Proposed changes to storied IB program roil Denver high school

Alan Gottlieb & Kate Schimel:

When the Saturday morning meeting about proposed changes to George Washington High School’s International Baccalaureate program got off to a raucous, even unruly start in the school library, a mixed group of IB and non-IB students decided to take matters into their own hands.

As angry parents who had expected an open forum but found themselves in a less interactive session tried to shout down Denver Public Schools administrators, a group of about 20 students calmly retreated to a computer lab and spent 90 minutes devising their own list of recommendations.
The student gathering was impassioned but calm and when two students started talking at once, one of their peers chimed in with “C’mon, guys, let’s not be like the parents.”

For their part, parents said they had legitimate reasons to be angry. They cited a letter penned last week by GW Principal Micheal Johnson that promised the meeting would “address any questions or concerns that may arise about our future direction.” Instead, DPS officials made it clear from the outset that they were not going to answer questions but rather would hold “breakout sessions” on “becoming a destination high school,” “improving communications and school culture,” and ensuring academic excellence for all students.”

Parents said they felt impending changes to one of DPS’ most academically successful programs were sprung on them with little notice and no opportunity for them to provide input. “This was all done sub rosa,” said Leslie Lilly, whose son is an IB program 10th-grader.

Related: Denver spends $1,581,688,230 for 84,000 students or $18,830 per student (Page 89 of the 469 page 2013-2014 budget document [PDF]. Interestingly, prominence is given to “general fund” spending on page 25, not total spending) Madison seems to have done this in its most recent budget documents as well. I fail to understand how ignoring total spending vis a vis “general fund” makes sense. The mission of public school districts is to educate their students. End of statement.

Madison spends about $15,000/student – see the 2014-2015 budget documents, here.