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Parents: Enough multiple choice at neighborhood schools

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The moms and dads of Skinner Middle School — taxpaying types with steady jobs and sensible family cars — don’t look like a bunch of radicals.

But after meeting quietly for months to brainstorm, then to crunch numbers and compile data, they went public with demands that turn a decade of school-choice/school-reform thinking on its head.

Their chief demand: no more charter schools, no more alternative schools, or magnets; just fix the plain old, come-one, come-all neighborhood middle school we’ve already got.

“We want a school that takes all students, is not HGT (highly gifted and talented) but is just a quality neighborhood school,” said Renee Martinez-Stone.

Stone is a founding member of the insurrectionist group Northwest Neighborhood Middle Schools NOW.

In October 2009, NOW publicly pleaded for “a viable middle-school option” for “proficient and above kids” — the kids NOW contends are bailing on traditional DPS schools after fifth grade.

They asked for foreign-language programs, for arts and music. And they wanted DPS to stop opening nontraditional campuses in their neighborhood. That, they argued, would stop the hemorrhaging of high-achieving students.

As NOW sees it, the school choice

Read more: Parents: Enough multiple choice at neighborhood schools – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_18037489#ixzz1M45j8ngD, Karen Auge

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Comments
  • comment avatar Gill W May 11, 2011

    The standard school system response – that charter and district schools are the same – doesn’t hold water. Charter schools and magnets “interview” children and their families for admission. Not everyone who lives in the area gets in. Only those students who are selected by the school get admitted. So what happens to the kids who are not selected or who come from a family that is considered undesireable by the charter/magnet school??? They get sent to another “regular” school that doesn’t screen. Filled with kids and families who have been rejected by other schools, its scores drop, its turned into a charter/magnet that screens kids, and the trickle-down turnaround goes on and on…

  • comment avatar StillUndecided May 11, 2011

    I believe that it is fair to say that most parents want a great neighborhood school. Most would settle for a good neighborhood school. Involved parents and a dedicated staff/principal will work together to make the school the best it can be.

    I don’t believe that school districts share that same vision. At the district level, they have no ties to the neighborhood. They are not members of that immediate community. Sticking kids on a bus and sending them across town is just as good an option as having a school that kids can walk to. A huge glass and stainless steel cube with guards and metal detectors is a good as the neighborhood meeting place in use almost every evening.

    I am glad to see these parents speaking out.

  • comment avatar Nick G May 11, 2011

    Glad to hear the news that Veltze is taking over at North H.S. Also, it is good to hear that she replaces the skirt-chasing principal who was asked to “resign”.
    Next, get rid of all the Assistant Principals – accomplices in the nefarious acts of the past “administration”.

  • comment avatar Sid James May 11, 2011

    That’s sort of the natural order of things, cream rises to the top unless homogenized into a mass where it is indistinguishable from the other stuff and takes on very similar qualities.

  • comment avatar Yaakov Watkins May 11, 2011

    This is pretty ugly. Stone wants to use top performing students to raise the educational level of the lower performers. How about if the parents of the top performers want a better education for their children than will be available with their children mixed in with lower performers?

  • comment avatar ConativeJJ May 11, 2011

    You want to fix the public schools? Well, we’ll need to raise your property taxes and hire a committee of experts to study the issue, that will run us about $2million for a multi-year study to research the impact of considering the possibility of potentially reforming the currently existing public schools. After they present their report in 2014, we’ll need to raise your property taxes again to hire another committee of experts (now $4million for a 2 year study) to research the impact of considering the possibility of potentially implementing the findings of the previous committee and how those implementations will possibly impact the potential of reforming the local public schools. After that study is complete in 2016, we’ll have to hire another committee of experts (now $6million for a two year study) to determine whether or not to implement the findings of the previous study – they’ll decide against it, since there is a new pedagogy out there and they’ll restart the process from scratch again to determine the impact of considering the possibility of potentially implementing the new pedagogy in the schools curriculum.

    Lather… Rinse… Repeat…

    In the end, if you want to “reform” the local schools, be prepared to up your property taxes (the more you give the better you feel), hire committee after committee of experts to research every possible avenue of impact of reform, be prepared to have a school board wade through numerous conflicting findings and recommendations, and be prepared that by the time your kids are ready for college (having to take remedial classes for the first year they are there) that the school district still won’t be anywhere near beginning any sort of reforms.

    Or, you could just home school, teach your kids how to educate themselves, band together with other like-minded parents and hire a tutor for your kids, or just accept that if you want your kids to have a good education and you live in a poor performing district, that you’re going to have to send them elsewhere.

  • comment avatar Sue H May 11, 2011

    “Colorado’s 170 charter schools are public schools that any child can attend, free.”

    That’s not correct. Charter schools have different rules, so parents attempting to understand it find out later that they “misunderstood” because the rules are all different.

    “ANY CHILD CAN ATTEND?” BS.

    The Montbello area has forever been given few if any schools with programs serving the gifted kids. Archuletta Elementary had one class of HGT kids in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade combined.

    Now they offered 140 slots in the new Green Valley Ranch Denver School of Science and Technology. 380 kids applied but 240 were told no. Where do they go?

    Back to the old Montbello High School, where the building looks like a prison from inside, where kids stabbed each other just a few years ago, where the problems are not something the teachers could possibly solve. And the new programs are heavily imbued with ROTC.

    Now I learned that other high schools are cherrypicking the good teachers from Montbello High. So next year, whatever school it is now will be full of brand new teachers? Is that improvement?

  • comment avatar Sue H May 11, 2011

    Whatever DPS officials say up front will change later. They don’t keep promises in their public relations material.

    They said ALL kids will have access to high performing schools, but they are actively engaging in deceit in attempt to keep Montbello kids in Montbello.

    We checked out High Tech Academy, which is connected to corporations with headliner black achievers who might also be looking to hire the same kids.

    Look at their video and you will see the white girl standing alone, leaning against a locker, looking sad at the floor, all by herself, not going anywhere.

    So how will they close that achievement gap?

    I’m in favor of local control, and I think Montbello should have another and another and another opportunity to fix these schools.

    But having lived in Montbello for 14 years, I know what the racial undercurrents are.

    DPS has no goals for my kid, except to put a brick on her head to close the achievement gap. They offer my kid NOTHING.

    My house is for sale.

  • comment avatar Sue H May 11, 2011

    Rent is cheaper in Longmont and ALL the high schools there are high performing schools. Instead of hateful stares because of the color of our skin, we found people to be friendly and nice.

    We go to Boulder today for a low income 3-bedroom apartment next to the rec center.

    I put $10K cash down on my brick ranch bordering the greenbelt. We planted fruit trees and fragrant roses, and perennials. We put in new doors and windows (tile sills) and roof and bathroom.

    For all that, the house is now worth $7K more than when we bought it? And I am now $50K underwater, so a short sale means I will wreap nothing.

    We could stay and then drive everyday to George Washington H.S. or Thomas Jefferson, spending hours on the highway each day, burning fuel like … like we’re rich?

    Or just move.

    This brick ranch has 950sf up and 950sf down with a double garage attached, no problems with the poured concrete foundation. New furnace and HWH. New oak faced cabinets on one living room wall. Kitchen window faces wildlife area.

    When I tried to discuss these problems with DPS officials, they by and large attempted to put their own racial stereotypes into my mouth so they could label me as a racist.

    All whites are racists, right? No minority people could ever be considered racist, right?

    Then come buy my house in MOntbello and find out for yourself.

  • comment avatar Lucy J May 11, 2011

    Or you could stop whining and get a second job. Montbello homes were cheap to get into, anyone who thought the area was going to be the next Cherry Hills was delusional. Your property taxes are low, there is above normal low income housing, and you think in this economy, no matter what home improvements you have done, that you are going to make a profit? I lived in Adams County, pathetic school system….I drove 120 miles daily so that my kid could go to an excellent rated school in Arvada, then to work in South Denver….daily. We did this for 1 year and bought a house in Arvada. You do whatever it takes to help your kid succeed. My husband still works 2 jobs, it’s something we have to do, period.

  • comment avatar Pilgrim 1620 May 11, 2011

    Yeah – and you could just provide your own fire protection and road maintenance, haul your own water and dig your own cesspits, just like self-sufficient people used to do in the “old days”, too. Now there’s a model for progress to keep us competitive with the rest of the world in the 21st century, huh?

    You have a point about ensuring that the educational system provides opportunities appropriate to students’ abilities (and motivation/interests). But there are no simplistic solutions to that.

    “Poor performing district” is an oversimplification, for instance. Urban districts always appear to struggle in their statistics, because they have many hard-to-educate students, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t actually do comparatively well with their students. For example, Denver Public Schools that are in better-off neighborhoods with demographics more like the suburbs, are amongst some of the best in the state; and students at DPS’ International Baccalaureate Program at GWHS have the highest ACT scores of any school of any type in the state, better even that at the top private schools charging around $20,000 per year.

    The real issue is how, for the good of society, schools can do the most to bring out the potential of all students and provide them with opportunities to succeed – particularly those who come from backgrounds that would seem to doom them to underperform, and especially those who may not have the advantage of supportive parents. The point of this article is that parents are back to asking for that, after fads like “choice” and “market” approaches to education have turned out not to deliver overall better educational opportunities. And other countries do better, so it’s not a pipe dream with no precedent in the real world – but they generally do so by being more supportive of education and teachers, and in particular spending more money. (The US ranks about 40th in educational results – and about 40th in educational funding as a percentage of GDP; what’s not obvious about that?)

  • comment avatar Johnny B May 11, 2011

    The point is, people send their kids to charter schools. The neighborhood schools are left with kids who can’t get into charters and then they have to close the school. If everyone went to the school in their neighborhood, it would all be even. Honors kids take honors classes, and everyone else doesn’t. It’s ok to be in the same building.

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