E-mail letters, May 4, 2010

SB 191 in not what’s best
for state’s public education
My husband and I have taught high school special education at Fruita Monument High School for nine years. We do not have tenure. We do have due process rights given to us by the Legislature many years ago. Nowhere in any record of state law has any teacher been given “tenure” in Colorado. They have been given due process, just as federal law gives employees due process rights against being fired for no reason.

In District 51, our teacher evaluation system ensures that teachers are evaluated for their performance on a regular basis and that if their teaching is deemed ineffective, they are put on a plan to help them improve their teaching skills. If that doesn’t work, the evaluation system — created by the teachers and the administrators in District 51 — allows for the dismissal of teachers.

Intelligently, the team that took many months to create this evaluation system did not place, as one of its requirements to be deemed an effective teacher, the caveat that their students have to pass a test. This ludicrous idea is akin to telling a doctor that, because his patients aren’t in perfect health, he is ineffective and can no longer practice medicine. What about the dentist whose patients need fillings, crowns, or root canals? Is he a bad dentist who deserves his dental license to be yanked from him? Or the attorney who doesn’t win every case? Should we “fire” him from practicing law?

My evaluator, who just gave me my evaluation and came into my room 11 times without notifying me that she would be there to evaluate my teaching skills, can attest to the fact that I work diligently with and for my students, as does every teacher on our campus. We are intelligent, dedicated, and caring and we go above and beyond for our students. But I guarantee you that there would be teachers on this campus who would be fired under the Senate Bill 191 plan because some of their kids wouldn’t be able to pass a test at the level the non-educators in the Legislature say they have to.

For many reasons — the cost of implementing this bill included — this is a bad idea for Colorado. Local taxpayers will be left to shoulder the cost of this if it passes, as I don’t know where the estimated $172 million dollars will come from to fund it. Look closely at the truth behind this bill and contact your legislators to tell them to vote “No” on SB 191. It is not what is best for public education.
Tyra Clinkingbeard

SB191 is bipartisan and
it is not draconian
As a response to the letters and columns in regard to the tenure bill (SB 191) currently working it’s way thru the Colorado Legislature I would like to point out a few considerations
First and foremost, this is a truly bi-partisan bill.  The four sponsors are two Democrats and two Republicans. The lead has been taken by Sen. Johnston, a very able and admired Democrat,  and is a product of a great deal of discussion and thought. Add to that the fact that Gov. Bill Ritter supports the bill, along with three former governors, two of whom are Democrats, and all very familiar with the problem. They are joined by Denver’s BizCares, Club 20, Chamber of Commerce groups — including Grand Junction’s — which have all voiced strong support for the bill.
Secondly, the bill is not draconian. It asks that we begin to identify qualities that make strong educational leaders. This includes building administrators. For far too long building administrators have answered questions about individual teachers with a shrug and, “What can I do?  Tenure you know.”  It is ironic that Democrats, the champions of the poor and needy, object to this bill because of the nature of measuring all children. It seems that these arguments are all about what adults want or need. Where do children fit into the discussion? 
Most importantly, this does not get in the way of the Governor’s Council carrying on its work. Indeed, that work is a vital part of the bill. What this bill does is ensure that the work will be completed – the original time line has been expanded.  It will not be another endless study with no clear objective.  DPS took five years and $25 million to come up with its much-touted plan, which consists of “career ladders” and a great deal of verbiage, but little in the way of results.
As for the act being disrespectful of teachers,  the disrespect has come about from years of standing in the way of reform.  The few poor teachers give black eyes to all teachers.  The continual requests for more funding, “so we can do a better job” fall on deaf ears when we all know that in every district, probably in every school, we have teachers who do not belong in the classroom. Yes, we did modify the tenure laws in 1990 to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers. And how many teachers have been removed?  Oh, I think none. 
Superintendents, meeting in Grand Junction this week, were very clear. They embrace the bill and, in their words, appreciate the fact that the details are being left to districts to work out. DPS, Fountain Fort Carson and Mesa No. 51 will not be forced to abandon their early efforts in this area. Due process is not in danger. The Governor’s Council will continue its work, with teachers playing a major role. 
The reform work being carried out by our previous governor and this governor has brought both sides of the aisle to a common realization that we must, for the future of our young people, improve the quality of our education.  If we are to succeed we need this piece of reform, and a little faith in the process.
Marcia Neal
Grand Junction

Article on nudists didn’t
belong on the front page
In Tuesdays paper, on Page 5A, there were articles about the flooding in Nashville and the bomb attempt in New York City.  These are important issues that should have been on Page 1. Instead there was an article about nudists.

This is absurd!  It was in poor taste and cannot even be considered news. I am really disappointed with the editorial staff for putting that article in the paper.  I thought you had higher standards. I hope the Sentinel gets its priorities straight.
Eleanore Mollick

Garco did the right thing
in restoring senior exemption
Thank you to Garfield CountyCommissioner John Martin for his leadership in restoring a “justifiable entitlement” for many of us old people. The Ritter regime, in its many, dubious decisions, reneged on itts prior commitment to allow a senior property tax exemption to those of us 65 or older who have occupied their primary residence for at least 10 years.

The Garfield County commissioners are to be commended for taking action to reverse this injustice. All too often they are subjected to public scrutiny only for the more controversial decisions they are required to make.

Not only was this a “righteous” decision, but it could be a “good omen” as well, by proving to the nation’s voting public that bad political decisions made by inept administrations can be rightfully changed, providing we elect the right people to office to represent us.

God Bless America for our duly elected representatives and our republic form of government!
Richard Doran


Who is behind protest
by Denver-area students?

High school and college students in Denver decided to protest Arizona’s new immigration law. I have a few questions for them.

How many of them have read the new law? How many of them got their information from their teachers or from the misguided Denver school superintendent? I would be willing to bet the percentage of these students who have actually read the bill are about equivalent to the percentage of congressmen who actually read the health care bill.

They were told how bad the bill was by their teachers and administrators. The question for these adults would be, did you actually read the bill? Again, I think a very low percentage to none at all have actually read the bill.

Another question. The article stated the students were marching with hand-made signs and were not organized by any outside organization. Why were they then, in the accompanying picture, holding professionally made signs?

Obviously, this walk out was not quite as spontaneous as we are lead to believe by the Associated Press.

The questions we taxpayers need to ask are simple:

Why are the children in our public schools being indoctrinated by the left?  Why are our tax dollars being spent on administrators who are more interested in scoring political points than educating the children? What involvement did the SEIU have in this protest?

We must stop, once and for all, the politicization of our educational institutions. The liberal teachers’ unions have controlled the educational system in the United States for 50 years. What do we have to show for it? Students who are not taught the basic building blocks they need to pursue higher education or be hired for jobs. Students who need remedial classes in college in record numbers. However, they sure are being taught how to protest.
Kevin McCarney

Which office is responsible
for local census problems?

Thanks to The Daily Sentinel for its timely editorial on the importance of a complete and accurate Census 2010 on the Western Slope.

While it is refreshing to know that officials from the Denver Regional Census Center took my allegations of mismanagement “seriously,” assurances offered to the Sentinel editorial board raised the question of where that “mismanagement” originated — here, or at the regional office.

Useful insight can be garnered by tallying decisions affecting the Grand Junction Local Census Office’s management. Of the nine positions that the regional office was responsible for initially filling, seven have been demoted or terminated (the latter two by me), and the regional office entirely failed to fill the administrative assistant position during my tenure as local census office manager.

Of the six senior positions now occupied in the local office,  I personally selected the current administrative assistant and hired or promoted other. In mid-February, I arranged for the current local manager to be placed in charge of our “forward operating base” in Silverthorne, where she apparently earned her promotion.  Thus, of the six currently occupied positions, I was directly or indirectly responsible for filling five of them — apparently successfully.  So, draw your own conclusions.

For similar reasons, the risk of a significant “undercount” on the Western Slope remains high, meriting the attention of our congressional delegation.
Bill Hugenberg
Grand Junction



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