I was/am attracted to DLS’ greatschools.com rating and to some of the existing parent’s reviews, and by the opportunities that will surely come from my kid learning a language – but, I've also found myself asking, at what cost? My personal experience is that DLS may not be a good fit if your kid doesn't already speak the language; if you are sensitive about your kid’s emotional wellbeing and safety, and/or if you get bothered by a headmaster's poor response rate to things like safety.
Safety is most important. My child got injured at this charter school, his foot bone broken in the PE class before 10am, teacher and all other teachers at this school, ignored his pain and suffering, didn't even give him a hand, no any concern, no any attention. Just let him hop around and walk that differently in pain for whole day. The school didnot call or inform parents, just let my son in such a pain for whole day. My child had cast for 6 weeks, when the cast removed, his right leg muscle was thin and soft, hardly to walk normally. It took long time to get recovered
For the academic thing, I dont know how the rating gets calculated. Daily bully here, school doesn't do anything help to the parents and the classroom teacher.
Teachers at public schools all have the teaching license and get all the necessary professional training. But not for this kind of charter school. Most teachers have no teaching license, very rarely have the license.
students have the behavior problems, school just ignored and let the bully happen everyday in the classroom.
Once anything bad happened, Denver public school district has no power to handle this school, this kind of charter school is just a business. Be aware!
We have been at DLS for going on four years now. While I cannot speak for the Spanish program, our experience in the Mandarin program has been really wonderful. I do agree that if you have a child who has trouble with a highly academic, structured school environment, this is probably not the school for them. DLS expects a very high level of academic achievement from the students, and this shows up in their test scores. My daughter, who has just average ability in math (takes after me, unfortunately) is testing at a year above grade level due to the math instruction at DLS. Yes, parents are asked to read with their children in English for twenty minutes per night, but if you deliberately choose to place your child in a full-immersion language school, I believe that that is part of the commitment for which you are signing up. I don't feel that I have been "homeschooling" my kids in English, but we do commit to the nightly reading time, and they are now (in 1st and 3rd grade) both reading at grade level in English. The "specials" are great, especially art and music, and all the teachers my kids have had are very caring and rigorous instructors. We couldn't be happier with our experience at DLS.
DLS is not perfect but what school is? I believe that we need to give schools time to implement all the feedback given. I know this is true because I've been a public school educator for 15 year, 4 of which have been in DPS. The parent community is active at DLS and they offer many opinions. I found the leadership of Kathy and her team to be top notch. They have slowly but very thoughtfully implemented the feedback given to them. After all, they're the experts in language immersion, NOT parents. Rome was not built in a day, people. Let's leave the instruction and running of a school to the people who are experts.
This is my third year as a parent of a child in the Mandarin immersion program. As with any new school, there were bumps in the road at DLS--a few poor administrators and some disorganization. However, our experience has been overwhelmingly positive. My child has made slow but steady progress in Chinese and she has excelled in math. The art program is top-notch and we appreciate the cultural education aspects of the school. Another great thing about the school is the friendly community of parents. I predict that this school will get better and better over time! I am thankful for the opportunity to enroll my daughter in an immersion program.
Administration ignores parent input; all the time spent on feedback and suggestions has been a complete waste of time. It's embarrassing how bad the English teachers are. They claim credit for the fact that their students have good standard test scores in English, but they don't start teaching English until 3rd grade -- and they do it so poorly -- so these test scores are much more a testament of parents who are essentially home-schooling their kids in English, and so many parents are getting English tutors for their kids. Volunteer parents with professional skills to offer are ignored while the administration (unsuccessfully) micromanages tasks. Half-days on Friday are such a pain for working parents and the aftercare program is impossible to get into; we've been on a waitlist for three years! The half days are supposedly for "teacher training" but there is no accountability for what they are supposed to be trained on -- the administration refuses to offer any information on this. They are definitely not being trained on handling bullying, special ed, or communication with parents. They teach Singapore Math, but haven't been trained on this teaching method and they are not using the manipulatives, which are a key component to this math program. In the middle school target-language language arts classes, students are not reading books or doing book reports in the target language, so they are well behind their peers in these skills. A middle school class was assigned a 10-page research report but was given NO guidance on how to do this, so it turned into an exercise in plagiarism and blogging. Language teachers have been showing feature-length Disney movies in English just to kill time -- no academic value. One class was shown a R-rated movie with seriously adult themes! The bottom line is that this school has no over-arching curriculum plan or guidance for the teachers, and it shows. The school is five years old and is still just throwing things together without and understanding of the big picture for our kids.
Bullying is rampant. Teachers and administration ignore the issue. The English program is unfocused and English teachers are under-qualified; they produce assignments full of grammatical and punctuation errors! Academics in general are average to poor, and they get worse as the grade level increases, to the point that the attrition rate in the upper grades is approaching 50% in some classes; parents who care about academic quality pull their kids out. They don't have any plan for accommodating high or low achievers; kids who perform above grade level are unchallenged and bored, while kids who struggle are left behind.
My daughter is in the Chinese program for 1 1/2 years and was able to communicate when we went to China. According to the Chinese, she did not have an accent. The school environment is positive and teachers have energy. I appreciate the cultural activities as well. Parents are dedicated and a strong community is built between the school, parents, and students.