Printed letters, October 13, 2013
The local showing of “The Reformers,” Brian Malone’s extended-cut, anti-school reform campaign ad, revealed several ironies.
The film asserts that schools and school boards should not be partisan, yet the showing was sponsored by the decidedly partisan Mesa County Democrats.
Malone also indicated that he will provide Democrat Scott Beilfuss with DVDs of the movie for local distribution.
“The Reformers” is basically an attack ad portraying the conservative members of the Douglas County School Board as ruthless, uncaring bullies, whose reforms are enraging parents, harming students and driving away teachers. Other than anecdotal statements from activists and angry union members, it offered no evidence to support its claims.
Facts are stubborn things, and despite the film’s hyperbole, student achievement in reading, writing, math and science, concurrent enrollment and AP credits are up by every metric in Douglas County.
Malone omitted an April 2013 Magellan Group study that shows significant majority support in Douglas County for reforms initiated by the school board.
The film also failed to mention that “teachers leaving in droves” was akin to typical teacher turnover, and that the positions that opened up when a few teachers bolted attracted thousands of applicants from across the country.
The clash between the Douglas County School Board and its foes is fundamental. Malone and those who support his anti-reform efforts don’t believe in choice, diversity or sustainability.
They fear the choices offered by free-market competition in education. They fear diversity of thought and resources when it comes to what parents and students are allowed to choose from. They fear the sustainability of cost-cutting measures that lead to more streamlined services.And, ironically, folks who would call themselves progressive, fear change.
These are times when budgets, of necessity, must be reined in. Reality has caught up with public education. Schools will not be sustainable without reforms, and a little competition is good for everyone.
Candidates’ claims of broken school system are inaccurate
My kids are thriving in Mesa County Valley School District 51. I am a mother of four boys, three attending schools in District 51. My kids have been consistently exposed to many incredible teachers and staff and wonderful extracurricular programs.
I am disheartened by the message put forth by some of the candidates running for school board and some of the current members on our school board. Their message of a school system that is completely broken and failing our students is inaccurate and superficial.
Does our school district have areas that need improvement? Absolutely. As a parent, am I settling for a school district that is inadequate, broken or failing? Absolutely not.
It is my responsibility, as a parent, to support my children’s education in every way I can. This is why I feel compelled to share my perspective of the upcoming school board election.
I believe we need thoughtful and rational school board members. We need board members who support a quality, well-rounded education for all kids and accountability of all District 51 staff students, and parents. We need board members who will put students first, have a healthy respect for the working professionals in our schools and come with balanced and feasible ideas.
I have taken the time to listen to the ideas of all six of the candidates concerning our school system. I will vote for John Williams, Tom Parrish and Greg Mikolai because, in addition to all of the qualities above, I believe these three candidates have the most thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our school district and are the most prepared to sit on our school board.
School board may be run by puppeteers, minions
So, it has finally happened. We are now on the verge of “dumbing down” the school board. Gone will be the days when governance had to stand on merit and honest discussion.
From here on out our Mesa County school board will be run by puppeteers whose minions spew trite political phrases because that is what assured their rise to power. That purse string is a tight leash that never comes off. Welcome to evolution, Mesa County style.
MVEA’s endorsements show desire to retain status quo
Let me get this straight. The Democratic Party is not endorsing any candidates, but the Mesa Valley Education Association (teachers union) has endorsed three of the seven candidates. Its members’ main concern appears to be finding candidates who will not challenge their opinions.
Let us not forget that it is the Mesa Valley Education Association that negotiates a contract with the District 51 school board. Its members would be very happy to accept these candidates so that they can continue the status quo.
I feel very strongly that the District 51 board be open to concepts of a balanced education that will prepare our students for the real challenges of being able to become responsible citizens of our society. That means being able to read, write and understand arithmetic.
It is apparent that many students are graduating who are not getting this, as they must take remedial courses to be able to attend college. Others need these remedial courses to be able to land jobs and become active members of society. This shows me that this district needs to make the changes necessary to improve the skills of its graduating students.
I have been attending the school board meetings for a while now, and I see no urgency to improve our testing results or improve attitudes among the students, parents or teachers.
Please vote for Pat Kanda, Mike Lowenstein and John Sluder, candidates with a conservative point of view.
Put character over affiliation to elect school board members
In Mesa County next month the election of three school board members will occur. Affected by this will be about 20,000 people in Mesa County: children. Regardless of where you live, all Mesa County residents will vote for three candidates.
What’s the real issue? Do we want a balanced school board whose members know how to work together and listen to the community, or do we want to turn the board’s members over to politics: Democrats versus Republicans?
I believe the first choice is the one. It should not be about the Mesa County Republican Women’s endorsements or Rick Wagner’s article in Thursday’s Daily Sentinel with only minimal pieces of accurate information. Let’s not let our school district turn into a Washington, D.C., of dysfunction and division.
Please seriously consider John Williams, Greg Mikolai and Tom Parrish, who are endorsed by Save our Schools. Williams not only chairs “Explore 51,” a committee that meets regularly with community members, but also regularly reads with kids. He’s donating his time with a paycheck of zero dollars.
As school board president, Mikolai has experience that is extremely valuable as School District 51 faces many issues critical to education.
Parrish has worked as a teacher, principal and supervisor of all elementary schools. Fifteen years ago, he was the principal at Wingate Elementary. Our seven-year-old daughter was struggling with separation anxiety. Parrish spent time with my wife and me as we discussed next steps to help her. He ended up holding onto our little girl in tears as we left her at school early every morning for the next couple of weeks. Her struggle was resolved.
Please don’t vote by your party, but rather by the candidate’s character. This election will be pivotal.
DOUGLAS C. PETERSEN