The positive side of the Aspen School District
This fall we have seen an active campaign for three open school board seats. The good news is that even as the campaigns have been a bit testy and unfortunately divisive, it means that we have involved people who sincerely want the best for our schools and our local students. The bad news is that there have been claims made and statistics quoted that seem to paint a very dark picture of the quality of education, the leadership, the staff and the performance of our schools and our kids. I believe that many of these clearly run counter to what we see and experience as parents and as involved community members.
The claims that our schools are in decline seem way out of line. The morale of our teachers and staff is good. The leadership in our schools is so much stronger than it has been, and the performance of our students is excellent. Participation in advanced learning through the high school IB program continues to grow, and measurements of performance are moving in a positive direction almost everywhere. The numbers of high schoolers headed off to college or other further education is at an all-time high and the list of schools they attend is impressive.
Because of changes in standardized testing and the difficulty in truly comparing “apples to apples” it is confusing to confirm statistics that tell the whole story. From my experience with our schools, we clearly have a strong education system for our local kids, we have good leadership, and our high school in particular is recognized as a top performer.
Our school district is children learning about themselves in the wilderness; it is a sixth grader envisioning his or her life as an architect or a scientist during a mentorship program. It’s the Future Business Leaders of America, standing on Wall Street, foreseeing themselves as the next Warren Buffet. It is kids having so many opportunities for non-traditional learning, side by side with the basics of math, science, English, history and more.
Depicting our Aspen schools in a negative light is misleading and does not recognize the strength of our local schools and the good people who have served on our district school board. How many times have we heard, “My family and I moved here for the quality of the education the Aspen School District provides?” How many times have we seen a real estate listing that clearly states, “located within the Aspen School District?” Our Aspen district schools are recognized for the quality of the education provided, for the amazing diversity of what our kids experience, and for their preparation to go on to higher education.
I trust our current Board of Education to continue to accurately monitor our children’s performance, to ensure that their education reflects the values of our community, and to address the financial challenges that all schools in Colorado face. Let’s put the negatives aside, and work together to keep our schools moving in a positive direction.