Opinion | Kim McGahey: We need a change of direction at Summit School District
Conservative Common Sense
A great education is not a partisan issue. It’s about every child being challenged to be their best. We need new Summit School District Board of Education representatives that understand this goal and can get our struggling school district turned around. Luckily, there are four positions open in the upcoming November election.
Many public schools are becoming race-obsessed, political-activism factories, and parents have had enough. Kids are not being prepared for higher education or obtaining the technical skills they need to be successful. Many frustrated Summit County parents think we are going down that path.
The board’s academic failures include five straight years of academic decline:
- Summit School District is now a below-average Colorado school that doesn’t meet standards.
- Only 36.6% of third graders read at grade level.
- Only 23.8% of eighth graders perform math at grade level.
Superintendent revolving door
We’ve had three superintendents in three years. In 2020, the Board of Education excitedly hired Marion Smith Jr., whose consulting business, Educate To Liberate Consulting, specializes in bringing Marxist-based theories into schools. The website reads, “We must recognize that all of us have been ‘mummified’ by whiteness” and “Our current systems were designed for white people, by white people, for the advancement of white people.”
He was so divisive that he was fired in less than a year. How could the board not anticipate this when they hired him? This self-inflicted fiasco wasted taxpayer money, including $180,000 in salary, a $100,000 payoff to not sue, legal fees, headhunter fees and controversial speakers and training.
Authoritarian decision making
In 2020, parents were surveyed by the Board of Education about what they wanted in a superintendent. Few responses mentioned equity or racism. Overwhelmingly, parents wanted a problem-solver focused on academics. Instead, the board ignored parents and hired Smith.
The board then unanimously passed his equity policy, despite hundreds of parents emailing and speaking against the blatantly anti-white, anti-American document. Then they unanimously passed the strategic plan after their own survey received parent comments saying it was too focused on race and needed to emphasize academics. Who does this board represent? Clearly not the people who elected them.
Lack of transparency
Parents have lost trust in the Board of Education. In June, the Summit Daily News editor wrote a scathing opinion piece condemning the board’s lack of transparency and saying, “Some school board and district officials have ignored our emails, blocked our phone numbers and threatened to pull their advertising.”
Race is now the focus of nearly every Board of Education decision and policy, and it’s degrading our kids’ academics. The teachers’ contracts now state that teachers may teach controversial topics like white privilege. Who approved this, and how does this help any child?
The Summit School District generously spends millions of dollars annually to accommodate a largely transient population of which 20.3% are English learners. Many of our schools are dual language, and our teachers work tirelessly to help get minorities up to speed. We should proudly celebrate this, but we should not let it negatively impact high achievers and special-needs students. New Board of Education members should not approve policies that label residents and teachers systemically racist oppressors. It’s unsupported, insulting and doesn’t help any students.
New Board of Education members must focus on academics, equal opportunities for all kids and how to recover from the COVID-19 learning loss, not the equity agenda of the current board.
Ballots go out soon, and there are several commonsense, highly qualified, nonpartisan candidates seeking office. Please do your research and talk to them. We need a change of direction to focus on academics for the benefit of all students.
Kim McGahey’s column “Conservative Common Sense” publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. McGahey is a real estate broker, tea party activist and former Republican candidate. He has lived in Breckenridge since 1978. Contact him at email@example.com.
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