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Dear Superintendent Jones

Original photo (Gowdog | City-Data.org)

Greetings, Dr. Constance Jones, the new Superintendent of Pueblo School District 60. It is a new school year, a new state, a new city, thousands of new students and a new clock.

We know D60 is in trouble. It’s hurting the town’s attractiveness to bring in jobs. It’s hurting young kids who can’t break the cycle of poverty because their only hope is their education.

As you have no doubt seen we are in a few “crises” and you may be thinking about what you got yourself into. As an outsider you are probably wondering to yourself “How do I begin?” This City Council thing is almost frivolous when you compare that to what you need to do. Turnaround the school district in one year so the state doesn’t take over the district.

On that note, welcome to Pueblo! Pueblo is a tough nut to crack or Puebloans are just tough nuts. The opinion is still out.

Let’s start with the obvious, the high schools. No, not what you should do at the high schools, instead what the high schools will show you about the level of pride and commitment Pueblo has of itself.

Central or Centennial? Cannon or Bell? Bulldog, Wildcat, Colt, or Eagle. We aren’t asking you to love football but instead love what the rivalry means. When you see ten-thousand Puebloans pack Dutch Clark Stadium, who namesake is an NFL Hall of Famer and Central graduate, you’ll see the heart of Pueblo.

And that’s where you should start. On Friday, September 26, Pueblo would like to invite you to the Bell Game to understand us as a people. Shake hands. Say hello. Work the crowd. Take to the field before the Bell Game and address the crowd, “We have a lot of hard work to improve D60, but I can’t do it alone. I challenge every student, every parent, every teacher, every football fan and every Puebloan to help us improve.”

Next step, thank the teachers. Did you know the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce put on a rodeo for a fence company but has this community done the same for the legions of teachers? The pay isn’t great and teachers have to deal with challenging students and frustrated parents all the while trying to get test scores up for this idea of “accountability.”

If we can thank an Austrian chain company for coming here, this community can thank teachers for working here. And because I purchase industrial amounts of ink and paper I can say what teachers themselves may not say, “How about giving them a raise?” Wink, wink, nod, nod.

Rumor has it you bought a house and you along with your husband plan on living here. That’s fantastic. We are glad you are living here because we get tired of so-called leaders taking their pay and commuting from Colorado Springs.

While you are out and about wear school t-shirts and tell people, “Hi, I’m Connie Jones. I’m proud of District 60 and Pueblo.” Walk the town. Go into places like you are sheriff, the educational sheriff, and look us straight in the eye and ask us to get involved.

We know D60 is in trouble. It’s hurting the town’s attractiveness to bring in jobs. It’s hurting young kids who can’t break the cycle of poverty because their only hope is their education.

You need to tell us how we can help you turn around the school district. What do we do? The district doesn’t say too much on what we should do. Yet, PEDCO, the city, the county to the guy down the block—no one understands what to do but we want to help.

I know you don’t want citizens walking the halls in every school. So, what can be done?

You want school supplies so teachers don’t have to spend their own money on supplies? You need mentors, let’s find some more? You need multimillion dollar bond projects for education? Let’s have that conversation.

And we’ll trade you. We need a pipeline of talented young people to stay in Pueblo to grow this economy. What about setting the bar high and requiring every graduate to learn a new language or how to code. Or something as bold as, anyone that graduates from District 60 with a 3.75 GPA or higher gets four years at CSU-Pueblo, free. Too crazy? Who cares at this point.

You know on multiple choice tests there’s sometimes Option “E” – everything and above – let’s pick “E”.

Finally, don’t retreat behind the white brick walls of the administration building. Bypass the business card switcheroo lunch circuit and the after-hours social hours.

Go directly to the teachers and the parents who will help. There are big name people with big checkbooks but the people who need you most do not have big checkbooks.

They are the parents of students who need exceptional schools. They are the teachers who want to work in exceptional schools. They — WE — need one exceptional leader.

Sincerely,
Pueblo

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Written by John Rodriguez

Publisher of PULP.

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