Breaking Bread Potluck – Great Food & Yes even better Discussions!!

When we first came up with the idea of having a “Breaking Bread Potluck”, we had no idea what the outcome would be.

We are very happy to say that the first potluck was a success!

In spite of last minute cancellations, there were 24 in attendance which included one principal and one teacher and their attendance added a great deal of depth to the discussion.

There were three board members in attendance which were; Bob Kerrigan, Donna Rice and Carl Langner and hopefully at the next potluck (Sept. 27th) more board members will be able to attend.

The discussion started at 6pm and continued until 7:30pm and while there were no major revelations or grand ideas, there was the start of understanding how principals and teachers hear the words being said and how that impacts them.

For Liberty Watch the big lesson learned was that what we say is not what teachers and other staff hear and this is the area we need to focus on.  We do think that for the teacher and principal in attendance there was also a better understanding that we do support them and that we do recognize teachers care deeply about their students.

We are planning on doing again on September 27th at 5pm and will be sending out information around the first part of September.  We are hopeful that more students, parents, teachers, principals and board members can attend the next Breaking Bread Potluck and we are optimistic that positive change will come about.

All  we have to do is talk, listen and understand. No problem!!


The following is a summary of the various issues and statements from after dinner discussion:

Common Core (CC) and TESTING

Speaker 1 –  stated he is very concerned with common core

Speaker 2 –  explained that she is now homeschooling her kids because of common core

Nancy explained that common core is a set of standards and is not the curriculum, but the curriculum is being written to comply with the new standards.

Nancy also explained that this is why it is important for parents and community members to review new curriculum the district is considering.

Kerrigan states CC is mandated by State and not sure if CC is good for the TSD, but the district has to comply with the law and so TSD will adopt CC.

Principal – expanded on CC and said over 40 states have signed on to CC and Individual districts have some flexibility in how to teach the CC.  PSD, TSD, Cherry Creek, etc all teach CC standards but use different curriculum.

Speaker 2 –  has been advocating for Senate bill that would delay implementation of CC for 1 year

Nancy  – CC has its controversies

Kerrigan – reiterated CC is mandated by state and solution must come from the State

Langner – PARCC has some insidious features and will force teachers to “teach to the test” .

Speaker 3 – Concerned about all the testing. What can she do to oppose federal mandates and she would really like to see the district move more toward local control.

Langner – at 4 different board meetings he has asked administration to tell him: what tests are being done, how much time does testing take away from teachers & students, what is accomplished by testing and what is downside of testing.  Says his request has been ignored by administration.

DISCIPLINE

Teacher –There are disciplinary problems in the classroom, but nothing that is unusual or unexpected.

Speaker 4 – stated that MVHS a couple years ago per her experience did have problems as passing periods are chaotic in MVHS lots of foul language but that seems to have improved and not sure why.

Nancy – brought up anonymous post by teacher which stated that district isn’t supportive of teachers with discipline issues in classrooms.  Both the principal and teacher had no heard of this and the discussion stopped due to lack of information.

CHOICE

Speaker 5 – Public schools must be parent driven. 25K in Colorado choose to opt-out of K-12 at their own expense.  He focused on sex-ed being taught in classroom and that PSD was implementing sex-ed curriculum for young children but has stopped the program. Also stated that if going to teach evolution should also teach creationism.  He is in favor of Charter Schools and parents who home school.

Nancy- Parents should have choice in regards to choosing the best option for the child but know that not all parents are fully invested in their children’s education and only drop off kids at school is the extent of their involvement.  Choice is great when parents are responsible and involved but if not then teachers and principals must fill in the “cracks”.

Speaker 3 – on school choice. Her kids are in TSD and taking advantage of the course choices that are available under the umbrella of the current system. She is excited about what tsd is offering for course choice. Loves LISA program at Bill Reed.

English Language Learners

Langner – what about English language learners?

Speaker 6 – he prefers immersion over ESL/ELL programs.  Shared his story about coming to USA with parents and immersion is what he and sister had to do.  Then shared that his kids even though bilingual were kept in ELL program until he forced school to remove (in Colo. Springs).

Teacher – almost total immersion at her school and most kids do well in that environment.  The school encourages kids to speak Spanish at home.

Principal – State law dictates that parents can choose if kids receive immersion or ELL and district must offer both.

Speaker 3 – She is sadden that TSD doesn’t have bi-lingual education because kids are not learning 2 languages.

Langner – main purpose of K-12 is to teach English

Teacher  – our school operates a program with a grant that teaches Spanish speaking adults English.

She reiterated that there are free classes to teach English to Spanish Speaking adults.  The parents call her a lot and she has a co-worker who is bilingual help with the call TSD doesn’t have enough interpreters.

Nancy – With today’s technology, websites can be programmed to display in language the user selects.  TSD website could be more user friendly for Spanish Speaking members of our community by having this feature and would help them be more informed and involved.

PSD Coloradoan Article on Superintendent Smyser

Nancy discusses Smyser’s philosophy on how PSD conducts itself and seems is more engaged with all of the community.

Speaker 3 – she states TSD has outreach to community.

Speaker 4– TSD philosophy compared to PSD –she thinks PSD program is operating on a grant.

COMMUNICATION

Nancy-TSD could do a better job of informing the parents – at a BOE mtg Ms. Crespo brought up that the district did not do a good job promoting all of the different programs, options the district has.

Also, once your kids leave the district you are no longer receive district emails and so not aware of needs, programs, issues unless is in the paper and you subscribe to the paper.

Speaker 4 – added that yes if you do not have kids in school then difficult to get information such as class schedules when volunteering.

MISC COMMENTS

Speaker 4 – TSD isn’t necessarily interested in getting kids out of the 5-6 year graduation programs because they continue to receive money for filling those seats.

Nancy – responded to EK that to verify the statement about delaying graduation would require extensive study to verify and is the ROI there to justify?

Speaker 7 – happy to see the new board comes in. It was referred to as a conservative BOE. But not once has the new board changed district policy that affects the classroom.

Speaker 1 – to principal:  fire all the counselors and replace with teachers. Refuse to enforce mandates from federal government.

Speaker 8 – Sent her children to Catholic School and it wasn’t a waste of money after seeing this mess.

Speaker 4 – Questions if there is any way we can do analysis of where the district is spending the money and is there a decent ROI a program.

Kerrigan  – Dr. Scheer did give the BOE a ROI report on common classes but doesn’t think it is available on the district website.

Nancy to Teacher:  why did you come to potluck? Problems with her sons schedule at TSV as to get the problem resolved it took over 2 weeks to fix and every time she called could not find a person to help.  Kerrigan pointed at that she could have reached out to a board member for help.

The other reason she came to potluck was because TSD is so polarized. People are so angry-both sides and wants to understand all sides.

Nancy also asked principal why did he come: I came tonight because Bob (Kerrigan) urged to come. He said there is a fraction in our community. This meeting was not productive-didn’t help him at all as he didn’t find out what he needs to do different and that no one offered solutions – just what the problems are. Note: after meeting ended principal stayed and continued talking with Kerrigan and then also spoke with Nancy and Robert more.  Did state to Nancy: realized that there needs to be more listening before solutions can be talked about.

Kerrigan to principal:  Wants to hear more from teachers. Help us with the problems in the district. What does the school district want from us? Bob said Berthoud is a completely different community than Loveland and they have little in common.   Hard to talk with teachers and staff when they disappear when he comes into a building

Nancy-There is a lot of negative information about Liberty Watch. Didn’t expect problem to be solved tonight, but this is the beginning of a dialogue. Open format is very helpful. Can we continue the conversation?  Also stressed that public education needs to be kept public while respecting the educational choices of parents.

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