The Compromise That Wasn’t

NoCompromiseEven members of the press were confused at the close of the October 2 board meeting. Was the decision on the curriculum committee a compromise?  Was the original language of the proposed curriculum review committee withdrawn?  Is the board still planning to review, maybe gut, AP U.S. History?

The answer.  Nothing has changed.

Oh, sure, the board agreed to changes proposed by the superintendent to take the already existing curriculum committee and add some teachers and students to it.

The outcome is still the same no matter how you look at it.  The committee, which will now report directly to the school board rather than the district, will have ten parents/citizens appointed to it by members of the board of education, six of whom will be selected by the board majority.

The charge of the committee is still the same.  To review AP U.S. History curriculum and determine its patriotism and whether it promotes civil disorder, etc.

While Newkirk made changes to Williams’ proposal, eliminating the inflammatory language it is important to note that Williams’ original proposal was never formally withdrawn.

When the board is finished gutting or eliminating AP U.S. History as our student’s know it and have taken the AP option away from our children, they will turn their attention, via the curriculum committee,  to elementary sex education.  When they have finished gutting or eliminating that in favor of their political and religious ideology, they will turn their attention to . . . what?

Perhaps they will flirt with the idea, as Douglas County Schools have, with eliminating ALL advanced placement courses.

Perhaps they will target specific teachers?  Perhaps 5th grade U.S. History?  Or maybe books read in English classes that depict the country’s history in a less than patriotic light?

Did a parent complain about something taught in a biology class?  That teacher could become a target, their teaching brought under the microscope of the board majority via the curriculum committee.

Given Williams’ original proposal to separate theories from facts will we see Creationism, ala Intelligent Design, taught to our children?

We all know that the only voices on the curriculum committee that matter to WNW are the ones they appoint. With the board majority’s demand of “minority reports” from every district committee, and with their history of ignoring the majority in favor of the minority, it won’t matter what a majority on the committee think or report.

While the fervor and publicity around the curriculum committee may have died off for the time being, one thing is certain.  WNW are not finished with AP U.S. History or the censorship of our kids’ education.

Don’t be lulled into complacency.  The battle may have quieted for the moment but the war, the fight for what’s right for our kids, still rages on.

Will YOU fight with us?

Dougco Letter Tells Jeffco What to Expect Next with AP Courses

united_we_stand_floor_graphicJCSBW NOTE: This is a letter sent to us by a Douglas County parent who wishes to remain anonymous.
We did some research on the subject matter of this post for you to keep in mind as you read.  Concurrent classes at CCU (Colorado Christian University) are NOT a replacement for AP.  Yes, your child may receive credits that may or may not transfer to colleges and universities, but top universities are not looking for that.   (https://www.calcareercenter.org/Home/Content?contentID=174; http://www.wikihow.com/Get-into-College; http://www.collegeplanningsimplified.com/HighlySelective.html)  They are looking for SAT, ACT, AP, and IB.  Eliminating AP courses from DougCo is giving would give every DougCo student who wants to attend a Tier 1 university an automatic first strike.
We DO NOT want that for them or our JeffCo students but given the direction this board is heading, it is all too likely this will also become our reality.
In other words, we expect to eventually see the elimination of not just AP U.S. History but all AP courses in JeffCo Schools in favor of CCU credits.
Letter from DougCo parent:

While students are rightly concerned about curriculum revisionism in the Jefferson County school district, here in Douglas County we’re already seeing what the next steps may be.

On October 7th, the Douglas County Board of Education in Castle Rock held a working session with no public input allowed.  Board member Geddes openly suggested that the standard AP history curriculum may be replaced by that of Colorado Christian University (CCU), a private religious school in Lakewood.  Whether this would be done strictly through concurrent enrollment (CE) credits or by adding additional high school classes has been hotly debated in Facebook forums, as the school board members seemed intentionally vague regarding details on a possible implementation plan.

According to CCU’s own documentation, this was already implemented in at least six county public high schools earlier in the school year without notice.  They also offer concurrent enrollment credits at several other metro area high schools outside of Douglas County.

http://www.ccu.edu/uploadedFiles/Pages/Academics/Undergraduate_Programs/DCHS_Master.pdf

It is worth noting that William Armstrong, the president of Colorado Christian University, gave each of the four DCSD reform candidates $1,000.00 in last year’s hotly contested school board election.  Now the school board is needlessly responding in kind by allowing CCU to charge $200 per student per CE class for CCU credits that may not even be accepted anywhere else other than CCU itself.  While this seems like quite a departure from the methodology of traditional AP credits, it also questions the legality of using public funds to subsidize the recruitment of public high school students by a private religious school that openly discriminates in choosing who to accept for enrollment based on religious identity and sexual orientation.

Here is an example of Chaparral High School, a Douglas County public school, already advertising for CCU courses:

http://schools.dcsdk12.org/education/staff/staff.php?sectiondetailid=211776

Some parents also reported last week on Facebook that their children received advertising materials for CCU that were distributed at their high school.

Because of the local news media refusal to cover this story, Facebook discussions have been the most useful in trying to understand details from parents who were at the October 7th meeting or have knowledge of what is happening in their children’s local high schools.

Here are some very informative discussions on “SPEAK for DCSD” regarding controversial aspects of the DCSD and CCU partnership:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=612819068844743&id=113649758761679

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=613087458817904&id=113649758761679

https://www.facebook.com/113649758761679/photos/a.158831090910212.32775.113649758761679/613086825484634/?type=1

Here are a couple of similarly useful discussions on the “Involved Douglas County Teachers and Citizens” page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/dc4publicedu/permalink/10152413063437918/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/dc4publicedu/permalink/10152416901542918/

(This is a closed group, but some JeffCo groups already have access.)

The Douglas County Federation (teachers union) Twitter feed on the night of October 7th recounts how board member Geddes equates the CCU History curriculum with that of the standard AP History one, asking if DCSD public school teachers would qualify to be credentialed by CCU requirements.

https://twitter.com/Dougcofed

You can view some public reactions on Twitter from Tuesday night regarding the CCU class being proposed to replace the AP History class:

https://twitter.com/HeatherMRiggs/status/519687504379666432

https://twitter.com/HeatherMRiggs/status/519700553123635200

There will be a DCSD accountability meeting at the PACE center in Parker on Tuesday night, October 14th, at 7 p.m.  This is a rare event to observe and interact with all the major DCSD board opposition and accountability groups participating.  This meeting was only announced a few days ago, but if someone from each of the JeffCo groups could attend to make some connections with the parent groups who oppose the school board, it may be mutually well worth our time.  If we can stop what is happening in DougCo, perhaps the worst of it will never even reach JeffCo.

More meeting info here:

http://cac4dcsd.org/2014/10/06/concerns-accountability-leads-community-forum/

Grass roots groups opposing the DCSD school board privatization agenda or otherwise generally seeking district accountability:

Strong Schools Coalition

http://strongschoolscoalition.org/

(Video of the October 7th school board meeting can be viewed at http://strongschoolscoalition.org/news-events/video-library/)

Douglas County Parents

http://douglascountyparents.com/

Taxpayers for Public Education

http://www.taxpayersforpubliceducation.org/

Community Accountability Committee for Douglas County School District

http://cac4dcsd.org/

Voices for Public Education

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesForPublicEducation

It seems logical that the opposition in our two counties is stronger united than separate.  For the sake of our children’s education and that of future generations, we must prevail.

DougCo & JeffCo Stand United

(Anonymous Douglas County Parent)

Wendy McCord Calls Out Witt on WNW Supporters Trying to Change Public Comment

censorship(Updated 10-12-2014 with text of original email.)

From our friendly neighborhood attorney and parent, Wendy McCord, in response to WNW supporters attempts to distort public comment.

Dear Ken:

I understand that some groups that support Julie’s blatantly political resolution to form a curriculum review committee (and apparently it is the same person who attempted to get “godly” people, as opposed to liberals & progressives, to throw their hats into the ring) are attempting to get you to modify how you will handle public comment tonight. I find this behavior to be vile.

Public comment is open to all people who meet the requirements outlined on the District’s website (e.g. residents of Jeffco, parents, staff, etc.). There is no discrimination to prevent the “Friends of Faith” from signing up like the rest of us, ignoring for the moment that the timing of public comment strongly discriminates on having teachers sign up to address the board.
The email (text included below), indicates how many people have signed up and on what sides of the issue these people stand. First of all, I would very much like to know HOW the email’s author got that information, when I do not see it available on Board Docs. If one or more members of the Board are divulging information that they received to some members of the public and not to all, then this could be seen as being discriminatory behavior, and certainly not behavior befitting a pubic official.
Second of all, it isn’t up to you or the Board to ensure that there is equal time for “both sides” of any particular issue. You have made that clear time and again. For example, when you severely limited time for proponents of the Deer Creek Stem program, forcing more than 20 unrelated speakers into one group and giving them only ten minutes to speak, and when you permitted charter funding proponents to go on ad nauseum for several hours. Public comment should be representative of the community’s views – and the community is speaking to you and the rest of the Board – the majority of Jeffco does NOT support censorship of history (or other) curriculum by the Board or its designees.
You have a fiduciary duty to ALL the citizens of Jeffco, not just those who support your (and Julie’s and John’s) obviously political agenda. While the citizens of Jeffco cannot blame you, or Julie, for the words of your supporters, we will hold you completely responsible for how you decide to proceed.
Sincerely,
Wendy R. McCord
(The text of original email was added 10-12-2014.  Please note that the “From” and “To” had already been removed when Ms. McCord received her copy.  We regret the omission of the text in the original post.  It was completely unintentional.)
Dear Friends of Faith,

Please help us with a simple request.  We need people to call or email Ken Witt the president of JeffCo school board and politely ask him to make certain that people from both sides of the AP History review topic, be allowed EQUAL time to express concerns.

 As we understand it, public comment is going to run only an hour and there are already 100 people signed up to speak.  Most from the opposing side.  If you request a fair balance of time allotted for both views, then we will have a much better chance at expressing our side.
If he attempts to allow for fairness of time, without proof of public support for such a measure,  the union will have another issue to scream about.
Help us get equal time during public comment . You do not have to be a speaker to ask for equal time for others.
Ken Witt
District 1
President
303-982-6743

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Help Us Build a Community Network

As parents, we believe in the schools where we send our children, be they neighborhood, option or charter schools, and we want those schools to continue to thrive. Actions by Jeffco’s newly elected School Board Majority affect our schools – often they bring change, confusion, chaos, and at times seek to divide us. Jeffco needs a community network to monitor the Jeffco conversation and provide timely, factual information and community engagement opportunities to the communities in and around our schools. We’re hoping to build just that. And along the way, we’ll also pay close attention to teacher/staff turnover and stressors in the district work environment, to evaluate how those changes are affecting our individual schools – the staff, the students and the community.

Here’s how you can help: We need volunteers whose role it will be to participate in two-way communication with our network and the volunteer’s local community.  At times, we will be asking these volunteers to quickly disseminate factual information to their own school and networks. We will also work with these volunteers to gather factual information and personal stories about staff turnover, families choosing to leave Jeffco, and other significant effects the actions of this Board Majority are having on school communities. We will provide several means for sharing stories, data, impacts and more.Please note – we are not a formal group. We are simply a network of parents, across ALL Jeffco Schools, hoping to gather and disseminate quality information.To volunteer or share your story, please email JeffcoExodus@gmail.com.

Thanks for your continued support!

Jeffco Student Says McMinimee’s Visit Creates More Student Animosity Toward BOE

lakwood

This article was written by Luke, a Jeffco Lakewood High School student who is currently taking AP U.S. History.  It is posted with both his and his parent’s permission.

The visit by Jefferson County superintendent Dan McMinimee to Lakewood High School was not nearly as productive or informative as our expectations had led us to believe. Early in the day, our principal announced that a “district representative” would be stopping by during our homeroom period to discuss concerns that the students may have had about the school board. For many of us, this was a welcome opportunity to truly gain insight from an inside source about the issues at hand. By the time the session began, the Lakewood auditorium was packed to capacity without an inch of space left for either sitting or standing audience members. However, it quickly became apparent that the meeting would not be as helpful as previously predicted. 

Mr. McMinimee started by providing a two minute summary of the status of the board, in addition to some background information on some major issues being debated. The majority of the session was spent in a Q & A format. The general consensus among the student body afterwords was a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction with the answers we received to our questions. Many inquiries were made into the future of AP U.S. History, health education, and the ability for students to make their opinions heard to the board. In response to almost every question, Mr. McMinimee replied with seemingly carbon-copy responses. He emphasized that, while he had no information at the time, the school board had yet to take any action with any of these topics. Therefore, we would have no immediate reason to worry. 

While I believe it was his intention to quell any worries the students may have had about the board, his session with Lakewood students did just the opposite. Our student body is more agitated than ever. In his press release, he states, “I have personally met with a group of students…listening to their legitimate concerns, answering their questions and providing them accurate information.” This statement is simply inaccurate due to his consistently vague responses to specific questions. As students, we left the meeting with no more knowledge than what we knew walking in. The only difference is that Mr. McMinimee’s inflated rhetoric has now incited much more animosity towards the school board by the Lakewood High School student body.