To the Jefferson County School Board,
My family moved to Colorado in 1972. I attended Foothills Elementary, Dunstan Junior High, and graduated from Green Mountain HS in 1979. After graduating I attended both CSU and CU. While I never received a college degree from either, I was full prepared for success by the education I received in Jeffco. While my educational experience was not uniformly excellent in Jeffco, it was always very, very good. Many of the teachers that worked with me had a profound impact on my life, instilling a love of learning, persistence, and most importantly, critical thinking. I could name teachers that made impacts on my life through every level of my education, though all of them have long since retired. I left with the belief that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. My children graduated from that same High School many years later and both have gone on to college and personal success. I chose to live here to give my children the same chance I had.
I have owned and operated a small business for over 17 years, and have employed dozens of people. I decided that the best way to accomplish my goals was through hard work and learning the specific technical knowledge I needed, by working in the field, as there wasn’t a college program to prepare me for that field. When you decide to work your way through the school of hard knocks there is no substitute for the solid educational grounding that a public education can give you. I use the skills I learned in Jeffco every day.
Frankly I am appalled by the actions of the current School Board majority. Your agenda is as obvious as it is unethical. Your treatment of teachers is uniformly appalling. As a business owner, if were to treat my employees as you have been treating yours, I would expect my business to fail, and it would deserve to. It is obvious from my review of this board’s actions that this entire agenda is scripted and each step has been planned ahead of time. You have managed to buffalo your way through every step in your grand scheme, ignoring the advice and wishes of the public, your employees, and an independent fact finder. Your actions are so blatantly against public opinion. and in fact the public good, that I felt compelled to write.
Your current agenda will, and I suspect is meant to, destroy public education not reform it. The absurd changes you suggest to the AP history curriculum are terrifying, and suggest nationalism as opposed to patriotism, which is scary indeed. The changes to the science curriculum that are implied would set this district back for years to come. At no point is bronze age mythology a good substitute for scientific research, and yes, theory. The fact that you can’t seem to see that distinction, or at least aren’t willing to defend it, indicates to me that you have no business serving on this, or any other, school board. You obviously aren’t looking to encourage critical thinking, and judging by your decisions, aren’t capable of it yourselves, but are following an agenda supplied to you by people outside the district.
This broken education system you are trying to “reform” isn’t so very broken. Can education in Jeffco be improved? Sure, I believe any system can be improved, but the changes you are proposing will do the opposite. These “broken” schools perform as well or better than the heralded schools in Finland. If you take schools with a greater than 20% of students receiving free and reduced lunch out of the mix, our schools perform as well or better than those schools in every measure. Your recent decision to deny early education to underprivileged children is immoral, as the real problem with our education system is poverty, not the quality of the teachers or the curriculum.
Beyond all of that, I am concerned that the road you intend to point us down leads to a stratified society where the disadvantaged are left behind and only those you consider worthy will receive the education all of our citizens deserve. I for one believe taxes, that pay for so many things, including our public schools, are the price for admission to a civilized society. I need employees that come to me with skills I can build on. I can teach them the skills they need to work in my field, but if they are not intellectually curious, and aren’t critical thinkers, it is far more difficult. If we aren’t preparing all of our citizens to be functioning members of our society, we have truly lost our way.
I would encourage you to be far more transparent in the future and involve your employees and the public in your decisions. You have lost so much trust that it will be a hard road, but know that there are parents, residents, students. and former students, that are now watching your every move and are prepared to fight against your current agenda every step of the way. We will do our level best to make that an even harder road.
Torin B. Reed, President
Aardvark Graphic Solutions, Inc.