Sie Foundation Gifts $1M to DSST for Groundbreaking Teacher Effectiveness Model
DENVER –DSST Public Schools (DSST) announced today that it has received a $1 million gift from the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation to fund the charter school network’s Teacher Career Pathway program, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at developing and implementing concrete ways to evaluate, develop and retain outstanding teachers.
The gift also helps to close Dr. John C. Malone’s generous matching grant, a component of the largest donation in DSST history. In July, Malone, a cable TV pioneer, Chairman of Liberty Global, Inc. and Liberty Media Corporation, pledged $7 million to DSST including a $3 million matching pledge.
“John Malone is a dear friend and was my boss for several decades. When we heard about his matching grant, Anna and I wanted to make sure we helped,” said John J. Sie, trustee of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation and founder of the Starz Entertainment Group. “We were also one of the first donors to help establish DSST, so this gift makes a lot of sense and will do a tremendous amount of good in developing outstanding teachers and future leaders.”
The Sie Foundation’s $1 million gift will allow DSST to build off of some of Colorado’s recent education reform innovations, including 2010’s Colorado Senate Bill 10-191 (SB-191), which was championed by Colorado State Senator and former educator Mike Johnston and then State Representative Christine Scanlon, and is widely regarded as landmark education legislation. SB-191 aims to revolutionize teacher and principal accountability by measuring professional performance based on student results.
“It is exciting to see how Senate Bill 191 is inspiring and leveraging community resources that will continue to support the work of outstanding Colorado teachers,” said Senator Johnston. “The DSST initiative is good news for Denver and could very well serve as a national model that would benefit many communities across the country.”
While pay-for-performance is a common practice in other industries, it has long been a contentious topic in K-12 public education. In developing a comprehensive Teacher Career Pathway, which includes the opportunity to become a “master teacher,” DSST seeks to keep outstanding teachers in the classroom.
“DSST is very grateful for the generous ongoing support of Anna and John Sie. Their support has been truly instrumental in the growth and success of our network of schools,” said Bill Kurtz, CEO of DSST Public Schools. “Not only will the Sies’ gift allow DSST to build an innovative career pathway for teachers, it will also inform and influence the ongoing regional and national conversation about the retention of, and compensation for excellent teachers,” he added.
In addition to this donation, the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation gave the capstone gift to complete DSST’s first building, Stapleton High School, which houses “Sie Hall.” The Sie Foundation also established the DSST Sie Faculty Excellence Award – an annual, monetized award presented to one outstanding teacher each year at the DSST graduation.
About the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation
The Anna and John J. Sie Foundation supports the sharing of knowledge amongst peoples and cultures throughout the global community, with an emphasis on Down syndrome, international security and diplomacy, education, media, business and technology. The foundation is a supporter of the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus, the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies, the Denver Art Museum, the Starz Film Center, and numerous other civic, social and educational institutions.
About DSST Public Schools
DSST Public Schools (DSST) operates open-enrollment STEM charter schools and is part of the Denver Public Schools (DPS) district. DSST currently serves approximately 1,500 students with five schools on three campuses. DSST has been approved to open five additional schools on three campuses over the next five years. At full enrollment, DSST Public Schools will serve over 4,400 students, and will nearly double the number of four-year college-ready DPS graduates by 2020.
DSST Public Schools was founded as the Denver School of Science and Technology which opened in 2004. DSST: Stapleton serves students from all parts of Denver with a student population of 68 percent minority and 43 percent low income. At DSST’s second campus, DSST: Green Valley Ranch, opened in August, 2010, the student population is 85 percent minority and 68 percent low income. DSST opened its 3rd campus at Cole K-8 in the Whittier neighborhood in July, 2011 which serves 74 percent low income and 80 percent minority students.
DSST: Stapleton is widely considered to be one of the leading open enrollment STEM schools (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the U.S. DSST: Stapleton has consistently been the highest performing high school in DPS, based on growth and absolute performance. DSST: Stapleton Middle School was one of six middle schools nationally to earn an EPIC award for outstanding student growth and achievement results in 2011.
Students are selected to attend DSST through a random lottery; there are no admissions criteria. Additional information about DSST Public Schools is available at www.dsstpublicschools.org.