Education remains a huge part of the national debate – how do we fund it, maintain competitive teacher salaries, encourage thoughtful learning, teach to the test and fairly equalize learning opportunities for all American children?

Should Full Day Kindergarten Be Fully Funded - A Teacher's Own Words & Thoughts | Steve Spangler Science

In Colorado, two of our state’s largest school districts have “reformer” school board majorities. These Board of Education members lack the expertise and experience needed to make decisions for thousands of Colorado students. They promised to reform and clean up the districts but instead are pulling funding from lower income children, teacher salaries and overall education improvement. All of this to support their personal beliefs, rather than the needs of thousands of students and their teachers.

Instead of taking our schools forward, these inexperienced extremists  are dismantling the core of some of the strongest school districts not only in Colorado but across the nation.

Do you really know who you are voting onto your Board of Education?

A recent debate in the Jefferson County School District continues over the funding for lower income students and full day kindergarten. The JeffCo BOE wants to cut $600,000 from the budget that would go towards providing hundreds of students with free full day kindergarten.

Despite a popular majority for the funding, the BOE will not approve it. At a recent BOE meeting, I met a teacher via Twitter who was one of hundreds of parents, teachers and students who spoke up in favor of full day kindergarten after one out of touch board member called it ‘playtime’.

I was so inspired by her bravery and speech for the BOE that I asked permission to share what she told the board. In the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week, this is a teacher who is the foundation of teaching, a love of learning…

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Are YOU really doing what is best for these kids?
by Robin McKinnon, Jefferson County Kindergarten Teacher

As our School Board, exactly who are you representing?

You might list some statistics – our best TCAP score.
You might mention “we build bright futures” – that little purple star.
You might rattle off some celebrities – Major League pitcher Roy Halliday. Or Associate Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court Brian Boatright  or U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team forward Lindsey Horan.  Or Chevron Corporation Executive Vice President Michael Wirth. Or maybe you’ve heard of ’em – The Fray.

You might say we’re the largest school district in Colorado. That we serve 84,000 students and we have 148 schools…but we’re more than 148 schools.

These things DON’T DEFINE us.

Many of us have grown up in this district and can stand here today with an ounce of hope. Because WE ARE JEFFCO and we will rise above as the world has watched us do before.

I walked through a JeffCo door in 1985.  I held hands with Kelly Shin, pushed out my quivering chin, gripped my California Raisin lunchbox and marched forward. It was the gentle care of Mrs. Eichman who made me want to come back the next day.

You have ALL walked through the doors of kindergarten. MORE IMPORTANTLY your CHILDREN have walked through OUR doors.

The graduating class of 2027 will walk into MY door in three and a half months.

Is Kindergarten even academic?

I am teaching my students to dream big. They are more than a purple star and a slogan. They are more than a TCAP score.

I do more than raise achievement.
And teach to the core.

I am more than a sweet bulletin board.

Or a well polished SMART Board.

Because I care.

I will not compromise their future.

I want to be a part of this district reaching its goals. 

I am more than a lesson planner and a classroom manager. 

Because I’ve walked through those doors.

I am a lifelong learner, and a TEACHER who will not be bullied into silence. 

I am the safe space when things get scary.

The lock-down assurance.

Their human shield.

AND the undisputed understanding that things will be okay.

I am a gingerbread hunt creating life from the words on pages.

I am the best Mother’s day tea you have ever had.

I am a song that puts knowledge into your heart.

I am the painting that makes creativity come to life.

I am a clay project, math cubes, morning hugs, a new pencil and a journal with huge handwriting, working at a tiny chair at the tiniest tables, counting on fingers, a puzzle done in a team with no missing pieces, a globe showing just how close we really are.

Do Not Say “been there, done that” unless you’ve walked through my doors.

Unless you’ve

  • helped write a research paper
  • pen-pal’d with teachers all over the world
  • helped give the words to STAND UP to a BULLY
  • taught that life is valuable and precious and that WE belong together no matter our religion, size, ethnicity OR class.

I am the foundation of teaching, the love of learning.

Looking for YOU ALL to believe in me.

For these kids.

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Ms. McKinnon – we believe in you and all the kids you and the thousands of teachers across our state and nation who are truly the foundation of teaching, the love of learning.

2 replies
  1. Daria
    Daria says:

    LOVE IT! And I second it, right, left and sideways. Rather than looking for ways to REDUCE our children’s opportunities to learn, to gather a strong foundation for SUCCESS in later grades, to challenge their thriving little minds…How about we INCREASE their opportunities to learn, give them more chances to overcome their challenges at home, and INVEST in our children by ADDING preschool to our offerings as well. Other states with much larger budget issues than Colorado offer FREE Preschool to ALL students. They understand that our future is in our children. Why would we look for ways to undercut our kids?

    Reply
  2. Amy Richards
    Amy Richards says:

    This brilliant must-read article provides the key to the County school district, Jefferson county school, County Kindergarten Teacher & School board majorities. Susan Wells you raise a powerful antidote to today’s malaise and pessimism.

    Reply

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