10/29 Destructive Distractions: WNW’s Reaction To JeffCo’s “Pawns”

distraction
The dark money backers of Jeffco’s Terrible Trio must be looking back on the last two months with mixed emotions.

On one hand, their WNW minions followed the DougCo-inspired game plan and wreaked further damage on JeffCo and its’ students by

  • imposing a ‘rule by decree’ teacher comp plan;
  • changed a ‘review’ of Brad Miller into a quick ‘renewal’ of his contract;
  • lavished praise on the applications of two new Charter schools, one with such a flawed application that it kept referring to JeffCo as “Douglas County”, and the other which appears to be a puppet of an extreme religiously-oriented college from Michigan;
  • getting rid of Lori Gillis, the independent CFO, making it easier to ‘massage’ the numbers.

On the other hand, over 1,000 JeffCo students from 16 different JeffCo High Schools garnered international attention and praise for protesting Julie Williams’ heavy handed motion to censor their AP U.S. History course, and in doing so, helped wake up JeffCo’s parents, students, business community, and concerned citizens.

The impact of this is still growing and spreading.

We suspect that Witt, Newkirk, Miller, McMinimee, and their hidden backers must of have been wishing they could muzzle Julie Williams. It was, after all, her surprisingly open and honest espousal of the WNW vision for JeffCo’s curriculum that woke up the students.

Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.  Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”
(from the last paragraph of Williams’s original proposal)

In short, political indoctrination of our students, an action so reprehensible, so contrary to our history, so anti-American, that even their best spin doctors could not hide its horrific intent.

After the students walked out, WNW pushed through a fake ‘compromise’ that had no input from the rest of the Board and completely ignored the impassioned pleas from almost 100 students, parents, and JeffCo citizens. The censorship committee was effectively approved, with only the honest reasons for it being omitted.

But the damage had been done.

The students’ response…and the response of our country and the world to the actions of our students, helped us all to remember two key lessons of American History.

First, there is always someone who feels it is their divine right to force their beliefs on the rest us.

Second, that it is only by uniting and fighting them together, that can they be defeated.

WNW finally was confronted with an issue that they had not planned on, nor had a scripted response to.

Fundamentally, WNW showed that they are not flexible, nor in-tune with the public. Their very responses, calling our students “pawns“, saying they did not want to raise “little rebels“, and trying to paint the issue as a just ‘labor dispute’ showed how little imagination or true concern they have for the District and its students.

Even their media supporters at FOX News showed their tone-deafness when they called our students “punks”.

Now our students wear with pride shirts and buttons proclaiming them to be ‘rebels’ and ‘knights not pawns’ and that Fox called them ‘Punks’. So do many JeffCo parents and residents.

Since then, WNW has done everything it can to divert attention away from their Censorship Committee and their hatred of AP courses.

Along the way, they have continued to blunder about. Three state senatorial campaigns photoshopped a picture of the students protesting and then improperly used the JeffCo School logo in a campaign mailer. First Witt, and then Williams were caught not complying with CORA requests. Letters to the Board continue to go unanswered weeks after they were sent.  They failed to assuage the League of Women Voters who issued a letter saying that the JeffCo Board has a ‘governance problem‘.

WNW and their backers have also continued to try and paint the students as ‘pawns’ of evil teachers, dropped hints at refusing to negotiate a contract with JCEA, and just this last week, have let hints come out that they want to change the mountain school area of JeffCo (Conifer, Evergreen, etc.) to a four-day school week.

In short, they are all but begging us to trumpet these things from the tree-tops.

Why?  Because they will do anything to take the public’s attention away from their censorship and indoctrination agenda.

Do not get us wrong! All of those things are terrible, and they just add to the list of awful, wasteful, and destructive actions they have committed in just 11 months. But the public reaction to those atrocities is something for which they have a set of pre-planned responses. Their maskirovkas for those outrages are well honed and ready.

But it is the reaction to the open proposal of Julie Williams to censor course material and indoctrinate blind obedience into our students for which they have no pre-planned response.

For Julie Williams has revealed to everyone what they truly are and what they truly believe.

And they are desperate to hide that.

So, for the next 30 days or so, we expect them to actually accelerate their outrageous actions. We expect a rubber stamp for at least one (if not both) of the badly flawed Charter School applications. We expect them to launch even more tight restrictions and punitive actions on the teachers and students who oppose them. We expect them to try and spin JeffCo’s success with students into sounding as if we have the worst district in the state, instead of the best. We expect them to blast the teachers with manipulated statistics, innuendo, and misleading statements. We expect them to try to sound as if they are reasonable when they commit the most unreasonable acts.

We also expect them to try and quietly load the new Censorship Committee with their partisans who will go off to find ‘horrible’ things being taught to our students. We expect them to begin the process of belittling and demonizing the AP courses and then begin talking up alternatives involving Colorado Christian University. We also expect them to try and hide these actions from the public behind their other outrages.

What can we do?

The first and most important action is to vote in this election. The second most important is to get everyone you know to vote as well.

If you are not sure who to vote for, you can check Support Jeffco Kids list of endorsements.

Even WNW is not immune to public pressure (although they are very resistant to it). There are several candidates for several different offices who openly support and praise WNW.

What if they all lost?

That would be a body blow to WNW. No longer could they pretend they had a mandate. No longer could they look for political cover when they take horrific actions. Those among them with political ambitions (Witt & Newkirk) might actually think twice about their chances on their present course.

Then, after the election, we need to continue to put pressure on them and other elected officials. We also need to keep the news media focused on the JeffCo School Board. And the best way to do that is to show up at every Board meeting, in force.

We then need everyone to step forward and begin building the organizations that will eventually wrest control of our District away from the WNW extremists.

Below is a list of organizations already working to do just that.

Organizations that can help you make even a bigger difference!

  • Support Jeffco Kids.  “SJK” is a 501(c)4 organization, and so can accept donations and engage in political activities.  It has worked hard at organizing opposition to WNW policies in the community, and they seem to be one of the key groups.  You can join their mailing list here, and donate here.

  • Jeffco Exodus – What they are (from their ‘About us’ page):
    Gathering facts, Sharing stories
    Jeffco Exodus is a community network focused on two primary activities:

    • Gathering and sharing factual information to raise awareness

    • Sharing teacher, staff and family stories of exodus from Jeffco

    We’re hoping to have two or more volunteers in every Jeffco school – neighborhood, option and charter – to establish a communications network through which we can  share factual information. Jeffco has a problem – the new School Board Majority. But not enough people in Jeffco understand the issues. We want to raise community awareness.”

    Jeffco Exodus is run entirely by Jeffco parents and is in no way affiliated with any professional associations or other formal organizations.​

    Who they are looking for (volunteers):

    Parents with children in JeffCo schools.  “We hope to have at least two people at every Jeffco school who can quickly disseminate factual information we will share.”

    Ways to contact them:

    email: JEFFCOEXODUS@GMAIL.COM
    Website: www.jeffcoexodus.com
    FB: https://www.facebook.com/jeffcoexodusContact Page: http://www.jeffcoexodus.com/contact-us.html

  • Citizens For Responsible Education is focused on reaching out to those in JeffCo who do not have a direct connection to the school district.  Their mission is to help those citizens realize that the fate of JeffCo’s schools, students, and teachers directly impacts their business, their jobs, their home values, and them.
  • Your local PTA.  Even if you do not have a child in school, your local PTA can use your help and input. Michelle Patterson, the President of JeffCo PTA, gave a blistering speech to WNW at the meeting.  What ever happens, the JeffCo PTA will be in the thick of things.  Either contact your local school or the County PTA here: JeffCo PTA Volunteers.
  • Jeffco Students For Change  is a group of students representing most or all of Jefferson County’s high schools that have gotten together to add their voice to the public outcry against the WNW deconstruction of their schools.  If nothing else, go and ‘Like’ their page.  These are students we all should be very proud of!

Join. Volunteer. Donate.

If you find yourself hesitating, if you find yourself unsure, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. If not here, then where?
  2. If not now, then when?
  3. If not me, then who?

Come. Together we WILL make a difference!

Because we will…

Fight Together, Jeffco!

 


 

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

charterland_0
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.


 

10/18 – Public Education Nation, Part 1 of 2: High Stakes Testing & ‘Failing’ Schools

pub-ed-nat-3Last 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.  Today and tomorrow, they will report on what they found, heard, and learned there.

The NPE is focused on stopping the dismantling of public schools, and their growing privatization.

For many of us this may sound impossible – the privatization of schools?

Public schools are a cornerstone of our democracy. Although public schools did not spread across the U.S. until the mid-1800s , our founding fathers recognized the importance of education. Thomas Jefferson believed education should be provided by the government, free from religion, and free of charge. George Washington was also a supporter of public schools. John Adams wrote, “Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a human and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”

Our public schools have long represented our country’s freedom.  It’s promise.  It’s future.

Our desire to educate every child, no matter what race, religion, gender or economic status is a testament to our deep seated belief that All Men (and Women) Are Created Equal. This conference delved into how that system has come under attack.

A key discussion at the conference was the Opt Out Movement and mass stakes testing. JeffCo School Board Watch maintains a neutral stance on Common Core, but this discussion brought up some interesting questions for parents and educators to ask.

There is no doubt that schools need standards. And that metrics are needed to track those standards. But at what cost? And to what purpose?

The current standardized tests tell us what students are meeting standards. However, the NPE panel pointed out that the teachers are never given data on WHAT questions a student missed.

The tests are also used to decide what schools are ‘failing’. But rather than work to repair these schools, that failing grade is often used to simply close the school and disperse the students. And in doing so deprive them of their community and their community of it’s voice.

And finally, in some cases, the tests are used to measure our teachers. Regardless of factors that can affect the student’s test scores even more than the teacher:  If the child taking the test is gifted.  If English is their second language.  Or if the child is simply living in such a state of poverty that when they took the test they hadn’t eaten since the previous day’s lunch or they had slept in car with their family that night.  Yet, there are proponents for whom this is the only valid measure of a teacher.

Here is an analogy: Imagine you are an engineer for a car company. You build the car, manufacture copies of it and THEN send it to testing (remember most standardized tests are administered in the spring with results coming to the families weeks or months later).

The testing company tells you the car failed the safety test, but they do not inform you what failed. Did the brakes fail? Did the air bags not deploy? How can you fix the car if you don’t know the mode of failure? Maybe the problem is a simple one, that with extra training or extra resources, could not only be fixed, but amazing cars could be produced.

However, rather than dedicating the resources to fixing the problem, the CEO simply throw up his hands and closes the plant.

Our kids are not objects! They are human beings. They deserve better than a school district giving up on them, closing their schools, breaking up their communities and dispersing them.  And our commitment to them needs to be deeper than the a ‘return on investment’ calculation.

At the conference education and parent leaders pointed out that this is what has been happening to our inner city schools for years.

Labeled as failing, districts led by ‘reformers‘ are throwing in the towel, closing schools. Worse, there are ‘reformers‘ that deliberately look for ways to force schools into failing. They then replace them with private charters. Charters that do not comprise children from the community, but of a mix of students from all over the city, breaking up the neighborhoods, and fracturing their communities.

Many of these charter chain schools (not actual neighborhood-developed charters) are run by companies who intend to make a profit from running the schools.

And the boards that run them are not made up of parents nor are they community members.

These students and parents have lost their voice in their schools and in their communities. This sentiment was echoed throughout the forum. As the stakes of testing getting higher, they feel their only option is to stand up by opting out. (Again, the JeffCo School Board Watch is not taking a stance on this.  We are simply reporting the concerns of the NPE and the people who attended the forum.)

Quite frankly, we allowed these school takeovers to happen because we thought it couldn’t happen to us. Jeffco has great schools. Jeffco has a great community. And we elect our Board of Education. So it couldn’t happen to us.

But it did.

Now WNW is falsely labeling our schools as failing.

We have high schools with over 70% of the students graduating going to college, higher ACT scores than anyone else in the state, higher average AP test scores than the world. But Witt, Newkirk, and Williams say we are failing.

Do we have schools struggling? Absolutely.

Do we have schools that need help? YES!!!

But what is their plan for helping those schools, specifically?

When a school is at 170% capacity and the board offers no solutions, is that school being set up to fail? Are we, as a community, simply closing our eyes because that school has a Free/Reduced Lunch rate over 90%?

Now that we, as a district, are falsely labeled as failing, are we willing to wake up and see what this panel is fighting for? Not just neighborhood schools, but good public neighborhood schools (Note: We refuse to call them “district assigned.”  That is a blatant propaganda ploy by WNW, trying to turn our neighborhood schools into a cold sounding prisons.)

Presenter and New York Principal, Carol Corbett Burris, challenged the audience with Martin Luther King, Jr’s letter from jail in Birmingham.   She quoted this part of the letter, “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” We at the Board Watch implore our readers to follow these steps:

  1. Collect the facts.  Subscribe directly to JeffCo School Board Watch or ‘Friend’ us on our Facebook link.  Do your own research.
  2. Negotiate in good faith (which WNW seems incapable of doing). Send emails to the Board.  Ask your questions.  See what the answers are (if any).
  3. Self-purification – as Diane Ravitch pointed out, we elected this board.  We ignored other school attacks.  We bear some guilt.
  4. Finally, Direct Action – Come to a board meeting, talk to your neighbors about what is going on, put up a yard sign, give to Support Jeffco Kids or join Jeffco Exodus.

Finally, in the spirit of the edict presented by these school leaders, many who have had their schools hijacked for years, and in the words of Dr. King:

MLK speaking

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. …. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”.

 

Tomorrow – Part 2: CHARTER SCHOOLS and AUTHENTIC REFORM

 

Resources and References
Visit their website for more information on the Network for Public Education.

Other great resources include: Diane Ravitch’s blog.

And a new one that we discovered at the forum – speaker Yohuru Williams represented the BadAssTeachers (BATs) Association.  We recommend you start with his post:

All I Really Need to Know about Corporate Education Reform (and why we should fight it) I Learned in Kindergarten


 

10/15 Post – Why Tomorrow’s BoE Meeting Will Probably Be Interesting….

Comedy Tragedy
If you looked at tomorrow’s (Thursday) meeting agenda, you might be excused for thinking it will be a bit on the “oh, hum” side.

But it actually will probably be a lot more interesting than you might think.  There may even be some good laughs at the end.

(5:30 p.m. 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden, CO – Agenda review here.  If you can’t make the meeting, you can get a live video stream here.)

The first two agenda items will be interesting because McMinimee and Morgan (M²) will have to somehow simultaneously take credit for JeffCo, where they did not work yet, somehow out-performing the District they were working at (DougCo)!  Then, at the same time, find some way to blame those same successful practices and previous leaders for, as of yet unrevealed, ‘failures’ that the lower performing DougCo did not avoid???

In short they have to claim the responsibility for the good stuff they had no part of, while avoiding any responsibility for any possible bad stuff they were a part of!  All at the same time!  All while the District they used to work at, and whose performance they did have responsibility for, did not do as well as JeffCo for which they had no responsibility!

Huh?

This will be a verbal acrobatic and magic show that, if they pull it off, should surpass even Penn & Teller performing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas!

When it comes to the next item, we do have one small confession.

We have spent the last nine months watching and listening to the prevarications, dissembling, deliberate misstatements, and false impressions of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams.  At some point during this time, just as happens to people who clean zoo cages on regular basis, we have developed not only a bit of a tolerance of the odor of their verbal and administrative leavings, but actually have a sneaking appreciation for the various textures, flavors, and sheer quantities they are able to produce!

So we await almost eagerly to see if they will come up with a new odor or texture variant, or if they will stick to the old standby of simply making misleading statements using misquoted facts taken out of proper context, mixed with half-truths.

The humorous part (if you appreciate theatrical Farce), will be during Agenda Item 2.03 when McMinimee tries to pretend that he actually thought about what goals he should have and WNW try to pretend that these goals are actually going to be important in his ‘review‘.

First of all, the document “Possible Superintendent Goals” was added in haste after the original agenda was published without it.  Secondly, if you read the document, you find that someone simply took the already stated goals for the Board and District and either restated them verbatim or simply inserted “Provide leadership to” in front of it! 

Imagine if the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company had done this prior to meeting his or her Board of Directors to discuss his or her year’s “goals”.  At the very least, it would have immediately initiated a intense discussion about the relative seriousness with which the CEO took the process.  Or imagine that it is the case of a high school student turning in the outline of semester project. The conversation with the teacher would probably start with the teacher asking the student, “Just how dumb do you think I am?”

In our opinion, this response indicates how much serious thought Mr. McMinimee has given to the idea that he will actually be held accountable for his and the District’s performance, i.e., none.

Thus the stage of WNW’s farcical production of “Impress us now, Mr. McMinimee!” is set.  All we await are the willing actors from the dark comedy troupe of Witt, Newkirk, Williams, & McMinimee.

As lovers of the theatre, we would not want this stage act to fail!  So, in keeping with role of the prompter, below we have some possible ‘improv’ or ‘cover’ goals that WNW+McMinimee could use if they forget the ones they cribbed from Board and District goals:

Suggested 2014-15 School Year Goals for the Superintendent

  1. Mr. McMinimee is successful in expanding the number of AP courses offered in the District, including the AP U.S. History, while also increasing the number of students who take the courses and score at least a ‘3’ on the AP test.
  2. Going into the 2015-16 school year, Mr. McMinimee is successful in keeping the certified teacher attrition rate at or below the state average.  Achieving this would indicate that JeffCo is being successful at keeping the most highly qualified and experienced teachers.
  3. Mr. McMinimee redesigns Jeffco’s current full-day Kindergarten enrollment process to provide more equitable access for ALL Jeffco families based on income, resulting in an increase of at least 25% of the number of full-day Kindergarten students who also qualify for Free or Reduced Lunches.
  4. Mr. McMinimee is successful in leading the District and guiding the Board in its processes to the extent that the League of Women Voters issues a new letter (here is the current one), praising the District and Board for their open and transparent processes and the dramatic increase in involvement and receptivity to the concerns of the public.
  5. Mr. McMinimee is successful at reducing the percentage of JeffCo students who  leave the district by at least 25%.
  6. Mr. McMinimee persuades Witt, Newkirk, and Williams that they do not need a private attorney paid for by public tax dollars, and the (questionable) services of Mr. Miller are dispensed with.

So, just in case Witt, Newkirk, Williams, or McMinimee forget their lines, please be prepared in the audience to help them out by feeding them one of the above!

And remember!  We can still have fun, even when we are…

Fighting Back, JeffCo!

 


 

10/3 Post – WNW’s “Compromise” & What Can You Do Now!

No Compromise
Last night, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams bought some time.  Time, they hope, for the furor to die down.  Time, they hope, for the press to go away.  Time, they hope, for you to forget the fact that they want the ability to indoctrinate our children.

At 5:30 this morning, McMinimee apparently sent out a ‘compromise’ proposal to modify an existing committee instead of creating a new one.  Dahlkemper and Fellman expressed interest, and said they liked the general idea, but wanted more time to review and discuss it.

WNW refused.  When Dahlkemper challenged them to work towards a compromise, Newkirk and Witt responded that they already had, and then pushed through a vote, passing the modification.

Why did they do this?  After almost three hours of public comment?  After hearing people pleading with them to begin working together.

Why?

Because they want you to forget.

They want you to forget that they were unwilling to wait even one more meeting so everyone can better understand McMinimee’s proposal.

They want your to forget that they are WNW and how WNW have historically acted.

Remember, WNW actually do not think they have to listen to you.  This is what Julie Wiliams told us last June when she said, “I keep hearing about the public not having a chance to speak.  They did at the election.

That is certainly how they have behaved.  They have ignored calls for more disclosure and debate on:

  1. The hiring of Brad Miller for +$90k/yr,
  2. The stopping the expansion of free, full-day kindergarten for poor children,
  3. Ignoring the results of community surveys on District spending priorities,
  4. Having only one ‘finalist’ (the search firm recommended three) from their ‘nation-wide’ Superintendent search – Dan McMinimee,
  5. Repudiating their own negotiating team when a tentative contract with JCEA had been reached,
  6. Dramatically expanding funding of charter schools, which came in last on the community survey,
  7. Ignoring the reports by both District staff and parents on the efficacy of full day kindergarten,
  8. Ignoring Lori Gilli’s warnings about the level of the reserve fund and not allocating any more funds to it,
  9. Ignoring the report from the Facilities committee on the state of JeffCo’s buildings,
  10. Ignoring the report from their own Fact Finder in the JCEA negotiations, and ramming an unknown, unexamined, unsupported teacher compensation plan down the teachers and district’s throats with no public debate.
  11. With little warning push a motion to create a censorship (the “Curriculum Review Committee”) onto the District, and then when our kids protest, call them “pawns”, “uniformed”, “misled”.

And now they expect us to believe them that they will not manipulate this new group???

This raises the real key issue:  Can we trust WNW?

If we look back at the past, the answer is a resounding “No”!

At every opportunity, even when it would cost them little or nothing, WNW has ignored, reneged, or sidestep the promises they have made.  Do you remember these promises?

  • JeffCo is not DougCo!
  • The Board can review Miller’s contract anytime.
  • We will work with Cindy Stevenson.
  • We do NOT have a Superintendent Candidate already in mind.
  • Show us proof that free, full-day kindergarten works.
  • We want to reach an agreement with the teachers.

The record shows that WNW makes lots of promises…and only keeps them as long as it serves their immediate interest.  The moment a promise obstructs them, they find a reason it was not really a promise…or they change what they promised.

In short, we cannot trust them with this committee, or any other committee, much less the District.

We probably ought to thank them.

We ought to thank them because they have removed any doubt that they actually listen to the JeffCo public.  They have removed any doubt as to their intent when it comes to JeffCo.  And they have removed any doubt that their goal is to make JeffCo into DougCo…or Texas.

As we see it, there are only three options available to Jeffco parents, taxpayers, and voters:

  1. Give in.  Just stop fighting, and drink the WNW-flavored kool-aid.
  2. Join and help build a broad-based community network that will recruit concerned parents, students, residents, and taxpayers, and provide constant, intense monitoring of WNW’s actions along with a rapid communications network for organizing responses to their next outrages.
  3. After doing #2 then organize, fund, and launch a recall effort.

WNW thought they were buying time for things to calm down.  Let us use that time to get things fired up!

Many of you have been wondering why there is not already a recall effort underway. It is because it takes time, organization, and money to launch one and actually win.

We have heard of groups that are working towards this.  But first they need that broad-based community network we mentioned above.  Without that, it takes a LOT of money to launch a successful recall.  And you can count on WNW’s deep pocketed backers not to give up without a fight.  They finally have their hands on some of the levers of power.  They will not unclench them willingly or easily.

We have looked around and identified several groups and actions that you can join, depending on your talents, resources, and availability.

  • Join and help Support Jeffco Kids.  This group was formed last spring when many of us began having a lot of concern over WNW.  They are a 501(c)4 organization, and so can accept donations and engage in political activities.  “SJK”, as it is known, has worked hard at organizing opposition to WNW in the community, and they seem to be one of the key groups.  You can join their mailing list here, and donate here.
  • Join JeffcoExodus.  This is a very new group, organized only the last week or so of September.  They are looking for volunteers whose role it will be to participate in two-way communication with their network and the volunteer’s local community.  At times these volunteers will need to quickly disseminate factual information to their own school and networks. Volunteers will also gather factual information and personal stories about staff turnover, families choosing to leave Jeffco, and other significant effects the actions of this Board Majority are having on school communities. You can get in contact with them at this email:  JeffcoExodus@gmail.com.
  • Join your local schools’ PTA.  Even if you do not have a child in school, your local PTA can use your help and input. Either contact your local school or the County PTA here: JeffCo PTA Volunteers.
  • Help JeffCo School Board Watch!  That’s right, you can help us. There are many things we have wanted to do that we just do not have the time for, such as maintaining a list of news articles/stories, tracking how much WNW has cost the taxpayers, updating a list of significant board activities, monitoring social media and keeping us aware of what is happening where, or even writing articles for us (we will work with you on topic and editing practices).  You can email us at Jeffcowatch+help@gmail.com.

Now is the time to step forward.  Our kids have carried their weight and ours these last two weeks.  Now it is our turn.  Volunteer, Participate, Work Hard, and JeffCo will triumph!

 Come join the fight, JeffCo!