Why We Send Our Daughters to the “Worst Performing” Jeffco Schools
One of the education advocacy groups in our county posted the following tweet:
Would you send your children to the worst performing #JeffcoSchools?
I thought I would take the opportunity to answer their question and explain why we send our daughters to two of the “worst performing” schools in Jeffco Public Schools.
First, I disagree with the jump to call our schools “worst performing.” Through our nonprofit Edgewater Collective we have dug deep into school achievement data in our area. When 9 in 10 students are in families that struggle against the roadblocks of poverty and start school without the head start that more wealthy families do, then test scores will reflect this. So when people jump to call our schools “worst performing” I take offence. The teaching profession is hard at any school but especially at schools where students start school behind and teachers play the role of social worker and teacher. Do our schools need to improve? Of course! My full-time job is bringing together resources and organizations to make sure that all students in our area succeed from cradle to career. We have to do better. It is important that with accountability comes support and resources. Do we have the right resources and supports to help these students catch up? No. Across the street in Denver Public Schools, students who are growing up in poverty receive more money from the district to help them catch up academically. This is not true in Jeffco Public Schools. Before we call our local schools “worst performing” we need to take a hard and honest look at the stories and realities facing students in our schools.
Second, I disagree with the notion that just because a school has low test scores that great teaching and educational practices are not happening inside the school. When we started both our daughters at Lumberg Elementary we were a bit worried about the schools because of the test scores. But our worries were proven wrong as we quickly learned that Lumberg is full of great teachers who excel at their craft. Because of the high poverty at Lumberg, teachers take on even bigger challenges. Over the past five and a half years, our girls have continued to grow academically and each year they exceed expectations on the state tests. They have received a great education at Lumberg Elementary and now at Jefferson Junior/Senior High School. Along with the great education they are also learning about the full range of the human experience. Their friends struggle against the roadblocks of poverty and immigration. This past summer Anna went to camp with her Latino friends and saw racism firsthand as suburban students yelled racist statements at her friends.
We are proud to send our daughters to Lumberg Elementary School and Jefferson Junior/Senior High School. They are receiving a great education from talented and caring teachers and staff. They are learning first hand the challenges and inequity that face members of our community.
I firmly believe that our communities and country would be better if there was more integration like this. Middle and upper class families need to live and go to school with those that have more challenges. It creates a more caring and empathetic community. We live each other’s stories instead of just reading about them or watching them on the news.