“How will this improve student achievement?” It’s a theme, a mantra, a cloak that is being worn by the self-styled education reformers walking the hallowed halls of governance, academia and even local school boards.
No less that six times, did Ken Witt utter these words, as stakeholders stood in front of the Board to present their ideas, propose changes, additions, subtractions and or substitutions. Instead of offering real, constructive observations, questions, or additions to the conversations, Witt turns to this very clever parlor trick; question the questioner. It stops the conversation. Period. It is one of the most disingenuous things a “listener” can do, as it simply says, regardless of the conversation “how does it fit into my agenda?” Which, if any other agenda than Witt’s, could be a positive proposition.
But that’s just it, the Witt Agenda, it isn’t a positive proposition. If Witt et. al. were actually interested, concerned or even understood what “achievement” truly looks like, then Jeffco would be moving in a very different direction, the one it was actually on before the WNW ascendency and the Brad Miller era. Jeffco has been a top performing, competitive hiring, and collaborative working environment my entire career. More recently, decentralization, MASSIVE staffing turnover, and silence have become the norm. All in the name of “achievement?”
It seems we have a misnomer, at least a misconception, orrr maybe just considerable confusion. But what Witt sees as “achievement” may just actually be a huge step, um, backwards? Witt, Newkirk, and Williams have zero, “0,” ZERO educational experience. One dos not send his children to Jefferson County Public Schools, yet they see themselves as the heirs to a great reform movement that “promises” to raise student achievement and remove every single barrier to inequality and inequity. The problem is, WNW et. al. haven’t.
Lip-service is at best paid to innovation. But the ultimate decision and parallel message is always the same, “Is it cutting costs and is it raising achievement?” The decentralizing mania that seems to be the new “zeitgeist” is the only consistent theme the Board majority can truly articulate. “Decentralizing” is a new cash game. Money is spent on capricious and whimsical ideas. Public confidence is eroded, and soon enough the disparity grows. And, this is in fact what our “self-styled” reformers actually want. They want public confidence eroded. They prefer a “divided and conquer” mentality, instead of unifying belief. And inherent distrust? A paranoia? Or, just contempt. Hmm, is this the real “cloak?” “I hate the current system, and therefore I will bring it down?”
Be careful of the man behind the curtain, a young girl was warned a long time ago. Unfortunately, Jeffco isn’t a fictional world. It is real families, real children, real teachers, real stakeholders who are caught in a cyclonic event that is a once promising to lift it, but seems only ultimately only capable of destroying it. Mr. Witt, you are no wizard, you are only a man a parlor trick, you really don’t understand student achievement.
Summit Ridge Middle School
19 Year Jeffco Teacher
21 Year Public Educator