A call to Denver parents, spiritual leaders, civic activists, business leaders, average tax paying citizens. Are you aware that 75% of the Black and brown children in your schools cannot read, write, add and subtract at grade level (see attached report card)? Are you assuming that your DPS Board of Education members are focused on improving those disgraceful results? If so, you would be wrong!
Rather than working on what is best for Denver’s students, families and community, your DPS board members, as noted in extensive news coverage, are focused entirely on infighting — and their fighting is not directed at academic failure. Their childish, immature, self-absorbed, self-righteous behavior reflects a bunch of narcissists who choose to fight with each other over who is most racist, while ignoring what should be their highest, if not only, priority — delivering quality education to the kids trapped in DPS schools. Not one word, not a single syllable, at the board’s retreat of August 8 about the tragedy, the human disaster, of DPS’s pathetic academic performance. How long will these union-saluting toadies fail to do their only job — educate all students? How can anyone who cares about our children’s future stand by and allow their fate to remain in such irresponsible hands?
According to the Colorado Department of Education, DPS was ranked 119 out of Colorado’s 178 school districts. Using CDE’s metrics (again, see attached report card), only about 3 in 10 DPS students are proficient. In the face of such inexcusable failure, all the board members choose to talk about is what they call their Black/brown divide.
Maybe they are focused on it because they are not up to the challenge of improving student learning.
In 2019, before COVID, 7 out of 10, Black and brown 3rd to 6th graders could not read, write, add, and subtract, at grade level. In 2022, scores were even worse, continuing DPS’s long trajectory of declining results (once again, please see the attached report card). And the longer students remain in DPS, the worse their performance.
But rather than focus on doing something about their failure, which borders on child abuse, DPS board members choose to play the race card against each other.
If all the above is not bad enough, would you like to guess what the BOE just announced last week? Unbelievably, it just “negotiated” with the union, rewarding it with an 8.7% salary increase, doing so without conditioning it upon improved academic results. You can’t make this stuff up.
Where is the apology from anyone participating in the August 8 retreat for what all this portends for those poor kids’ futures — and ours. We are witnessing a race to the bottom, while these BOE members fight among themselves. They are not remotely concerned about the fact that their churlishness means that DPS will continue failing to prepare kids for productive, fulfilling lives, condemning them to lives short on hope.
While the board members continue to fight their private civil war, in this case between Black and brown, the only ones paying the price are the kids — it is their blood being spilled, not that of the self-indulgent adults.
While the board focuses on the Black/brown divide, whatever that means, who is focusing on the failure/success divide, the ignorance/well-educated divide? Where is the community outrage, demanding that board members retire their racist rhetoric and spend their time and our tax dollars eliminating the “no bright future divide?” It is time to elevate expectations! It is time to hold DPS accountable! It is time to demand better results. And, if they are not forthcoming, then all parents, be they Black, brown, white, or whatever, should demand their money back so they can then shop for the education they think is best for their kids.
No more excuses. No more explanations. No more ignoring of parents’ concerns about what is actually happening in classrooms. And certainly, no more money — that is, until DPS finally puts the education of its children ahead of all else and actually improves academic results.
Steve Schuck is a Colorado Springs businessman and school choice activist who founded the Parents Challenge non-profit to help low-income families with informational and financial resources to exercise educational freedom.