Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It Just Got Personal. Join Me. January 7th.

Read this update before reading the actual blog.  Update as of January 6th  - It has been confirmed that Tom Boasberg's children now attend public school in Boulder, Colorado.  Tom Boasberg is the superintendent of Denver Public Schools.  It is also confirmed that they live in Boulder.  If you aren't familiar with Boulder, take a gander here at the downtown area or here at information for visitors. I am told that his children only attended a Waldorf preschool.  While this conflicts with the information I was given, I have to go with the facts I receive from DPS.  If I receive any more updates, I will definitely share them.  But please know that I am stating for the record, that DPS has confirmed that his children ONLY went to preschool at the Waldorf school.  

In the meantime, recognize that regardless, my message still rings true.  The 1% send their children to the best schools - either private or the absolute best public schools, such as the school Arne Duncan sends his children to or the school where Obama's girls reside

Boulder, Colorado is a beautiful place. NeighborhoodScout, gives the Boulder schools a rating of 9 out of 10 (ten being the best).  One can compare this to Denver - which scored a 1 out of 10 (one being the worst). Of course, we can assume these ratings are based on test scores, which gives you a good idea of the poverty level in Boulder.  If we dig further we see that NeighborhoodScout lists Denver as having a student population in which 65.7 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged compared to Boulder in which 16.7 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged.  Quite honestly, it was a smart political move to transfer his children to the public schools if he plans on staying superintendent of DPS.

Yet, it still doesn't settle well.  Tom Boasberg lives in Boulder.  He is a member of the community of Boulder.  The very wealthy community of Boulder. NeighborhoodScout has the following to say about Boulder:  "Boulder home prices are not only among the most expensive in Colorado, but Boulder real estate also consistently ranks among the most expensive in America. Boulder is a decidedly white-collar city, with fully 90.59% of the workforce employed in white-collar jobs, well above the national average."  They have the following to say about Denver:  "Unlike some cities where white-collar or blue-collar occupations dominate the local economy, Denver is neither predominantly one nor the other. Instead, it has a mixed workforce of both white- and blue-collar jobs." 

All of this being said, he did indeed have his children at a Waldorf School.  I've received different information regarding the details.  If anyone can clarify, comment below.  I am posting this update now, even though I had hoped to have more information, because the story is running like wildfire here in Denver, and has been written about in local community newspapers, and I think it's important people know that the children are NOW at a public school, albeit, in Boulder, which is nothing like Denver, but all the same, I want my facts correct.

As you read this, you can pretty much replace Tom's name with any of the corporate ed. reformers currently running our public school system.  And perhaps it will help you to dig in your state, find out where your superintendent's children go, and make it a bit more personal for yourself as well.

This is the blog I posted January 4th, before I knew that they NOW attend public school.

Did you know that Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, sends his child to a Waldorf School - where standardized high stakes testing doesn't exist? 

Not only does it not exist - the Waldorf philosophy completely disagrees with the concept of excessive, high stakes standardized testing.  In addition, while DPS gets to have fun Racing to the Top - did you know that Waldorf schools emphasize the importance of developmentally appropriate learning - and they allow children to grow, learn, and breathe, while exploring life through art, music and play?  While DPS kindergartners are being pushed to read, even when they aren’t ready, Waldorf students are not expected to learn to read until second grade.  

Ask me more about Waldorf.  I know this subject well.  My son goes to a Waldorf school. As a former public school teacher, I can tell you right now, that the reason I do what I do - fight for the preservation and improvement of public schools - is because I know - first hand - the difference between a Waldorf School and a public school that is required to submit to the demands of high stakes testing.  I know the harmful effects of high stakes testing - on children - teachers - and communities.

I KNEW that my child would get labeled ADD on his first day of kindergarten in a public school because he was NOT ready to learn to read and he would have drowned mentally, physically and spiritually in the face of high stakes testing. I KNOW that this is happening to children in our country every day.  I saw this happening here in Colorado, during my final five years of teaching while I worked with teachers, and had the unfortunate job of supporting schools in developing goals around CSAP test scores.  I had the unfortunate role of trying to help teachers force children to learn “enough” to avoid getting labeled in kindergarten. 

I feel personal guilt every day, knowing that my child is receiving something all children deserve - a whole education.  I feel personal guilt that I had to partake in CSAP propaganda and push the agenda of high stakes testing here in Colorado.

So, I must ask this question.  If Tom Boasberg is a Waldorf parent AND the superintendent of Denver Public Schools - one might wonder how he manages to balance these two roles and sleep peacefully at night? 

I, myself, felt like the devil incarnate as I forced CSAP down the throats of children in Colorado.  I know that most teachers indeed feel this way, and yet they live in fear of being fired should they speak up.  I also would have been fired, so I quit my teaching career early, and I am quite certain DPS, or any school district in Colorado, will never consider hiring me in the light of what I currently do. 

Waldorf School - berry picking field trip
Finding this out - about Tom Boasberg - made this even more personal – and I try damn hard not to let this get personal - but this is my town - this is my community.  And while I live here and find much of what I say landing on deaf ears, I sure as hell won’t stop saying it. Opt-Outers (as we fondly refer to one another) all know this job comes with a cost – it takes a personal toll on friendships and I will say straight up that I have lost friends as a result of my beliefs regarding the current state of public education.  Yet sometimes, it gets personal and I have to speak my mind.  Tom Boasberg has no right to force a corporate education reform agenda on Denver’s children while his child flourishes at a Waldorf school.

Denver Public Schools could provide all children a whole and equitable education.  High stakes testing will never get us there.  And classrooms in which teachers can still provide a whole and equitable education are decreasing every day, as high stakes testing punishes students, schools and communities.  The stakes are so high now, that subversive actions are not just difficult – they are beyond difficult – and teachers know they will be fired.  Just today I received a letter from a teacher – one of many letters – where teachers tell me they want to help our cause at United Opt Out National, but they are already on “the list.”  I frequently correspond with teachers who have an alias – this is what this has come to. We live in a world where teachers' hands are tied, children are forced to eat tests, poverty is ignored and they continue to chip away at the 99% - and will continue to do so until the public school system is completely privatized. That is their goal.

And then…I find out that someone who is responsible for the well being of all of the children in Denver, is sending his child to a school where there is NO high stakes testing and NO scripted textbooks (they create their own main lesson books at Waldorf schools).  I find out that the superintendent of DPS is sending his child to a school with art, PE, music, and more.  And we all know Obama sends his children to Sidwell. We all know that the 1% does not send their children to the public schools.  And yes, Boasberg is also a Broadie (yawn….old news..), and he never taught – well except for that so-called teaching English gig he says he did - (I know Denver folks, more yawning).

But for some reason this is different.  It got personal.  I know what Boasberg knows about public schools and about the personal experience of having a child in a Waldorf School.  The two cannot co-exist, without the absolute awareness/need/desire to save, preserve and improve public schools for all children - if you are a true educator.  And herein lies the problem.

our home
Colorado parents – opt your children out of the state test.  We can take down corporate education reform by refusing to give them the test data.  What is good enough for Tom Boasberg's child is good enough for all of the children in Colorado.

I don’t understand how Boasberg can sleep at night knowing his child is receiving a whole education, and the children of Denver are not – and it’s more than that – Denver's children are suffering – they are being abused at the hands of high stakes testing.  I am a Waldorf parent.  I am a public school teacher.  I cannot sleep at night.  This is why I do what I do. 

I hope Denver folks will join us this Saturday, National Opt Out Day, as we form plans to take down corporate education reform here in Denver.  Sometimes it helps to make it personal.  Sometimes it gives you the extra push you need to get out there and speak your mind, knees shaking and voice quivering.  It just got personal. 

See you Saturday, January 7th on the steps of our beautiful Capitol – west side – at noon – in Denver.

Our town.  Our home.  Our people.


  1. This is such disparaging news. It should be required that public servants use public education like the rest of us!

  2. Hi Peggy,
    I've been following your efforts against corporate ed. reform, and I'm very impressed. If every former teacher/retired teacher would stick up for teachers who are still in the classroom, we would be an impressive force.

    I, too, am a former teacher. I think you'd like my book. It's called Kids, Classrooms, and Capitol Hill: A Peek Inside the Walls of America's Public Schools. It is a funny, edgy, poignant look at life in the classroom. It honors teachers and recognizes their challenges. And it takes legislators to task for passing so much boneheaded education legislation.

    I will share your efforts on my Facebook page!
    Kelly Flynn

  3. As I was reading this, I kept thinking, "Obama...Sidwell..." So glad you made that connection here. Great, compelling piece.

    And yes, it IS personal.

  4. As a former DPS teacher disillusioned by Tom Boasberg I am intrigued by your information. Thanks for opening eyes, and hopefully minds through your perspective.

  5. This war on education is personal. We must take it as personal as Jesus took the foul practices of the money lenders and those who sold Bull and oxen inside of the temple, so he threw them out and overturned the tables. If we don't stop the bullshit practices of the money lenders(corporations), and if we don't throw them out from the schools(temples)then our children will remain uneducated. We know that an uneducated child has a great chance of ending up in a corporate funded prison(prison for profit). I will be at the Capitol on Saturday in support of the mission of throwing the money lenders out and overturning the practice of mis- educating our children-tracking them into poverty, and prisons.

  6. Be sure to read David Sirota's follow up article after this blog - he says it so well -