Printed letters, November 1, 2013

I write concerning the desire of school board members Jeff Leany and Ann Tisue to bash and smash the Mesa Valley Education Association — as well as those overpaid, under-performing, non-right-thinking teachers — with the aid of our Mesa County Republican Party’s triad of school-board designees.

Together they hope to substitute only those teachers whom this reconstituted, politicized board may approve.

Just a few years ago, teaching was lauded as a noble profession, requiring greater remuneration and respect, one to which our children should aspire. Most recently, our Supreme Court ruled in the Lobato school finance case that Colorado had no obligation to alter its funding system.

Despite the current hype that “not one more cent” need go to education because “they” already receive too much, Google “Colorado school funding rank” to obtain actual data and the national consensus: Colorado has been in the bottom of the barrel for years. That is what Amendment 66 is about.

Now, regarding Leany & Company’s promise to unleash the same divisiveness recently demonstrated nationwide by ideological excesses, if unfettered in our community, they may cause the shuttering of our schools and sufficient acrimony to last us all for years.

And where are our children in all of this?  When you attack the teachers’ union, you are de facto attacking those very children. The teachers just want representation at the table, in a collaborative effort with the board, to better our schools.

Please support Tom Parrish, John Williams and Greg Mikolai for our school board and vote “Yes” on Amendment 66. This may require you to do your own research. When you do, thank your teachers for having this ability. They are anything but your enemy.

ROY K. FARBER

Grand Junction

Sentinel writer seems biased 
in favor of teachers’ union

The Daily Sentinel’s education writer has me upset by a lack of reporting balance on the current school board elections. This became obvious when the front-page article on the teacher’s “association” with the school district never used the words “union” or “union contract.” (Readers can find this contract online at both the district’s and union’s website, a fact that should have been included in the article.)

The contract includes pay, benefits and breaks. Absent are professional education goals and the means to measure progress to these goals. This is a union contract, not a professional agreement.

In other articles, candidates open to reform and their supporters are suggested to be conspiratorial, receiving money from outsiders. So, why is the most liberal Colorado newspaper (The Denver Post) endorsing all the reform candidates, including three Republicans for metro-area school boards? The status quo throughout our country is unacceptable to many, and the power of teachers’ unions is seen as a major obstacle to reform.

I arrived in New York City just as the teachers’ strike was ending there in 1969. The mayor tried to intervene with the school board and union on behalf of a poor Brooklyn district to improve teacher assignments there. He failed, lost the next election and the teachers’ union got stronger. The union head at the time said when children start paying union dues, he would start worrying about their education. Four decades later, reforms are finally arriving.

I wish the Sentinel education writer would have delved into the relationship with the state, national and local teachers’ union. The national union head said at a July meeting that its immediate goal is to organize against all education reforms.

I would like to see the paper dig out more info on these labor organizations. It will be discovered the elephant in the room in education is not the Republicans, but the teachers’ union.

ROLAND REYNOLDS

Grand Junction

 

More spending won’t fix 
all educational problems

Have you ever noticed that the first to support higher taxes and government spending are the people who spend the money, our elected officials? I don’t believe an increase-tax-and-spend mentality and representing the voters (working American families) are compatible.

Why is it that our representatives believe the answer to any issue is to spend our way through it? Money does not fix all problems. If it did, we should have the smartest kids on Earth, since we spend more on education than any other country. However, our educational ranking has gone down over time.

Maybe there is another approach other than throwing good money after bad. I don’t believe our representatives have any solutions other than to throw more money at problems. I wonder if our representatives had to spend their own money, instead of ours, just how quickly the spending would cease.

We have taken the approach that money is the icing to cover a stale cake. We should get back to the basics. If the cake is good, who needs icing?

RANDY LITWILLER

Crawford

Amendment 66 would fund 
District 51 in essential areas

School funding in Colorado needs to be transparent and equitable for districts throughout our state. We need to target our dollars where they can make the biggest difference — closing the achievement gap and supporting under-resourced students and districts.

Amendment 66 is an innovative solution that will bring necessary changes, rewrite outdated school finance policy and set our state on a path to improve the future of education for our kids.

Amendment 66 stabilizes how we fund our education and puts the dollars into classrooms, starting with preschool and full-day kindergarten, thus giving every child a strong foundation for success.

Each year that we do not adequately invest in developing the minds of the next generation is possibly another year we are responsible for costly remediation, diminished earning potential and the growth of current and future public programs. These costs may then contribute to ongoing budget shortfalls at the state and local levels.

The seven counties of Senate District 5 and our school districts are very diverse with different levels of need. In fairness, all districts should benefit from this new funding formula, which provides adequate resources to attract and retain top-performing teachers. Districts in SD5 will see increased funding in key areas for at-risk students, English language learners, special education and gifted and talented programs. Finally, there will be a first-of-its-kind website that will enable parents to monitor exactly how dollars are being spent in their children’s schools — ensuring your taxpayer dollars are spent on effective programs.

Let’s invest in our future and move schools and all of Colorado forward. Please join me in supporting Amendment 66.

GAIL SCHWARTZ

Colorado state senator

Snowmass Village

Candidates need reality check 
on what occurs in classrooms

In all of the literature about the current and potential school board candidates, there is never a mention of how much, if any, time each has spent in a classroom as a volunteer, aide or observer. If they did spend a prolonged period in a classroom, they might be more aware of what actually occurs.

Maybe they would get an opportunity to find out some of the problems a student brings to school, which create a distraction to concentration on the lessons. Examples: no food in the home, job loss, homeless, poor home environment, and many more.

They might find that some parents do not send their children to school with specific instructions to pay attention, listen to the teacher, follow directions and have respect for everyone. By volunteering in the classroom, one can learn that some parents do not provide their child with help to improve in subjects the child is finding difficult. Some individuals can’t handle one child but expect a teacher to handle 20-30 in a classroom.

Thus, my recommendation: All candidates for the school board should be required to spend at least a year volunteering in classrooms across the district. Maybe then they would be better able to decide what is best for the students and if they would do the teacher’s job for the same amount of money the teacher is being paid.

NANCY H. MILLER

Grand Junction



COMMENTS

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Mr. Reynolds, have you been in a school since 1969?  Today’s schools are full of dynamic changes.  What teachers really want, though, are reforms that will stick and effect true change, not just change for the sake of change nor change that undermines the education profession.  Would you prefer to see teachers in the same school competing against one another or collaborating with one another?  Will parents feel comfortable sending their kids to schools that have been stripped of their morale, their autonomy?  The local association is more than just a union; it is a professional organization that advocates on behalf of the advancement of education as a whole.  Consider that a teacher’s working environment is a student’s learning environment.  Stronger teachers make stronger schools, which make stronger students.  In this election, pay attention to which candidates speak more about teachers and which ones speak more about students.  The Sentinel reporter and the letters in this forum have been very balanced, but extremists deserve to be treated as such.

Mr. Reynolds, it is misinformation disseminated from people like yourself who know little or nothing about the inner workings of our schools.  Evaluation processes are currently separate from negotiated contracts statewide for teachers.  However, collaborative efforts by District 51 and MVEA produced an effective evaluation tool including individual teacher goals and school goals based on student needs and staff development needs long before Senate Bill 191 was passed.  Now Senate Bill 191 streamlines processes for teacher and school goals statewide.

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