The Denver Public Schools decision to close some schools was tough but necessary.
Denver Public Schools officials sent a clear message late last Thursday night that the district will not tolerate failure.
By closing three underperforming elementary schools, the school board refused to accept subpar academic performance for any of Denver’s children for a moment longer.
We agree and applaud them for making the tough decision.
After hours of impassioned testimony from parents and teachers hoping to spare the schools from closure, school board members stood by their previous decision to close schools that fail to meet the district’s expectations.
Chalkbeat reporter Melanie Asmar reported that the board voted unanimously to close Greenlee, Amesse and Gilpin Montessori elementary schools.
“We don’t get do-overs with our kids,” board member Mike Johnson said after urging those who came to testify to stick with the district through the closure process.
Johnson is right. We don’t get a second chance when it comes to educating our children. Waiting for a school to improve for the next generation fails the current generation.
We know teachers, parents and principals in these schools work hard every day to make a difference in their students’ lives. But sometimes that isn’t enough.
Other schools that were part of the federally funded 2010 turnaround have seen success.
Superintendent Tom Boasberg highlighted the closure of Montbello High School, saying Thurs- day night that more students than ever in northeast Denver are graduating from the smaller high school programs that opened in place of Montbello.
Among the new schools opened in northeast Denver to serve students from Montbello and other areas was Collegiate Preparatory Academy, a school that today is hitting indicators for student improvement. While students at that school still struggle academically, state test scores show they are improving at rates determined acceptable by the district. College and career readiness scores are also improving at a good rate and are close to meeting expectations.
McGlone Elementary was also part of a turnaround plan in 2010. That school fed into Montbello. The elementary school has been hailed as a success, so much that former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to call to celebrate huge gains in literacy tests.
Drastic measures don’t always work, however. This is the second time Greenlee Elementary has been subject to a restart of sorts. The school was one of the district’s turnarounds in 2010, when almost all of the school’s teachers were fired, a new principal was put in place, and millions in federal dollars were poured into the school.
Clearly the effort didn’t work, but the district is trying again, and perhaps this time the restart as a different school will work.
Students in these schools don’t just deserve better, they deserve the best. We applaud the district for making tough decisions to see they get it sooner rather than later.
A student at Denver’s Greenlee Elementary School looks at his teacher on Feb. 18. Greenlee is one of three schools that DPS decided last week to close.