By Mike Bauman
Last week people from every demographic and ethnicity waited in line for more than 24 hours to participate in what one observer described as an “Oklahoma Land Rush” –like race to ensure the best place in line. They were not running for the best spot to homestead. Nor were they racing for free cash or a shot at fame and fortune. Instead, these people were racing to get their children one of approximately 150 slots at West Ridge Academy, a new charter school that the District 6 Board of Education’s District Accountability Committee deemed “not needed” during the charter application process.
Upon reviewing the intense scene at the enrollment and the ensuing comments made by parents who were standing in line, a couple of facts became abundantly clear.
These parents were running to a good educational program, arguably, the best in Greeley. The Direct Instruction Curriculum at Mountain View Academy, which will be adopted by West Ridge Academy, has produced Greeley’s only merit-based National Blue Ribbon School. It has also consistently allowed the school to rank among the top schools in the nation on the nationally scored Stanford Standardized Exam. Parents raced to allow their kids to be a part of this program.
That was not a surprise.
What was surprising, and less obvious, was the second reason they were running. These parents were running away from the continued failure of District 6 to provide an adequate education to its students. It seems these parents have been unimpressed by the District and Greeley Tribune’s annual back patting and self aggrandizing over extremely meek improvements in CSAP scores accompanied by less publicized slips. They were running from schools that are filled with students who are disrespectful, bullying, and openly violent and the administrators, teachers and systems that allow them to be so.
Parents made comments like, “The district sucks,” and “If my kid doesn’t make it, I’m going to Windsor or home schooling. I will not send my kid to a District 6 school.”
What a sad commentary on our district.
In line, a parent asked what it would take to turn the district around. Several parents commented, but the consensus was, it would take new leadership, from the board to the administration, with new expectations for students and staff, to get the job done. In short, what’s needed at District 6 is a change in the underlying culture that has developed over the years. This shift can only happen with new and visionary leadership at every level.
We at the Greeley Gazette could not agree more.