Putting Lipstick on a Pig
In my first post, “Setting the Stage,” I looked at Jeffco following in Dougco’s footsteps in terms of attacking teacher efficacy in a well orchestrated strategy to demoralize teachers and push an agenda to abolish the collective bargaining agreement with the JCEA. Three years after Dougco abolished the collective bargaining agreement with the Douglas County Federation, they claim to be one of the most innovative school districts in the country. They claim that their pay-for-performance regime “celebrates our amazing educators and employees for their great work.” Then why are so many teachers leaving Dougco? If we are to believe that their innovative reforms are succesful, the proof should be in student academic achievement.
The comprehensive work on Jeffco DataView shows a very different picture than the one portrayed on Dougco’s website and put on a pedestal by reform-minded think tanks. Carefully, these videos walk through the data, illustrating that first appearances can be deceiving. They show that the numbers at first blush appear to paint a picture of high student achievement. Comparatively, Jeffco’s achievement data appears to be much lower. In fact, it’s with these comparisons that board majority members continually reinforce the same rhetorical fallacy that our schools are failing, our teachers are failing our students, and the JCEA is an obstacle to meaningful reform. The videos show that reform and innovation in Dougco are skin deep, and in fact, Jeffco isn’t failing, and Dougco is underperforming.
The truth is very different when we peel back the layers to uncover a district undergoing a tremendous amount of turmoil. If we look at other districts in the area, most have a collaborative working relationships with teachers and teachers’ unions. Dougco chose to abandon these relationships, creating an adversarial model between the administration and its teachers. It shows. Particularly where it matters most: the kids. For all of the fallout, students in Dougco are on the tail end of “innovation.” Sadly, Jeffco is heading on the same trajectory.
The interesting aspect of school reform is that while it demonizes teachers and teachers’ unions, there’s a strong marketing campaign touting the virtues of value-added, or “pay-for-performance”, as well as buzzwords like “innovation”, “world class”, “Next Generation”, and “21st Century.” Buzzwords may work to sell items in a fast food restaurant, or tickets to a movie, but it certainly doesn’t resonate with providing our kids the best possible public education they can receive. Instead, it rings hollow. And, as the data show, the outcomes of reform are just as empty. The bottom line is that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
To watch the Jeffco DataView videos, please see our Resources tab on the website or visit their YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5F6YE6K-EQ9vkoVDVACnWg