By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
The union representing Denver teachers told its membership Friday that it is opposing school leadership’s newest plan to improve the district.
The 2009 Denver Plan was unveiled in September with a focus on the “instructional core,” including firing underperforming teachers while rewarding the best teachers.
But Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, in a letter to Superintendent Tom Boasberg, said his union is unable to support the plan, arguing that it does not keep the best interest of teachers in mind, and was developed without proper insight from the union.
“We cannot afford to go forward with something that may fail or have severely limited success because of a lack of an inclusive development process,” Roman wrote in his letter, which was also sent to board members and teachers.
The union points to four key concerns with the comprehensive plan aimed at improving the district’s dismal graduation rate of only 50 percent.
For one, Roman said the proposal is moving too fast “before knowing whether (reforms) will be effective with students;” the plan is also “disrespecting” career teachers by removing incentives for staying in the profession; there is the prospect of “destroying” the pension system; and it risks moving ahead too quickly before taking into account collective bargaining agreements, according to the union.
“I ask that you do not pass the current version of the Denver Plan,” wrote Roman. “DCTA is ready and willing to work with the administration and school board to develop a new version of the Denver Plan that includes direct stakeholder involvement in the design as well as the implementation. The success of our students depends on us ‘getting it right’ from the beginning.”
Continuance of 2005 plan
The 2009 Denver Plan is a continuance of now U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s 2005 Denver Plan.
The plan intends to build on some of the successes of the 2005 plan — which has been credited with DPS enjoying its largest enrollment numbers in 35 years and thousands more students proficient in reading, writing and math — while improving the overall quality of education.
As part of the proposal, the district is also looking at streamlining its financial resources and establishing high expectations for all students and teachers.
But a significant amount of attention is spent on the teachers themselves, which has the union on alert. In announcing the plan in September, Boasberg defended the need for a focus on the “instructional core.” The plan could include penalizing teachers for poor performance.
“Effective teaching is the one thing that moves the needle that can close the achievement gap,” he said.
But the teachers’ union says its membership is not driven by pay, and argues that it is “tricky” to measure teacher effectiveness based on student achievement.
“This continues to blame teachers for student-performance and ignores all the other factors that affect students’ performance,” states an anonymous comment from the DCTA Representative Council in response to the 2009 Denver Plan. “Why is the district now suddenly pushing for docking teachers’ pay? This makes me not want to serve on any committees or stay and help for student performances. Docking our pay seems unfair and wrong.”
School officials plan on taking comments from all stakeholders and present the board with a revised draft in the winter of 2010
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters