Staff Reports –
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, the Gazette received a letter from Brett Reese announcing his resignation from the District 6 school board. We have printed the letter in its entirety.
I have learned much in my 2.5 years on the school board for Greeley District 6. Here is some of the education I’ve gained, as I worked to improve the education in this significant district.
Almost half of the budget of the State of Colorado is spent to educate our children. Yet 1/3 of the students entering 9th grade in D6 will not graduate. Of those who do graduate, most will require remedial college coursework if they are brave enough to open the doors to college. Millions of dollars spent. Where did it go?
I ran for this office, in part, to find the answer to that question. While I was successful in opening the books of the district, we already knew the answer. Huge sums are spent on services, programs, and levels of management that don’t actually teach your child 2+2 or the difference between verbs and nouns. A perfect example is the upcoming day of training at Greeley West featuring a transgender speaker/blogger.
In this time of economic hardships, families and businesses are tightening their belts. Lean times force businesses to prioritize and reorganize for efficiency. I have learned in school districts this doesn’t apply. The worse our children score on comparative tests, the more need there is to raise taxes to start new programs, hire more PhD’s and expand the superintendent’s kingdom. Little did I realize how protected that kingdom was when I entered this arena.
The voters elected me based on my platform to become more effective without more taxes. I entered a board consisting of current and former educators naturally opposed to that objective. This, of course, led to many 1-6 votes and eventually meetings where I was not allowed to speak or give my ideas. I naively thought that we could reason together to see how to improve education without simply throwing money at it. I offered ideas for businesses to mentor students. I recommended disallowing cell phones and music players in all classes. I encouraged various ways to continue using existing buildings and less expensive ways to remodel them. I encouraged interviewing more applicants for every teaching and administrative position, opportunities to save money on insurance, and so on.
Yes, Greeley has economic and racial challenges. But there are similar school districts around the country that have made huge turnarounds. I read their books and suggested similar ideas in our district. I wrote articles to the Tribune with what I had learned and exciting innovative ideas, only to be denied and ignored. Instead, when the reporters asked for interviews, they misquoted and misrepresented what I said. Seeing how the board members weren’t going to hear me and their friends in the press were going to intentionally misrepresent and edit my statements, I then utilized the Greeley Gazette to air my views accurately.
My two and a half years on the board have made three things clear to me. First, Dr. Lang has hired an army of administrators and principals who understand allegiance to her is their only truly necessary competency. Second, Dr. Lang clearly needs replaced with a performance-oriented superintendent who is able to admit, not justify, deficiency. Third, without competition, any substantive educational benefits will never, ever occur. We should eagerly accept charter school applicants. In fact, we should actively seek out new charter schools, for-profit schools, vocational-tech schools and aid private schools. The schools doing the best would be given more, replacing those that are failing. Attach the highly-coveted per pupil state funds to the students/parents so they can choose the best schools whether it’s vo-tech or magnet. Drastic improvement would follow immediately. What I’ve observed is Dr. Lang’s plans for improvement always require large sums of additional taxpayer money. They are complex and confusing, delaying and excusing. The final results are impossible to evaluate and after years pass, nobody is held accountable…and nothing has changed. Everything from poor test results to parental complaints are dealt with either through fear, by sweeping it under the rug, assigning a citizen’s clown committee or enforcing quiet attrition. A good example is in how the statistics are massaged to appear different than they are. Did you hear? Graduation rates have improved this last year! The school’s self-promotion machine has gone into high gear! They don’t include the fact that last year’s school board LOWERED the number of credits required to graduate.
What I’ve learned in my time on the board is that D6 has been doing so much so wrong for so long, both fiscally and academically, that without a dramatic change of direction, our students will continue to fail. We hoped that new members elected to this board in November would help make that change. However, the new members of this board, like previous members before them, have been wined, dined, and re-educated through day-long orientations. I fear that their campaign statements have already dimmed in memory. New members, please insist on integrity, look behind the veil, focus on real measures of improvement, allow options to the bureaucratic machine!
If you are a parent in D6, the biggest favor you could do for your child is to pull them out of this district. There are great online home-school groups and many schooling alternatives, and even other nearby school districts. School choice and competition is the only long-term solution, not only for our schools, but, I believe, our nation.
For so many who support me so loyally, thank you. To pursue improvement of our local schools, I have neglected my beautiful wife and little girls. I have ignored some unfortunate people who are accustomed to being ignored by society. I intend to remedy these things now. It’s become obvious that my continued efforts, money and time in this effort with this board will not result in the changes that are necessary. I have done my best, but I have done all I can. I leave the remaining task to those on the board and those who I pray will come in the future.