Why I Support the Current Douglas County, CO School Board


Dear Douglas County, CO Parents:

I am a parent whose children have always attended school in Douglas County. We have done home school, Montessori, public school, and Christian school. I was glad to have had the opportunity to choose amongst these education methods, and fine-tune my choices as I gained more experience with each, and as I recognized individual needs among my children.

I don’t mind when there are different sides to an issue on which we’re about to vote. But in the local school board race, the two sides to several of the biggest talking points are mostly (1) TRUTH and (2) LIES/SCARE TACTICS.

Let’s call the two factions Pro-Union and Pro-Reform.

The Pro-Union faction is saying that Douglas County High School graduation requirements were lowered, with the implication that the current board of education made that decision.  In fact, the decision was made in early 2009, and made by the PREVIOUS school board.

The Pro-Union faction is saying that Douglas County Schools “lost the ‘Accredited with Distinction’ designation,” with the implication that the current school board somehow caused that to happen. What they are not telling you is that the State Legislature has recently required Douglas County Schools to include the Hope Online students’ test results within countywide results which formerly did not include this special group of at-risk students. Therefore, of course the average test scores went down, resulting in a lower accreditation designation. This had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CURRENT SCHOOL BOARD.

The Pro-Union faction says “The Reforms being promoted are not working.” (Okay, I’m giggling here.) Remember that excellent School Choice program which the school board campaigned on AND implemented? The Pro-Union faction then SUED to stop the program. It’s tied up in the courts! So yes, that particular reform isn’t working…yet. Which bums me out, because I’m one of those financial-aid-qualifying parents who really would have benefitted from the tuition assistance. Instead, I am making IRA withdrawals, and paying taxes and penalties, in order to send my youngest to Christian school right now.  I could have used the tuition assistance from the new program.

The Pro-Union faction is saying that the current school board is spending longer amounts of time “behind closed doors”, with the implication that something secretive is going on.  What they are referring to is “Executive Session”, where the Board discusses things like curriculum, policies, teachers, etc….all normal stuff.  All school boards, city councils, and other elected groups regularly have Executive Sessions: that’s where they do their work.  The reason that these meetings are taking longer is that the Pro-Union faction sued the School District over the School Choice program.  The School Board is not allowed to discuss the School Choice program in public anymore, and therefore the discussions pertaining to the lawsuit are now required to take place privately; ergo, Executive Session takes longer that it used to.

Also, who remembers the elementary school Everyday Math curriculum? What a nightmare! I listened to parents and teachers complain about this curriculum for TEN YEARS, and rightly so. The curriculum did not attempt to teach our children to learn their math facts, and it was glaringly obvious to many of us that the lack of kids’ facility with math facts was holding our children back in their math performance. Finally, when the new school board came in, I phoned one of the new board members and asked if we could finally change the math curriculum. He/she informed me that they already had a committee working on it, and the curriculum was soon changed to a proven successful curriculum — Singapore Math — just in time for my last daughter’s last year in elementary school.

Ironically, I did not tell my daughter that I had been displeased with the former curriculum. She came home after the first week in fifth grade with glowing praises about the new math program, and how much more sense it made, and how much easier it was to learn math now.

I am also pleased with the new pay-for-performance salary model. Fully 85% of teachers received a pay raise, during very hard economic times, of 5.5% – 8%. I love the idea that teachers can now strive for success and be rewarded for it, just like everybody in the private sector. Frankly, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be rewarded for their expertise and efforts?

For several years, the Pro-Union faction kept scaring the parents that there was and would be “high teacher turnover” due to the change in the school board.  Now that three years’ of teacher turnover numbers have been compiled by the State Board of Education, here are the results: Douglas County Schools experienced 10% – 24% LOWER teacher turnover than the average of all school districts throughout the state over the last three years, AND a comparably lower amount of turnover when compared to other large metro area school districts (e.g. JeffCo, Cherry Creek, Littleton…).

I respect people having differences of opinion.  I do not respect scare tactics and lies.  Therefore, if the claims by the Pro-Union factions are often untrue, what is their real motivation?  It is my belief that the union is distressed that it’s been kicked out of Douglas County, and it wants to regain power and control.  However, other than saving $300,000 in union salaries by eliminating the middleman within the education power structure, what have we really lost?

<sound of crickets chirping>


I’m the kind of person who believes in improving oneself, one’s family, one’s neighborhood, one’s community, one’s state, and one’s country, wherever opportunities arise.  To me, REFORM means IMPROVING things.

Let’s get on with the business of educating our kids; availing ourselves of improvements in curriculum, teacher compensation, and education models (charter schools, private schools, public schools, home schools); dispersing centralized control to local parents/schools; and continuing to examine what’s working, what’s not working, and considering better strategies.

Please elect the four Pro-Reform candidates: Silverthorn, Geddes, Benevento and Reynolds.

Thank you for your consideration!

Crista Huff

Highlands Ranch, CO


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