Jane Reuter continued her trend of inaccurate reporting in a biased article covering the August 6th Douglas County School Board (DCSB) meeting for Colorado Community News. Reuter claimed that the meeting consisted of angry parents and teachers who scolded the DCSB, but attendees actually heard a variety of viewpoints.
The title of Reuter’s recent piece, “Teachers, parents scold school board” suggests that the meeting primarily consisted of teachers and parents attacking the DCSB for its innovative policies. However, the only “scolding” of the board occurred during the public comment section of the meeting. Moreover, six of the comments made during this time were in favor of the actions of the board.
Furthermore, Reuter opens her article with the statement that the “Douglas County School Board members listened in silence as teachers and parents berated them during their Aug. 6 meeting…” Reuter fails to mention that since the complaints occurred during the public comment section of the meeting, the board was silent in order to allow audience members to speak freely.
Throughout the article, Rueter implies that the board meeting consisted only of public complaint. She does not mention that it also included discussion of the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, Human Resources, a new internship program developed by high school students, and a report on academic clubs in the district. In these discussions, both students and teachers participated in a positive manner.
In her article, Reuter also seeks to disprove the statements School Board Director Doug Benevento made after the meeting.
According to Reuter, Benevento questioned the facts of those who complained to the board, saying: “The data all indicates something different. A state-run survey indicates the vast majority of teachers are more satisfied with their work in Douglas County than any other district in the state. Their morale and satisfaction with the district has increased over two years. We know for a fact academic achievement is better than it was four years ago.”
Reuter attempts to discredit this statement with the explanation that while the data in the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) survey used in Douglas County Schools shows that 84.7% of teachers surveyed believed their school was a good place to learn, it also notes that 22% (more than twice the state average) plan to leave the district.
Reuter then attempts to undermine the entirety of the TELL survey, “Many teachers also say the TELL survey results only reflect conditions at the school level, and that satisfaction with the district and its leadership is poor. They expressed that dissatisfaction to cheers and applause at the meeting”.
Reuter does not give a source for this statement and her claim appears to be secondhand. The vague term of “many teachers also say” is not a credible source, yet Reuter attempts to use it to respond the hard data of the TELL survey.
Media Trackers has called out Reuter multiple times for inaccurate reporting. In February Media Trackers first exposed that Reuter wrote an article in favor of DCSB’s governance. Then, for reasons unknown, Reuter’s article content and title were edited three days after publication to include propaganda from a union front group which has actively opposed the DCSD board.
In March, when the Sunshine Review mistakenly gave the DCSD a D ranking for transparency, Reuter wrote an article that blasted the district for having the lowest possible grade. When the ranking changed nearly a half of dozen times over the next two weeks, Reuter offered no correction to the original story which remains active on the website. Reuter published a separate story when the Sunshine Review gave the district its final ranking of A-, one of the top grades in the state.
In May, Media Trackers exposed another inaccurate article written by Reuter for Our Colorado News. The article claimed that the new Douglas County “pay-for-performance” teacher evaluations had already been abused. Reuter cited Trailblazer Elementary School where 71 percent of the teachers there were evaluated as “highly effective.” This would mean raises for all of the teachers who fell into this category, based on an arbitrary evaluation system.
However, Reuter failed to point out that Trailblazer is only one out of eighty schools in Douglas County. The district wide average for teachers who met the “highly effective” criteria, with all schools taken into account, was only 15 percent — far more reasonable than Trailblazer’s 71 percent.
Reuter also failed to mention that Trailblazer School’s rankings were reviewed by ten principals from other DCSD schools who concluded that Trailblazer did not follow the same evaluation procedures as the rest of the district and thus needed to correct its process.