CASTLE ROCK – Ever since members of the Douglas County School board ended the practice of using district tax dollars to pay the salaries of union executives, they have faced attacks from pro-union groups intent on replacing the current board with one that is more union-friendly.
But the reform-minded board got a boost this week, when a non-partisan advocacy group unveiled a new television ad that touts the school district’s successes.
The ads, paid for by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, feature Douglas County resident Denise Denny.
“I haven’t had kids in school in awhile, but I worry. The country is falling behind because our schools aren’t keeping up. Fortunately what’s happening in Douglas County Schools is different,” Denny says in the ad.
“World class standards, performance pay for teachers, unprecedented choice for parents, some of the best schools in America – families move here for the schools. There’s more to do, but I like what I see,” Denny adds, as the ad ends with the tagline, “Douglas County Schools. It’s working.”
The ad highlights a number of the school district’s achievements under the board’s leadership, including six Douglas County’s schools making the list of Newsweek’s top 40 Colorado high schools.
“Douglas County School District is leading by example, proving that choice, higher standards and merit pay for teachers does improve the quality of education for students,” said Americans for Prosperity’s state director Dustin Zvonek. “Anybody who questions whether these innovative reforms can actually strengthen our education system needs to look no further than Douglas County, where it’s working.”
The ad buy comes after the board has sustained withering attacks from pro-union groups, who have argued that both teacher morale and academic achievement have suffered.
But defenders of the school board have been quick to argue that teacher retention rates in the district have remained stable, and they cite the results of a recent statewide survey of teachers that showed Douglas County educators more satisfied than their counterparts in other parts of the state in a number of professional areas.
Supporters of the school board also point to the results of the state’s annual Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) test, on which Douglas County students posted some of the highest marks in the state. On average, DCSD scored more than 12 percentage points above the state average. Also of note, DCSD improved a full 3 points higher than last year in science.
A statement released by AFP on Wednesday seemed to echo complaints that pro-union groups are bending the truth in their effort to attack the board.
“While those hoping to rollback such innovations are desperately trying to paint these and other positive changes as something counterproductive and controversial, the district by all measures is not just healthy but thriving thanks to a pro-reform school board,” read AFP’s press release.
“Reform has brought real benefits to Douglas County and it’s important that all citizens know that in Douglas County education reform is working,” concluded Zvonek.
The ad, which is embedded below, will begin airing on cable television in the district today.