Critic urges students to skip CSAP
EAGLE – Eagle resident Glenn Harakal, father of two, doesn’t particularly hate the CSAP – the Colorado Student Assessment Program – but he knows school funding is connected to the test scores. So he says he’s aiming to hurt the school district where it counts – the wallet. If Harakal can get parents to take their kids out of the test, schools get a score of 0 for that child. If schools get enough 0s, their funding goes down. And if funding goes down, the school becomes weak enough to be reformed – that’s the part Harakal is excited about. “It is my belief that our school district needs to be overhauled, and if not overhauled, then overturned,” Harakal said. “If they’re not getting the money, they’ll be motivated to change their attitude, their approach and their programs.”Harakal’s frustration with the school district recently motivated him to mail a ballot to all Eagle households asking parents to vote on whether they want their children to take the CSAP test. Missing the mark”Let the Eagle Valley School District hear your voice,” the deep red flyer proclaimed. Town of Eagle trustee and father of two daughters, Kraige Kinney said he’s all for encouraging parents to speak out, but said Harakal is going about it the wrong way. “The ‘let them hear your voice’ part, that’s good, because the board doesn’t hear from parents very much,” Kinney said. “Maybe this will force parents to start thinking about their (children’s) education. But this is probably not the right way to go about it.”Kinney isn’t filling out the ballot and said his girls will continue to take the CSAP tests. But Harakal said he isn’t concerned with how many ballots are mailed in to schools. “I just want people to realize they can do something,” he said. District spokeswoman Melinda Gladitsch said the school district has received three ballots from parents who’ve asked their children be removed from CSAP testing. Jane Brandes, an Eagle resident and mother of two, said she found the flyer inappropriate and confusing.”It’s not really clear what the agenda is on it, and it has a nasty, negative tone to it,” Brandes said. “I don’t see how this is going to improve my child’s education.”Brandes did fill out the ballot, but to her children’s dismay, they too will be taking the CSAP tests. School district retaliates The school district, which quickly responded to Harakal’s flyer with its own letter to parents, was quick to point out children are obligated to take the test, contrary to what Harakal said. “It is important for you to understand that Colorado state statutes require that ‘every student enrolled in a public school shall be required to take the assessments administered,'” Superintendent John Brendza said in the letter. But Gladitsch added there is no penalty for not taking the test. Not mentioning funding, Brendza said “The most important reasons to have your children take CSAP is that it is an excellent assessment of how well an individual student is performing academically and how well the school is performing overall.”However, Harakal maintained he has the “right to decide what is best for my child.””I see this response letter by Mr. Brendza as a way of bullying parents not to step forward,” he said. “I believe Mr. Brendza is more concerned with state funding than student success.”Not just about CSAPAlthough the ballot centered around the CSAP tests, Harakal said he’s more interested in getting parents concerned about the Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP, a controversial program that ties teachers’ salaries to their students’ test scores. “This is my final frustration,” Harakal said. “It’s a way for parents to get together in a group and say we’ve had enough of the babble of the programs you say are so fabulous.”It was also a way to vent about a system that Harakal said failed him and his son. “They just totally failed to meet his educational needs,” Harakal said. “The current administration has deaf ears to people’s concerns.”Kinney admitted he has his own issues with TAP and that the school board has been “defensive” when listening to criticism about the program. But he was quick to add he thought the flyer wasn’t the way to help Harakal’s cause.”In the short- to mid-term, all it’s going to do is hurt the kids,” Kinney said. Brandes agreed, saying poor test scores and less funding will create chaos.”Then our kids are the losers, not the gainers,” she said. “It’s not a perfect system, but instead of the blame game, we need the schools. All this is doing is trying to tear it apart.”
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