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Parent Concerns

This part of the PTO website brings up concerns that parents may have for their student or our school.  If you have questions or would like to add a new post, please contact the PTO President at douglasselementarypto@gmail.com.

Education Budget Help- Got 10 minutes??

posted Mar 22, 2017, 6:42 AM by Webmaster DouglassElem   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 1:23 PM ]

As the legislative session continues in Colorado, public school funding is a pressing issue


More info from BVSD can be found here on their Legislative Update page: 

We encourage you to speak up and talk to our Budget Committee members and let them know that we want more more funds allocated to education 
AND to support measures to amend TABOR so that more funds can be kept for education.  
More speaking points can be found here:  https://www.greateducation.org/statistics-faqs/funding-faqs/

The Joint Budget Committee members and the districts they represent are as follows:

Representative Dave Young (D)
District 50 - Weld County

Representative Millie Hamner, Vice-Chair (D)
District 61 - Delta, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin, and Summit Counties

Representative Bob Rankin (R)
District 57 - Garfield, Moffat, and Rio Blanco Counties

Senator Kent Lambert, Chair (R)
District 9 - El Paso County

Senator Kevin  Lundberg  District 15 - Larimer County (R)

Senator Dominic Moreno (D)
District 21 - Adams County

Link to this year's joint budget committee can be found here 
And that includes links to their websites as well.

This should take 10 minutes of your time and we are also including a sample email to help -
 
Dear________,
As a parent and voter in Colorado, we are extremely concerned by the state of our public education.  Colorado is 41st in the nation for per pupil spending and it's taking a toll on students, teachers, and administrators.  The funds taken from the educational budget 7 years ago have not been replaced even though our economy is thriving again.  Schools are being stretched too thin and our future leaders are not getting what they need to be leaders in our world. 
 
I implore you to allocate more money for education, to help stop the wasteful money being spent on needless testing, and to support TABOR reform that would allow the state to put more money back into education.  Colorado is an amazing state - let's show the rest of the country this is true by becoming one of the best in education.


I hope you can find 10 minutes in your day to do this for your child's education and public school funding.  Thanks for all your time and effort on this issue!

Ballot Measures for Public School Funding

posted Mar 17, 2016, 9:03 AM by Douglass PTO   [ updated Mar 17, 2016, 9:05 AM ]

Grassroots Powering Education

WHAT TO DO

Recruit another volunteer to join you in carrying a petition. The more the merrier (and the faster we reach our goal of 30,000 signatures)!

Dear Jennifer:

It's what we've been waiting to hear...the ballot measures have been filed! 

Thank you for signing up to gather petition signatures for a citizens initiative this year. The following press release went out yesterday. We wanted to share with you and provide some additional context:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2016

Proposals filed to invest in schools, transportation, health and senior services

DENVER — Today, Dan Ritchie and Al Yates on behalf of a bipartisan coalition of Coloradans filed three proposals with Legislative Council in order to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot.  The proposals will allow the state to invest in education, transportation, mental health service and senior services without raising taxes.

“It’s no secret that Colorado is not investing enough in our schools, colleges, roads, mental health care or senior services,” Ritchie, the former chancellor of the University of Denver, stated.

The proposals follow the TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) requirement to ask permission from voters to allow Colorado to keep all tax revenue collected. The proposals also direct legislators to invest any funds above the TABOR limit into education, including pre-school through 12th grade education, vocational education and higher education; transportation, including highways, bridges, underpasses, mass transit and other projects related to transporting people; mental health services and senior services. These proposals do not change TABOR or amend the constitution, and Coloradans will continue to vote on all tax increases.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the average taxpayer will receive a rebate of $13 to $41 in 2016 (the rebate is for the 2014-2015 fiscal year). 

“We are asking voters to allow Colorado to keep all of the revenue the state has already collected and invest it in Colorado’s future. This will make a huge positive impact on our state,” Yates, the former president of Colorado State University, said.  “Most Coloradans know this, and that’s why so many are in favor of investing these funds into our roads, schools, universities, mental health and senior services.” 

“Six out of 10 voters support passage of this initiative, which shows significant support among Colorado voters to invest in important state priorities,” stated Nicole McCleskey with Public Opinion Strategies who conducted an 800 person poll February 4-8th.

“This is all about investing in our future and providing accountability when it comes to our state’s spending,” Yates added. 

The proposals require the Director of Research of the Legislative Council to prepare an annual report stating how the revenues were expended.

Please click here to read language for proposals 116, 117 and 118. 

###

A ballot measure is necessary this year because when state revenues grow faster than inflation and growth (like now), Colorado’s legislature is not allowed to keep and invest all the revenues that it collects. It's exciting to see business, civic, and community leaders from across Colorado acknowledging it is time to INVEST IN COLORADO

The proposed ballot measures (proposals 116, 117 and 118) are now moving through the "titling" process, but only one of these proposals will be selected to be placed on November's ballot. We anticipate having petitions available in late April. In the coming weeks, we'll prepare you to carry your petition with training opportunities, talking points and tips for gathering signatures. We'll keep you posted as details develop.

Thanks once again for taking this important step toward better investment in education!  You are the reason we'll be successful in November!

Sincerely,

Sue Catterall
Outreach Director
Great Education Colorado

Encourage Your Legislators to Go Back to School!!!

posted Mar 17, 2016, 8:25 AM by Douglass PTO

A whole lot has changed in our schools recently: new standards, tests, teacher evaluations, mandates, and expectations -- all of it while school funding has been cut. 

These developments -- most of them resulting from decisions of the state legislature -- have been so vast and so fast that there's really no way to understand them without stepping inside a school building.

We think it's time to send our legislators back to school.  On school tours, our legislators can see successes and challenges in Colorado classrooms and learn from parents, teachers, students, and administrators about the impact that state policies are having on Colorado's schools and students.

Please take 30 seconds to use the tool below to encourage your Senator and Representative to take the time to get a closer look at what our kids experience everyday -- and to thank the ones who already have. 

The website to send the letters to our local legislators, and to send to other elected officials is:

http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2700/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18373


Education Evolution Committee at BVSD

posted Jan 13, 2016, 4:49 PM by Webmaster DouglassElem   [ updated Jan 13, 2016, 4:51 PM ]

Read others opinions about the educational process in Colorado and more specifically BVSD.  
Topics discussed are Test, Construction, Project Based Learning, Funding, Legislative, and more.  
Check out this website/blog: www.bvsd-eec.com

Overview of K-12 School Funding in Colorado

posted Jan 13, 2016, 4:42 PM by Webmaster DouglassElem   [ updated Jan 13, 2016, 4:53 PM ]

Check out this video to see the history of where we have been & where we are now, the impact of negative factor on Colorado's school districts, and how money matters to districts & students.

Colorado Did you Know?


Great Education Colorado

posted Nov 18, 2015, 12:30 PM by Douglass PTO   [ updated Nov 18, 2015, 12:31 PM ]

Maybe you've heard that Colorado's economy is one of the strongest in the nation.

That's why the Governor just submitted a budget to the legislature that will result in cuts to our schools next year.

Wait . . . what?!

You read that right.  Because of outdated formulas in our constitution, the state is slated to turn away revenues even though our schools and students are still reeling from cuts made to schools during the recession.

We think that's just irresponsible.  

The legislature's budget writers -- the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) -- are starting their work on the budget this week.  We need them to explore every possible avenue to create a budget that puts kids before refunds.

That's why we're asking you to sign our petition to tell the JBC to act responsibly for Colorado's students.

Eventually, it will be up to the voters of Colorado to make real progress toward funding schools well enough so every student graduates ready for success.  (Stay tuned.  We're on it.)  

In the meantime, we shouldn't let our legislators off the hook for doing everything they can to invest in students, now that revenues have recovered.

Our students should not be sacrificing while our economy is growing.  Together we can put Colorado on a wiser path. 

Sincerely,

Lisa Weil
Executive Director
Great Education Colorado

Following Obama Administration’s Announcement on Test Reductions, New Brief Considers Alternative Accountability Approaches

posted Oct 25, 2015, 6:49 PM by Douglass PTO


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Contact: 
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/pjregkg

 

BOULDER, CO (October 25, 2015) – Yesterday, the Obama Administration acknowledged its own role in escalating the nation’s over-reliance on high-stakes, test-based accountability policies. It issued a Testing Action Plan for states, including a section on “reducing the reliance on student test scores through our rules and executive actions,” backing away somewhat from the Administration’s past policies that strongly promoted reliance on test scores in educator evaluation systems and in the evaluation of teacher preparation programs.

This shift in policy follows a nationwide disillusionment with test-based accountability policies, as illustrated by the opt-out movement; it also follows a growing consensus among researchers that test-based policies have been unsuccessful in driving greater learning. The question now becomes: where to from here?

This question is taken up in a new brief released today, written by Dr. William Mathis. In School Accountability, Multiple Measures and Inspectorates in a Post-NCLB World, Dr. Mathis discusses the efficacy of three types of school evaluation approaches. The first, test-based models consists of testing students, public reporting of school performance, and rewards or sanctions based on scores. This approach has been dominant in recent years but has been shown to have little or no effectiveness. In fact, this accountability model has generated negative consequences such as teaching to the test and narrowing of curriculum.

Coupled with a growing backlash against excessive testing, one of the key criticisms of standardized testing is that it doesn’t measure all the important aspects of a successful school. Thus a second model evolved, often called “multiple measures,” which is designed to more comprehensively capture a broader set of learning goals. This is the model that the Obama Administration now appears to be embracing. Dr. Mathis explains the idea of a comprehensive set of valid measures, but the nature and effectiveness of the model will depend largely on whether it includes strong measures of inputs as well as outcomes.

The third method, school self-evaluations plus inspectorates, has been eclipsed by test-based models in the U.S. but is used in other Western democracies. It has the advantage of being more inclusive and less likely to distort teaching and learning, but there are concerns of cost and unclear findings.

No evaluation system by itself, Dr. Mathis concludes, is capable of overcoming the deficiencies of a school or community lacking resources. The only way for school evaluation systems to succeed, he says, are “with all-around accountability.”

Dr. Mathis concludes with eight recommendations for policymakers:

  1. Adequate student opportunities and resources to achieve each state’s goals;
  2. Continued development of multiple-measure approaches that strive for balance and clarity;
  3. Cautious use of standardized test scores;
  4. Avoidance of data aggregation into a single score;
  5. Development and implementation of school visitation teams, with a priority on higher need schools;
  6. External reviews focusing on guidance and support rather than sanctions;
  7. Trained and qualified reviewers who meet prescribed standards; and
  8. Multiple stakeholders involved in the design of state’s evaluation/inspectorate program.

Mathis is Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. This brief is the first in a series of concise publications, Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, taking up a number of important policy issues and identifying policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

This brief is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Find William Mathis’s brief on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/research-based-options

 

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on NEPC, please visithttp://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This brief is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

Boulder Valley's Instrumental Music Classes Threatened

posted Oct 24, 2015, 11:56 AM by Douglass PTO   [ updated Oct 24, 2015, 11:56 AM ]

NEWS

Boulder Valley's instrumental music classes threatened, advocates say

Instructors say allowing students to choose one concentration poses threat to instrumental classes

By Amy Bounds

Staff Writer

POSTED:   10/19/2015 06:44:52 PM MDT | UPDATED:   5 DAYS AGO

Henry Westfall, right, and Atharv Jamdagny practice the violin during a fifth-grade instrumental music class at the Bear Creek Elementary School in Boulder
Henry Westfall, right, and Atharv Jamdagny practice the violin during a fifth-grade instrumental music class at the Bear Creek Elementary School in Boulder on Monday. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

A Boulder Valley task force looking at the ideal school day is considering changes to the fifth-grade instrumental music program — and is hearing opposition from teachers and parents.

The task force, a joint effort of the district and the Boulder Valley Education Association, is looking at how schools use time. Issues the task force is investigating include a later start for the high schools, common collaboration time for teachers, and a standardized school day length for the elementary schools.

The length of the school day currently varies among the elementary schools, district officials say, creating both equity and efficiency issues.

"We don't know that there's a perfect solution, but we do think there's a better solution than where we are now," said Boulder Valley Superintendent Bruce Messinger.

As part of the discussion on a common school-day length, the task force has discussed giving all elementary students at least 25 minutes to eat lunch and 45 minutes for recess.

The other goal is to give students an equal amount of time for music, physical education, and art. Under the current system, elementary students generally have 90 minutes each of music and physical education a week, but just 50 minutes of art.

At fifth grade, most elementary schools provide an additional 80 minutes of instrumental music a week, along with the 90 minutes of general music.

Sandy Ripplinger, assistant superintendent of school leadership, said the group is committed to keeping instrumental music as an option while also ensuring there's enough time for lunch, recess, art and classroom instruction.The task force is considering requiring fifth-graders to choose one music option or the other instead of taking both.

"We want a more balanced day," she said. "It's a series of gives and takes. We want to make sure kids have lots of opportunities."

District officials emphasized that no decisions have made, with ideal school-day recommendations not expected until winter break. The decision also isn't about saving money and no teachers would lose their jobs, they said.

But instrumental music teachers, who shared concerns at a recent school board meeting, say they were told that requiring students to choose will start in the fall 2016.

Their concerns include that they haven't been asked for feedback and that enrollment and quality of the program will drop, both in fifth grade and in instrumental music programs in the middle and high schools.

Mindy Anderson, who directs the orchestra at Fairview high and teaches music at two elementary schools and a middle school, said more feedback from teachers is needed.

"It failed to honor all stakeholders," she said.

General music, where students sing, teaches different skills from instrumental music, but they are equally important, said Beau Bryson, the band director at Boulder High School.

He said instrumental music is important because it gives all students, regardless of background, an opportunity to try an instrument.

"I would hate to see it diminished," he said.

In 2010, Boulder Valley considered dropping either general or instrumental music classes to save money, free up teaching time and make music more equitable with other art programs.

Opposition from parents and teachers convinced the school board to continue having fifth-graders take both, but try some different pilots.

Some schools began requiring students to choose, while others tried models that included offering general music one semester and instrumental the next. One school taught only instrumental music, while offering choir after school.

District officials said they have concluded the only model that seemed to work was giving students a choice between the two.

Lynn Jackson, a teacher at Eldorado K-8, who is co-chair of the school-day committee, said she understands the fears of instrumental music teachers but believes music programs won't suffer if there's a choice.

Students passionate about singing will still take general music, she said, while students passionate about playing will still take instrumental. Teaching students who chose a class because it interests them, instead of a mix of those interested and those not, also has advantages, she said.

"A lot of what we're hearing is about what would be lost, but this could open up opportunities," she said.

Amy Bounds: 303-473-1341, boundsa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/boundsa


Reject implementation of the BVSD 5th Grade Music Choice Model.

posted Oct 24, 2015, 11:51 AM by Douglass PTO   [ updated Oct 24, 2015, 11:53 AM ]


Students receive very different but equally important benefits from Instrumental Music (IM) and General Music (GM) instruction.  The BVSD fifth-grade students should not be denied the benefits of either.  From the BVSD website:  “Individual student success is the cornerstone of BVSD’s new strategic plan.  From early childhood education to maximizing opportunities for students as they prepare for graduation, BVSD is focused on maximizing every student’s potential to succeed.”  Taking away the potential to learn from, and reap the benefits of, both general music and instrumental music reduces the very opportunities that BVSD professes to want for all students.

Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument (Instrumental Music Education)

Increases memory capacity * Refines time management and organizational skills * Increases teamwork/collaborative skills * Teaches perseverance (grit) * Enhances coordination * Betters mathematical abilities * Improves reading and comprehension skills * Increases sense of responsibility * Exposes students to cultural history *  Sharpens concentration * Fosters self-expression * Relieves stress * Creates a sense of achievement * Promotes social skills * Enhances listening skills * Teaches discipline * Reduces stage fright, thereby increasing confidence and performance skills * Enhances respiratory system * Promotes happiness of the student and others * Boosts grades and test scores * Increases graduation rates

Benefits of General Music Education

Teaches students how music is structured and organized vs. teaching the techniques of producing sound * Teaches vocal skills * Teaches music theory * Teaches music history and ethnomusicology * Creates the opportunity for students to perform musical productions *  Teaches basics of rhythm and notation (building chords, key signatures, melodies and harmonies) * Improves listening skills * Promotes music appreciation

BVSD parents have rejected cutting music education two times within the past decade. Please listen to these voices and reject this latest effort to cut 5th grade music.

Thank you for your time and attention.

More at www.greaterboulderyo.org/savemusic

To sign the petition: please click on https://www.change.org/p/bvsd-board-of-education-reject-implementation-of-the-bvsd-5th-grade music-choice-model?recruiter=50212426&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=mob-xs-share_petition-no_msg&fb_ref=Default

Obama Administration Calls for Limit on Testing in Schools

posted Oct 24, 2015, 11:33 AM by Douglass PTO   [ updated Oct 24, 2015, 11:37 AM ]


By 

OCT. 24, 2015 - NYTimes

Faced with mounting and bipartisan opposition to increased and often high-stakes testing in the nation’s public schools, the Obama administration declared Saturday that the push had gone too far, acknowledged its own role in the proliferation of tests, and urged schools to step back and make exams less onerous and more purposeful.

Specifically, the administration called for a cap on assessment so that no child would spend more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking tests. It called on Congress to “reduce over-testing” as it reauthorizes the federal legislation governing the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools.

“I still have no question that we need to check at least once a year to make sure our kids are on track or identify areas where they need support,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, who has said he will leave office in December. “But I can’t tell you how many conversations I’m in with educators who are understandably stressed and concerned about an overemphasis on testing in some places and how much time testing and test prep are taking from instruction.”

“It’s important that we’re all honest with ourselves,” he continued. “At the federal, state and local level, we have all supported policies that have contributed to the problem in implementation. We can and will work with states, districts and educators to help solve it.”

Teachers’ unions, which had led the opposition on the left to the amount of testing, declared the reversal of sorts a victory. “Parents, students, educators, your voice matters and was heard,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

And even some proponents of newer, tougher tests said they appreciated the administration’s acknowledgment that it had helped create the problem, saying it had done particular damage by encouraging states to evaluate teachers in part on test scores.

But the administration’s so-called “testing action plan” — which guides school districts but does not have the force of law — also risks creating new uncertainty on the role of tests in America’s schools. Many teachers have felt whiplash as they rushed to rewrite curriculum based on new standards and new assessments, only to have politicians in many states pull back because of political pressure.

Some who agreed that testing has run rampant also urged the administration not to throw out the No. 2 pencils with the bath water, saying tests can be a powerful tool for schools to identify weaknesses and direct resources. They worried that the cap on time spent testing — which the administration said it would ask Congress to enshrine in legislation — would only tangle schools in more federal regulations and questions of what, exactly, counts as a test.

“What happens if somebody puts a cap on testing, and to meet the cap ends up eliminating tests that could actually be helpful, or leaves the redundancy in the test and gets rid of a test that teachers can use to inform their instruction?” asked Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization that represents about 70 large urban school districts.

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Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and one of the most vocal proponents for higher standards and tougher tests, said, “There’s plenty of agreement that there’s too much testing going on.” But, he added, “we have to be careful, as with anything federal, that it doesn’t lead to unintended consequences.”

The administration’s move seemed a reckoning on a two-decade push that began during the Bush administration and intensified under President Obama. Programs with aspirational names — No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top — were responding to swelling agreement among Democrats and Republicans that higher expectations and accountability could lift the performance of American students, who chronically lag their peers in other countries on international measures, and could help close a chronic achievement gap between black and white students.

States, led by the National Governors Association and advised by local educators, created the so-called Common Core standards, which outlined the skills students should have upon graduation, and signed on to tests tied to those standards.

But as the Obama administration pushed testing as an incentive for states to win more federal money in the Race for the Top program, it was bedeviled by an unlikely left-right alliance. Conservatives argued that the standards and tests were federal overreach — some called them a federal takeover — and called on parents and local school committees to resist what they called a “one size fits all” approach to teaching.

On the left, parents and unions objected to tying tests to teacher evaluations and said tests hamstrung educators’ creativity. They accused the companies writing the assessments of commercializing the fiercely local tradition of American schooling.

As a new generation of tests tied to the Common Core was rolled out last spring, several states abandoned plans to use the tests, while others renounced the Common Core, or rebranded it as a new set of local standards. And some parents, mostly in suburban areas, had their children opt out of the tests.

Mr. Duncan’s announcement — which was backed by his designated successor, John B. King Jr. — was prompted in part by the anticipation of a new survey from the Council of the Great City Schools, which set out to determine exactly how much testing is happening among its members.

That survey, also released Saturday, found that students in the nation’s big-city schools will take, on average, about 112 mandatory standardized tests between prekindergarten and high school graduation — eight tests a year. In eighth grade, when tests fall most heavily, they consume an average of 20 to 25 hours, or 2.3 percent of school time. The totals did not include tests like Advanced Placement exams or the ACT.

There was no evidence, the study found, that more time spent on tests improved academic performance, at least as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a longstanding test sometimes referred to as the nation’s report card.

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“Because so many actors are adopting and requiring tests, you often find a whole portfolio of tests not being very strategic,” said Mr. Casserly, the council’s executive director. “It’s often disjointed and disconnected and incoherent in many ways, and it results in a fair amount of redundancy and overlap.”

Still, he said: “We don’t think tests are the enemy. We think there’s an appropriate place for them.”

The administration said it would issue “clear guidance” on testing by January. Some of the language of the announcement Saturday was general; it said, for example, that tests should be “worth taking” and “fair.” Like new guidance from many states, it stressed that academic standards and curriculum are to be fleshed out locally.

But it also said that tests should be “just one of multiple measures” of student achievement, and that “no single assessment should ever be the sole factor in making an educational decision about a student, an educator or a school.”

Still, it emphasized that the administration was not backing away entirely from tests: The announcement said tests should cover “the full range of relevant state standards,” and elicit “complex student demonstrations or applications of knowledge and skills.”

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