Another Dougco mom shares her story with us from the events happening at Rock Ridge Elementary. This is a story that people in Jeffco are currently sharing as a common fear.
Good Morning! My name is Jen Johnson, and I stand before you today, first and foremost, as a mom of 3 children. Three children who have been enrolled in Douglas County Schools since they were each 5. Three children who think of their teachers as an extended part of our family, and who fiercely love their Rock Ridge Community. I have been making that same one mile drive/walk/bike ride daily during the school year for the last 7 years ( sometimes multiple times in a day!!!!). Through the years I have seen a lot, heard a lot, and made lifelong friends in the Rock Ridge Community. Its more than just a school to my family- it is also our social calendar ( isn’t the big Spring Dance the highlight of your social calendar?)
It’s also our support system. When my family found ourselves facing some very scary medical issues- it was the staff and parents at Rock Ridge that brought us meals, mowed our lawn, plowed our snow, and most importantly gave my children the extra TLC that I wasn’t able to give. As a Rock Ridge Family we have experienced both tragedy and triumphs together. The sense of community is so strong that when district boundaries were changed, I fought HARD to stay at my neighborhood school. Perhaps that is what makes Rock Ridge so unique- we have always been a family. We laugh together, we cry together. We have always had each other’s backs. Today is no different.
Today I stand before you to let the district know that we protect our own. We fight for our own. We will NOT let our teachers and principal be bullied, mistreated, or demoralized. We will protect them, we will fight for them, we will be the voice that they are too afraid to have. We will voice our support, our love, our encouragement for the teachers who work tirelessly to take care of our most precious resource. We are not simply another number. We are not a cog in the wheel. Neither are our teachers. We are individuals. We have voices. We will not be bullied into silence. We will speak out. We will demand answers. We will take care of our own. My name is Jen Johnson, and I stand before you today, first and foremost, as a mom of 3. My kids are worth fighting for, YOUR kids and grandkids are worth fighting for, EVERY KID in this district is worth fighting for! Let me end with a quote by Wilferd Peterson. “Walk with the dreamers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers the successful people with their heads on the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.”
You might be wondering how I got here. So am I! Honestly- I am a simply a suburban soccer mom, who juggles part time work, with a busy home life. I have always been blessed to be able to spend time in each of my children’s classrooms- volunteering in whatever capacity the school needs me. Over the years I have seen the climate of the district change. I have seen some incredible teachers leave our district. Mostly, though, the community at Rock Ridge was insulated from the fallout of a district in crisis. This all changed, of course, last Friday, when I learned the teacher evaluations were being questioned. I learned that the district would be coming into the school, and reviewing every single pay for performance ranking that was given out to the staff at RRE. Apparently- our teachers at Rock Ridge are just too good!! Instead of the district praising our teachers for working hard to meet goals set out for them by their administrators, they are being punished. Can you imagine at a goal setting conference if you set a particular goal for your child, they meet or exceed that goal, and then you ground them?? Does that make any sense??? My kids just might hold their own rally in my front lawn if that were the case. The district has said there are no quotas- and that our teachers evaluations are being reviewed because the evidence does not match the rating given. What evidence? Apparently our principals time spent reviewing data, paperwork, and observations is not enough evidence to support their ratings.
Instead, a panel of 3 prinicipals will be reviewing their evaluation ( mind you only what is in front of them on a computer screen- not by actually watching them teach!) and giving their own ranking based upon that review. In the meantime our teachers contracts are being withheld. Let me recap. Our teachers were mostly rated partially effective last year. They set goals and either met them or exceeded them. Now their rankings are under fire by the district. The district claims there are NO QUOTA’S- and that in fact a school could have 100 % highly effective teachers. IF that is the case…why are our teachers rankings being scrutinized? Why when our school had a high number of partially effective teachers did the district not intervene? Isn’t it more concerning to the district to have employees who are struggling versus employees who are performing?
I have many teacher friends- and I know that if they had a classroom full of partially proficient students it would raise MAJOR red flags. Our teachers strive for every kid to be proficient or advanced. The teachers focus on growth. Is this NOT what we showed at Rock Ridge? Growth in our teachers performance from last year to this year? Is that not the goal? If I am confused or misinformed please- inform me. Explain to me what really is happening at not just my school- but at every school. How will any other principal feel comfortable giving his or her kudos to her staff if they constantly must worry about over-rating and then being reviewed? This has been a devasting event at my school. What prevents it from happening at other schools? Is it that by placing Mrs. Sorg on administrative leave you made an example of her? That from here on out every principal will be afraid to rate a teacher too high for fear of repercussions? Does this sound like a World Class District???? The pay for performance model, as it stands, is flawed. Fix it. Until you do, I fear that many more school’s , who have principals willing to be brave and stand ground, will be under scrutiny like Rock Ridge.