Teachers oppose Douglas strategic plan

MINDEN -A group of Douglas County teachers says the school district's strategic plan is nice on paper, but isn't working in the classroom.

Meneley Elementary School teacher Diane Mitchell said the school board wasn't getting all the information at a presentation earlier this week.

"The presentation was lovely, but this is one small slice of what is happening. This is not really what teachers see," she said.

Jeanette Turnbeaugh, a teacher at Douglas High School, said many students are being left behind by the strategic plan.

"I've worked on the competencies, but as I'm listening tonight, the image I see is of a ship heading away. That ship has sailed for my students 24 weeks ago and there are kids standing on the docks and kids floating in its wake. There are serious problems that need addressing," Turnbeaugh said.

Tony Villasenor, a Carson Valley Middle School teacher, said he understood the competencies because he had worked on them for six years. But many teachers don't, and now that they are expected to meet them, they are feeling overwhelmed.

A roomful of teachers and parents listened during the presentation of the plan Tuesday night.

School board members, who spent two days in January revising the plan, said they were shocked at teachers' reaction to the plan.

"I find it inconceivable the notion that you haven't had the opportunity to participate in this plan," board member George Echan said. "I sat in the meeting for two days last January and none of you were there. Is it just the fact that we have this tension about salary that brings you in? Four or five of these strategies had action teams that met all year. I don't understand how you can say you didn't have the opportunity to participate. You can't say this district is the Titanic when the state's making everyone do it anyway."

The Legislature has required every school to meet certain graduation requirements, and district graduation requirements, developed in 1995, meet or exceed those.

Douglas High School students who are now sophomores will be the first who must meet them to graduate.

The strategic plan committee this year again put the competency strategy on the top of the priority list.

Following competencies are graduation, communications, career, technology, family, fine arts, cultures, environment and world issues, hiring, community service and facilities.

Echan, and the rest of the board members, said they understood the teachers were frustrated with the extra work and the lack of salary raises this year.

However, board members unanimously approved the updates, saying many people had worked on the strategic plan, including many teachers, the plan is revised every year, and board members believe the competencies will indeed work and make Douglas County graduates better suited for the workplace.


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