Questions for the Superintendent?

I work to keep up with the pulse of both social and traditional media in Jeffco when it comes to our schools.

I did read a letter to the Arvada Press from Russ Hass, where he laid out what he felt were “Hard questions for Glass.”

While I’m not sure about these questions really being “hard,” and some of them are more comments disguised as questions than actual questions, it did give me the idea for this post. So, thanks Russ!

So, what questions do you have? Post below and you’ll get an answer directly from me. Let’s work to keep the conversation genuine, authentic, and real.

I will work hard to be responsive to the questions, but please forgive me if it takes me a day or two to respond. I will do my best!

I look forward to the correspondence!

PS – to honor Russ for the initial idea, I will also post his letter and respond to his questions. I look forward to reading your questions and thoughts and learning with you!

36 thoughts on “Questions for the Superintendent?

  1. Note: This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Arvada Press on Tuesday June 20, 2017.

    After reading the plethora of platitudes, by and for, Jason Glass at his meet-and-greet session (6/8) at Lakewood High School, shouldn’t Jeffco’s long suffering parents and taxpayers ask hard questions of him, such as:

    Will he lead or preside?
    What are his specific plans to improve students’ knowledge baseandachievement [sic], if he even has any?
    Will his desired ‘relationships,’ especially those with Jeffco’s domineering Teachers Union, be incestuous?
    Does he not know that the term’collaborators’ really got a bad name during the World War II era, as they dealt with the occupyingenemies [sic] of their peoples, to the benefit of the occupiers?
    What are the ‘really hard things’ of which he speaks, and will they even be addressed prior to the expiration of his three year contract?
    Would not all in Jeffco be better served by a new school board which focused its effortson [sic] studentachievement [sic] and fiscal efficiency?

    Russ Hass,

    Golden

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    1. Thanks, Russ, for your questions and for giving me the idea for this post. To honor your contribution, I will respond to your questions first.

      1. Will he lead or preside?

      Yes to both. Done well, the Superintendent’s role is a mixture of CEO, instructional leader, politician, visionary, manager, and sense-maker. If your question is really whether I intend to be a figurehead or get something done, then it is decidedly the latter. I have been a change agent everywhere I’ve worked and the Board didn’t hire me to just line things up the same way we have in the past and run it the same way again. While my focus will be on leading the organization toward a positive direction and improving outcomes for our students, there will also be aspects of my work where I will need to act as a symbolic leader for the schools and community. I can think of no great leaders from any field who did not understand and embrace both of these roles.

      2. What are his specific plans to improve students’ knowledge baseandachievement [sic], if he even has any?

      I’m intentionally not coming in on Day 1 with some grand scheme about what we need to do. I strongly feel that I need to better understand the context and history before making any big moves early on. It’s that whole “Seek to Understand” idea that Covey talked about. However, one can look to my past efforts to get an idea of where my thinking is and what ingredients I feel are necessary to build a lasting and great education system. These ideas are drawn from the business practice of benchmarking, or looking at high performing systems and thinking about how we can bring those ideas into our context. Simply, they involve raising the teaching profession, engaging and customizing learning to the student, having high expectations for all students, and working to mitigate the damaging effects of poverty on learning in our community. In my reviews of the best education systems, those are the elements of greatness.

      3. Will his desired ‘relationships,’ especially those with Jeffco’s domineering Teachers Union, be incestuous?

      I’m not sure what you mean by the term “incestuous,” but I intend to build positive relationships with as many groups and individuals as I can in order to advance the goal of building a better school system for Jeffco. This includes, but is not limited to, the teachers’ association. I need more positive partners in building great schools. I hope you will join in that effort.

      4. Does he not know that the term’collaborators’ really got a bad name during the World War II era, as they dealt with the occupyingenemies [sic] of their peoples, to the benefit of the occupiers?

      Yes, I am aware of that connotation. However, the term “collaborators” appears nowhere in my remarks and I am unclear of the relevance of this question to my role as Superintendent or how we might improve our schools.

      5. What are the ‘really hard things’ of which he speaks, and will they even be addressed prior to the expiration of his three year contract?

      Changing the student experience from one of “sit and get” and a fact-recall style education that rewards memorization and compliance to instead be one that is based on the demonstration and mastery of complex skills and that is based on quality and authentic learning experiences is a profound shift for our schools, teachers, and students. This, along with developing a culture where we listen, hear, and respond civilly to one another, are some of the “really hard things” I believe we will need to address. As to whether they will be addressed in the next three years, I will have to work toward that end and then let my record speak for itself at that point.

      6. Would not all in Jeffco be better served by a new school board which focused its effortson [sic] studentachievement [sic] and fiscal efficiency?

      There seems to be an implicit (or possibly overt) political statement in this question and I cannot take a position on whether or not Jeffco would be “better served by a new school board.” That is a question for the community to ultimately decide. I can say that I am am excited about working with this board and I respect their commitment to public education and their community. I expect that over the years of my tenure I will get the chance to work with several different board members, including the current board. Whoever sits in those important seats, I expect them all to be focused on student achievement and fiscal efficiency – as I believe the members of this board are.

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      1. Thank you for your clear, thoughtful, civil response, to the questions presented to you. It is refreshing to see a leader who listens to understand, as opposed to, simply listening to respond. I am excited to work for/with you over the next three years. And, for what it’s worth, your answer to number 5 was my favorite.

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      2. It was very refreshing to read such an articulate and positive response to a set of questions that were framed in a less than friendly way.

        What caught my attention in particular was the very last sentence of your response: “Whoever sits in those important seats, I expect them all to be focused on student achievement and fiscal efficiency – as I believe the members of this board are.”

        Long long story short as possible: After the November ballot measure to increase funding for Jeffco Schools failed I decided I ought to attend a School Accountability Committee meeting. I thought the room would be filled with other concerned parents (after hearing news from the school district that they might have to close at least six schools due to lack of funds). As it turns out it was just me and the current committee members that showed up. Anyway, with school fees continually on the rise and this being an aspect of “accountability” included in the bylaws of the committee, our committee submitted a “Letter of Inquiry” to JCPS on 3/12/17 about an opportunity to lower annual operating costs by $5MM-$10MM, or, at least evaluate the opportunity. The response we received on 4/12/17 was an explanation as to why the district would not evaluate the opportunity with many of the reasons stated indicating to us that our Letter of Inquiry had only received a cursory review. It also seemed to our committee that there were some misunderstandings about our Inquiry so we drafted a “Request for Clarification”, which was sent to the district on 5/9/17 … and so far the district as yet to officially acknowledge that our Request was received. Indirectly the committee was informed that we should take this matter up with you once you take over as the new Superintendent.

        I would like to say how much I’m looking forward to discussing this opportunity with you (along with my fellow SAC members) once you’ve had a chance to settle into your new role.

        Welcome aboard!

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      3. Thank you, Robin – for this message, question, and for your commitment to our community schools. I have not been briefed yet on this issue, but will reach out and work to get up to speed on it. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, and for all you do for our kids in Jeffco.

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  2. Dr. Glass: Your response is brave, even and thoughtful. Thank you for working to create cohesion between a variety of Jeffco stakeholders. Your placid reply to an inflammatory letter proves you are the right leader for our district.

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  3. I’m wondering about the future of security for Jeffco, with Weld County’s decision to provide optional arms training for teachers who would be allowed to conceal carry in schools. I hate this idea as a classroom teacher, but it’s gaining some steam. What does Superintendent Glass think?

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    1. Thanks much for your important question, Rachel!

      I have a briefing in mid July on the current school safety systems in Jeffco so I will be more up to speed on the things the district has in place then. Generally speaking, you want to have technological, physical, behavioral, and emergency response procedures in place and drill them on a regular basis.

      Technological responses refer to systems like cameras, locking door mechanisms, alarms, etc. These allow for monitoring and accountability, and sometimes the ability to close off sections of buildings remotely.

      Physical responses refer to secure entry vestibules, reinforced outer doors, locking interior doors, and other physical means to keep out or slow down intruders.

      Behavioral responses refer to procedures put in place in the building about what people should do in the event of an intruder or other event. Without getting into too much detail or revealing school security procedures, there are some best practices that need to be drilled on a regular basis so there is no question on what people need to do in the event of an emergency.

      Finally, emergency response procedures refer to how lines of communication and expectations with law enforcement and other first responders is structured. These have to be clarified and strong relationships must exist.

      I am supportive of having trained, armed law enforcement officers on our campuses and think their presence is a positive, I’m not a fan of arming teachers or other staff, or moving toward a concealed carry environment. More guns in the hands of people who do not operate or train with them regularly invites more problems, in my professional opinion.

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  4. Dr. Glass: Thank you for your willingness to dialogue with the Jeffco community right out of the gate. Much has been done in the last few years to improve the relationship between the district and its charter schools. As you well know, charter schools are a controversial topic and it is my experience that a lot of misinformation still exists (in the district and in the community) about the charter schools in Jeffco. How to you plan to bridge the divide between Jeffco charter and district run schools?

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    1. Thanks for your patience, Lisa, and for asking this important question.

      Charter schools are an inextricable part of the Jeffco (and Colorado) public school landscape. We have literally thousands of students attending these schools and therefore we have a moral responsibility to support these students and these schools in being successful. So, I will support Jeffco’s charter schools and work on their behalf to help them be successful and thrive – it is simply in the best interest of the students.

      I am a fan of many of the learning approaches we see within charter schools that are more experience and skill-based. I also see an entrepreneurial spirit in many charter school organizations that we need in all schools – that willingness to take chances, and try something different. We need more risk-taking and I admire charter models that model a strong effort at real student engagement coupled with a deep commitment to equity. Frankly, we need more of this in all our schools.

      That said, I am skeptical of the proliferation of charter schools as a stand-alone mechanism to achieve systemic greatness. More directly, if we are creating more charter schools simply for the sake of creating more charter schools, we can be replicating the same factory model learning models and equity issues that contribute to student disengagement and our community’s school segregation problems.

      Therefore, it is important that our district serve as a strong, supportive, and present authorizing agent – being selective about which schools we open, and which ones we allow to continue to operate.

      The reality is that unless we are really changing the learning experience and making that available to all students, we aren’t really changing things.

      So, our charter schools can expect a Superintendent who will support them and work for their success, as I would with any of our public schools. They can expect me to applaud and be a cheerleader when the succeed for Jeffco’s kids. They can expect someone to advocate on their behalf, and who works to get them what they need to be successful.

      They can also expect a Superintendent who will demand that they have a commitment to equity, that the follow their charter agreement, and that they stand accountable for demonstrating positive results.

      We must move past the political school choice debates that have bogged us down for too long. School choice exists and it will continue to exist (if not expand). The real question we need need to be asking is how are we going to profoundly change the learning experience of the student, regardless of where they go to school.

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      1. Dr. Glass: Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough reply to my question. I am grateful for your commitment to Jeffco’s existing charter schools and your expectation of charter school accountability. I, too, “am skeptical of the proliferation of charter schools as a stand-alone mechanism to achieve systemic greatness”. I am not advocating for the expansion of charter schools in Jeffco. I simply would love to see Jeffco get to a place where there is less of an us vs them dynamic between charter and district run schools. I believe that Jeffco would be a stronger, more effective district if all of its schools could work together to serve the needs of the students.

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      2. Lisa – I have reflected a bit more on your important question. I am not sure I answered it directly enough in my previous response. Please allow me to do so more fully now. I believe we could improve relations and move past the us vs. them dynamic by focusing on the very most foundational element of student learning which unites all kinds of schools. By that, I mean the student task – those things we are asking students to do in practicing their learning on a daily basis. Changing the learning experience to feature tasks that are meaningful, important, complex, and allow students the chance to learn and demonstrate important skills is work that binds us all.

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  5. Thank you for your frank responseses. I am feeling more proud and hopeful about the direction of our district. I am excited to work for and with you to move our district forward. I am a product, parent and teacher of this district.

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    1. Thank you, Katherine. I am looking forward to the work and getting started! I have heard so many stories about generations of families that have connections to Jeffco Schools and I think this is a powerful strength we can build upon.

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  6. Dear Dr. Glass,

    First, a warm welcome to Jeffco. The questions I would like to ask are not for myself, but instead represent those that others, opposed to yourself and to the school board, have been asking. First, many of them claim that you are an opponent of all charter schools. Second, because achievement is not built into your contract with incentives, that you have no interest in achievement. Third, that your salary and benefits are not warranted by your experience (and that you lack experience to lead a district the size of Jeffco). Forth, that you are “tainted” because the recall campaign was partially financed by “unions”, which thus own the current school board, and said unions thus mandated that you be hired; that you are a “union” stooge. To be clear, I agree with none of the points here and have been engaging these topics, but hearing directly from yourself might be valuable. I also want to compliment you on the professional way you answered Mr. Haas. All the best as you take up your new duties.

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    1. Thank you, Theo. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to address these questions. To better organize them, I will take them one at a time.

      1. First, many of them claim that you are an opponent of all charter schools.

      In my response to Lisa above, I wrote some about my position on charter schools. However, I will re-state it again here and try to be more direct and succinct.

      I support all public schools, inclusive of charter schools, because they are serving our children. I want them to be successful and to thrive because it means that they are better able to deliver for Jeffco’s kids.

      At the same time, I am skeptical of the proliferation of charter schools as a stand-alone policy to improve education. If we are uncritical about the opening of new charters and the continued operation of some charters, are we really improving quality, or are we just increasing variability? The district needs to work on supporting and improving all of it’s schools, including charters, and being a present and engaged authorizer.

      Charter schools can expect me to be an engaged and supportive Superintendent. They can also expect me to be fair and to ask the tough questions that need to be asked.

      2. Second, because achievement is not built into your contract with incentives, that you have no interest in achievement.

      As a school leader, of course I am interested in achievement – the outcomes our students reach is the most important goal for any school system. However, in this question I believe “achievement” is narrowly defined as performance on test scores. I would say these are important and that I pay attention to them. But, we must also recognize that they do not capture the full range of human ability and talent and they are highly correlated with student demographic variables. So, we should look at them and take steps to improve them, but we should also recognize that they have real limitations in what we can infer from them.

      As far as incentives built into my contract, I was not and am not opposed to such incentives. I had them in my contract in Eagle and spent a good piece of my career working on performance based and strategic compensation systems. I even wrote my dissertation on it!

      I think at this point we’ve come to realize, based on the extensive body of research around performance incentives, that they are ineffective at raising performance, unless it is for a short term or simplistic goal (i.e. sell more widgets).

      But the work of the Superintendency is complex, dynamic, political, and many efforts take time to bear results. It is kind of silly to think that I have some kind of special Superintendent magic and expertise, that I am holding back – waiting for the right cash bonus to unleash!

      I’m in it for the kids and the community and I will do my dead-level best every day. I know some will be skeptical of that statement and I accept that skepticism – but I’m ready to walk the talk.

      3. Third, that your salary and benefits are not warranted by your experience (and that you lack experience to lead a district the size of Jeffco).

      Jeffco is a billion dollar organization with 14,000 employees which is responsible for improving the lives of 86,000 children and the Jeffco community.

      My base salary is $265,000. I’m happy to stack that up against CEOs of similarly sized organizations, large nonprofits leaders, university presidents, and headmasters of private schools with a fraction of the complexity or number of students. Through that comparison, my compensation is incredibly efficient given the size and complexity of the organization.

      I’ve never been anywhere there wasn’t someone complaining about the Superintendent’s pay – no matter what it was. This sort of criticism comes with the job.

      As far as my background, I’m happy to stack my credentials and experiences up against any Superintendent in the country.

      While the critics are correct that I have not led a school district the size of Jeffco, I am a successful and experienced Superintendent and I have been the leader of an entire state system in Iowa. These experiences and background matters when it comes to my ability to succeed for Jeffco.

      I accept the skepticism and predictions that I will not be successful. I am enthused by people who underestimate me and have a history of proving that perspective to be incorrect. I’m ready to get to work, and demonstrate my worth to Jeffco.

      4. Forth, that you are “tainted” because the recall campaign was partially financed by “unions”, which thus own the current school board, and said unions thus mandated that you be hired; that you are a “union” stooge.

      There is a logical chain in this argument and every link of the chain must be true for the claim to also be true. There are a lot of leaps from the fact that the union funded (in part) the recall election of 2015 to the ending conclusion in the question.

      I responded, in part, to this question in my answer to Russ above. I intend to build positive and mutually beneficial relationships with as many people and organizations I can in order to get things done for Jeffco kids. This includes, but is not limited to, the teachers’ association.

      I have a demonstrated history of being firm, fair, and supportive when it comes to employees and associations. I want our employees to have quality working conditions and make enough to have a decent quality of life and I will work with associations to accomplish those goals. I also have a responsibility to keep Jeffco fiscally sound and to consider the needs of the students and community, and to keep those priorities first.

      I am happy to let my actions speak loudest when it comes to working to try and find stable and positive solutions that work for everyone, and which put the interests of our kids first.

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      1. Many thanks for your reply and for continuing the discussion. Speaking for myself, I see some of the ways achievement is discussed and measured as remnants of Taylorism–the idea that students are like manufactured goods and said goods should meet specific tolerances; if the good does not meet the tolerances, then the worker is punished or fired; if a group of workers fails, then the manager is punished or fired (etc.); if the tolerances are met, then the worker might receive an incentive and so on up the line. There are many problems with regarding a student as a manufactured good or product; not to mention that teachers/workers operate in isolation of one another (rather than as teams). If I think about teaching a freshman level course in college and I imagine a final writing assignment (which is used for assessment), then how much credit do I give the high school teachers who worked with students (and on backward), how much credit do I give the other college teachers a student has studied with that semester, how much credit do I give to the student her/himself, and lastly how much credit should I give to myself? As David Foster Wallace says at the end of “This is Water”, I wish you more than luck.

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      2. Thanks, Theo. I would go as far as saying we have more than remnants of Taylorism in schools. That philosophy (which certainly has its place and merits) is the dominant paradigm for schools. Adapting this is perhaps our biggest challenge.

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      3. Indeed yes. My grade was shaped just like a factory–K entered at one end and 6th at the other; not to mention periods, lunch time, etc. Trivial compared to other things, but shows how deeply the ideas are ingrained.

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      4. It’s refreshing to read your answers that are both thoughtful and informative and not the usual “spin” that we get so much of these days.

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  7. As a former educator, and now a Jeffco parent, my question is how do you plan to address the increasing pressures on educators and students. Both are required to do more and more, which means less time for teaching and learning, building relationships, developing new lesson plans, and addressing the “whole student.” While i seems we talk about meeting the needs of all learners and making sure educators have the time to do the righ work…we end up piling paperwork, testing, and procedures on both. What is your plan to address this in Jeffco?

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    1. Hi Nate – this is indeed an important question. First, I think we have to keep the main thing the main thing – and in the context of education, that’s time and a focus on learning. Also, I believe that learning has to be more engaging, meaningful, and important to both the learner and teacher than perhaps it has been – and we accomplish that through a focus on student task and how we can make that an authentic (as opposed to contrived) learning experience.

      I think we can take some pressure off teacher by providing them with high quality and aligned curricular materials. Note that we never want to get to a place where we take away an educator’s flexibility to adapt and change those materials and how they are used – rather, we want to provide a trove of high quality options for them to choose from.

      This previous point rests on what I think is a critical concept, which is educator empowerment. We must empower and support our teachers with decision making authority when it comes to curricular decisions for their students. We must also empower them to be the ones choosing their areas for professional growth and how they collaborate. If these systems are not creating positive supports for our educators, then they aren’t working.

      Finally, I think we have to work hard to remove fear from our organization. If we want people to be excited, enthused, and willing to take calculated risks, they we have to make sure they feel supported and safe to do so.

      There are certainly specifics about how we can accomplish each of these that we will need to get into, but I think those are the foundational steps.

      I’d be interested in hearing your ideas also on this question. What do you think?

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  8. Dr. Glass – thank you for working so hard already to listen to all stakeholders, and openly and directly address their questions and concerns. You continue to impress me with your style and engagement! I hope everyone will seek to partner with you as we all work to do what’s best for students. Along this line, I’d like to change the tide of this string a tad and get at, what I view, is the elephant in the room we desperately need to address. You are one person, and yes, you shoulder an enormous responsibility. But the bottom line, as I’ve always seen it, is these are OUR kids and the responsibility for their education falls on our shoulders. And by this, I don’t mean I’m responsible for just my own children – I feel a responsibility for all Jeffco kids. I see family engagement as a continuing struggle in our schools. Each year, fewer and fewer parents and grandparents partner directly with the schools to help. Fewer parents are attending back-to-school nights and teacher conferences. What are your ideas for improving family engagement in our schools? I feel so strongly that a school with an engaged family and community is best equipped to educate our children. What can we, as parents, grandparents, and community members, do to support you, to support our principals, our teachers, and our staff?

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    1. Hi Tina – one of the strength’s I’ve already observed in Jeffco is the deep generational connections to the schools. I’ve met so many families who have grandparents, parents, and children who have attended Jeffco schools. It is important that we nurture these connections and relationships. For that to occur, we need an intentional communications effort aimed at staying connected to the larger community. That’s what the organization needs to do. As far as what you and other families can do, I think commit to staying engaged yourselves and use the power of your personal relationships to invite others. Also, I think we have to set a climate that our public schools are really open to anyone in the community. I think the political acrimony about education in Jeffco can turn people off from engagement. We have to work all the more hard to be accepting of different perspectives, understand that there are a variety of positive values our neighbors bring, and try to find a place of equilibrium that will allow us to focus on teaching and learning.

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  9. Dr. Glass, I am a retired Jeffco teacher, raising a grandson currently in a Jeffco charter school. I appreciate this dialog and two of your statements have especially caught my interest. One is “developing a culture where we listen, hear, and respond civilly to one another”, a goal I would like to see in our schools and beyond. The other is “I think we have to work hard to remove fear from our organization. If we want people to be excited, enthused, and willing to take calculated risks, they we have to make sure they feel supported and safe to do so.” I believe we also want students to be free of fear in our schools, and our staff including administration to move beyond fear of students.
    It seems to me that the Columbine experience moved Jeffco into a punitive zero tolerance culture. I believe research has found this approach to not be in the best interest of students, and especially the large number of students having experienced trauma. My passion has become advocating for trauma-informed education in our schools, to benefit all students. I hope you are familiar with the ACEs study and the use of ongoing research in this area to help children to find success in schools. I believe our district should look beyond the impact of poverty and develop a trauma-informed approach, especially with at-risk students.

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    1. Hi Terri Lee – I am familiar with the ACES study and think it has profound implications for education and the kinds of experiences kids bring into our schools every day. For our community schools to achieve their goals, we’re going to have to (as a community) address the significant out-of-school as well as the in-school factors that have an impact on our children. That starts with making schools a safe and welcoming place for all children to learn and grow. While there are certainly real threats, and we must take all reasonable precautions to protect our kids and staff from harm, we can also carefully consider how we keep school a safe sanctuary for learning where kids can thrive. Thanks for asking this important and emotional question!

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  10. Dr. Glass,
    Welcome to the district. After 35 years as a school psychologist, I too am recently retired, 1 month ago, today.
    Much of the comments appear to be focused on our culture and climate, especially with respect to the charter school movement that was spearheaded by your predecessor, Mr. McMinimee and his ‘conservative’ school board- Witt,Newkirk and Williams and hence the extreme and significant importance of the election this district faces in 5 short months. The current culture and climate that was shaped by WNW and McMinimee is still in place, despite the valiant efforts of their replacements- yes the teachers have regained some professional standing with respect to levels and steps and a higher salary cap, but many of the ‘old’ board’s appointees, over the last 3 years, from legal counsel, achievement directors, special education directors and principals, are friends, if not allies of this conservative group’s movement and continue to negatively ‘sap’ this district’s professional resources, which in turn, affects ALL of our students’ future successes ( please note the number of formal legal complaints filed against this district in the past 3 years). My question- will you extend the same ‘favor’ that WNW and McMinimee offered to Dr. Stevenson and her administrative staff and assistants- effectively, a clean sweep–to any or all of the administrative protégés that were appointed over the past 3 years? Within Jeffco’s walls, we have our own version of a Trojan horse-please take action before it is too late, or I fear we will have the same conservative board, that we had 3 years ago, to the detriment of our student body.

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    1. Hi Lee – thanks for your years of service and for this question.

      There will be no “clean sweep” for any of the employees or administration currently at Jeffco from me. Part of my rationale for this is pragmatic and part of it is based on fairness.

      On the pragmatic side, I need these employees to ensure continued effective operation of the district as we get schools ready to open next year. These employees have expertise, context, and knowledge specific to Jeffco that I (as a new leader) do not yet possess. While I have already been working hard to get up to speed on important aspects of the district and issues we face, I need the support to keep things moving.

      On the fairness side, regardless of how anyone came into their role, I feel strongly they should be given a fair shot at being part of the solution Jeffco needs. We’ve got to stop turning over the apple cart of the last group in charge and start learning how to work together. I appreciate and encourage divergent perspectives, especially on my leadership team (called cabinet in Jeffco). It encourages creativity and discourages dogma – two things we need for our schools to continue being successful.

      It is possible I will make some changes both in terms of structure and personnel, but probably not for at least 6 months. I need to more fully understand the context, and give everyone a chance to be what Jeffco needs.

      I understand you may not agree with this perspective or approach, but I feel strongly it is the right one for us at this moment.

      Thanks again for engaging, and for all you’ve done for this community.

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      1. Dr. Glass,
        I respect your authority and decision making skills. I have 1st hand experience on at least 2 levels, on how several of the ‘current’ administrators have directly and adversely impacted numerous students and their families in the Jeffco community. These ‘administrators’ were appointed and placed, by the previous board and your predecessor with an agenda that was self serving to the conservative cause. If you would like the particulars and the specific incidents that I am professionally aware of, please feel free to contact me at my personal email and we can continue a private discussion. I know getting up to speed with our district requires your utmost focus and attention, but I believe a forthright discussion might serve you well,
        Lee

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Our family is now in its 3rd generation of Jeffco students and I have observed a lot in the past 45 years.
    1. Everyone talks about students first but the powers have not been willing to implement the systems needed to ensure success for the most possible number.
    2. High poverty today is not the same as it used to be. This has to stop being an excuse for poor results overall. Free & reduced lunch has a very low bar for qualifying.
    3. We must demand the highest quality educators with incentives to perform and quickly remove those who are less. None of us would take our loved ones to an “adequate doctor”. We deserve the best.
    4. Are you willing to convene a group of business, parents, educators to work on plans that will face down the status quo and commit to results?

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  12. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your comments and questions. I will respond to each of your points in order.

    1. At the district level, I believe our work must be about creating those systems which ensure student success. As an international benchmarker, I have studied these systems globally and believe they generally fall into efforts to a) raise the profession of teaching b) customize instruction and learning to the student c) align instructional practices to high standards and d) mitigate the effects of poverty on learning. It is within these areas that we will need to develop detail, processes, accountability, and performance metrics.

    2. Our schools do need to be better than they are today, and in some profound ways. In my professional opinion, this is especially true when it comes to changing the learning experience to more focus on the practice and acquisition of complex skills and experiences – particularly those that will be useful in the workplace as they become adults. Poverty is not a barrier to making these changes, but we do know that the impacts of poverty on learning are significant and well-documented. Any kindergarten teacher can tell you that the achievement gap is present when kids show up the first day of school – much of it to do with the family and environmental conditions students experience growing up. We do need to make real improvements and changes in our schools – and we need to, as a community, confront the damaging effects of poverty on learning.

    3. I completely agree with you on this point. Teaching is a complex and highly skilled job and it must be considered a profession and treated as such. We need to be better at recruiting, training, selecting, empowering, and supporting our teachers and building the teacher workforce into a true profession. In all the high performing systems I have studied, this has been a foundational element.

    4. I am more than willing – I am taking steps toward that end! The schools are a part of the community and depend on it and the reverse is also true. I look forward to engaging the Jeffco community, in its entirety, in that important work and I am excited to get started!

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  13. Dear Dr. Glass. In many discussions in which I’ve been involved about the district’s budget there’s misunderstandings and distortions. For example, some believe that the school board controls the entire budget amount, free of any strings attached to grants, state laws (such as PERA mandated contribution amounts), and so on. This fuels an argument that since the district has $1billion (rounded) there is no need for more money (as in 3A and 3B) and the problem is simply one of how the money is allocated (sometimes this argument is linked to one about waste within the district). I just came across a budget tool developed by Aurora Public Schools (and it reminds me of one CPR created to illustrate the challenges faced by the state legislature). If we could develop something like this (and know the template exists), then I think that might go along way to helping people understand our sources of money, how the money is spent, tradeoffs that we might make, and ultimately why a mill levy override and bond issue are needed (and explicitly how these will be used). Here’s the link; there’s more information in an article on Chalkbeat: http://aps.abalancingact.com. Good luck as you begin your tenure.

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    1. Thanks much for the resource, Theo! I have seen models like this and find them useful in helping to understand the trade-offs associated with any budget. Colorado’s funding woes are well known, but whatever we get from our local voters, the state, and the federal government – we are going to have to pull it together to deliver a quality education for our kids. I think if we want to take a bond or mill levy to the community at some point in the future, we need to demonstrate not only need, but also the value-added it can bring to kids and the entire community. Thanks for the resource!

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      1. Dr. Glass,
        Less than a month before teachers and students return to school. A most energizing time but also a critical time. I hope, since my last email, you have become familiar with some of the issues I referred to and that with such awareness, you have revisited your laissez-faire policy with respect to making changes with some- not all- of McMinimee administrative appointees. Your leadership in making hard decisions, will set the course of Jeffco’s future, especially with respect to public support in the very soon upcoming school board elections.
        Best wishes, in how you lead Jeffco.
        Lee S. Davis

        Liked by 1 person

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