Do you stand with Dougco Kids?
Great Kids need Great Schools: Great schools and great teachers are crucial to the success of Douglas County kids. That being said, Douglas County can always do better. Dougco leaders cannot afford to let up on efforts to improve and reform our schools.
Douglas County's parents, kids, teachers, and school district leaders should be proud of their successes. The quality of the schools in Douglas County is one of the reasons Douglas County is a nice place to call home, and Douglas County residents have teachers to thank for that.
The Union Agenda: The labor union in Douglas County schools has a clear agenda: its own survival. The Douglas County Federation of Teachers (DCFT) is engaging in political grandstanding and spreading misinformation about the state of the school system in an effort to preserve the union's monopoly.
The DCFT is part of the same union that took thousands of teachers out on strike in Chicago. Now the union is bringing its Chicago-style tactics to Colorado.
In an ongoing effort to provide Douglas County students with the best education possible, the Board proposed a series of innovative reform measures. First, the Board sought to fill classrooms with the highest quality teachers by offering merit-based pay, which is determined by individual teacher performance, rather than seniority. The pay-for-performance system rewards Dougco's current world-class teachers, while simultaneously attracting and motivating other teachers to bring their expertise to Douglas County schools.
Second, implementation of the Choice Scholarship Program allows parents to choose the ideal school to meet their children's individual needs.
Third, the Board instituted an unprecedented level of transparency so that parents and other citizens remain constantly informed.
While the Board continues to be a pioneer in education reform, the DCFT tries at every turn to reverse these positive measures. In an attempt to foster ill will against the Board, the union endlessly spreads misinformation to parents, teachers, and residents. Union leaders have organized protests against the school district and even went as far as a "not-so-subtle strike threat," according to The Denver Post. The union has secretly coordinated with the ACLU to aid in its costly lawsuit against the district, that seems to prevent implementation of the reform measures.
At this point, it seems that if the reform benefits Douglas County students, then the union likely opposes it.
The Board aims to reform Douglas County schools for the benefit of the students, while the teachers union looks only to advance its power. These contrasting visions for the future of Douglas County schools led to the expiration of the DCFT collective bargaining agreement, but the union continues to be hostile.
Myths and Facts
The Douglas County Federation of Teachers is spreading misinformation about the school system's reform proposals in an attempt to mislead teachers and the greater Douglas County community.
MYTH: The district has more than $66 million “left over,” but the Board is cutting programs and people.
FACTS: This is absolutely false. The vast majority of the funds the union deceptively claims are “left over” have already been spent on important education initiatives—including many that benefit classroom teachers.
Like any responsible organization, the Douglas County schools have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain a reasonable amount of money in reserve for emergencies and other unforeseen expenses. In fact, Colorado's TABOR law (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) specifically dictates that all school districts must maintain a substantial reserve fund to avoid a funding shortfall.
Douglas County schools have a responsibility to be prepared to serve the needs of students. Taking into consideration the state of the economy and Douglas County’s explosive growth, the school system must keep its financial house in order by maintaining a reserve fund.
At the same time, legislators in Denver continue to reduce funding for education. By law, DCPS must maintain a balanced budget with a reserve. To do that, DCSD has had to make hard choices, some of which include cutting its budget.
MYTH: The Board does not value teachers.
FACTS: By its actions, just the opposite is true. Dougco's great teachers are the secret to its success. That's why the district instituted a 1% raise and a 2% stipend increase. In fact, the district has increased teacher compensation by more than $10 million this year. Beyond that, the district is working to establish a merit-based pay-for-performance program to reward great teachers without passing the costs on to taxpayers.
MYTH: Only 14% of Douglas County teachers feel the district is moving in the right direction.
FACTS:The vast majority of teachers have returned to the district this year.
At the same time, the labor union is working overtime to drive a wedge between the teachers and the rest of the community. If this indicates anything, it is that the union has been successful in poisoning the relationship between teachers and the rest of the community.
This misleading statistic comes from an unreleased, union-commissioned survey that was secretly conducted amongst union-picked teachers—hardly a realistic indicator of the mood of teachers.
MYTH: The district is trying to “fire the union.”
FACTS: It is clear that the School Board has continuously tried to foster a cooperative relationship with the teachers’ union. In fact, Douglas County was praised by American Rights at Work, a labor advocacy group, for its “innovative partnership” with the union. All of the decisions made by the School Board are guided with a primary objective in mind: working for the best interests of the students.
The district has made clear that it believes that union leaders should be paid by the union, not taxpayers. To that end, the district and union have agreed to end the district’s subsidy of the union’s salaries.
Additionally, for the first time, the district wants to let each teacher choose whether the union can negotiate on his or her behalf. As a result, teachers can either choose the union’s standard contract, chose a different organization’s contract, or even negotiate their own.
MYTH: The Choice Scholarship Program drains money from the school district.
FACTS: The Board set up the program so that it is financially beneficial for the district. The intention of the program is to provide parents with additional options to send their children to school, without creating a financial burden to either the parents or Douglas County School District. By implementing this program, Douglas County is at the forefront of education reform.
MYTH: The Douglas County Board of Education supports the Choice Scholarship Program only because they don’t think current Douglas County schools are good enough.
FACTS: The Board has full confidence in the Douglas County schools, the highest performing schools in the state. The Board implemented the Choice Scholarship Program to allow parents the option to decide which school best suits their children’s individual needs. This allows the system to be built around the interests of the students and for Douglas County School District to stay on the cutting edge of education reform.
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