Drew Munro: The blame game
Grand County, CO Colorado
It’s encouraging that there appear to be substantially more people in Grand County focused on finding a solution to East Grand School District’s funding woes than people seeking to assess blame.
There is no shortage of the latter, however, as a few letters to the editor on these pages have amply demonstrated. There is even loose talk of the R word – recall – flying about. Heck, even the newspaper has been blamed.
Since a District Accountability Committee subcommittee put forth the possibility of closing Fraser Valley Elementary School temporarily, the issue has reached a fever pitch. (Interesting how that prospect, as opposed to, say, closing Grand Lake Elementary School, ramped up discussion over the funding issue, but that’s a topic for another day.)
In any event, since then, this newspaper has been variously assaulted for, among other things, covering up for school administrators and school board members as well as discouraging the flocks of young professionals chomping at the bit to relocate to the Fraser Valley by reporting the mere possibility that the district is considering closing the elementary school there.
As preposterous as both accusations are – and they are that, if nothing else – I’ll chalk them up to misguided venting in a superheated emotional environment.
As for assessing blame, it is astounding to me the extent to which the Colorado Legislature has escaped virtually unscathed. It is there, after all, where the funding recissions largely responsible for precipitating this problem originated while loopy ideas such as spending $30 million or so for zipper lanes on Interstate-70 abound.
Speaking of the Legislature, here’s a thought: Every year, lawmakers fall all over one another to add new license plates to the state’s myriad offerings. How about a plate that better allows motorists to demonstrate their commitment to education by making a contribution directly to their school districts at registration time? (I know there’s a plate through the Colorado Schools Foundation Association, but it’s restrictions have made it unpopular.)
That might help statewide, as Grand County’s two school districts are scarcely alone. For example, Larimer County school officials are contemplating closing 10 schools, and the state’s largest school district, Jefferson County, may have to shutter dozens of its 150-plus schools.
Not to say all is otherwise perfect in the halls of public K-12 education; far from it, if one puts stock in recent reports about the dismal state of our readiness to compete in the global economy.
So, by all means, debate away. But is it asking too much that we keep it grounded and civil?
A bright future
I’m delighted to report that despite the pervasive gloom and doom surrounding public education, the system still produces some outstandings students. I feel fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with several extremely talented Grand County students.
Recently departed Sky-Hi intern Damaris Acevedo is a case in point. I have no idea what her GPA is or whether by standard measures she is near the top of her class, but I can’t say enough about how bright she is, how quickly she learns and how eagerly she meets new challenges.
Ditto for most of the other local teens who have gone out of their way to express themselves on these pages. Those among us who so ready to relegate the U.S. to second-rate status in the future would do well to spend some time with the youth they so cavalierly write off – they just might be pleasantly surprised.
Which is precisely what I am upon learning that we may soon be featuring the work of more Middle Park High School students. Seems a group of them is interested in resurrecting a school newspaper of sorts in the Sky-Hi News. We couldn’t be more thrilled to accommodate them.
– Something on your mind? Don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-887-3334 ext. 19600.
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