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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Greeley School District Six Mill Levy Blues

Writing about the Mill Levy Override in Greeley Colorado's District 6 makes me really uncomfortable in my own skin. Mostly because I believe anything the community of Greeley can do to help District 6 schools improve should be done. When a community creates a climate of education good things happen. When it doesn't stagnation sets in. People create divides and develop cultural barriers to success. Children with great potential go undeveloped and unrewarded. Children who desperately need support and help get shuffled off to the corner. Yet, before I can simply just vote yes, I still have some lingering doubts and questions about just what this Mill Levy is designed to produce other than additional assets like textbooks and security systems.

Of course the exaggerated claims about the Mill Levy, from various sources, having been pouring out about how classroom size will grow or not depending on the vote. How Kindergartners will be left adrift after tea time every day. How miserable it is for social tweeners and teens to share books and learn cooperative time management skills. How, even though there really isn't a growing gang problem in District 6, we need security cameras so the parents feel safer. And how the heaven and stars can start falling but not one teacher will get one dime of the Mill Levy but teacher's aides, without the real-deal teaching credential, will be hired to help lower the teacher's burden.

As someone likes to say, "You get what you pay for."

Or do you?

What no one really seems to want to talk about is whether or not this Mill Levy will produce better learning results for our kids. Isn't that the operative goal we are all striving for as a community? Perhaps it is my reality that is skewed but it looks to me like we've basically drawn a 2 inch target on a huge red school barn and are standing ten miles away with shotgun in hand trying to hit it.

Sounds ludicrous? That is my point. Every one is shooting at something but no one really wants to talk about whether or not they are hitting that 2 inch target. Just as long as they get their shot off everything is handy-dandy. The School Board is hollering "Trust Us". The Administration is hollering "Support Us". The media arm is hollering "Fire-pay to put it out." Parents are hollering "Fix it" while the community grouses "Make Us"!

Greeley is caught up in the idea of improving education but not in the action of improving education. That action begins with the community idea that education is THEE priority.

Education takes a lot more than one kid in a classroom with a book in hand and a teacher calling home every time the kid looks out the window. We all know that by now, right? We've heard for years how parents should get involved. Yes, somewhere between working fourteen hours a day, taking the dog to the vet, doing community service for that overdose of Prozac, pasting up flyers for next city council election cycle, baking treats for the girl scout meetings, ballet lessons, soccer practice, trading playtimes and babysitting out with the neighbor, cooking that eight course organic nutritional meal, refurbishing the caulking before the next storm, making sure the lawn stays a pretty shade of green for the neighbors, and listening to the spouse grouse about those little lines starting to bag under the eyes, you, yes YOU, are supposed to make sure you are reading to your child at least a half an hour every night and that the science project you know you'll being doing most of, gets done on time and turned into the teacher, and that your kid gets up every morning to eat a healthy breakfast on time, gets dressed in the designer jeans without resident gang colors anywhere to be seen, plus makes it to school with a happy-sunny face every single day. Only then can you truly earn the badge of "responsible parent" according to the education community.

But I digress into reality. Back to my point.

What hasn't been fully addressed is the role community plays in building a healthy respect for the education process. And by community I don't just mean grandma and grandpa with aunts and uncles and anyone else your kid drags to the play at the local schoolhouse. I mean everyone--the business owners, the workers, the retirees, the unemployed, the illegals, the legals, the pseudo human beings, and the real human beings. Those who wear Prada and those who don't. Those who play poker and those who don't. Those that go to church on Sunday and those that show up just for the Hail-Mary at the end of the show. The dregs under the bridges and the all-mighty sitting in the resident temples. Single, married, unmarried, sort-of-married, married-until-last-night, divorced, over-the-hill, and under-the-hill. Yes, even the corporate executives at the slimy snail-snotting JBS Swift company are included here.


Education is an investment. It is an investment in the future. Today's Greeley District 6 kids are our future. All of us have a stake in this game. If Greeley expects to have good community leaders in the future who can handle the world of technology, the world of climate change, the world of energy crisis, the world of ever expanding population, then it needs to create these leaders. They don't create themselves.

This is the REASON to pay money for education. It creates a return on your investment. Alone, few but the most elite, would ever put forth the money to educate their children. This is why you get societies where only categories and groups of kids (usually by gender) get sent to school. Collectively, by uniting our resources, we create benefits for the individual AND for the group--our future.

One of the things I commonly overhear is "My kid goes to a Charter School." "My kid goes to the Christian Center." "My kid goes ....." Fill in the blanks. The problem with this type of thinking is not the selfish myopia so much but the selfish consequences we all pay for this single-minded mentality in the future.

If YOUR kid becomes a civic leader and all he/she has to work with are candy-crunching gang-banging cheering Prada-clothed undereducated semi-achievers there will be a problem. Maybe, just maybe, if your house is built high enough on a hill with gates around it you might not have to pay the consequences. But you can bet sooner or later one of your relatives will. It won't matter a lot if your kid came out of Harvard. Trust me. America may have been built on rugged individualism but now we are all in it together. You can cross America by yourself but one person can't fix a broken education system.

Which brings me to another point. What is really wrong in District 6? Is anything really wrong? Okay I mean besides the fact that the school board candidates running are looking like fresh ditzes out of a Cracker-Jack box.

These are all things that make me indecisive about the Mill Levy.

I've done some investigation. I know that the District is trying to change things around. They have a new math series coming online for example. They've hired a new (maybe not so new any longer) administrator and have brought in some new teaching talent. They have worked on developing a governance plan for the Board. They are looking at new testing series and how to perform better on old ones. They cleaned up their act by the State levels and received a brownie badge for doing so.

In the meantime they are stifling District 6 teachers on pay negotiations (there was a lock-out when the Union made an attempt to talk to their own teachers today), pushing a Mill Levy tax onto a public unready to receive it, and to my knowledge are pretty entrenched in the idea of not letting the public know just how bad the gangs are getting inside the schools. I won't even go into the rah-rah cheerleading tag-team District 6 and the Greeley Tribune are running together.

I've also combed through District 6's strategic plan (note: that is not the Governance plan). It is a nicely formatted, Susie-let-me-put-the-sunshine-here, kind of plan. It did not inspire me that the Administration has any more grasp on what the remedy may be for the problems showing up on the test scores than I do.

So I ask myself the following question. Why can't Greeley District 6 perform up to par with other similar school districts in the State of Colorado?

  • Is the performance problem related to the notion that Greeley is a unique district?
  • Is the performance problem related to the collective IQ of the students?
  • Is the performance problem related to the collective IQ of the parents?
  • Is the performance problem related to the collective IQ of the community?
  • Is the performance problem related to a lack of support materials?
  • Is the performance problem related to the transitory immigrant population?
  • Is the performance problem related to ineffective administration?
  • Is the performance problem related to wages and quality of people hired?
  • Is the performance problem a direct correlation to money?
I plan on answering these questions throughout the next week. In the meantime readers thoughts are welcome.

In the meantime, let me add, I know of at least one excellent teacher that is talking about leaving District 6. She is not excellent just by my standards but by the standards of her students, peers, and parents of her students. Her test scores also give her the red tape for us to affirm her greatness as well as if we needed it.

She is burnt out. Between the stress of the classroom gang bangers, the general challenges of teaching, the District wage non-negotiations, she had the poor timing of overhearing two local women talking to their kids about how horribly they were treated by teachers. Too much homework! Too strict on time demands! Over paid! Undereducated!

For me, I have always been a firm believer that kids model after their parents. If the parents and other adults in the community do not show respect for educators, let alone the idea and concept of education, then is it reasonable to expect that kids will be showing up in the classroom ready and eager to learn? In today's society what does respect cost? It costs a big fancy house, lots of designer clothes, a fast sleek new sedan, and membership at the local country-club. You don't get that on a teacher's salary. You get that on an administrator's salary.

We make our own beds and then we complain when we have to sleep in them.

This is why it is so hard for me to write about the Mill Levy. Good blankets make for a nicer, warmer bed. It is much easier to get out of bed in the morning after a good night's sleep. I'd really like to vote for the Mill Levy--because it does provide a couple of warm blankets for the local students. But first, I think, I need to answer the questions above and figure out just how much money or time it is going to take to pull this District into full performance and/or clean up its poor image on the streets of Greeley Colorado.

Comments :

5 comments to “Greeley School District Six Mill Levy Blues”

mowdy5gs said...

Hello Jane. To start I will have to say that two women telling their children about there own experience in itself is good and not to be so easily discounted. I too was treated poorly in this district as a child by many teachers and it is a sad fact that their are teachers that do this and act in a way that is less than. To get respect you must first give it, it is the old addage of give and take. Simply because one is young is not a reason to ignore the respect they deserve, at all. I must ask what are your ideas if any for an option or an alternative to the mill levy? Knowone wants new taxes for anything least of all this citys council as is shown in the tax breaks and insentives given my Clark and company for a buisnes s that was being built reguardless. So here we are in the frey with all of the finger pointers complaining about salarys. True I think Adminisration money is over blown but I also believe teachers are under blown to coin a phrase. Yet in a capitalistic market how much should someone who holds an adminisration postion be limited to? What about a doctorate or Bacheloures? [spelling I know]? My point is coming so I guess I will ask again for any new input on the topic. The simple argument of cut salarys and what not do not seem to jive with no new taxes because the worst already resides in the district and what? Are we going to perpitrate it further by sabatoging any and all possibilitys of greatness? What I do find puzziling is the confusion by some mixing up the government with the disrtict board as if they are one in the same and that is to simplistic to even give further credence. What should be addressed is why the the increase when the denial of teacher raises is at hand when they are claiming to want to better the disrtict with the best. How does that work? I see the distrust with a bottomless system at work it would seem but I agree education is the cusp, the precipice if you will. If we as a nation are unable to join, to come togeather for our children then why participate in society at all? When will the petty bickering stop at the door of our children and our future? Sad really that we are presented with no option alone and we act as if this is not an infinate universe filled with limitless possibilitys. I know because of the great Einstein that there is a way. We have simply been suckered to believe there is one option alone on the table either pass or fail. I simply do not have access to the board or to the documentation of the budget to apply what I know. We do not do we? So in the end how can I help if I am not included? If I am left without choice? Because in the end it is always about choice. And in Greeley we are always controlled or our hand is forced with lack of choice and option. The stupid do not see this they simply argue the choice forced upon them instead of adapting to overcome. Bravo Greeley.

Jane Paudaux said...

The reality is that taxes are the most economical way to serve the interests of the most people in delivering public goods. Now one could argue that they shouldn't have to pay for everyone else. Well that is fine but then the nation as a whole, or the community as a whole, will not receive the benefit that education, adequate health care, electricity, and other public goods bring. They will in turn suffer increasing rates of vandalism, tuberculosis, and other communicable diseases as those in poverty slip out of the infrastructure system supported by taxpayers. At the same time this doesn't mean anyone should have to pay $10,000 for a hammer or a bridge to nowhere. So prudence in planning, regulatory oversight of the wealthy and their vehicles, and accountability have to be a part of the system. I haven't made up my mind yet on the Mill Levy--hence my articles working through the process.

mowdy5gs said...

Well Jane, get me off this crazy thing! Said George Jetson to Jane on the never ending tread mill in the vastness of space. But seriously, I have no problem with investing in the children or their future or both if it so happens they coincide or intersect. I have a child in the district and it is truly sad the issues at hand that are detrimental. However, there are also bright spots and to see the beauty in those is absolutely grand as it were. Why I ask is Greeley so full of the ironic retards and politically challenged? Seriously yet in a tragic scence? Must every issue in town first be vetted thru the right wing?
Any hoo, I agree taxes are a viable option if not the only option. I to think as most thier is waste occuring but I differ in opininion of how much on the greater scale. I differ that this is the only issue that serves to be problemistic to the district. I will say the problems at hand are not simply fixed by cutting salarys and cutting waste are they? Plus the right will run into the argument of styfleing buiseness, wages, as well as hedging capitalism. If one has a doctorate why should they not make all that they are able to? We are not communist are we? I believe, and I will say this upfront, I believe republicons are more communist then a liberal will ever be. And it is made worse because they act as if and go about as if they are far from it yet it has been proven in full in the last 8 has it not? The system did not do well or any better in those last 8 did they? If it did the district would be all SHIT$ and giggles wouldnt it? I believe as does a friend of mine who talks this line often, he says what will Americans come togeather for? Of all the issues facing us as a country we do what? play? Play politics? Are we all individuals and nothing more is that the sum total of being American? No greater good? That whole bible shpeel was all for not? I mean honestly you cold not find a bigger bowl of hipocrits then right here in this "fair city" now could you? The funny tradgedy, not irony of it is that righties are so scared of big governemnt because they gave it to us. Who but them would no better the scale that sits tipped in the favor of class and race? They the republicons ruined this country with the help of Dems. It was not the Dems with the help of the Cons. Or was it KAAAAHN!!!!
My bad that was Shatner,.. Or Denny Crane?? Any hooo, its late and my point is I agree in full with you to a point. Or I'll just say the government is us, we are it, and we are sinking so will we help ourselves or act as if the two are no longer mutually exclusive? When will it be OK to use the GOV for our own benifit? When will losers like Oliver the Cooke shut her trap about anything becaue her husband the sherrif is a law breaking crook? Proven in court and held up by two judges yet she believes she can tell us what is best or better? Men prefer evil over good in this town and scandle after scandal all envolving the D.A. or Jhonny law proves as much. And then I become a target for it all but hey! Jhonnly law needs enemys too right? Theres that word all infering again.

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