Letter: Achieving or reinventing?
Rob Stein, the chief academic officer for the Roaring Fork School District, recently posted a guest opinion concerning RE1 and just what its intended direction is. He started out by quoting Dr. Don Berwick, past president and CEO of the Institute of Healthcare improvement and current administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Service with, “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets.”
While this statement is profound, it is usually used to describe the reason why we don¹t have the kind of health care we all want and need. However, we all know that there are strong feelings concerning the Affordable Health Care Act, which equal the way we feel for the kind of education we all feel our children should have.
Mr. Stein is correct in asserting that only 1 in 4 students entering high school is likely to graduate that same school with the knowledge and skills for success or a crack at college-level classes. That quote is a convenient segue to then say that those results are the fault of the education system.
While RE1 does have a complex plan to build on, high academic standards, develop character and life skills, be critical thinkers, collaborators and contributors to three communities, it is all perplexing. The focus now is so hard-lined to “character” that academics will suffer. Students who are on either end of the academic spectrum will suffer the greatest. While the five strategic pillars are goals, there was no clear explanation how they will achieve each of these goals. Blanket statements from Mr. Stein — “We are going to have to do a whole lot more” — don’t help his case. How will they take action, analyze data and unleash creativity? Capstone projects and projects are excellent tools, but only if they are correctly and clearly communicated.
The small gains in academic performance RE1 has seen has only put the district in alignment with directives from the CDE to improve or suffer the consequences financially. The district has employed some big thinkers, however, humility is not a description used in the community. There are several “beacons” in education in Colorado, which have indeed improved the status of their districts. RE1 should take note.
Remember that the Board of Education members are in positions voted for in the community. Board members hire/fire superintendents, principals and teachers. They create policy and lead the charge as to the direction of education in RE1. Four of the five positions will be coming to a vote. In the meantime, write, call or email all your suggestions to the BOE members. Their email addresses are found at http://www.rfsd.k12.co.us/about-us/board-of-education.html.
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