Douglas County teachers are growing increasingly concerned by district leadership, according to a survey that shows just 14 percent of educators agree “the district is moving in a positive direction.” Five years ago, that figure was 77 percent.
What’s happened in the interim years? Budget troubles leading to fewer jobs and years without raises, a conservative takeover of the school board, a new superintendent and a voucher pilot halted by a judge all have made headlines in the affluent suburban district. But it’s unclear what plays a role – the more than 2,000 classroom and clerical staff who responded weren’t asked specifics about why.
What is clear in the survey by Denver-based Augenblick, Palaich and Associates is that staff continue to feel supported by their principals – 85 percent – and they see their schools as working to accomplish academic goals – 83 percent.
But questions about district leadership show steep drops. Asked about the statement, “The climate and culture in our district make for a positive work environment,” only 18 percent agreed or strongly agreed, down from 80 percent five years ago. And only 23 percent agreed with the statement, “I feel the district level administration and system support my work in the classroom,” down from 65 percent in 2007-08.
The Douglas County teachers’ union contracted with the research firm for the survey, once conducted annually by the district itself. The research firm used questions asked on prior climate surveys.
“We are alarmed by the drastic drop in employee morale and confidence with regard to the direction of district leadership,” Brenda Smith, president of the Douglas County Federation of teachers, said in a statement.
The survey is expected to be a topic at tonight’s school board community forum at Sierra Middle School, 6651 Pine Lane Ave., in Parker. The board meets at 5 p.m. for ten minutes before convening in closed session and then returning to public view at 7 p.m. Here’s the agenda and here are more details on the teacher survey.
Lobbyists and others will be watching this afternoon’s meeting of the Joint Budget Committee for signs of what members are thinking about K-12 spending, testing costs and funding to implement Senate Bill 10-191.
The committee resumes its hearing on proposed Department of Education 2012-13 spending at 1:30 p.m. Normally state agencies get one JBC hearing, but lawmakers were so talkative at a Dec. 16 CDE session that a second meeting had to be scheduled (see story).
Agency executives receive a lengthy list of committee questions before a hearing, and the written responses are a starting point for discussion. (See CDE’s responses here and the earlier committee analysts’ briefing papers here.)
What’s on tap:
Most of the legislative meetings this week are of the getting-organized and getting-briefed variety. See full statehouse calendar.
Jeffco school board members meet in a study session at 1 p.m. at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The lone agenda item is listed as a discussion of “effective governance and student achievement.”
Denver school board members meet at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. for a briefing on the status of innovation plans for West Generations and West Leadership Academy, the two new high schools that will open at West High School in August as the traditional high school programs begins a phase-out process. An innovation proposal is also on the table for the new McAuliffe International School, to open with a sixth grade this fall. See the school proposals and the rest of the Tuesday work session agenda.
Denver school board members meet at 5 p.m. at 900 Grant St. and are expected to consider a new calendar for the 2012-13 school year. Although details of the proposal are not yet public, it is expected to include a recommendation from district staff for a later start date. The board will be asked to vote on the innovation school proposals discussed at the Tuesday work session. A public comment session begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday’s agenda.
Jeffco school board members meet at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda includes the renewal of the contract for Superintendent Cindy Stevenson.
Denver school board members begin a retreat at 8 a.m. No agenda is yet posted.
The State Council for Educator Effectiveness meets 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Daniels Fund, 101 Monroe St. The council is developing a proposed appeals system for teachers who lose tenure under the state’s new evaluation system.
Good reads from elsewhere:
A loan to Stone Creek Charter School in Edwards may have been illegal because its multi-year term violated the Colorado Constitution, according to the school’s board chairman as quoted in the Vail Daily. Payments on the $1.2 million loan haven’t been made since August.
Legislative efforts to prevent social promotion by third grade appears to be a strong trend and the governor in New Mexico is readying her latest proposals, according to The New Mexican. This is the third effort by Gov. Susan Martinez but this time the proposed legislation emphasizes early intervention, not retention.
New York Times education columnist Michael Winerip offers some cautions about a recent Harvard and Columbia study that concludes “great teachers create great value.” The data are old, Winerip points out, and were generated before teaching and testing changed.
Education Week looks at a meta-analysis of charter school studies that revealed 75 percent of the studies do not meet rigorous research standards because they don’t account for the differences in academic background and academic histories of students attending charters.
The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org