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[Susan notes: Kudos to Stefanie, who says she's just getting her feet wet. May others follow her example, going forth and doing likewise. Getting the word out to the local press is vital!]

Published in Highland Ranch Herald

To the editor

Despite the claims of the Douglas County school board, creating a world-class education that emphasizes classroom collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity, cannot happen with pay for performance. A test shipped in from some distant corporate conglomerate cannot measure a teacherĂ¢€™s effectiveness any more than it can measure a parent's love. A test will not tell me what my child knows. I will trust her teacher to help me understand this complexity.

National surveys such as the one conducted by the highly respected scholarly journal Phi Delta Kappan tell us that across the country parents feel confident that teachers know what they are doing.

We are coming to realize that certain corporate and political interests are working overtime to dramatically change the role of public schools. One of their goals is to privatize public education through a system of vouchers. This will have a devastating effect on the core belief of a public education for all, instead producing an elite system for the haves and another for those who don't have. Segregation at its best. Read Dr. Diane Ravitch's "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" to get a better understanding of this deform movement that travels under the name of education reform.

Across the country, certain groups with deep pockets are spending big money to advertise the idea that teachers and public schools are inadequate and that taxpayer dollars should subsidize vouchers for some to opt out of the public system. Rather than isolating people, we need to work together at helping our public schools be the best they can be.

We need to wake up and pull together for our basic American values. Vouchers, pay for performance, and all of the other buzz words filling the airways will not prepare our children for a Global Economy that we cannot predict. According to business and management expert Steve Denning, "Our goal is to inspire our students to become life-long learners with a love of education, so that they will be able to learn whatever they have to."

So let's get back to our local values -- things that hold us together as a community. Let's start by celebrating our teachers who teach our kids and inspire them.

Stefanie Fuhr

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