11/16 Sunday Post: Nov 6 BOE Meeting (part 3) – Railroading, WNW-style

MLK Quote Nothing In the worldTHE CHARTERS

Once Public Comment ended it was time for the charter discussion and vote.  

First up Alexandria School of Innovation (ASI).

The district representative pointed out that the review teams recommended denial of the charter for deficiencies and that perhaps they could come back in a year after working with the state charter organization on those deficiencies.  (Interesting that the WNW supporters all wanted approval of this charter despite its deficiencies, including financial ones.)

For once we do know that Newkirk is listening to all public comment as he states that he has some of the same concerns as expressed by two of the speaker opposing ASI during public comment.  And he also goes down the path we have reported, about ASI’s lack of connection to Jeffco.

Witt’s turn also deserves a bit of kudos.  Witt asks the applicants about the science labs, their equipment and funding, but the founder veers off into a speech on why the school doesn’t want to wait.  Witt responds asking her to answer the question he asked.  Later Witt would also confront the question of Jeffco recruitment.  Although he asked for hard numbers on Jeffco letters of intent, that part of the question goes unanswered.

Next up Dahlkemper asks the hard questions.  Speaking to the litany of deficiencies of the charter she asks about the charter’s special needs section, a section that says services will be purchased through the District (an option not offered by the District).  Fellman also points out the charter uses percentages of special needs students below district averages.

Dahlkemper pulls no punches by asking for details surrounding the consultant’s public comments on issues with Ms. Brannberg’s previous school, especially the ‘2nd level death spiral’.  Ms. Brannberg refused to comment on the question in public (saying she would address “in executive session“), although she said she “thought” that was a lot of lies.

Williams it seems attempts to rescue ASI, by addressing the rumors surrounding ASI Opening up a line of questioning clearly meant to allow ASI to defend them unchallenged.

  1. That board members may be employees.  Although Ms. Brannberg says that is not true, later in the meeting Ms. Dahlkemper will counter this with facts (whereas Williams seemed to be trying to give ASI a platform to deny everything without challenge) .
  2. School leaders have already been determined.  Ms. Brannberg herself denies that, saying they have not hired anyone.  (Interesting denial since her e-mails about ASI are all signed saying Judy Brannberg, Founder and Proposed School Leader.  True they haven’t hired anyone, but it sure sounds like the leader has been chosen.)

Fellman continues by discussing the lack of JEFFCO parent buy-in and by pointing out that the high schools in the proposed area have many STEM opportunities (something she points out Jeffco possibly needs to promote the choices out there).  And charters are supposed to fill a void.

DAHLKEMPER RETURNS to Williams questions.  Dahlkemper reads the district cabinet’s analysis of the charter. Under Governance: The Class A (self-perpetuating) board members are allowed to work for and be paid by the school. (Perhaps Williams should read the documents she is given.  AFTER she takes time to actually read the APUSH textbooks that include every historical figure her press release claimed wasn’t in the curriculum, of course.)   To her credit, Ms. Brannberg scrambling to save ASI offers to remove that from the charter.  The same item 5 minutes earlier she said didn’t exist.

Dahlkemper continues to champion our schools.  She points to the STEM groundwork existing in our schools and champions building those up, then address the areas without STEM.  Armed with research, Fellman read a letter from Dakota Ridge and Dahlkemper from Chatfield about the existing options in the area and how we might expand those.

Of course as the charter loses ground Mr. Miller interrupts.  He points out that denial shouldn’t be on whether it is a unique program, but on support.  (Personally, that statute makes no sense to me.  Isn’t the primary argument FOR charters is that they fill a gap?  What is the purpose of the charter if it is a duplicate of the school a mile away?  Sorry, I’m trying to apply logic to this situation.)

Witt asks for a motion.  Newkirk moves that the charter be denied (asking them to reapply when deficiencies are addressed).  And we have it – a UNANIMOUS VOTE FOR DENIAL.  Yes, you read correctly.  A RARE 5-0 VOTE.

Next up Golden View Classical Academy (GVCA).  

The Jeffco review committee recommended the charter for conditional approval.  The conditions would include: balanced budget, facility cost, meeting enrollment goals, and to clarify the long list of requested waivers.

Dahlkemper wrestles with the litany of requested waivers.  Waivers that include: workplace violence, anti-discrimination, bully prevention, student rights, staff selling to students … and MORE.  The district rep admits he has NEVER seen so many waivers.  And in fact has NEVER seen anyone ask for some of these policies to be waived!  Even the state official that Jeffco consulted on this issue had NEVER seen this many waivers.

Dahlkemper asked the school leaders to come forward and discuss these waivers.  GVCA leaders explain that in part they take issue with the ‘chain of command’ in the district policies.  In fact they state their issue with anti-discrimination is the ‘chain of command’ for handling a complaint.  In part the the district rep states perhaps GVCA misunderstood the chain, since they would be included in that chain up until certain levels. JeffCo School Board Watch finds this waiver concerning, since the GVCA is being advised by Hillsdale College, which, among other things has banned LGBT student organizations.  The GVCA representative was unwilling to answer questions on his stance regarding homosexuality.

Dahlkemper also hammered home Hillsdale College’s The Barney Initiative through which they would ‘advise’ GVCA states in their educational philosophy,

The College considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith.”

At this point, Witt desperately tries close the curtain Dahlkemper opened by deliberately confusing  a liberal arts education to a liberal political viewpoint.

Newkirk points out the location for GVCA might be in a high growth area.  This may be true.  Highway 93 north of Golden and Sol Terra on the south side of Green Mountain are seeing high rates of new homes.  Both are areas in which Jeffco indeed needs to address future capacity concerns.

But GVCA will not be the answer.  First, they refused to state where they plan on building their school, other than it would be in ‘south Golden’.  Secondly, since GVCA will enroll students through a lottery system there is no guarantee students in either area will even be admitted to the school.  And that is assuming that the parents in those areas even want their children to attend such a school.  Additionally, GVCA will only reach 728 students after 7 years, if they reach their projection.  Addenbrook Classical Academy, a JeffCo Charter School in Lakewood had only 56 students last year.  GVCA will not even remotely meet the needs of the thousands of new residents moving into the area.

When Fellman piggybacks on this statement pointing out no Judeo is even covered and the religious tones create red flags. After assurances from GVCA that the school will not have religious ties Newkirk moves that the charter is conditionally approved and Williams seconds.

Dahlkemper and Fellman, rightfully concerned about the long list of waivers, valiantly fought that the waivers be addressed before the vote.  In the past when Jeffco has voted for conditional approval the Superintendent would give the final approval that conditions were met.  A policy that is not required, but Witt & Williams insist continue.  However, with the LONG list of waivers it would seem the district would want to protect itself by verifying that ANTI-DISCRIMINATION, BULLYING PREVENTION, and WORKPLACE VIOLENCE policies are met.  Both Dahlkemper and Fellman agreed this was their only objection.  However, their pleas for the chance at another 5-0 vote go unheard.

Witt goes so far as to describe the waivers as “A FEW conditions.” ‘What, me worry?’ Ms. Williams “has complete faith” the policies will be put in place.  And with that we have a 3-2 vote for conditional approval.  Following the vote, Ms. Fellman demonstrates a skill Witt does not possess.  She apologizes, for she knows she could approve the charter with a few policy adjustments.


Now for what a real BOE meeting should look like.  The BOE brought in school leaders from some of the highest achieving and improving schools for 3rd grade reading.  Witt points out at a later meeting they will be looking at the struggles.

Dennison, Elk Creek and Lawrence Elementary schools presented.  Interestingly, none of the schools used the same program.  So what did their success boil down to?  Three things were reiterated by these principals.

  1. A systemic approach across grades, with cross grade communication.
  2. Hiring AND retaining great teachers.
  3. Fast response and continuous intervention (meaning continually looking at who does/does not need intervention).

In the case of Lawrence, a high Free-Reduced Lunch (FRL) school, took additional steps.  Rather than pulling out the struggling student for assemblies and intervention, they focused on ensuring a student had a longer, focused instruction time.  They also worked on home connections, purchasing cheap black and white books that could go home every night without worries about lost books.  This gave struggling families constant access to level appropriate texts. They also created family nights, recognizing not just high achieving students, but those with the greatest improvement or that had met their goals.  They hosted literacy night.  And they spoke again about the importance of hiring well.

Elk Creek drew parallels between small class size (20 students per class) and success. One principal drew parallels between full day kindergarten (which WNW disparages as unproven) and successful reading.

Unfortunately for Ms. Williams, there were no talking points for this part of the meeting.  Rather than asking about success in reading at the elementary school level, she questioned these ELEMENTARY principals about texts available to Special Needs students IN HIGH SCHOOL.  The panel leader attempted to rescue the conversation, and Ms. Williams by stating these questions are better suited for the upcoming discussion on the struggling reader.

Community Budget Survey

This is a future watch item for our readers.  The survey company being hired has NEVER administered surveys for education entities.  It is offering Jeffco a huge discount because it wants to get a start in that area.  Witt was unhappy with the proposed questions.  His solution? Each board member submit possible questions and then the board rank the questions to determine which would be used.

Sounds a lot like Williams’s original scheme for seat the review committee.  Everyone can submit a candidate, but only 6 seated.  HMMMM.  Whose questions will make it on the survey?  Nothing like waiting until the public has mostly left the room to sneak in a way to squash the minority voice.

BTW, Williams spent a lot of time arguing for spending extra money to engage the community and not just the parents.  Is this commendable or is this because her priorities do not match those of parents of students?


Here was the last chance.  The last chance for WNW to listen to the community.  The last chance to stop the insane train to the curriculum review committee, censorship, and opening the door for political indoctrination.  The last chance to quietly get themselves out of the hole they dug….

Did you really think they would?  Of course not!  But let us give a round of applause to Dahlkemper and Fellman.  They did not give in.  They stood their ground and fought the good fight.

When Newkirk took issue with the public awareness of the existing committees, they offered to work on awareness.  Not a board takeover of the committees. But at the end the committee changes were approved 3-2. And to add to the craziness when Dahlkemper asked what was the committee’s mission, Witt said no curriculum at this time (Is he waiting for when we are no longer paying attention?  We know Ms. Williams wants to review both APUSH and Elementary Health Education.)

But that did not stop the insane train.  The remaining committees needed to be voted on.  Witt lumped all committees together for the vote.  Meaning to approve the remaining committees Dahlkemper and Fellman must vote this time for the curriculum review committee.  When Dahlkemper verified this and requested that a vote be taken on only the remaining committees.  Witt REJECTS Dahlkemper’s friendly amendment.

After Witt’s motion is seconded, Dahlkemper offers a subordinate motion. Attempting again to vote on all committee EXCEPT the curriculum review.  At this point Witt drives the train insisting on another reading of the motion.  Even at 11:30 at night the remaining audience members understood.  What was so confusing to the board PRESIDENT? So a simple 5-0 vote turns into over 6 minutes of wrangling for a 5-0 vote.

But this is completely in keeping with WNW.  Compromise, to them, is agreeing with them or getting run over.

Maybe it’s time to stop the train?


Help your voice be heard even more!  Join one of the groups fighting to save our School District.  You can find a synopis of them on our page Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda.

Also, Wendy McCord has put together for us a page featuring a comprehensive list of WNW Board Policy Violations.

Stay alert.  Stay informed.  Stay active.  And

Keep Fighting, JeffCo!




11/3 Halloween Tricks, Monday Do List, & Thursday BoE Meeting Prep

20100830193250!The_ScreamHalloween is over and in a very late posting of the agenda, we have found numerous Halloween ‘tricks’ from WNW+M3 for District students and teachers at large with treats only for a favored few.

We review their mainly “Trick” agenda below.

But first, the Monday Do List!

Monday ‘Do’ List:

  1. VOTE!
  2. Get all of your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, strangers on the street to VOTE!
  3. If someone is not registered to vote, let them know they can (and should) register at a Voting Service Center and vote the same day!
  4. If you are not sure where to drop off your ballot, or where you nearest Early Voting or Election Day Voting location is, please check out the Google Map we created to help you find where you need to go!  Jefferson County Voting Locations
  5. Review our new “Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda” page. Pick one group and contact them, asking how you can help.
  6. After you are done with items 1-5 above, review the Meeting Prep below and make plans to attend this Board meeting.
  7. Sign up to speak at the meeting!  We will post the link to sign up as soon as it goes live at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning.  The links went live at 10:20 a.m. this morning. Here is the link to speak on an Agenda Item (see our list below for Below are some subjects worth speaking out on that cry out for Public Comment).  Here is the link to speak on non-Agenda Items.  Sign up quick!

    Agenda Items That Need Public Comment:

  • Agenda Item 5.13 – New Chief Legal Counsel/ HR Relations:  Why does Craig Hess have absolutely NO school district experience?  How on earth is he qualified?
  • Agenda Item 6.01 – Alexandria School of Innovation Charter School Application:  Why would the Board approve of a Charter school whose application is so flawed it did not even use the right District name throughout its application?  And will be run by a for-profit company that got tossed out of the other school it created?
  • Agenda Item 6.02 – Golden View Classical Charter School Application:  How many exemptions are too many?  And why do they fear parents so much that they made sure that parents can never take control of the Board?
  • Agenda Item 6.04 – Superintendent Goals:  How about some genuine goals on the order of the ones found here:  10/15 Post – Why Tomorrow’s BOE Meeting Will Probably Be Interesting…
  • Agenda Item 7.01 – Hiring a Canadian company that specializes in Canadian municipal surveys to survey JeffCo on Education Spending?  Huh????
  • Agenda Item 7.02 – Curriculum Review Committee – Why is the Board ignoring the Denver Post, the Dallas Morning News, even the Caspar Star-Tribune and is going ahead with this censorship/indoctrination review committee?

 BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:
When: Thursday November 6, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden
(If you cannot attend, please watch via live video stream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/JeffcoBoardRoom)

Key Agenda Items
Agenda Item 1.02:  Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) Discussion
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 1 hour)
PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director, Instructional Data, Educational Research and Design
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive information regarding the results of the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) testing on Science and Social Studies.
BACKGROUND: The new Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) tests in science and social studies show that Jeffco students are exceeding the state averages in both subject areas according to results released by the Colorado Department of Education on October 27, 2014.

The CMAS tests measure student performance in a new way on the more rigorous Colorado Academic Standards and set a baseline for Colorado students.
The new tests measure performance against higher expectations for students and are given online for the first time.

Student performance falls into one of four categories in the CMAS assessment:  1) distinguished command, 2) strong command, 3) moderate command, and 4) limited command instead of the TCAP achievement categories of unsatisfactory, partially proficient, proficient, and advanced.

Attachments: CMAS_The New Baseline.pdf (1,997 KB)

Our Comments: Basically, this is the results of CMAS test.  The big change seems to be in the classification terminology, i.e., no more ‘partially proficient’, but instead ‘moderate command’.  Slides include comparison against state averages (where JeffCo is better in all circumstances) and against other Metro area Districts.  When measured against the rest of the Metro area, JeffCo consistently outperforms DPS, Aurora, Colorado Springs, and Adams 12 schools.  Jeffco also matches up very well with Cherry Creek, Littleton, and Boulder, sometimes a bit being higher, sometimes a bit lower.  When compared to DougCo, JeffCo ranked higher (adding Distinguished and Strong Commands together) on 8th grade science and 7th grade social studies, tying DougCo on 4th grade social studies, and being lower than DougCo only on 5th grade science by only two percentage points.

From these results, if JeffCo should emulate anyone, it’s Boulder, Cherry Creek, and Littleton, not DougCo.

All that being said, we fully expect the spin from WNW+M3 to make it sound as if JeffCo is just below the lowest performing District in rural Alabama.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 5.13: Administrative Appointments
Adm. Employment – 11-14.pdf (13 KB)
Add’l Background – Administrative Appointments.pdf (17 KB)

Our Comments: Here is where WNW+M3 try to slide in their first little surprise.  This item is in the Consent Agenda, where non-controversial items are grouped for rapid approval. Buried in the attachment Adm. Employment – 11-14.pdf (13 KB) you find for Administrative Appointment 6.C Chief Legal Counsel, Employee Relations one Craig Hess, effective last week.

For those who were are the January 16th Board Meeting, you probably remember how Witt, Newkirk, and Williams made a huge stink about how Dr. Stevenson put the hiring of a new Chief Legal Counsel on the Consent Agenda, and then proceeded to excoriate Dr. Stevenson for that temerity.
Some how, we do not think they will treat Mr. McMinimee doing the exact same thing the same way!
By the way, a quick Google search of Mr. Hess yielded his LinkedIn Page here.  No Facebook page currently found.  The one thing we noticed was that he has No Education!

Given WNW’s current hiring pattern, it is apparent that actual experience in the job is not a requirement for being hired.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 6.01:  Alexandria School of Innovation Charter School Application
Type: Action (estimated duration: 30 minutes)
Attachments: Charter Application Review Committee for ASI – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (228 KB), Department Reviews of Rubric for Alexandria rev.pdf (568 KB)

Our Comments: We stand by our original comments:  Approval of this charter application is a disaster waiting to happen.
There are so many things wrong with this application, it is not even funny.  We will try to hit some of the most outrageous, but will assuredly miss some:

  • The proposal was originally written for DougCo, then hastily converted to JeffCo.  This is evident by the repeated references to “DougCo” instead of “JeffCo” in the original application.  It was obvious they had not really reviewed the document prior to initial submission.
  • Their plan assumes they will have 450 students to start!  But only 150 have sent letters of intent, and it is unsure how many of them were for when the school was proposed for DougCo, not JeffCo.
  • Their marketing efforts have been primarily in DougCo and Littleton, not JeffCo!
  • They have no identified location for the school.
  • Their budget counts on ‘soft money’, contrary to state guidelines.
  • While the school is non-profit, the Brannbergs own the for-profit management company that would be ‘hired’ to run the school.
  • Judy Brannberg would run the school despite having NO formal teaching or school administration experience!
  • The Brannbergs have rigged the Board so that the parents CANNOT take control of the school…ever!

The stories that whirl around the Brannbergs are chilling.  Charismatic, hyper-sales people, they sell others on the ideas by promising anything and everything.  One example was at the public presentation they made to the Board.  When asked about Free, Full-day Kindergarten, Judy Brannberg immediately said they would love to offer it.  It took another, more informed member of the Alexandria team, to inform the Board that they could not answer that question, and that Judy did not understand everything that Free, Full-Day Kindergarten actually meant.  And she is supposed to run the school?

With all that, we expect the application to be approved, 3-2.  After all, WNW has shown time and again that they believe that training, experience, and proven competency are not essentials when it comes to educating children.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 6.02:  Golden View Classical Academy Charter School Application
Type: Action (estimated duration: 30 minutes)
Attachments: Charter Application Review Committee for GVCA – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (215 KB)
Department Reviews of Rubric for Golden View rev.pdf (588 KB)

Our Comments: While we have definite problems with approving this school, competence in putting together the application is not one of them.  Compared to Alexandria, this is an extremely well edited document.   We do have significant problems with the political/philosophical orientation of this school.

Our first issue is that the structure of the school is such that it will become an extension of Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative.  Why?

  • The teachers are to receive initial and continued training at Hillsdale College.
  • The curriculum is prepared by Hillsdale College, and
  • All new members of the Board of Directors are to be selected by the existing Board members, not by the parents.

This means that the school will effectively be under the control of Hillsdale College, not the parents of the students who attend.  Hillsdale College

Our second issue can be found in section “O” of their application, Waivers they are requesting.

on page 14 of the Department  Reviews document.

Some waivers are to be expected.  But they should be around district policies on teachers, pay, Administrative training, etc.  Golden View has those…and then a lot more!
They want to be exempt from restrictions on what material may or may not be in a school library.

  • They want to be exempt from District Policy and State Law that prohibits teachers from selling things to their students without expressed permission of from the JeffCo School Board.
  • They want to be exempt from providing Kindergarten.
  • They want to be exempt from when, how, and what is taught about Human Sexuality.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on unlawful discrimination.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Environmental and Safety programs.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Data Security.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Violence in the Work Place.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Personal Records and Files.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Health Education.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Teaching about Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Teaching about Controversial/Sensitive Issue.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Prevention of Bullying.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Students Rights and Responsibilities.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Student Organizations.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Public Gifts/Donations.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Public/Parent Concerns and Complaints.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Public Concerns/Complaints about Instructional Resources.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Relations with Parent Organizations.

In short, they want all the money from the state, the District, the community, and the parents in the form of tax dollars, but want to be exempt from anything and everything that would hold them accountable to that same state, the District, the community, the parents, and most of all, the students.

In short, the very thing our students objected to, that even the Denver post found going too far, will be handed on a platter to Hillsdale’s Golden View campus.

Agenda Item 6.03:  Student Achievement – Third Grade Reading
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 1 hour)

  1. With the Board of Education’s continued focus on student achievement, time was requested to discuss third grade reading performance toward meeting the Board of Education goal in Ends 1 Student Achievement to increase students’ third grade reading in TCAP from 80% to 85% by August 2015.
  2. Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, and Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director of Instructional Data in Educational Research and Design, will provide information on successful practices that have resulted in high reading achievement.  School leaders will join Dr. Morgan and Dr. Eaton for the Board of Education discussion.

Our Comments: It will be interesting to see how the Board handles the most likely answers:  Improve early reading abilities by focusing on Kindergarten and getting children ready for school.  Also, highly experienced teachers, well supported by instructional coaches.  Things they have already taken a stance on as opposing.  Or will Dr. Morgan (the third “M”) cobble together something that sounds good but actually has no track-record and is meaningless?

Agenda Item 6.04:  Superintendent Goals

Our Comments: Currently no attachments, although they are promised later today.  What we expect is a slightly cleaned up version of the travesty of goals McMinimee presented three weeks ago, i.e., a promise to ‘show leadership’ with no actual hard goals, times, or measures.  Be prepared for more bad acting from Newkirk.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 7.01: 2015/16 Budget Development Community Engagement Tool
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 20 min.)

  1. At the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting, staff presented recommendations for the 2015/16 budget development process. 
  2. A component of that process is gathering community input on budgetary priorities. Staff engaged the services of Citizen Budget, an independent third party specializing in engagement and feedback of budgetary priorities, to develop the community engagement tool.
  3. On September 4, 2014, the Board provided input and approved the budget development process and timeline.
  4. Staff provided the Board with draft questions for the tool in the October 24, 2014, Weekly Update in preparation for input and revisions at the November 6, 2014, Board of Education meeting.
  5. Because discussion was moved from the October 16, 2014, Board of Education meeting, an overview of the engagement tool was provided to the Board in the October 17, 2014, Weekly Update.
  6. The purpose of this discussion is for the Board of Education to provide final direction and approval of the questions for the community engagement tool as part of the 2015/16 budget development process.

Our Comments: When you do not get the answers you want you have three options.  The most intellectually and morally correct action is to accept the answers and adjust your perception of the world accordingly.  A less moral and ethical response is to ignore the results and do what you want anyway.

We already know that WNW could not find the integrity to do the first, and chose the second last spring.  This year, they plan on taking an even nastier and sneaker third option:  change who is asking the questions until you get the answers you want.

FYI – Citizen Budget is a Canadian company.  Their experience is in Canadian municipal budgets.  They have one U.S. customer:  Mankato, MN, a small town southwest of Minneapolis.

Why The SCREAM is an appropriate image…
Agenda Item 8.01:
 Policy Revision: GP-13 Committee Structure
Type: Action – estimated time: 10:25 p.m. (estimated duration: 2 minutes)

  1. Following Board direction on October 16 and other necessary updates, Board governance process (GP) policy 13, Committee Structure, is brought forward for Board adoption of revisions.

Attachments: GP13 Revisions.pdf (164 KB)

Our Comments: Remember the “Curriculum Review Committee” proposed by Julie Williams?  Remember the protests our students made over the Board wanting to be able to exercise censorship and implement political/ideological indoctrination?  Remember how almost a hundred students, parents, and community members spoke against it?  Remember how Julie Williams said that she did not want to raise “little rebels”, and how Witt called the students “pawns”?  Remember Fox News calling them “punks”?

Well, this is the ‘policy change’ that will put everything our students, you, and our community fought against into action.  This is the creation of the mechanism that gives Julie Williams everything she wanted.

Remember this!

and Keep Fighting, JeffCo!


Part 2 Public Education Nation – (Astro Turf) Charter Schools and Authentic Reform

Last weekend, the
Network for Public Education (NPE) held a Public Education Nation conference at the Brooklyn New School in Brooklyn, NY. JeffCo School Board Watch sent two of its members to the forum.  Yesterday they reported on High Stakes Testing and ‘Failing’ Schools.  Today, they continue their report, now covering ‘astro turf’ charter schools and authentic reform.

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g. political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations more credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection.” – Wikipedia

The afternoon sessions of this event focused on charter schools and the privatization of schools across the country. Key speakers were: Karran Harper Royal, a parent in New Orleans, where 93% of the public schools have been shut down and replaced with charter schools. Wendy Lecker, a Connecticut writer, lawyer, and activist who has exposed for profit charter management companies and their practices. Gary Rubinstein, a New York teacher and blogger.

These speakers presented the pitfalls and perils of charter chains, charter management companies and yes, ‘for-profit’ charters. Karran Harper Royal spoke about the loss of community throughout the district. Since the lottery applies to almost all of the schools the students no longer attend neighborhood schools and are bussed throughout the city.

The Recovery School District of New Orleans (RSD) has touted the success of these schools, however, there has been minimal increase in test scores; and most schools are still rated as D or F schools. In fact NONE of these schools are rated A or B. NONE.

And many of the improvements touted are actually a function of changing the formula used to calculate the grades. A great explanation of those changes can be found here.

The district now has over 40 school boards, covering 107 schools. Many of these boards do not allow for parent representation. The is one of hallmarks of an ‘astroturf charter’ as opposed to a genuine grassroots charter.

Of course, some increases are expected. It’s easy when you suspend over 69% of your students, as George Washington Carver Collegiate did in 2012-13. The large number of suspensions in these schools often lead to attrition and eventually higher dropout rates.

The atrocities in RSD mount even higher when you consider the lack of stability in the students’ lives.

Since charters are exempt from hiring licensed teachers, RSD signed contracts with Teach for America.  It then began laying off licensed teachers en masse and replaced them with college graduates with minimal teacher training. TFA ‘teachers’ are brought in from outside New Orleans, creating a situation where the teachers lack the diversity and culture of the student body.

Since teaching is not their chosen profession many TFA teachers only last for a couple of years.

Even worse than the teacher churn, is the school churn.

Yes, even schools last only a few years.  Unable to fulfill the goal of improving education using low-paid TFA ‘teachers’ with only five weeks of training, they shut their doors only to be replaced by a different charter company.

Again, a sign of Astro Turf charters– they make money for a few years then they move on.

Wendy Lecker presented even more appalling facts about charter management companies taking over the northeast. Half of the charter schools in the U.S. are now part of charter chains.

In Connecticut in 2008, the Jumoke charter management company was allowed to run an elementary school, collecting $345,000/year fee. Jumoke was run by Michael Sharpe.

After 2 years the scores dropped, yet more schools were turned over to Jumoke. In fact, he was given $53 million dollars over the following years.

Accusations of nepotism flew. This summer it was revealed not only had Sharpe falsified his academic credentials, he was a convicted felon. What had he been convicted of?  Embezzlement of public funds.

Other charter management companies have ‘partnered’ with construction firms that are then awarded the contract for building a school. In fact, the Harmony School chain has been investigated for awarding contracts to cohorts regardless of the lowest bid.

And the list goes on.

In light of this what does real reform look like?

Robin Hiller, Brian Jones, Phyllis Tashlik and Greg Anrig pointed to Cincinnati.

Several years ago Cincinnati overhauled their district. Rather than using the nuclear option of closing a school and turning it over to private entities, Cincinnati instead invested in the struggling schools.

They invested in teacher and leadership training. They focused on the struggling elementary schools. They used stimulus money to extend the school year (a 5th quarter) that allowed them to add enrichment, music and arts programs.

Finally they collaborated (WNW look it up, we are not sure you know the word exists) with the community. They approached community service providers, looking at the elements of a child’s life the school couldn’t control.

The Cincinnati community came together and created an umbrella organization, the STRIVE Partnership.  More than 300 local organizations agreed to participate. Participants included the YMCA, and the United Way. They also ranged from private businesses to mental health providers. Their mantra is “Every Child, Every Step of the Way, Cradle to Career”. The goal was a collective impact to support, nurture, encourage, and guide every child from before school age to stepping into their career.

Along the way, they created StriveTogether.org to help take what they have learned and developed and pass it on to other communities.

And it is working. Significant gains have been made in everything from Kindergarten readiness to college enrollment. A full report of results and partners can be found on the STRIVE website.

The true reformers had a few key points.  Reform should be teacher developed, student focused with external assessors.  There should be top down support for the bottom end.  True reform encourages teacher collaboration, not teacher competition.  It should be within the public system, because public education is a public responsibility.

The STRIVE model does not rely on the dubious magic of ‘choice’.  Instead, it applies diligently and comprehensively practical, down-to-earth things we know works.  Click here for the StriveTogether Theory of Action_0

The ‘Choice’ model of WNW says if you got a house that needs some roof work, tear it down, then hire inexperienced builders who employ novice carpenters and electricians to build a new one.  Then if you have problems with that one, do it again…and again…and again…and so on.  Eventually, they say, you will have a good house…or school.

The STRIVE model says, check over your whole house.  Identify what needs repair, and what keeps damaging the house.  Bring in experienced, well-trained craftsman, and give them the tools and support they need. Help them repair the damage and then take steps to prevent it from happening again.  At the same time, start keeping the rest of the house in good repair.

Whose house do you want to trust in a storm?

  • Imagine a school district not focused on failing, but improving.
  • Imagine that rather than a board that denigrates teachers, a board that focuses on training, trusting, and empowering teachers.
  • Imagine a district that rather than seeing students as ‘pawns’ or ‘punks.’ instead sees them as human beings that they invest in from cradle to career.
  • Imagine taking the lessons from STRIVE and applying them to Jeffco.
  • Imagine taking a great school district like Jeffco and making it into the nation’s model for a superior school district.

We have a choice to make, JeffCo.  No matter what, we cannot go back to the way things used to be.  We can only move forward.

We have two paths in front of us.  WNW’s ‘magical’ ‘let the free-market decide’ path where there are always losers.  Or the example set by STRIVE, where we come together, honestly look at ourselves, identify what needs to be done, and then set about doing it.  Together.

We know which one we choose.  That’s why we are in this fight.

Come fight with us, JeffCo!  

For our children and our future!


Resources and References

For further information on the Recovery School Districts real numbers check out this.

And then look at the STRIVE model.


9/29 Monday Post: Do List & BOE Meeting Prep

2014 Sept Protests 1First let us say to our high school students that last week made  every American proud! Our ‘little rebels’ showed the country that at least in JeffCo we have not forgotten that protesting to stop censorship is patriotic!

So, our deepest thanks to high school students who left their classrooms last week and the Friday before.  You have shown us that our hopes for the future are in good hands.

With that said, we do offer one bit of advice – keep to your plan to protest on Saturday, and be in school on October 1st.  Any revenue hit caused by an undercount would not concern WNW in the least.  They have already shown how little they care for our District, our schools, and you, our students.  Instead, they would most likely delight in taking it out on the teachers, whom they already have accused of somehow mesmerizing all of you into making your protests.

So be in school on October 1st…and at the Board Meeting on October 2nd, followed by your demonstration on October 4th.  We welcome you to the fray!

The Monday Do List:

Email the Board (board@jeffco.k12.co.us) asking why Julie Williams’ “Curriculm Review Committee” is not on the agenda.  To bring more pressure on the Board, copy your email to three or more of the local media companies below:

Chalkbeat (Contact Form)
The Colorado Independent  (Email Address)
Colorado Pols (Email Address)
The Colorado Statesman (Email Address)
Colorado Media Publications (Contact Form): Arvada Press, Golden Transcript,  Lakewood Sentinel,  Littleton Independent, North Jeffco Westsider,  Westminster Window, Wheat Ridge Transcript
Columbine Courier (Contact Form)
The Denver Business Journal (Contact Form)
The Denver Post  (Email Address – 150 words max)
El Hispano (Spanish, Email Address)
La Prensa (Spanish, Contact Form)
Westword (Contact Form)

CBS 4 (Contact Form)
Fox31 (Email Address)
7News (Contact Form)
KRMA 6 (PBS): (Contact Form)
9NEWS (Contact Form)
CW2 News (Email Address)

And Keep Fighting Everyday!

Finally, go to the meeting on Thursday!  If you can’t make it, then make plans to watch it on line at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/JeffcoBoardRoom

Thursday Meeting Prep:

Note:  In an effort to make the posts shorter, we edit down to key information only.  We will include a link to BoardDocs site as well as one to the agenda in a form suitable for printing.

BOE Meeting 2014-10-02 (Thursday night)
Date and Time:  Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Education Center, 5th Floor Board Room, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden, CO

Key Agenda Items

Agenda Item 2.05 Approve Agenda

Type: Action

Recommended Action: to approve the agenda for the regular business meeting of the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education for October 2, 2014 as presented.

Our Comments: An amazing thing!  The Curriculum Review Committee proposal that caused JeffCo students to make international headlines…is not on the agenda!

As Lesley Dahlkemper noted on her Facebook page last Thursday, the normal practice is to discuss at one meeting and then vote at the other.  WNM+Williams has certainly done this for everything else!  But for some strange reason, they are not doing it now.  You don’t think that the ongoing national and international attention it brought could have something to do with it, do you?

Believe it or not, we want this item on the agenda!  We want Witt, Newkirk, and Williams to do their dirty deed in the bright lights of public awareness.  We want a full and complete review followed by an up or down vote.

But they do not seem to want to do that.  Instead, they seem to want to cheat the public of an actual decision in public.   Among other things, by having no agenda item for this topic, they can push any public comment to the very end of the meeting, when the press has gone, and maybe the high school students (who will undoubtedly be there) may have tired and gone home.

…Or maybe not.

The Public Agenda Part One call for public comment on “Agenda Related” items.  We suggest that an appropriate topic for comment is the lack of having the Curriculum Review Committee proposal on the agenda.   This is a completely appropriate topic for public comment:  Why is the Board not addressing the issue that brought such fame to tens of hundreds our high school students and such ignominy to the School Board?  For those of you who want to address the Board on the Curriculum Review Committee, we strongly urge you to sign up for the Public Agenda Part One public comment, listing Agenda item 2.05 as your topic, and your question being “Why is the Curriculum Review Committee proposal not on the agenda tonight, especially after local, national, and international attention has been brought to it?”

Agenda Item 3.02 Lori Gillis, Outgoing Chief Financial Officer

Type: Recognition

The Board of Education is pleased to recognize Lorie Gillis, chief financial officer, for her years of service as she leaves the district effective October 2.

Our Comments: Lori Gillis deserves our profound respect.  With her in charge of the District finances, we knew we could trust the numbers coming out of the District.  With her leaving, that certaintity will be gone.  But we cannot blame her for wanting to get as far away from the amatuerish machinations of Witt and Newkirk, not to mention the toadying presence of McMinimee.

We will miss her, and wish her well.

Agenda Item 4.02 Public Comment (Agenda Related)

Type: Information

Sign up online here to speak (the signup becomes available at 10 a.m.)

Our Comments: There are three items that definitely need people to speak to.

  • Agenda Item 6.01 – Alexandria School of Innovation charter application – list all the problems found by the Charter Application Review Committee (see our Comments below)
  •  Agenda Item 2.05 – Why is the Curriculum Review Committee proposal not on the agenda!  (See our Comments above)
  • Agenda Item 6.02 – Golden View Classical Academy – list all the problems found with this application (see our Comments below)

Agenda Item 6.01 Public Hearing:  Alexandria School of Innovation

Type: Discussion, Information

Pertinent Facts:

  • According to Board executive limitation policy EL-13, Charter Schools Application and Monitoring, the superintendent shall not allow charter school applications to be recommended if fiscal jeopardy or failure to make consistent progress towards their stated objectives is a likely outcome or is evident.       
  • On August 15, 2014, Alexandria School of Innovation submitted an application for approval by the Board of Education to become a district charter school.       
  • The Board of Education accepted the proposal for study on September 4, 2014.       
  • A public hearing is being held in order for the Board of Education to “obtain information to assist the local board of education in its decision to grant a charter school application.”       
  • Representatives from Alexandria School of Innovation will be present to answer questions from the Board of Education.

File Attachments: Alexandria School of Innovation, Department Reviews of Rubric for Alexandria.pdf (502 KB), Charter Application Review Committee for ASI – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (228 KB), ASI Jeffco BOE PP.pdf (7,278 KB)

Our Comments: This proposed charter school is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Alexandria proposal is less prepared and has more problems than the proposed Cornerstone Academy from last spring (that one was supposed to come back when they had fixed their issues – they have never come back).  Below we highlight the concerns the Charter Application Committee has about Alexandria:

  1. The proposed management (STEMVentures) does not have a currently operating school.  The owners of STEMVentures were involved in the DougCo STEM Academy startup, but after a series of fiascos, including the principal, vice-principal and several staff members resigning just a few weeks before year after the school opened, the Brannbergs were removed from control.
  2. The DougCo application STEMVentures made last year was for a K-6 STEM school.  DougCo turned it down, stating it had deficiencies that needed fixing.  Instead of fixing those, STEMVentures instead applied to JeffCo at the last minute for a 6-12 STEM school!
  3. They want a five-year contract, but three is normal.
  4. Their enrollment projection is not fully backed up.  Need more data on the actual demand.
  5. Apparently all they did was add an engineering course to a typical High School curriculum and think that qualifies it as “STEM”.
  6. JeffCo already has STEM programs at Deer Creek, Bell Middle schools.  Chatfield and Golden High Schools are expanding STEM pathways, Project Lead the Way is at Bear Creek.  Several other schools are exploring STEM options.  Deer Creek is working with Martin-Marrietta and Golden High School is working with the Colorado School of Mines.
  7. Evidence of support goes back to 2009 data – FIVE YEARS OLD!!  No new data supporting demand.
  8. Letters of Recommendation are not from top management, but mid-level and could have been a form letter they sent out.
  9. Boilerplate pages and paragraphs were repeated verbatim throughout the application.
  10. 153 letters of intent, but target of 450 students in the first year!  No detail on the ages of the 153, so no way of knowing if they will be of 6-12 age range.  No evidence that the 153 are close to the south JeffCo location they say they want to serve.
  11. Unclear if cited parental support is from DougCo or JeffCo parents. Why are they not disclosing students names to the District?
  12. Grading system is confused.  First part of application shows them using EM&N (“exceeds standards, meets standards, needs improvement”), the middle part has them using percentage scale (i.e., 90%, 75%), then at the end they are back to EM&N!  Which is it?  Why are they so sloppy as to have this kind of mistake?
  13. Compared their proposed Colorado school with one in Fairfax, Virginia!  Very different demographics!
  14. Outdoor education!?  What?  Why?
  15. They will need very talented teachers but their proposed pay scale would be low.  Where will the qualified teachers come from?
  16. No specifics on fund-raising other than they will do it.
  17. Talk about start-up grant money, but do not mention any other start-up money to hire the staff to write the grants applications and material such applications involve….
  18. They are applying for CDE startup money in years 0,1, & 2.   The norm is years 1, 2, & 3.  Will the CDE go along and give money to them before they actually startup?  (They seem to want startup-startup money.)
  19. Student population numbers do not make sense over the projected years.  They do not seem to realize that one years 6th graders become next years 7th graders.  They plan on adding an elementary school, but have no proof they will have the room.
  20. Salary estimates have many errors – an 8% raise for everyone in year 2?
  21. No margin for error on their budget.
  22. They project 60% of their teachers will be first year teachers!  For a STEM School!
  23. The budget does not work.
  24. They have “Class A” and “Class B” Board of Directors.  STEMVentures nominates three Class A.  Eventually parents can elect two Class B. (There is no way for parents to actually control the school!)
  25. Directors can be employed and receive compensation from the school!  (Can you say, “conflict of interest?”)
  26. Job Descriptions are written so specifically as to predetermine who gets what job.
  27. Relationship between STEMVentures and Alexandria school is unclear in the application (STEMVentures is a for-profit company).
  28. They claim they will draw from across JeffCo, but will be located near DougCo.  How will they draw from anywhere north of Bowles?
  29. Want to give preference to accepting students from the “founding families” of the DougCo STEM school!?!
  30. They do not address how they will work with low income students or low achieving students.
  31. In one part of the application they state they will go with the District lunch program, then in another part they say they will not have a lunch program at all!?!
  32. No transportation plan.
  33. None of the plans show the six classrooms they would need.
  34. They have not requested a Type D waiver for Judy Brannberg, the proposed head of the school.
  35. Special Ed – they intend to hire staff from the District for their first year which is not possible.
  36. The review group did not have an opportunity to directly meet with the Brannbergs.

The conclusion of the review team was that STEMVentures should take another year to improve their plan and application.

We will add in a couple notes of our own:

The Brannbergs actually have NO education degrees or licensed training.

 The only way DougCo could get the original STEM Academy to succeed was by kicking the Brannbergs & STEMVentures out.

This is less an application for JeffCo and more a door-to-door salesperson looking for a less critical customer.

In short, their application raises a lot more questions than it answers!

Agenda Item 6.02 Public Hearing: Golden View Classical Academy

Type: Discussion, Information

Pertinent Facts:

  1. According to Board executive limitation policy EL-13, Charter Schools Application and Monitoring, the superintendent shall not allow charter school applications to be recommended if fiscal jeopardy or failure to make consistent progress towards their stated objectives is a likely outcome or is evident.
  2. On August 15, 2014, Alexandria School of Innovation submitted an application for approval by the Board of Education to become a district charter school.The Board of Education accepted the proposal for study on September 4, 2014.    A public hearing is being held in order for the Board of Education to “obtain information to assist the local board of education in its decision to grant a charter school application.”Representatives from Golden View Classical Academy will be present to answer questions from the Board of Education.
  3. File Attachments: Golden View Classical Academy application, Department Rubric for Golden View.pdf (522 KB), Charter Application Review Committee for GVCA – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (215 KB), PRESENTATION GVCA to JeffCo.pdf (1,367 KB)

Our Comments: This proposed charter school will definitely benefit from going second – after the Alexandria proposal ANYTHING else will look good.

As we stated in our 9/4 Post, there is a lot that concerns us about this school.  Not the least of which i  Below we highlight the concerns the Charter Application Committee has about Golden View:

  1. They seem to think that “Core Knowledge” is a curriculum rather than a recommended standard or process.
  2. Teachers are to go each year to Hillsdale College in Michigan for professional training.  No budget is given for that.
  3. Plan calls for 498 students in the first year, but they only have 171 family responses so far.
  4. They switch  back and forth from Saxon Math to Singapore.  Can be very difficult in professional development (and confusing for the students).
  5. Concern over having to spend District & State dollars to send staff out of state to a religious college for training.
  6. Concerns over political, religious, and partisan affiliations the school would have with Hillsdale.
  7. Outside group controlling a JeffCo school like a puppet?
  8. Teacher contract is longer than JeffCo normal (201 days) but no mention of additional pay is made.
  9. No explanation where start-up money comes from.  They have the Daniels Fund giving $30k in year zero for “marketing”.
  10. Liability insurance is too low.
  11. Self-perpetuating board – no chance of parents ever gaining control.
  12. Their definition of part-time is 35 hours – not compliant with ACA. (One reader of the post has told us the school may have enough employees to avoid that issue – Hat Tip to Brian Terpstra)
  13. In one place, they say staff cannot be on the Board, in another place they say the staff can be on the Board.  Which is it?
  14. They want to not have to follow the District Conduct Code – not possible.
  15. They want to not have to give the state mandated alcohol/sex education course.

This would be the school of Julie Williams dreams.  For all that makes us shudder, as we said before, they look great compared to Alexandria.

Our Final Comments: It is very interesting that Witt is now scheduling the real meaty stuff for “Study Session” meetings where public comment is not allowed, but the regular meetings where the public is able to speak are filled with mainly fluff and almost no voting.  We some how doubt it is all coincidence.

Whether this meeting has any real substance to it will depend primarily on you.  If you tell your neighbors.  If you email the Board.  If you sign up to speak.  If you go and let WNM+Williams know, in no uncertain terms, that they cannot avoid public scrutiny for ever, then something of consequence will occur.  We will have moved one significant step closer to taking back our school district!

So turn the “If”s into “I did”s and help us…

Keep Fighting, JeffCo!



9/15 BOE Meeting Prep: WNM+Williams Bulldozes JCEA & JeffCo

Bulldozing HouseThe quiet summer is definitely over and WNM+Williams must have spent much of their summer planning this latest blitzkrieg. At Thursday’s meeting, they will finish ramming down JCEA and JeffCo’s throats Ken Witt’s ‘I just jotted down some ideas’ teacher compensation plan.  

This is on top of the news that Lori Gillis, who has been doing her best to keep honest books, is now fleeing, seeking sanctuary in the Arvada city government, and no one can blame her. Then last Thursday, JCEA took the serious step of voting a resolution of ‘No Confidence’ against Ken Witt. We expect this Thursday to be another battle between those who are trying to destroy the District and those who are desperately trying to save it.

Unfortunately for all of JeffCo, the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

So we need everyone to ‘gird up’ and get ready. We need as many people showing up at the meetings, writing letters, and talking to people as we can get.

Monday Do List:

  1. Email the Board (board@jeffco.k12.co.us) asking why a teacher compensation package is being rammed through with no consultation with JCEA, no time to do a full staff study to understand the full impact, no full scale debate by the Board, and no opportunity for public comment.
  2. It is also high time that the rest of the public starts to pay attention to what is going on here. One of the ways we can make that happen is by getting the local media involved.  If enough of us send emails to them, then maybe they will start giving it the coverage it needs and deserves! Simply email (or enter a comment on their comment page) telling them briefly what is happening here in JeffCo and asking why they are not covering it more in depth?Pick three or four a day to do each day:

Chalkbeat (Contact Form)
The Colorado Independent  (Email Address)
Colorado Pols (Email Address)
The Colorado Statesman (Email Address)
Colorado Media Publications (Contact Form): Arvada Press, Golden Transcript,  Lakewood Sentinel,  Littleton Independent, North Jeffco Westsider,  Westminster Window, Wheat Ridge Transcript
Columbine Courier (Contact Form)
The Denver Business Journal (Contact Form)
The Denver Post  (Email Address – 150 words max)

El Hispano (Spanish, Email Address)
La Prensa (Spanish, Contact Form)
Westword (Contact Form)

CBS 4 (Contact Form)
Fox31 (Email Address)
7News (Contact Form)
KRMA 6 (PBS): (Contact Form)
9NEWS (Contact Form)
CW2 News (Email Address)

Finally, go to the meeting on Thursday!  If you can’t make it, then make plans to watch it on line at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/JeffcoBoardRoom

And Keep Fighting Everyday!

Thursday Meeting Prep:
Note:  In an effort to make the posts shorter, we edit down to key information only.  We will include a link to BoardDocs site as well as one to the agenda in a form suitable for printing.

2nd Note:  This meeting is a “Special – S/D” (Study/Discussion) session. That means that WNM+Williams will not allow public comment, contrary to Board & District Policy (specifically policy BEDH, the second sentence of paragraph four).

BOE Meeting 2014-09-18 (Thursday night)
Date and Time:  Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Education Center, 5th Floor Board Room, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden, CO

Key Agenda Items (9-15 BOE Meeting Prep – Printed Version)

Agenda Item 2.01 Community Engagement: Jeffco League of Women Voters
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Patricia Mesec, president, League of Women Voters of Jefferson County Lead members, LWV Jeffco
PURPOSE:  For the Board of Education to meet with members of the Jefferson County League of Women voters to discuss items of mutual interest, including the following questions (requested by the Board).

  1. What are your plans to address the needs of all students in Jefferson County, including children of poverty, English Language Learners, special needs children, and students in pre-school?
  2. How are the governing policies for the Board of Education developed, implemented and amended?  Are these policies the backbone of governance?
  3. What processes does the Board of Education use in responding to advisory boards, staff recommendations, surveys, and public comment?
  4. What strategies are you planning to use to reassure the community that you are placing a priority on maintaining the reputation of high standards and effective governance in Jefferson County Public Schools?
  5. Discuss the roles of the superintendent and the Board of Education and how they interrelate in the decision making process?

BACKGROUND: The Jeffco League of Women voters wrote to the Board of Education in March 2014 requesting time to meet with the Board of Education as boards have done in the past.

The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County Positions on Education and Government Boards and Commissions is provided below.

File Attachments: LWVJeffco Positions for BOE.pdf (72 KB) Cover letter for BOE LWVJeffco.pdf (415 KB)

Our Comments: Have you ever wished that WNM+Williams would be faced with a knowledgeable, strong group of people who not only ask questions, but can also ask follow-up questions when WNM+Williams use avoidance answers?  You may just get your wish this Thursday.

The League of Women Voters (national site here, JeffCo chapter site here) has a long and highly respected tradition of non-partisanship advocacy for little ‘d’ democracy, i.e., not only getting as many people involved in voting as possible, but also monitoring government groups for being responsive to their constituents.  If both sides live up to their reputations (WNM+Williams for furtive evasiveness and mendacity, the League for being experienced, tough-minded questioners), then the fireworks may begin early!

Read the LWV attachment.  It spells out pretty well what they expect out of government…and you can fill in for yourself where WNM+Williams fall short!  We will watch with this session with a lot of anticipation!

Agenda Item 2.02 Facilities Planning
Type: Discussion, Information
PRESENTING STAFF: Steve Bell, chief operating officer, Tim Reed, executive director, Facilities
PURPOSE:  For the Board of Education to receive additional information on districtwide facilities in order to provide direction on the development of the draft Facility Master Plan and urgent facility needs.
BACKGROUND: The Board of Education received preliminary facilities planning priorities on August 23, 2014 in anticipation of additional, in depth discussion in September.

File Attachments: PRESENTATION Facilities Planning.PDF (1,701 KB)

Our Comments: The largest part of the presentation focuses on coping with ‘over utilization’ of schools, also known as school crowding.  There are 17 schools specifically discussed: Meiklejohn Elementary, Wayne Carle Middle, Van Arsdale Elementary, Sierra Elementary, Oberon Middle, West Woods Elementary, Fairmount Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, Drake Middle, Deane Elementary, Stein Elementary, O’Connell Middle, Devinny Elementary, Rooney Ranch Elementary, Hutchinson Elementary, Kendallvue Elementary, and Dunstan Middle.  Some of the options include building new schools at Table Rock Mesa and Solterra (SW side of Green Mountain), expand Sierra Elementary, and re-opening Zerger at 9050 Field in Westminster.  Other options include expanding a number of existing Middle Schools from 7-8 to 6-8.  As well there is a proposal to build a South Area Athletic Complex to relieve the pressure on the two existing sites.

If you know someone whose child attends one of these schools, please let them know that Thursday’s meeting will involve their school to one degree or another.

We will not be surprised if WNM+Williams use this as an opportunity to push for charter schools in these areas.

Agenda Item 2.03 Choice Programming Update
PRESENTING STAFF: Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer, Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer
PURPOSE:  The Board of Education requested an update on the work in the district related to school choice practices and policies as well as an update on STEM programs in Jeffco Schools.
BACKGROUND: Jeffco Schools provides families the ability to select schools and instructional programming through the choice enrollment policy (JFBA).  Students can select to attend their assigned neighborhood school or they may seek enrollment into:

  • another neighborhood school
  • a charter school
  • an option school

During the 2013/2014 school year, the Board of Education created the Choice Steering Committee and tasked this committee to assess current practices supporting choice enrollment and programming.  This committee concluded its work in June of 2014 with a list of recommendations for consideration.  District staff has continued to enhance the processes and policies which support student choice.

Additionally, the expansion of STEM in two middle schools was discussed in January 2014 by the Board of Education and as interest in STEM continues to grow, the Board has expressed an interest in an update on this particular choice program in Jeffco Schools.

File Attachments: PRESENTATION Choice Programming.pdf (118 KB)

Our Comments: The presentation is heavy on color and large fonts while be light on actual content.  We will have to see how the discussion goes on most of this.  One thing that drew our eye was a reference to “Mining of responses to the Choice Parent Survey…” (slide 3).  This was the first we recall of hearing the results of the ‘Choice Parent Survey’.  There are a lot of questions we would like to ask about this survey, including:  Who administered it?  What was the methodology?  What was the sampling universe?  Where is the raw data?  How come this has not been published to the JeffCo School District Website?  At least it is not listed on the Choice Steering Committee page. In fact, this page, while showing that a Choice Survey was in the works, makes no mention of the final form of the survey, nor when it was conducted, nor when the “focus groups” mentioned in the original plans were conducted.

In short, this presentation raises a lot more questions than it answers!

Agenda Item 2.04 Progress Monitoring: Ends 5
Type: Discussion, Information
PRESENTING STAFF: Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer
PURPOSE:  For the Board of Education to receive a progress monitoring report on Ends 5: every student will become a responsible citizen.
BACKGROUND: The Board of Education assesses the district’s performance through Board Ends policies, or goals, directing the work of the superintendent and district.  Ends policies are an essential component of the Board’s governance structure.  Updates on the five Ends policies are to be provided to the Board on a regular basis.

File Attachments: BOE Ends 5 Update Sept 2014.pdf (117 KB)

Our Comments: Normally this would be a ‘ho-hum, this is important but so non-controversial’ that we could safely ignore it.  However, Witt, in particular, has surprised us before.  Remember the “I don’t like that word” response to “diversity”?  So keep at least one eye open on this one….

Agenda Item 2.05 Teacher Compensation Model
Type: Action
Recommended Action: To approve staff recommendations regarding implementation of teacher compensation model.

  1. On September 4, 2014, staff presented information on the proposed teacher compensation model in response to Board of Education questions.
  2. On September 4, 2014, the Board adopted the proposed compensation plan for teachers for the 2014-2105 school year, and requested staff to bring back information on ‘over market’ and the timing of implementation.
  3. The attached presentation provides the Board of Education with the additional details required to begin implementing the approved plan.

File Attachments: BOE Meeting Sept 18 2014 Teacher Compensation.pdf (278 KB)


Agenda Item 2.06 Resolution of Outstanding Negotiation Items
Type: Action
Recommended Action: To approve staff recommendations regarding implementation of teacher compensation model.

  1. On September 4, 2014, staff presented information on the proposed teacher compensation model in response to Board of Education questions.
  2. On September 4, 2014, the Board adopted the proposed compensation plan for teachers for the 2014-2105 school year, and requested staff to bring back information on ‘over market’ and the timing of implementation.
  3. The attached presentation provides the Board of Education with the additional details required to begin implementing the approved plan.

File Attachments: Resolution to Decide Unresolved Negotiation Issues Sept 18 2014.pdf (297 KB)

Our Comments: From being represented as an off-the-cuff idea by Witt at the August 28th meeting to approval at the September 4th meeting, now being finalized at the September 18th meeting, this is not just a WNM+Williams railroad, it’s a bullet train.

There are so many things wrong with this it is hard to know where to start, and we could do multiple posts just dealing with the words “above market”.  But we do not want to overwhelm you, so we will focus on just one aspect:  public trust & comment.

The lack ability for the public to comment on this proposal is horrific and non-democratic.  It has all the fairness and openness of a Kangaroo Court.  

Witt brought this proposal up as a surprise at the first regular Board meeting, but he did it in such a way as to prevent the public from commenting on it.  

The normal, above-board, and honest way to handle this proposal would have been for Witt to notify Helen Neal, the Chief of Staff for the Board and Superintendent, of this proposal several days in advance. Then it would have had it’s own agenda item number and been placed in the discussion session of the meeting. The proposal would have had time to be examined by all the Board members and the public. The public would have been able to prepare comment and questions for the Board prior to it’s adoption.

That is not what Witt did.

He brought it up in agenda item 1.01 which simply mentioned the JCEA negotiations.  If you look at the time stamp on the document KW comp2014 7 points.pdf you will see that the email was sent at 6:21 p.m., while the meeting was going on! Likewise with his misleading graph.  Yet the language and graph presentation make it obvious that this was something that he (and others?) spent a lot of time on.

He then pushed through a vote to force the staff do a study in time for the next meeting, only five business days away!  Five days to examine the impact on 8,000 teachers and a significant if not majority of the JeffCo budget!

At the Sept 4th meeting, Witt had the plan scheduled in the Study/Dialogue section of the agenda (item 1.02), with only discussion and information showing as being planned.  This meant, as with the previous meeting, when WNM+Williams pushed for a vote on the compensation plan (contrary to their own policies), it was done prior to any possible public comment!

In this upcoming meeting (Sept 18th), we are seeing the past repeat itself.  By scheduling the issue in a “Special Meeting”, WNM+Williams are deliberately avoiding any public comment on this plan!  This is because WNM+Williams have consistently refused to allow public comment in Special Meetings, contrary to Board Governance & Operations Policy BEDH – Public Participation at Meetings (see the second sentence of paragraph four).

One the ultimate ironies of the situation is that Open Negotiations – Proposition 104 is based on the idea that close door negotiations between a school district and teachers is a bad thing.  Here in JeffCo, the JCEA welcomed open negotiations.  It is WNM+Williams that has tried to do everything in secret, even from the rest of the Board.

This compensation plan is being rammed through with all the finesse of a bayonet drill…and the first victims are JeffCo teachers.  The next victims will be JeffCo students (as their best teachers leave) and then the JeffCo community and taxpayers.

Agenda Item 2.07 Resolution: Study Committee on Common Core Standards, PARCC assessments and AP U.S. History
Type: Action
Recommended Action: To discuss the proposal to establish a Board study committee on Common Core Standards, PARCC assessments and Advanced Placement U.S. History; and, to determine next steps on the proposal.
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss the proposal presented by Board member Julie Williams to create a Board study committee on Common Core Standards, PARCC assessments and Advanced Placement U.S. History.
BACKGROUND: On September 4, Ms. Williams agreed to bring an action plan for Board discussion to create a Board study committee.

File Attachments: None so far, but something promised for sometime Monday.  We will update the post as soon as it becomes available. JW PROPOSAL Board Committee for Curriculum Review.pdf (21 KB) (Posted on JeffCo BoardDocs site Monday, September 15th)

Our Comments (9/14): What Julie Williams has been trying to do since August 28th might actually happen…sort of.  She was wanting an up or down vote on a resolution calling on the state to require a new look at the ‘unamerican’ slant of AP history, the burden of PARCC tests and the unfairness of Common Core.  Twice now Witt has cut her off at the knees.  This agenda item which is supposed to be a discussion of the idea of a resolution is all she managed to get.  It will be interesting to see if Witt does a bit of ruffled feather soothing, or if he goes on with his normal tone-deafness when it comes to other people’s feelings.

Please keep in mind that we are not taking sides in the Common Core and PARCC issues, and the actions Ms. Williams would like to take on the ‘unamerican slant’ of AP history fills us horror.  Still, we are also puzzled at how Witt feels he can completely ignore one of his essential votes. Indeed, the one vote that has already few occasions broken ranks with him.  We certainly hope that Witt continues to take Williams for granted, as we feel pretty sure that sooner or later, those chickens will come home to roost.

Updated Comments (9/16):  Now that we have read Julie Williams proposal, if possible, our horror has increased. There are several points that truly terrifying.

In effect, she proposes to place on top of the District-based existing curriculum and text selection process a Text Book Purity committee.  This committee would be staffed by WNM+Williams partisans.  They would be in a position to enforce their particular world, social, economic, and moral views on our children.

There are four main aspects to this monstrosity:

1) The committee selection method is badly flawed.  In 9/4 meeting, Leslie Dahlkemper asked if each Board Member would be allowed to appoint members and was assured that would be the case.

That is not what Williams wrote.  She proposes that each board member nominate members.  The Board would then vote on each candidate, a majority vote being required.  This would go on until all nine members are ‘elected’.

Any guesses as to how those votes would turn out?  This would allow WNM+Williams to prevent any person whose viewpoints differ from their from becoming a member.  In short, they can control the entire makeup of the committee, and then pass it off as ‘representing the public’ when in fact it would do no such thing.

2) This is no longer a committee to review PARCC, Common Core, and AP History, but a Board Committee that is empowered to review all JeffCo texts, all the time.  There is no limit on their scope, nor on how long they serve.  Further, they would continually review texts.  This means that they would be in a position to oversee the implementation of a policy that they helped formulate.  This would violate point 5 of  GP-12 Board Committee Principles

3) Williams is trying to sneak in another issue:  Sex Education.  She specifically states that the Committee’s first two priorities are AP U.S. History and “elementary health curriculum” (last sentence of the second paragraph).  This would allow her and her fellow believers to enforce their views on our kids.  Instead of a factual exploration of human sexuality, Williams would be in a position to force her personal views into the curriculum for our children.

4) Not content with banishing any fact, viewpoint, or scientific conclusion that offends them, Williams proposes that this committee require that texts promote “respect for authority” and “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law.”

This means that Julie Williams’ preferred history texts would have to condemn the Freedom Riders of the 50’s and 60’s who fought Jim Crow segregation laws in the South by deliberately violating them.  In fact, all of the history of the Civil Rights movement would either have to frowned on or redacted (and we know how WNM+Williams love redacting) from the history texts.  The Underground Railroad that smuggled escaping slaves from the South into the North and later to Canada, would have to be described in the same terms we would use for terrorists and criminals today.  Ironically, this requirement would also mean that the event that her personal political group takes its name from, the Boston Tea Party, would also have to be condemned!  Likewise, that phrasing would require texts denounce the acts of the George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Henry Lee, John Hancock, and the rest of our founding fathers as illegal and immoral!

But it does not stop there.

Because of the broad range of the Committee’s charter, not just history texts would be subject to review, but also science texts, English literature, economics, theater, music, debate, journalism, foreign language,…in short anything in the realm of text, her committee would become the final arbiters of.  She would now have a tool to strike out any scientific theory, practice, conclusion, fact that offends her view of the world.

In effect, Williams proposes a non-academic censorship group whose job it would be to delete any fact, viewpoint, or analysis that does not agree with the Curriculum Review Committee, and then insert their own views, representing them as ‘fact’.

This is structured not be a neutral, representative, curriculum review committee with a narrow focus and limited powers.  This would be her equivalent to the ‘House Un-American Activities Committee’ of the McCarthy era.  George Orwell’s 1984, written small.  Apparently this is acceptable to WNM+Williams (does anyone believe that J. Williams even sneezes without asking Witt’s permission?) because they would get to be ‘Big Brother’.

Final Comments:

We feel the bulldozer photo is apt for this meeting.  WNM+Williams have lined up the bulldozing of a new compensation plan down the throats of JeffCo’s teachers. They are doing this without the time for a full analysis, without any real idea of the full ramifications of the plan, without knowing it’s cost, and without knowing it’s full impact.  They are doing it without consulting JCEA, without full debate on the Board, and without public comment.

The only bright spot will be early on, when the League of Women Voters asks their questions about open, honest, government processes that include full public comment as an integral part.  Watching WNM+Williams trying to bob & weave their way through those questions should provide some amusement at least.  It will also show an even brighter spotlight on the perfidious actions.

And that is what we need to strive for now.

It is at this point that WNM+Williams and their hidden backers expect you to fold and give up.  They are counting on it.  They have been trying to wear you out.  If we give up, stop talking, blogging, attending, and demonstrating, then they can continue their bulldozing of JeffCo with little public notice.  That will allow them to construct a pleasing narrative for the rest of the world.  A narrative that would bear little semblance to reality.

And we stop that by showing up at this meeting, and the one after that, and the one after that.  We take the first crucial steps in stopping them by making sure that everything they do is done in the blazing light of full public scrutiny and criticism.  The glare from that brightness, ultimately, WNM+Williams cannot tolerate, and they will be driven out.

We have already started and have made enormous headway.  Our first posts in January only a couple of hundred people.  Now we regularly reach several thousand, while some of our posts have reached tens of thousands.  And the curve is on the upward swing!

Let’s show WNM+Williams how wrong they are!  Show up Thursday night! WNM+Williams may not allow us to speak verbally, but we can show our resistance to their arrogance visually.  Wear t-shirts, buttons, and hats that proclaim our insistence on open and honest government.  Let them know, by our presence, that in the end, we will take back our District.

And we will do that because we…

Keep Fighting, JeffCo!