Families who have school-age children typically choose to live within the boundaries of the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) because of its reputation for being the best school district in the state. Over time, CCSD has lost focus of its vision and mission, becoming distracted by social justice and political rhetoric under the guise of equity. As a result, the students in CCSD are failing academically. According to the Colorado Department of Education, in 2014, 75.72% of the children in CCSD were performing at or above grade level in reading. In 2019, the percentage of kids performing at or above grade level dropped to 50% and even lower after the pandemic. The disparity between our white students and students of color maintained about 20% throughout the years. The academic gaps between our white students and students of color, and the gaps created from the pandemic need to be addressed, yet in district meeting after meeting, CCSD does not address the academic gap plaguing our district and has not communicated a plan to do so.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a system used by schools to gain information about your child’s attitudes, morals, values and beliefs. There has been a push from the CCSD teacher’s union to embed SEL into every subject taught at school. According to Harvard economist R. Fryer and numerous other sources (just google it), children need more instructional minutes in order to close gaps in learning. CCSD has chosen to use valuable instructional minutes to push its SEL agenda, which includes questionable surveys given to school children as young as 10-years-old with bating language regarding race and sexual identity. Children ages 10-16 are asked questions like, “Some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match the way they think or feel about their gender, are you transgender?” Many parents feel that these discussions should only occur in the home environment, and many teachers agree.
Equitable Grading is a theory based on the book Grading for Equity, by Joe Feldman, where students are graded on mastery of the subject and not on completed assignments and other “soft skills” such as class participation, handing in assignments, and being on time, which typically affect minority and under supported students. This will allow a student to earn some credit on assignments rather than no credit since it makes students feel like they cannot achieve, and they are less likely to try. Equitable grading has been proven to help some students, but its implementation in CCSD has been problematic. In a district study session presentation, CCSD reported that “Under guidance from the Colorado Department of Education, students who are waived from meeting graduation guideline requirements will be counted as completers, not graduates,” but they will still receive a diploma. CCSD has recently announced it is eliminating the Valedictorian distinction, so it is no longer a goal for students graduating in 2026 and beyond. In some schools, if assignments are not turned in, there is no penalty to the student, but in other schools this is not the case. The combination of all these factors is a general decrease in expectations of our students and the long-term effects could be catastrophic. Our students deserve as many opportunities as possible to achieve that we can afford. We need to keep these opportunities available, but our school district is taking them away and threatens to continue to do more. In recent board meetings, CCSD board members alluded to taking away our upper level (AP, IB, honors) classes, asking, “Do we really need trigonometry?” and “How much are AP and IB classes costing the district?”
Teach our children academics! This is the cry of parents in CCSD. We want our children to go to school to learn core academic subjects and learn how to work well with others. We don’t want our kids to explore their sexuality, or to define their gender identity pronouns, or be put into a group based on their race and culture. We must refocus our district on its vision and mission “To inspire every student to think, to learn, to achieve, to care.” There is a growing movement to bring academics back to the forefront of our district’s vision. Please join us at www.cherrycreekparents.org.