more than other Districts. What Glass doesn’t take into consideration is the possibility that one District could gain students from a neighboring District, but still have an overall loss. Will funding still be the same as last year? Here’s an example: In both Denver and Jeffco 10% of students who attended in 2019-2020 do not return to physical government schools in August for Covid-19 related reasons. Yet, an additional 100 students from Jeffco transfer into Denver schools. Is Glass saying that Jeffco should be held harmless and receive the same state money for those 100 students? And what about Denver, will they receive no money for those proportionally more students? Or, will the state, already in a budget crisis, be paying twice for some students?
Additionally, if the state does ‘hold-harmless’ student count, will Glass do the same with individual schools within Jeffco? Will principals receive the same SBB as last year if their enrollments decline? Will Glass be willing to pay twice for students who choice change schools?
Does Glass really think that there will be ANY Districts in Colorado that see an overall enrollment increase? How many District’s will permanently lose students to homeschooling when parents realize that their kids might get a better education at home than they have gotten in the government schools? It’s nice to say that Districts with growing enrollment will gain additional funding, but it’s not quite as simplistic, or equitable, as Glass makes it seem.
It is nice to see Glass admit that state funding for student losses is mitigated by the state funding formula.
School enrollment rises and falls each year across the state and money sent to districts adjusts accordingly (with provisions to soften the loss of funding for districts with declining enrollment).
His CFO, Kathleen Askelson doesn’t seem to get that concept as she has repeatedly told the Board of Education that a loss of 350 students will result in a $3M loss ($8,571/per student) of revenue to the District (there are other problems with her loss claim too, as outlined here). Shouldn’t the BoE be able to trust the District’s CFO? Does Jeffco need a new one? That’s a big swing of money, when Districts are checking sofa cushions, to make misrepresentations like that.
Testing – to put it bluntly – Glass doesn’t like it. He has stated it several times in the past. And, there’s no reason why he should. Since he has been Superintendent in Jeffco schools’ academic growth and achievement scores are down. He just doesn’t want to be measured and made accountable for the pathetic Jeffco Generations Academic Performance Indicator goals he is nowhere close to achieving.
What better opportunity than a pandemic crisis to change the conversation and implement measurement systems that aren’t comparative and have the distinct possibility of not measuring anything:
While … the challenges presented by COVID-19 are disruptive, they also present opportunities for meaningful change and innovation. On assessments and accountability, the legislature should direct school districts to develop locally-designed accountability systems …
When you’re failing at your primary job of educating kids, why not just change the measurement system so that people can’t really see how badly you’re doing.
I’m sorry, but I’m not buying that and neither should Polis, the legislature or parents. We can’t let the fox guard the hen house.
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 is going to have a big impact on K-12 education for an extended period of time and Glass has made some valid points. It will not be an easy time. Systems, processes and people will need to change and adapt. Leaders will need to emerge. However, I would have preferred that Glass talk about how he intends to stop and reverse the Covid-19 slide with curriculum, standardized/best practice teaching methodologies and evaluation of teachers’ instruction practices than just one more politically slanted, shifting responsibility and avoiding accountability blog post.