January 23, 2020
superintendent's corner
On Civility

Last month, I attended an event where New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke. Friedman asked an important and thought provoking question, “What would we be talking about, if we weren’t talking about Donald Trump?”

Friedman’s point was that there are a number of important issues with which our community, the country, and the world should be engaging. Nevertheless, our attention seems obsessively drawn to the things the President is doing and whether we agree or disagree with those actions.

Make no mistake, the actions of the President are indeed consequential. However, to Friedman’s point, there are any number of other important matters which should also command our attention.

Engaging in these consequential issues, both locally and nationally, has become increasingly difficult in this era of polarization. The causal forces for this polarization are complex and interconnected. They include such elements as the dynamics of social media interactions, the proliferation of fake news designed to ignite political extremism, and the active interference of outside governments who wish to sow dysfunction within our nation. Taken together, winner-take-all and “damn the opposition” political attitudes have taken deep root.

Over this past month, I have had the opportunity to be part of three different conversations on the issue of civil discourse with community leaders in Jefferson County. The leaders I spoke with had diverse political perspectives and viewpoints. While the proposed means varied, all shared the same goal: we have to find a way to talk to each other and tackle issues of substance in our community, if not also our nation and world.

Based on these experiences, as well as a variety of interactions I’ve had recently, I’d like to offer 5 rules of engagement that might lead to better conversations. These rules could be applied in formal political settings, in online discussions, and in conversations between neighbors or families.

1. Take up issues of real substance and importance, with a genuine commitment to understanding others.
While politics and religion are sometimes taboo subjects at many functions, it is the substantive issues which impact our community that we really need to be talking about. We can take on sensitive and complicated issues if we begin by committing to sharing the airtime (giving sides equal opportunities to talk) and listening to each other without interruption.

2. Work toward a shared view of truth.
The facts are going to matter if our issue is of real importance and those facts should be open to critique for bias and subject to validation. Logic matters as well - and conclusions that do not follow from the evidence should be identified. The work here should be toward uncovering truth and not diminishing or attacking a person.

3. Recognize mutually positive, but also opposing, values.
Some of the most important matters we need to wrestle with are matters of positive, but competing, values. Take the immigration question as an example. On the conservative side, the values are around such things as security, concerns over drug trade and human trafficking, and the preservation of opportunities for people in the country legally. On the liberal side, there are values around inclusion, the humane treatment of all people, and the economic and workforce value that immigrants provide. Both of these perspectives raise valid points for consideration and all of these values come from a positive place, though they can be in conflict, depending on the topic.

4. Look for the third way.
Good and sustainable public policy balances those mutually positive, but also competing, values in a way that reflects our society. One regrettable aspect of human nature is that we tend to see things in dichotomies - good/bad, wrong/right, left/right, us/them. In reality, the world has a lot more shades of gray and we can often find creative and mutually beneficial outcomes if we take ideas from all sides. Unilaterally imposed ideas rarely stand the test of time.

5. Don’t feed the “trolls.”
In my experience, most people value and appreciate treating each other with dignity and respect. However, there are certainly those who thrive on “flaming” others and who serve as never-ending fountains of criticism, which is often mean-spirited and personal in nature. We less-than-affectionately call these individuals “trolls” and perhaps the most effective thing you can do when you encounter one is to deprive them of the attention they seek. Consider instead how you can find and engage with those who will push thinking forward to better outcomes, and who ultimately thrive on building up, rather than tearing down.

One of the founding ideals of our democratic republic is that we are better able to create and sustain that “more perfect union” through the free exchange of ideas. Civil discourse should not mean that we avoid discussing the tough and important issues – but it does mean that we should strive to meet those issues with a deep and mutual appreciation for each other as people.
Sincerely,
Dr. Jason Glass
Superintendent & Chief Learner

Jeffco students, parents, families, staff, and community members
may engage with Dr. Glass via Twitter and his blog, advancejeffco .
JEFFCO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
GRADUATION RATES CONTINUE TO RISE
Jeffco Grad Rates Surpass State and Nation

Jeffco Public Schools on-time graduation rates continue to improve, according to the most recent data provided to the Colorado Department of Education.

Over the last five years, Jeffco Public Schools graduation rate has increased by 2.4 percentage points. Jeffco’s rate remains higher than the average on-time graduation rate of both Colorado and the U.S.

Jeffco Public Schools graduation rate for 2018-19 is 85.3% and surpasses the current national graduation rate of 84.6%.

ENROLLJEFFCO
ROUND 2 NOW OPEN

Jeffco Public Schools offers an online enrollment system - EnrollJeffco - that streamlines finding school information and the enrollment process, and ensures the same timeline for all schools. 

As part of the EnrollJeffco platform, you can use School Finder to identify your neighborhood school and learn about other schools and programs. 

Log into EnrollJeffco today if you have not completed enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year. 

BRICK BY BRICK: LEGO EXPO BUILDS SKILLS

Jeffco Public Schools students from Stevens Elementary and Columbine Hills Elementary recently had the opportunity to apply Jeffco Generations skills in problem solving, critical thinking, communication, civic engagement, and collaboration at a FIRST LEGO League expo.

In preparation for the expo, students identified real-world problems of urbanization, traffic congestion, and affordable housing. Students then demonstrated their collaborative solutions at the expo event where they used traditional Lego bricks and robotic Legos to model their ideas.

JEFFCO BUILDS: ARVADA HS BREAKS GROUND ON NEW GYM AND CONTINUES INTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS
Construction continues at Arvada High School as they officially break ground this month on phase two of their school improvement projects. Students, staff, district leaders, and community members gathered on a windy (but sunny) January day to celebrate the new addition coming to their school.

The auxiliary gym is a much needed space for school athletics and events. Additionally, interior renovations will continue to take place throughout the school - creating common spaces that allow for increased collaboration outside of the classroom. Construction has already begun and will wrap up in the spring of 2021.

HOW TO TALK TO YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT VAPING

Many teens don't realize that vaping can lead to serious health problems, as with traditional tobacco use. When teens are addicted to nicotine, it can prime the developing brain for  cigarette smoking  and  other addictive behaviors . Learn how to start the conversation at this free workshop.

Tobacco-Free Jeffco's
January 28, 6 - 8 p.m.
Pomona High School (8101 W. Pomona Drive, Arvada)

Light refreshments will be provided.
GOOD NEWS & HATS OFF

Everitt Middle School Teacher Brad Hull Wins PE Teacher of the Year award.

Jeffco grad raises $6K to pay off student lunch debt.

Jeffco Innovation Fund wins Student Achievement Award from Colorado Association of School Boards.

Jeffco Public Schools collect donations for The Action Center's Grub Club.
happening in jeffco

Staying connected with our families and community is important to us. See the many ways we share news, info, and keep in touch!



in case you missed it

Jeffco Public Schools students graduating in and after 2021 must meet or exceed new graduation requirements.

Take a look at the new requirements to make sure your student is on track to a successful future.
important dates

January 23 - Warren Tech Open House , Warren Tech Central & North, 5 p.m.

January 27 - GT Parent Learning Night , Jeffco Ed Center. 6:15 p.m.

January 28 - How To Talk to Young People about Vaping , Pomona High School, 6 p.m.

February 17 - No school, Presidents Day

February 24 - GT Parent Learning Night , Jeffco Ed Center. 6:15 p.m.
jps-tv
Catch a Calf, If You Can

Wheat Ridge High School Sophomore Evan Clark tries his luck in the Catch-A-Calf contest at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo. 

jps-tv sports
All-County Middle School and High School Honors Orchestra and Band

All-County Honors Orchestra and Band performance at West Bowles Community Church in Littleton on Friday, January 17.

board of education meetings
Thursday, January 30 , 5:00 p.m., Study Session
Thursday, January 30 , 6:00 p.m., Regular Session
Wednesday, February 5 , 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., Study Session

Meetings are held at the Jeffco Ed Center Board Room, 1829 Denver West Drive #27, Golden.
Meeting schedules and agendas are posted on BoardDocs.
district social media
athletics social media