Update: This article now includes the district’s official presentation at the town hall meeting.
Northeast Denver parents were asked Monday evening to provide feedback on a set of belief statements and loosely defined goals the board of education believes should guide the district in the coming years.
But parents were ready to discuss specifics.
“We need the third piece, a strategy,” said Johari Green, grandmother of 18 Denver Public Schools students.
Board member Landri Taylor, who led the meeting of about two dozen parents at Smiley Middle School, said the strategy was coming, but first district officials and the city needs to agree on a foundation for The Denver Plan, DPS’s governing document.
“The Denver Plan is our roadmap — plain and simple,” Taylor said. “It needs to take us from Point A to Point B.”
Community feedback will make sure the district and its community of parents, teachers, and children agree on what “Point B” is, Taylor said.
The Denver Plan is being revised for the second time since it was first published in 2005. New standards and assessments, a need to embrace different learning methods, and clearer definitions of shared values are the reasons the board is revising the Plan now, Taylor said.
Critics of the Plan have said the document’s strategies and goals are too cumbersome and arbitrary.
“I see the core beliefs,” said Sean McDermott, a Steadman Elementary School parent. “But I don’t know if they’re in harmony with what’s regularly practiced now.”
Several parents were cautious about the word “choice” appearing in the district’s value statements and goals. DPS is too focused on giving parents options, but those options never seem to be in their neighborhood, they said.
“With school choice, we lose community,” McDermott said. “Where is the effort to improve neighborhood schools?”
Others were excited to hear the district felt it needed to embrace “the whole child” and not just their test scores. But they were quick to point out none of the proposed core beliefs or goals addressed that point.
DPS will hold five more town hall meetings with parents and community members through March. The board will have a draft document prepared for May and will host another round of meetings for feedback, Taylor said. A final version should be ready to be approved by June.
Denver Plan Town Hall Presentation