Denver Dumps 250 Non-Tenured Teachers, Public Reacts

Teachers and parents spoke out at the Denver Public Schools board meeting about the district’s decision not to renew 250 non-tenured teachers’ contracts, reports Zahira Torres of the Denver Post.

 “Teachers, parents and children filled the board room and an overflow area waiting for their turn to talk about a variety of issues including the board’s expected vote on replacing Smiley Middle School, which is being shut down, with McAuliffe International School. But the majority of the speakers, nearly 100, at the meeting were there to talk about the district’s decision not to renew the contracts of certain non-tenured teachers”.

The Denver School District has approximately 1,900 non-tenured teachers. Around 250 of those teachers found out that their contracts would not be renewed, and 80 teachers would not be eligible to be rehired.

Kate Hoffman is one of the teachers that was categorized as ineligible for rehire even though her fourth grade students had the third-highest median growth percentile for writing in the district. She told the board that DPS is:

 “… losing passionate, hard working educators to a game of administrative politics…This is not good for our kids…It’s not good for the already publicly scrutinized educational system and it’s not good for Colorado.”

Hoffman’s comments were among the public’s in a board meeting that lasted seven hours. The meeting concluded with the decision to delay the vote on whether to approve the non-renewal of teacher contracts. Six of seven trustees voted to revisit the issue in a week.

Board member Jeannie Kaplan said she wanted more time to review the documents provided by the teachers before she makes a decision. It concerned her that many teachers said they were not getting the support and guidance that they needed from administrators.

Board President Mary Sewell disagrees with Kaplan’ concerns and members who believe teachers may have been evaluated unfairly. She was the sole member to cast a vote against the delay and believes that the process has been careful and accurate and that the Board should move forward with a vote.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg asserts that the decisions are based on a review of student progress data, classroom observations of the teachers by the principals and trained peer evaluators.

 “Every year we have questions and concerns from teachers who are not renewed, and I certainly appreciate that these are thoughtful, caring, committed people but they’re not great teachers,” Boasberg said.

Sarah Young, a parent of three children, thinks parents’ perceptions should play a role in the evaluation. She says no one knows whether the students are being challenged better than parents.