Last night DougCo Champions for Kids hosted a community open house in order to allow citizens to ask School Board Director Meghann Silverthorn (Non-Partisan) questions. The meeting was intended to improve board transparency and facilitate friendly discussion, but became heated when liberal opponents to the innovations enacted by the Douglas County School Board verbally attacked the board and the DougCo Champions for Kids’ employees.
Last April, Sunshine Review gave Douglas County School District an A- rating for transparency, ranking it at the top of school districts in Colorado. The meeting yesterday continued the school board’s trend of open communication with the community.
The first hour of the meeting included questions on salary bands, test scores, 6 of 8 schedule, and other issues being debated in Douglas County. Some community members who asked questions seemed pleased with the innovation of the school board, while others were skeptical and concerned. Silverthorn answered all questions, and tried to explain why the board made the decisions it has.
In particular, Silverthorn spoke to how the board has tried to focus education specifically to each child. She stated: “I envision an environment where kids are thriving, and we shape whatever system we have around them, rather then shape them to whatever system we have”.
After an hour, a man who identified himself as Jim stood up for his 1 minute question. He began by explaining that he was a single father with two children, chairmen of Governor Hickenlooper’s Technology Committee, and a member of the Education Committee.
Jim began his “question” with an attack on the group, calling the meeting terribly glossed over and the issues misrepresented. He claimed the discussion was one sided, and tried to question the parents in attendance before the moderator intervened. After being told he needed to ask a question to Silverthorn and not give a political speech, Jim became visibly upset.
Jim’s question to Silverthorn was to speculate against her honesty, and claim the board had taken credit for things that have nothing to do with the events in Douglas County. Before hearing a response he turned to question the DougCo Champion for Kids’ employees with demands they disclose who funds the organization. When they explained that the nonprofit is funded by private donations that they could not legally expose, Jim walked out of the meeting.
After Jim left a lady who did not identify herself stood up and explained how she too believed the school board had failed before also walking out of the meeting.
Rumors have been circulating in Douglas County for months, and as Media Trackers previously reported the unions’ claims that teachers are leaving the state remain incorrect and misleading. Last April, Teachers Unions also asserted that student achievement and classroom performance have declinded despite public data to the contrary.
The tactics last night against an incumbent school board director revealed the intentions of the opposition in the coming school board elections. Silverthorn, who faces re-election this fall will face Nicholas Land and Ronda Scholting.