Following the devastation incurred last year when the principal/executive director of Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen fired all 4 middle school teachers, we were contacted for help. We were committed to assist in every way possible to ensure that the students and teachers were taken care of appropriately. At the same time, because of the climate and shock that rocked that community and because the principal had violated the law previously, we didn’t want to risk any chances of not getting the teachers back in the classroom to serve those students. We were contacted by both staff and parents.
As we’ve stated previously, we support good quality, homegrown, parent-controlled charters that serve needs in our community that are not addressed in neighborhood schools. There’s a very delicate balance though in increasing options in a school district, particularly given Colorado’s poor education funding. This factor is even worse in Jeffco Schools because we have not made significant investments in our district for almost 13 year now.
The following article from EdWeek, “More Charter School Teachers See Unions as an Option”, may very well be something to consider. Why are charter teachers not allowed the protections of other teachers in the district? Why are they even more underpaid now with “equal” funding, especially when that equal funding now actually amounts to more funding per student than neighborhood and other option schools? There are a few exceptions to this in populations like New America and the Rocky Mountain Deaf School that serve students who need additional services – those students are more costly to educate and provide full services for, which is extremely important for their success.
With protections, the community at the Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen would not have experienced their entire middle school program dissolved based on a poor decision that was later reversed by a new Charter School Board and the principal removed. Those students can never get that tragic month back and the repercussions for those who left the school and impacted the budget hurt the school severely (understandable for those families to make the best decision for their children given the circumstances.) Children witnessed their much loved teachers escorted from the property, the educators did not receive their final paycheck, nor were they given adequate time to retrieve their personal belongings from their classrooms.
We are grateful that the teachers were reinstated and the program continues to serve those families but what a horrific experience for everyone. With clear protections and policies as in other Jeffco Schools, this would not have impacted the community so greatly and it would never have happened so shockingly.
Many Jeffco educators actually have Montessori and Waldorf training. Several are interested in trying more innovation with their students. Could this not be mutually beneficial to everyone? Would this not raise the level of interest in those teaching positions? Our JCEA leaders have been very supportive of our high quality charters and clearly there have been enough issues over the past few years to warrant protections for our charter teachers.
Allowing our entire educator base to be joined together as one Jeffco might very well be a step in uniting all of our community in support of neighborhood schools, option schools, and charter school as one. Perhaps our charter leaders and parents should start talking about and thinking about this.
What are your thoughts?