Let’s talk about cutting-edge changes to a K-12 school system. Let’s talk about reimagining education, by changing the policies and power structures that confine rather than thrive. Let’s talk about unleashing a flexible system poised to achieve excellence. Change isn’t easy, but one Colorado school district is head and shoulders above its peers in taking these bold steps: Douglas County.
Cue school board member Doug Benevento’s excellent guest column in Sunday’s Denver Post:
The Douglas County School District established a system to pay our best teachers more so that we can keep them in our district. And to the frustration of the labor unions, it is working: Our retention rate among our best teachers is over 98 percent.
Here’s news for other school districts across the nation: If you’re not rewarding your best teachers, they know Douglas County will.
What did he say? Yes, that’s right. Another rumor expounded by opponents of DCSD choice and innovation shattered into pieces on the Shoals of Truth. Teacher turnover in union-free Dougco is in line with previous years, though retirements are up. In a district press release, Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare explains:
According to Cesare, separations varied by reason, but the number of retirees increased from 53 last year to 101 this year. Cesare attributed the increase to the phase out of the Extended Service Severance (ESS), a one-time lump sum payment to retiring teachers. ESS payments averaged $38,000 on top of earned retirement benefits. DCSD phased out the program and invested more dollars into employee compensation.
You don’t see that reported many other places, do you? Given the pace and scale of changes lately, the fact that observation stands out makes a remarkable statement. All the recent media hype and sensation, generated by the anti-reform crowd, doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Need a refresher? Here’s a quick trip down memory lane to some of my recent posts:
- Attacks against Dougco Market-Based Pay Miss Economic Mark, Educational Reality
- Dougco’s Market Pay Innovation Draws Attention, Gives Hope of Progress
- Discrepancies from Dougco Beg Question: How Many Union Members Remain?
- Disgruntled Union Claims about Dougco Innovation Add Up to Politics, Not Truth
- Disputed Dougco Evaluations? Don’t Turn Up the Heat, Just Share All the Facts
- International Student Learning Comparisons Remind Why Dougco Is Raising Bar
- A Tale of Two Surveys: Dougco Embraces Reform, Colo. Reluctant on New K-12 Taxes
- TELL-ing Dougco Results: Teacher Satisfaction Mostly High and Growing
- Ex-Education Secretary William Bennett Visits Dougco, “Very Impressed”
Those nine Eddie originals are just from the past two months. I doubt they’ll be the last I have to write for awhile. Why? We’re only four months away from a big school board election, and the naysaying forces who dislike the higher path Dougco has chosen to take have their eyes on regaining power. Just remember: As time goes on, they have fewer and fewer shreds of truth on which to make their case and to attack the district’s success.