Gaining Traction – DPSs new School Performance Compact

DPS has released a New School Performance Compact Guidelines Proposal.

Denver Public Schools, it’s is allegiance to the Portfolio Management/Reform Ideology, misuses the word “Compact” in their attempt to get buy-in for school closures. It is not an agreement entered in by anyone but themselves.

After much pressure from the parents of Gilpin Montessori students, scheduled to close at the end of of the 2016/2017 school year, DPS and the Schoo Board have responded by removing the one component of the 2 year old School Performance Compact, the School Quality Review, that actually requires someone to enter the schools and evaluate kid contact.

The new proposal is merely a better implementation of their Portfolio Management/Reform ideology that would continue to close schools in vulnerable neighborhoods in favor of charter schools that do not serve the same populations.

In the new compact, DPS claims to be “deepening community engagement.”  Whoever, this provides zero help or comfort as they have lost all credibility in this regard. Superintendent Boasberg likes to claim DPS does a lot of community engagement, but by his rules talking to 10 parents in a school counts. At no point has the District been successful in reaching out to community orgs or even he majority of parents to hear what they think or want about a particular neighborhood school on the chopping block. “Community Engagement” by DPSs actions does not mean listening to the community.

This new compact is going to capture a lot more schools.  DPS says they are not going to capture school “on the way to green,” but note that if a school attained yellow or higher within a three-year period, they could still be eligible for restart.  By their own measure, 20% of students are in red or orange schools. Furthermore, most of the schools that have been closed have shown signs of positive turn around the year they were closed. To not capture schools on the way to green, DPS would have to understand what those measures are. By their own admission, they have not cracked that nut. Likely, because they only that measures from the 10,000 ft view.

DPS gives lip service to giving a school more notice so that stakeholders can get involved and discuss a current plan to improve performance.  They also specifically note that they are going to look at enrollment this time around.  There is little chance that improvement efforts and enrollment concerns can be addressed in 1 year.  Also, more importantly, they don’t talk at all about what the Districts is going to do to help during this year to turn things around.

DPS wants to use a faster timeline for restarts (a plan has to be put in place and accepted within 90 days).  They note that the pool of potential providers is limited to those that have been previously approved.  This means existing school leadership cannot be considered – and the idea of a community school would not be considered. This means charters. It is also contrary to their claim of “deepening community engagement.

DPS asks the question:  “Why the school performance compact.”  It is answered by saying that, in the event students are in persistently low performing schools – even after substantive efforts to support and improve these schools– the District believes students deserve fundamental transformation of their learning environments.  This is the fundamental issue.  How is a school ever so broken that it cannot be fixed?  What is fundamental transformation and how is that different than substantive efforts to support and improve a school?  This is where DPS admits that it doesn’t know the answer and it doesn’t know how to fix schools/serve communities.  It is THEIR job to figure out how to improve existing neighborhood schools – to figure out how to serve ALL kids.  Not just move our kids into “tried and true” schools that may not work for these kids — kids that will most likely suffer many additional school moves.

We at Our Denver Our Schools do not accept their School Performance Compact.New School Performance Compact Proposal