Time to address parent concerns
By Susan Meek
In a recent opinion piece, “Bogus claims ...,” Mr. Randy Reed claimed to be interested in the truth regarding the state of Douglas County School District. In the next breath he claims there is a “cottage industry of pro-union attack groups that have sprouted up across our community” without providing any concrete evidence of who these groups are and what proof he has of their association to the AFL-CIO or ACLU.
The truth, Mr. Reed, is that these groups consist of parents who no longer have a voice in the Douglas County School District. Parents who moved to Douglas County with the hope of educating their children in one of the best school districts in the state. Instead they discover that class sizes have exploded and high school instructional time has been cut while the district is holding back vital resources and allowing its fund balance to quadruple. The variance between budget and actual expenditures is inexcusable and the ongoing $20 million surplus year after year demonstrates that cuts to our schools were unnecessarily made.
Parents, often referred to as “customers” by the Board of Education, are discouraged by the actions of a school board that spends half of their time meeting behind closed doors and by a district that ignores the results of a parent survey showing that only 38 percent of parents are satisfied with the direction of the district. Many parents have tried addressing their concerns at board meetings and District Accountability Committee meetings, only to be ignored, intimidated or belittled.
Clearly, there is a problem in the school district — just read the paper week after week. Parents whose voices have been silenced will no longer sit idle while their childrens' education is in jeopardy. Parent-driven groups like Strong Schools Coalition and Douglas County Parents have “sprouted up” because unlike Reed's organization, parents are not flush with money to spend on robo calls and paid canvassers who distribute literature to virtually every citizen's front door. Parents are hosting house parties through DCEdOutreach simply because they want a voice and their cries have gone unanswered.
If Reed truly wants the truth about what is happening in Douglas County School District, simply restore parent voices. Reed's refusal to acknowledge that a large number of parents have valid concerns leads me to believe that the truth may not be what he is truly seeking.
Susan D. Meek is a former spokeswoman for the Douglas County School District who ran for a board seat and served as vice president of Strong Schools Coalition.