Want to Keep Jeffco Moving Forward? Walk This Weekend.

We know you’re busy. We are too (see, for example, how well we’re keeping up with this blog!).

However, busy won’t help us keep moving Jeffco forward. We remember 2013, 2014, and 2015 all too well: disrespect, drama, and constant turmoil. We don’t want to return to that, which means we need to support our current school board members in November’s election.

This fall, Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon, and Ron Mitchell are running for re-election to the Jeffco School Board. Both Rupert (District 1) and Harmon (District 2) have opponents, while Mitchell (District 5) is running uncontested. Some of you might be thinking, “So all is well, right? Reasonable people who are listening to all of Jeffco will continue to retain the board majority regardless of what happens.”

Our response: DON’T. GET. COMPLACENT.

The five board members who were elected in 2015 — Rupert, Harmon, and Mitchell, along with Amanda Stevens and Ali Lasell — have worked hard to restore respect, collaboration, and careful decision-making to Jeffco Schools and the community. Don’t mistake respect, civility, and thoughtful discussions for any suggestion that they always vote in tandem. They don’t. On several occasions board members have differed in their opinions, and yes, their vote.

That’s as it should be. And frankly, it’s been a relief for those of us who regularly attend or watch Jeffco School Board meetings to see people taking each other and the issues seriously.

No one has been turned away at public comment since the recall. No one has been insulted by board members. Angry parents, students, and community members have had their chance to address the board when they disagree with a proposal — and Rupert, Harmon, Mitchell, Stevens and Lasell have listened to those voices and made decisions accordingly.

So what have they accomplished?

Brad Rupert explains in this video.

Or if you want the bullet-point version, the current five-member board of education has:

  • Restored respect and civility and professionalism to the Jeffco community, inside the board room and out
  • Expanded public comment opportunities and discussion on all issues facing Jeffco Schools
  • Hired a nationally-known, world-class superintendent, Dr. Jason Glass, to lead Jeffco forward
  • Become more competitive in attracting and retaining teachers
  • Continued to address growth areas in the district, such as northwest Arvada and west-central Jeffco
  • Celebrated with our Jeffco Schools as schools received 31 awards from the state of Colorado, and 11 Jeffco high schools ranked in the U.S. News and World Report top 50.

How can you help?

First, share Brad Rupert’s video on Facebook, Twitter, any other social media sites you use, and through your email network. A lot of Jeffco voters haven’t been paying attention since 2015, and they probably wonder what the clean slate accomplished. Let them know!

Also take time to read and share Superintendent Glass’ blog, Advance Jeffco. He’s encouraging dialogue and questions, and it’s a great place to talk about how to move Jeffco forward.

And walk! Volunteer here to walk or to look for other campaign opportunities (like a house party this Friday). We need people to let Jeffco voters know what Rupert, Harmon and Mitchell have accomplished during the last two years, and why they should vote for them to serve Jeffco students another four years.

We’re finally on a solid path with thoughtful, experienced decision-makers and a deeply knowledgeable superintendent, all working together from the board table in the best interest of Jeffco. Our students, parents, teachers, staff and community have waited a long time for this. We need to keep moving our district forward, rather than returning to failed policies of the past.

JeffCo Proud!

7.8.15 Jeffco School’s Communication Problem

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I remember hearing the proverb, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” as a kid. I turned it over and over in my mind deciding what it meant. Now, I know.

The hiring of Lisa Pinto as Jeffco’s communication director was an act of foolery. She was unqualified, lied on her resume and had a past that made it no big surprise when she ended up embarrassing our district in her unprofessional, nasty and juvenile response to Governor John Hickenlooper’s staff. The hiring of Devan Crean is a second act of foolery, and it’s quite hard to sit by and watch.

Pinto and Crean have each been hired to work in the communications department for our district. Lisa Pinto resigned her post, effective June 19. Devan Crean was ostensibly hired for a different position — marketing and communications specialist — that Superintendent Dan McMinimee has said largely revolves around showcasing schools (supposedly both charter and neighborhood), but the proof is in the pudding.

A new communications director has not been chosen to replace Pinto. Crean, however, was working for Novitas Communications before she came to Jeffco. Novitas, you’ll remember, is the firm that Pinto hired to handle all the communication duties that Pinto apparently couldn’t handle (as explained in more detail here). On her resume, Crean claims she handled much larger duties for the district, including:

  • Managing social media content like Facebook and Twitter
  • Supporting all daily communications operations for Jeffco
  • Provided media relations
  • Managed editorial calendar for all publications and social media

If you’re wondering, the answer is yes, she also lists those same points under her current position, though it’s curious that social media feature prominently during the time when Pinto was clearly already devoting plenty of time to social media snooping research. Surely two full-time professionals didn’t both need to spend that much time managing social media.

Now, let’s do some simple math:

1 + 1 They are both under-qualified for the position.

+

They both have past professional experiences that demonstrate their downright offensive professional ethics. For example,

Pinto went on national TV and claimed that single parents have children who “don’t thrive. They commit crimes, they do drugs, they’re depressed….”

Meanwhile, Crean got tied into a scandal about tracking “liberals.”

 

= 2 These are political hires.These women were both brought in because they are comfortable working hard to help our BOE3 and McMinimee hide behind acts such as these:

  • Stalking a student’s social media account and then shaming them PUBLICLY at a board meeting
  • Posting homophobic content on their Facebook pages
  • Speaking at meetings funded by hate groups
  • Comparing being a charter student in Jeffco to being black in the 1960’s in the South.
  • Etc.

Why is this a problem?

For one, Pinto was given a $120,000 salary (nearly triple what our teachers make) as to work as our chief communications specialist. One of her first moves was to hire Novitas, a Republican communications company, to help her carry out duties that should have been her own. Now, Crean, a Novitas employee, has joined the department. Will Crean be paid by our district twice, as she has contracts for Jeffco to pay her by the hour through Novitas as well as a salaried position starting in June? The Novitas contract is through June 30, but Crean’s own resume shows that she started working as a Jeffco employee in May.

Why else is this a problem? It’s a problem because we actually need a good chief communications specialist. We need someone to help our students who are achieving great things get a megaphone announcement to the community. We need someone who can help us recruit and keep the best teachers out there.

Instead, we’re ending up with people hired for their love of political antics, who merely wordsmith form letters for the BOE3 and superintendent to use in response to our correspondence.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

4.15.15 New changes to BOE retreat speakers

cipherIn our last post, a Jeffco parent questioned why GOP Chair Steve House had been tapped to speak about innovation in education at a JeffCo School Board retreat this Thursday. We had the same question.

On Monday, Colorado Pols reported that House had withdrawn from the retreat.

But in true board majority spirit, new speakers have been added since Monday. In addition to the already-scheduled speakers, Tony Lewis and Scott Fast, three others have been added:

Michael Cushman, senior fellow, DaVinci Institute
John Evans, Ph.D., J.D., executive director, School Leaders for Colorado
Tammy Thorn, School Leaders for Colorado

School Leaders for Colorado is an alternative licensure program for principals. One new initiative they are touting is “Troops to Principals,” which they describe as a principal leadership training program former members of the Armed Forces of the United States. “Potential candidates may hold the rank of colonel, lieutenant colonel, or master sergeant with thirty to thirty-five years of military experience. They may come from the National Guard or the Reserve. They may be recently retired or have working experience in other careers. Their military experience has taught them one important thing—leadership.” Even better, they can complete the program in just 9 months!

Their presentation for the board is here.

A reader also inquired about Scott Fast’s education qualifications. Here’s what we do know. Fast has an education blog, and is a nationalist strategist for innovateducate. Rumor also has it that the Accenture Foundation, of which he is a retired executive director is a major contributor to the KIPP charter schools. He provided this document to the board as “pre-meeting reading.”

Never a dull moment here folks!

The meeting will be streamed, or you can attend it live in the Education Center board room in Golden.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

4.11.15 When did Steve House become an education expert?

 In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.

― Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

A JeffCo parent shared this letter to the Jeffco School Board majority members with JCSBW about the fact that Steve House, the new Colorado Republican Chair, is on the board retreat agenda under the item “Guest Panel on Innovative/Creative Practices in Public Education.”

If your memory needs a refresher, the board retreat is being convened because Julie Williams said she wanted to hear about innovations in education before she could approve spending millions of dollars to build any new schools.  We’ll let the letter explain more:

Dear John, Julie and Ken,

I just received the email from Helen Neal with the link to the agenda for the Board Retreat next Thursday. I am disheartened and disappointed that Steve House remains on your Retreat Guest Panel on Innovative/Creative Practices in Public Education. On the agenda, Mr. House is listed as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. I see nothing that would even remotely connect him to education in his professional role. I even looked over his profile on LinkedIn. Here it is:

 
Summary
PROFESSIONAL:
 
Lead a team with responsibility for technology evolution for developing ACO’s, CIN’s, and some MSSP’s.
Worked on HIE Sustainability models.
Working knowledge of Big Data, Analytics, and Business intelligence platforms and outcomes.
Worked on TeleHealth and patient engagement strategies.
Consulting work on many different IT and strategy projects.
Well studied in healthcare reform.
Familiar with product lines from most major IT vendors in healthcare.
10 years in Imaging involving Radiology, Cardiology, Nuclear, and Oncology.
 
PERSONAL:
Adams County Republican Party Chairman
Published author for Beauty and the Business 2010
Senate Aid in Colorado Budget Committee.
Graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies 2010
Graduate of the class of 2012 in The School of Persuasion
Award winning toastmaster
 
Nowhere in his “experience” does his list anything even remotely connected to education. Nor does education appear in the 50 skills he has listed.
 
Could you please explain to me (and the myriad other taxpayers who are concerned at this line-up of “innovation experts”) what Steve House has to do with education innovation? Why are you wasting taxpayer time and money on this farce? Consider the district staff who must attend your meetings. Why are you wasting their time? From what I can tell, I have more education expertise than Mr. House. What I don’t have, however, is a “certificate” from the Leadership Program of the Rockies. It seems that’s all it takes to make it in Jeffco these days. From our communications director to a guest panel on education innovation – educational expertise is no longer required to guide our school district, just participating in a right-wing organization one of whose main goals is to destroy public education.
 
We live in an amazing county, state and country – surely there are ACTUAL experts on education innovation that could provide useful information to the Board of Ed and the district. Mr. House has no credentials to be participating in the panel, and the three of you, in supporting his participation, are an embarrassment to public education. For people who rely so heavily on data, I can see none to support his role on the panel.
 
I strongly urge you to remove him from the panel on education innovation – his participation makes a mockery of the Board of Ed of Jeffco.
 
-Wendy R McCord

From the April 16 agenda:

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to hear about innovative/creative ideas in public education from invited guests.

BACKGROUND: The Board discussed having a retreat focused on innovation and creativity in the delivery of public education.  The guest panel is the second of a two-panel discussion set.

Each speaker will provide at least a 15-minute presentation on his thoughts regarding innovation in public education, leaving an hour for discussion with the Board of Education.

 

The other two presenters on this panel are Tony Lewis, executive director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation, and Scott Fast, parent, Columbine High School, retired executive director, Accenture Foundation. The meeting also includes an agenda item for innovation within Jeffco Schools — an item that is only there because Lesley Dahlkemper insisted that it was important to hear and recognize that innovation is already happening right here in Jeffco.

The retreat starts at 5:30 pm this Thursday, April 16 in the board room. It will be streamed: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310.

This is a meeting well worth attending or at the very last, watching. Why IS Steve House on the panel? Why did the board majority keep him on the agenda even after Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper questioned his complete and utter lack of educational experience whatsoever? And what on earth will he say in his presentation? Will it relate at all to whether NW Arvada and the Solterra area are able to build schools to accommodate their new development?

Keep watching, keep fighting JeffCo!