Stephen Ghirardelli: ‘Feeling a little cheated’

To the editor:

I often read H. Neal Glanville’s columns because I subscribe to the Craig Daily Press, and like many people these days, I like to get my money’s worth.

But, after reading his essay, “The Results Are Your Answer,” I’m feeling a little cheated.

I was a language arts/English teacher for Moffat County for many years, so I pay attention when a writer criticizes the “system that seems to be failing our kids.”

When the writer also claims not to make “heads, tails or even apples and grapes” of the assessment of the district’s progress, and then after “a fresh start,” concludes the “educational system … is a bust,” I am curious about what he will do to make me agree with such a profound statement.

But when I read, “take a double deep breath” (how does one do this?), “but to be frank — no, let’s be honest” (why would someone write this?), “being able to text someone from your pocket” (how does one do this?) and “stuffing a phone in your bra” (why would one do this, too?), I, too, have trouble making apples or grapes or heads or tails.

Should we readers agree with someone based only on his efforts at humor and creative phrasing?

I don’t think so.

Mr. Glanville, your opinion of our school district’s teachers is based on an article that the newspaper wrote, about a test that is given once a year, which is a brief reflection of what goes on in our schools on a day-to-day basis.

Why not visit a classroom of one of the many fine teachers who work for the Moffat County School District? I guarantee you being inside a classroom for an hour will qualify you more to write a credible opinion about Moffat County teachers than merely reading about test scores.

Stephen Ghirardelli

Comments

JimBlevins 3 years, 3 months ago

Moffat=45.8 Steamboat; Springs=93.8 is how this article should have started.

To put this comment in perspective, I know very little about education and even less about raising a child. I do know a great deal about data analysis and that is the only aspect of the subject that a I am addressing.

The two numbers that I gave are the most recent aggregate academic achievement scores by the Moffat school district and the most obvious school district for comparison. Many people believe that these scores are the single best place to start when evaluating recent academic performance of a school. This indicates a very, very serious problem in educating Moffat County youth.

Obviously, we could have the best, most dedicated teachers in the world and other factors could produce such scores. It is beyond what I wish to address as to how important these scores are relative to the overall purpose of the school district (e.g. parents my feel that football is what really matters).

An article which is presenting the latest scores should present those scores and context first and then explain afterwards.

Jim Blevins

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GreyStone 3 years, 3 months ago

The accidental, overall purpose of the school district might be to educate kids… the best, most dedicated teachers in the world might possibly help achieve those goals, by accident bring these statistical numbers into a more suitable range. Eliminating the tenure system and implementing a merit based system might help by accident. Proficiency is no accident.

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Neal Harkner 3 years, 3 months ago

Craig to Steamboat is not a fair comparison. The demographics are not even close. The amount of per-student spending is almost 50% higher in Steamboat, and the average household income is greater. If you want a better comparison, try Craig to Delta or Fort Morgan.

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JimBlevins 3 years, 3 months ago

Steamboat Springs is certainly the obvious comparison since we share the same valley. I hope that you are wrong about money making that much difference. If you are right, then that is what needs to be changed. Either that or simply accept that a kid born in the wrong end of the valley is condemned to being a second class citizen.

Jim Blevins

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Neal Harkner 3 years, 3 months ago

As much as it sucks, that's how it usually works. The districts with more money can afford to pay their teachers more. More pay typically translates into better teachers. Plus you also have to factor in socio-economic conditions. School is only one part of the equation. Kids also learn a fair amount at home, and the more affluent districts tend to have better educated families.

Here's a quick snapshot from www.city-data.com (all values are 2009 estimates):

Colorado Median Household Income - $55,430 Median House Value - $237,800

Craig Median Household Income - $46,441 Median House Value - $134,392

Steamboat Springs Median Household Income - $62,418 Median House Value - $470,578

Delta Median Household Income - $33,586 Median House Value - $153,064

Fort Morgan Median Household Income - $42,036 Median House Value - $132,171

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GreyStone 3 years, 3 months ago

It may be that wealthy people living in Steamboat pay a little more attention to education…that’s why they are wealthy, can live in Steamboat then attract the best teachers…Winter sports, Summer vacations are big benefits to qualified teachers. Big reality check...better education can produce more wealth...more wealth can produce better education.

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jeff corriveau 3 years, 3 months ago

Harkner: If you think that more pay equates to better teachers you are living in a labor union fed dream state! Tell me if you think that Ward Churchill, making well over 100K per year, was the best educator we could have had at the University of Colorado. It's the quality of the individual, not the amount of compensation that drives good education. Do away with tenure; make teacher evaluations public; institute performance pay and DEMAND excellence. That's what will make the difference.

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Neal Harkner 3 years, 3 months ago

silentman - You have managed to completely mangle the logic of my original statement. I never said paying teachers more money makes them better. I said districts that pay more have the upper hand when it comes to competing with neighboring districts. The same rule applies with ALL JOBS, public AND private sector. Capitalism 101. Tenure doesn't put quality teachers in more affluent districts. It allows underperforming teachers to stay where they are. Good teachers don't use tenure as a crutch.

We live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and staff turnover is the single biggest problem that our district faces. The next district over pays their teachers about 20% more than ours does. We typically get teachers who are fresh out of college. They cut their teeth in our district and then they simply switch to the other district without even having to change residences. There is very little staff continuity at our high school and its performance has suffered dramatically as a result.

Ward Churchill wasn't a 10th grade math teacher in the MCSD. There are knuckleheads in every district and university in this country. Churchill stuck out because of the asinine things he said. Had he kept his mouth shut would he be available for you to pillory right now? Probably not.

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jeff corriveau 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry Neal, but YOU SAID: "More pay typically translates into better teachers". My point is this: pay GOOD teachers as much as you possibly can; get rid of tenure so the BAD teachers will be gone. Empower administrators to DEMAND excellence or they will be gone. And finally, this community needs to find a way to encourage regular citizens to seek school board positions so the board is not overwhelmed with past teachers with their pre-disposed mind set about education.

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