by Coach Peter Jeans
The most overused saying in education debates is the idea of doing something “for the kids.” If only that were always true. As a Jeffco schools parent, I’ve generally seen the district’s first and foremost interest in its role as an employer, not as an educational system set out to benefit “the kids.”
I don’t intend that as a slight to the dedicated professionals—teachers, administrators, coaches—who have provided so many years of service to our kids. Indeed, so much of our experience as parents has consisted of positive experiences with our children’s teachers. We are incredibly appreciative of their individual efforts and talents. Rather, I simply have observed many district-level decisions that put the interests of parents and students second, not first.
Examples include collective compensation based on years of service and degree credentialing as opposed to individual merit and assessment; tenure; closed-door contract negotiations; furlough days as opposed to unwanted but necessary salary reductions or renegotiations; and first-in last-out hiring practices.
As a coach in Jeffco, I am not subject to many of these employer-first practices. Yet, as an employee, I welcome competition amongst my fellow coaches, and know that the lack of job security makes me do a better job with the individual kids in my program and as a representative of my school. I also know that competence and excellence will both be rewarded, and instances where I make blunders or mistakes will not go unnoticed. This makes me accountable, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This reality creates a program and experience that truly puts the kids first.
I hold my players to the highest possible standard as well—in areas such as behavior, teamwork, effort, sportsmanship, and of course, their ability to contribute on the field. I think setting the bar so high, and then holding the kids accountable to that standard, has helped the kids to improve, learn and ultimately to succeed as a team.
I would love to see more of Jeffco’s decision-making always start with that thought in mind: How high can we raise our expectations for our school system, and can we hold everyone accountable to meet that standard? A winning team starts with those ideas in mind. So how far can we go together and with everyone bought in? Then how can we go farther? That’s what we all want in Jeffco, and I think that’s what we can all accomplish together.