Julie Williams Sadly Leading the Parade of Lies, Again

Yesterday morning, a most disturbing allegation started playing over the airwaves in the Denver metro area. You can read more about those allegations here:

Jeffco Recall Gets Very Ugly, Very Fast

This morning, the right-wing Independence Institute released a new video spot featuring embattled Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams. In today’s video, Williams makes a tearful accusation involving her son Randy, who is identified in the video as a “special needs student.”

The summary version is that Julie Williams, whom we all know as one of the members of the Jeffco BOE embroiled in a bitter recall battle, has gone on television recounting a conversation that she claims she had with her special-needs son (her words, not ours) that may have left him “scarred forever.” According to Williams, her son claimed that he was forced to carry a recall sign in a parade that he also claims to have led. Commercials are short, so Williams does not produce any evidence that this actually happened.

What Williams fails to mention is that Jeffco Schools investigated her claim about this very issue last fall and found no evidence whatsoever to substantiate this claim.

You can read the full details of the Jeffco Schools investigation here. The short version is that Williams asked Jeffco to investigate, originally giving them the date of Sept. 8, and later suggesting that perhaps it had been Sept. 18 or 22. District personnel looked at 240 hours of video footage from Standley Lake High School (SLHS) on all three dates and found no evidence of any kind of protest or parade.

SLHS was closed on Sept. 19, 2014 — which is the day that SLHS students protested along Wadsworth Boulevard. However, classes were cancelled before students arrived and students did not walk out of school. Williams presumably did not drive her son to school on the 19th, knowing that school was closed.

Total taxpayer cost for that investigation? $3,780.14.

To recap:

  1. Williams’ older son was not asked to carry a sign or lead a protest or parade of any sort at SLHS.
  2. Nearly $4,000 was spent to determine that Williams’ son did not carry a sign or lead a protest at SLHS.
  3. WNW are scared and trying any stunt they can in hopes that you’ll believe their lies.
  4. Williams and her allies have provided no other alternative information or evidence about what parade this was that she and her son are referring to, how he came to be at the helm of this parade, or who was supervising him during this time and allowed this to happen. She doesn’t mention the costly investigation that she prompted that found nothing. Not a single person has corroborated the story, and not a single photograph has been produced…because it didn’t happen.

It is time to RECALL Witt, Newkirk and Williams.

Vote YES on the recall. Then vote for a Clean Slate who will respect the community, and bring true transparency and accountability to the Jeffco School Board.

Vote for Jeffco School Board candidates Ali Lasell in District 2, Amanda Stevens in District 3.

Then vote yes to recall Julie Williams and choose Brad Rupert as successor candidate.

Then vote yes to recall John Newkirk and choose Susan Harmon as successor candidate.

Then vote yes to recall Ken Witt and choose Ron Mitchell as successor candidate.

And please spread the word.


 

 

9.14.15 Jeffco Recall about Survival of Public Education

Your Childs EducationWe received this from a JCSBW reader and received permission to share it here.

The survival of Public Education in Jefferson County is on the ballot this November as the five seats of the school board are contested. It is a battle that has ramifications not only for Jefferson County but also for the state and the nation. Will extremist right wing policies and outside money interests prevail over a community’s interests and the benefit of its children?

While much has been written, pro and con, about the autocratic actions of Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams, who erroneously call themselves conservatives, little has been said about their mission. To put it succinctly, in the words of former board member Laura Boggs, their intention is to “destroy this district.” Why would anyone want to do that unless he or she had something to gain by doing it?

From their mismanagement of Jeffco’s funds, to extremist attempts alter established AP curricula, to bullying children speakers and other board members, to attempts to intimidate through threats, innuendo, and armed security—their regime seems more like an arm of autocrats of the 1930s in Europe than America in the 21st Century. Their ham-handed attempts at privatizing public education and railroading anyone who would oppose them have, fortunately, awakened a community that values the kind of progressive, award-winning education that their children have gotten in Jeffco for many decades.

Unfortunately, extremist ideologies and corporate profiteers have weaseled their way into the Jeffco School Board and now threaten the district’s very existence as resources have been diverted to non-public/semi-private schools that serve select groups and line the pockets of investors. To destroy a school district one must:

  • Run off the best educators,
  • Cut funds for programs and compensation for staff
  • Increase class sizes
  • Cut funds for construction and maintenance
  • Destroy morale
  • Cut services for schools and community and then hire a PR firm to convince the public that what they’re doing is in the best interest of children.

It’s classic double-speak. In time, the quality of education and the educated will drop. Mission accomplished.

Shame on them when they duped voters in 2013. Shame on us if we allow it to happen again.

Vote to recall Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams. Vote to elect candidates whose interests are genuinely aimed at children and learning. Vote for Amanda Stevens, Ali Lasell, Brad Rupert, Ron Mitchell and Susan Harmon.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

9.11.15 Recall will be on November ballot & WNW surprises

If you attended or watched the Sept. 3 Jeffco School Board meeting, you may have heard something you never expected to hear: the three board majority members, Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams, who have said they do not support raising taxes for schools, are thinking about raising your taxes.

We know!

contortionist

Here’s how that played out. Now a year later, the board majority had (yet another) discussion about where to build a school in the northwest Jeffco corridor. They have been considering three sites: Table Rock (Hwy 93 and 58th Ave), Leyden Rock or Candelas, and at the last meeting Witt was pushing pretty heavily for Leyden Rock, despite the reality that a school built at that site will seat less kids and take longer to build. The Sept. 3 meeting was a general meeting, so parents from NW Arvada came to comment, with some strongly advocating for Leyden Rock because, they argued, they’re growing faster than Candelas.

Newkirk opened the Sept. 3 discussion with a long, meandering and pointless preamble about how as elected officials they didn’t need to accept district recommendations. A few minutes later, he finally got to the point and made a motion for the district to build on the Leyden Rock site and for staff to begin soliciting bids to build a school with 625 seats in 24 months at that location.

Reality check: That’s not possible, at least not with the paltry $18 million the district designated for a school. Leyden Rock has some steep slopes that make designing and constructing a school more complex. Retaining walls and a lot of earth moving will be necessary in order to build, and the school will need a couple of building pads and at least one elevator. All in all, that makes for a construction premium of $3.5 million according to estimates, which leaves only $14.5 million for the school building itself. Between the limited budget and topography, Chief Operations Officer Steve Bell and Facilities Director Tim Reed estimate they will only be able to build a 450-seat school and it will take six months longer than construction at the other two sites.

Newkirk later asked if the issue was that companies wouldn’t make such a low bid, but Superintendent McMinimee pointed out that we are building schools to last. Remember the adage about fast, good, and cheap? You can only pick two.

The discussion was lengthy and painful, so I’ll skip to the highlights.

Highlight 1: McMinimee went to bat for his staff, and our hat is off to him for taking a stand. After Newkirk’s grandstanding and motion, McMinimee told the board he felt compelled to respond, and he defended his staff’s recommendations and estimates. He pointed out that the topic had been on the table for more than a year and that their original recommendation was to use Certificates of Participation to build a school and finish phase II at Sierra Elementary to relieve some of the pressure on surrounding schools.

McMinimee also noted that Jeffco was in the process of adding temporary buildings to West Woods Elementary this year, and that the growth issue is not only north of 82nd Avenue. If you missed it, you can catch McMinimee’s comments in the meeting video. You’ll want to scroll to about 2:52:45 in the video which is about where his comments begin.

Jill Fellman eventually called for the board to put Certificates of Participation back on on the table, but it was met with the usual argument from Williams that the issue should be put to a vote of the people. The option of a bond came up, and Newkirk said he would be “very open” to that possibility.

Witt did some grandstanding and claimed that the 2012 bond measure should have been larger and included money to build new schools, which was ridiculous considering that the economy still was weak in 2012 and more to the point: he didn’t even support the very small amount that was needed to keep our students warm, safe and dry and has been trying to take that money and use it elsewhere since he was elected.

Highlight 2: Dahlkemper made the motion to direct staff to present a comprehensive bond scenario for inclusion on the November 2016 ballot, and the motion passed 5-0.

Then there was another painful discussion about whether the district should build the K-8 recommended by the district at Candelas, or just a K-6 because Witt thinks that’s the real growth issue (or something). It was another conversation that was quite confusing, not least because it takes two years to build a school and children will age toward middle school during that time. Finally they agreed to push off the decision about grade configuration until the next meeting, which provides staff some time to put together a presentation about the benefits of each scenario.

School Safety

School safety was another topic, largely because the district’s safety office is stretched to the limit. Suicide assessments are up 600 percent over the last two years. There were also 281 threats last year, which is a 100 percent increase. Safe2Tell fielded more than 700 reports in which Jeffco students reported a friend in crisis requiring immediate help, and 44,091 calls for assistance were made from schools to security asking for help.

Jeffco has 11 patrol officers and 3 management team members to respond to calls. Our law enforcement agencies also provide School Resource Officers–36 of them–at no charge to the district. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that the $1.3 million budget they have is not sufficient given the increase in threats and suicide assessments. They need more money.

School Based Budgeting (SBB)

There was a brief report on school based budgeting. The short version is that they are hearing positive comments from principals who have more flexibility to provide resources based on student needs. They also looked at the number of students enrolled in full-day kindergarten.

Here’s the point to remember: the number of children enrolled in full-day kindergarten appears to have increased, but the number of schools offering free full-day kindergarten has decreased from 40 to 32. We’ll know more after the district has an official count later this fall.

Recall to be on the Nov. 3 ballot!

Jeffco United for Action received great news last week after the Jeffco County Clerk said she’s confident the recall can be part of the November general election ballot. There are a few hurdles remaining, but the news is really good. For the full story, check out Chalkbeat’s analysis here.

Now It’s Your Turn

With only a few weeks until the mail-in ballots arrive, we all need to pitch in and help. You can:

https://www.facebook.com/Amanda-for-Jeffco-Schools-604780212991553/timeline/

https://www.facebook.com/Ali-Lasell-for-Jeffco-421746884684406/timeline/

https://www.facebook.com/bradforjeffcokids?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/susanforjeffcokids?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/ronforjeffcokids

  • Walk doors with Jeffco United to educate Jeffco voters about why we need to recall Witt, Newkirk and Williams. You can sign up to walk this Saturday during one of the morning, afternoon or evening shifts, or at any of the multiple other days in September and October.
  • Post a yard sign supporting the recall. Information about getting a sign is posted on their Facebook page.

We need to get the word out and that takes all of us. Any little bit helps, so walking just one shift, donating another $5 or $10 to a campaign, and spreading the word. We don’t want another two years without the respect, accountability and transparency that Jeffco deserves. Our students, our schools and all of us deserve better. Let’s make sure everyone knows it and votes to recall WNW on Nov. 3.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

Analysis: Julie Williams “Vindicated” By College Board? Not Even Close!

It needs no long introduction: last fall, Julie Williams proposed the following for Jeffco Schools’ curriculum, specifically with respect to Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH):

“Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”

PomonaProtest

Student walkouts followed, public outrage came right alongside, the chaos made international news, and Williams’ supporters still think it was all orchestrated by JCEA because Ken Witt called the students “pawns” and couldn’t imagine that students would actually react with outrage if they weren’t coached into it. Now, the College Board, the creators of AP courses, have made some clarifications that Williams’ supporters are hailing as vindication for her.

Don’t be fooled by the spin!

Let’s analyze. Of course, after hearing of Williams’ proposal, nearly everyone (including students!) immediately realized that the history of this country is impossible to tell without referencing civil disorder and social strife repeatedly. It is also evident that any thorough history of the United States brings forth many positive moments that we can all be proud of, and there needn’t be a big effort to artificially push more such moments onto our youth who need to understand all aspects of our history without a political agenda.

Only in her later explanations of her proposal did Williams proclaim the importance to her of “American Exceptionalism,” a stance that for her and many others goes far beyond pride in America’s best moments and finest attributes to an almost mystical, unquestioning reverence of our country being imbued with a providence that no other nation has received from the Almighty. Others believe that, but it is safe to say that there are many proud patriots who don’t quite jive with that version of American Exceptionalism.
The point is, her original proposal was the source of community outrage. Later on, she mentioned her belief in American Exceptionalism.

This past week, the College Board announced that, responding to critics, it will include mention of American Exceptionalism as guidance within its framework. Superficially this might seem like “vindication” for Williams, but remember that so much in her camp seems to revolve around the superficial; if it sounds like she might be vindicated, then she must be! Here’s why the College Board’s action has no vindicating quality for Williams:

-First, remember that Williams admitted that she never read the framework, and so didn’t understand how the course was structured. She still might not. Yet the APUSH course framework (guidelines) were originally left vague in order to allow teachers more flexibility, to encourage critical thinking as opposed to the memorization of names and dates. In the framework, some lesser known people and events were highlighted and highly recommended that students learn about them. However, that didn’t mean in any way that others like the Founding Fathers should be forgotten. Instead, the College Board set forth guidelines about what should be taught and then it was up to the instructor to flesh that out.

-The College Board did not feel the need to spell out and highlight “American Exceptionalism,” as they figured that was one concept, among many others, that could be noted and explored as part of the course. Think of all the other “isms” that have grabbed hold of segments of our population, and sometimes large segments that have defined us: capitalism, socialism, imperialism, segregationism, Darwinism, fascism, Totalitarianism, feminism, Catholicism. You get the picture. All of these elements would be at least mentioned, if not explored in depth in a year-long APUSH course. The fact that most of them were left out of the intentionally vague guidelines is not a sign that they are not worth teaching; the College Board just left the specifics up to the professional teachers and expected them to hit the major themes that related to the broader guidelines.

-Williams’ motivation was likely not purely a curriculum concern for Jeffco students, but instead a parroted talking point that some of her ilk raised in Texas. The Texas legislature, for one, had begun discussing abolishing APUSH for political points. The compromise made by the College Board in their recent revision simply expressly states what they figured was obvious, in order to appease the political motivations of Texas legislators and others. Basically, they changed wording because of money: the College Board is a business, and so many kids in Texas and other states with similar electorates take the test.

-The bottom line is that APUSH has not been fundamentally altered. “American Exceptionalism” has been added to the framework, though not of the type that Julie Williams probably ascribes to. It presents it as one worldview among many held by some in the United States: it does not promote it.

So, we have the College Board making modifications, only to make some elements explicit that were already implied. The changes are small scale and don’t add anything new other than to state the obvious for met. It adds clarification, not something new. Finally, the changes have nothing to do with Williams’ original proposal to “not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife…” which is censorship indeed.

If you’re still susceptible to believing the Williams spin versus this analysis, there’s no squaring it with the fact that the College Board actually wrote a letter in support of the Jeffco students’ concerns last fall. The College Board, in issuing their new clarifications this year, haven’t retracted their support of the students, nor has their leadership changed dramatically. Their clarifications are superficial and political only, as opposed to the substantive support they gave the students.

Just imagine another political leader not reading the course framework of a high school calculus course, but still attacking it for not including appropriate instruction for future engineers…and then in her explanation specified that the times tables should be included in the course materials because no calculus student could be successful without knowing basic multiplication. Later, she claims victory when the textbook maker, to remain in business in the face of a bunch of Texan legislators who hadn’t read the framework either, put a times table reference in the pocket of the book.

That’s not vindication, other than in ideological fantasies and the resulting propaganda pieces.

7.20.15 Join us Wednesday, July 22 for “Drive the Blvd. & Sign”

2014 Sept Protests 1

It’s time to get those petitions and some signs to wave ready for the Drive the Blvd. & Sign event: Wednesday, July 22, from 3:30 to 7 pm. Petitions will be available at  intersections along Wadsworth to make it easy for commuters to stop by and sign.

And we need your help. Click HERE to sign up for a corner, or to wave a sign to let drivers know they can pull over and sign a petition. Bring your kids, bring your friends, and remind the community why we support the effort to recall Jeffco School Board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. If you don’t have petitions, we can get you some. We also really need people waving signs, including students who are too young to carry petitions.

We’ll be gathering at these locations (from south to north):

  • Bowles and Wadsworth
  • Belleview and Wadsworth
  • Hampden and Wadsworth
  • Jewell and Wadsworth
  • Alameda and Wadworth
  • Colfax and Wadsworth
  • 38th and Wadsworth
  • 44th and Wadsworth
  • 52nd and Wadsworth
  • 80th and Wadsworth
  • 100th/Church Ranch and Wadsworth

If you can’t make it the whole time, stop by when you can! We all understand how busy schedules are, but your presence even for an hour or two does make a big difference.

This is our opportunity to remind Jeffco that we support the recall as a community. We’re not “so-called parents” or “riled-up mommies,” but parents, grandparents, community members, business owners, taxpayers, voters and valuable residents of Jeffco who are tired of the lack of transparency, back-room decisions, and poor fiscal management of the district by WNW. Let’s also remind them that we are Jeffco and this is a grassroots movement — unlike Americans for Prosperity who will be knocking on doors this Saturday.

Haven’t had time to sign yet? Stop by! We’ll be there from 3:30 to 7. Can’t make it that day? There are still plenty of drive and sign locations available through July 25, and you can find those HERE.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!