9/30 Post – “What’s Wrong With These Punks?”


“Punks”

That is what Gretchen Carlson called our kids on FOX’s national news last Friday.

Ken Witt described them as “political pawns.” In his disinformation editorial in the Denver Post, John Newkirk called them ‘misinformed’.

We won’t even go into the hateful and derogatory things being said online about our students, you can see that for yourself.

Where we looked on with awe and pride as our young men and women, exercised critical thinking, came to a conclusion, and then took action, others see only ungrateful brats mesmerized by their evil teachers, rebelling against authority.  We see everything that made America a country to be the envy of the world.  They see ‘punks’ who threaten their peculiarly narrow and distorted vision of our country.

And they are planning on shouting down us and our kids at the Board meeting this Thursday.

Some places in the world, the side with the most might is right…and wins.  In the world of WNW supporters, the one who shouts the loudest is the most right…and wins. Reasoned debate and respectful disagreement are anathemas to them.  If there is more than one legitimate view, then theirs might be ‘wrong’.  A rational debate means that they might be shown that their view is incorrect.  That they might be ‘wrong’.  And they cannot tolerate that.

If you cruise their websites (Breibart, Julie Williams Facebook, Peak Politics, etc., ) you will find this kind of intolerant, self-righteous anger and hatred spewing out.  If you look closely, you will also see them calling out to fellow believers to swamp the Board meeting and its comment periods this Thursday night.  If they succeed in shouting us down, they will crow how ‘the public’ is on their side.  They will re-write what has happened these last two weeks to “present positive aspects of the” protests.  Based on what they have been calling our kids, we leave it to you decide how they might ‘present’ their protests.  It will probably range from “pawns” to “punks”.

Do not let them do this!

Not to us.  Not to JeffCo.  And most certainly not to our kids!

If you took pride in how our kids stood up and made the nation pay attention to what is happening here, sign up to speak at the meeting (click here to fill out the form.  Under Agenda Topic, type in  “6.01” and “In support of the Students protesting the Curriculum Review Committee” or something similar.  Click here to speak to the Board over things not on the agenda – such as not funding the desperately needed expansion of free, full-day kindergarten, or the money wasted on Brad Miller ($70k and counting!), maybe the complete ignoring of public comment, the slowness in responding to emails, and so on.

Then show up at the Board Meeting this Thursday at the Education Center (1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden).  The meeting starts at 5:30, but be there early as there is sure to be a LONG line.  Go up to the front door and check in with the District person with the speakers list.

If the only people there who support our kids are their teachers, then WNW will use that to push the ‘uniformed pawn’ label on our kids.

They do not deserve that!

Our kids have come so far, grown up so much, and energized our efforts so greatly.  Now it is our turn to take the battle to take this battle to the Board.  We need to stop this unAmerican whitewashing of history…and to defend our kids against those who see them only as ungrateful “punks”.

We have always been fighting for our kids’ education.  Now we are fighting for their reputation as well.

Let’s Get Fighting, JeffCo!

 


 

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!

 


 

9/28 Sunday Post: The Introduction of Reality – A Rebuttal to John Newkirk’s Myth Making

TinFoilHatArea

(note:  This rebuttal was posted Saturday in the comment section of the Newkirk editorial.  This version has been modified slightly to better fit our blog format.)

In Friday’s Denver Post, John Newkirk published an editorial, giving his, Ken Witt’s, and Julie Williams view of the week that made the majority of JeffCo parents very proud of their kids. Needless to say, since it is their proposed “Curriculum Review Committee” that sparked the protests, Mr. Newkirk’s portrayal is not flattering. That is to be expected.

What is not to be expected, or at least SHOULD not be expected is how fast and loose Mr. Newkirk seems to have played with the truth. Through careful excision of facts, overly broad generalizations, logical fallacies, and baseless emotional appeals, Mr. Newkirk is making his attempt at doing locally what Ms. Williams proposal would do nationally – re-writing history to suit them.

Since Mr. Newkirk felt duty bound to remind us of the “mantle of responsibility” that we as parents are aware of, our sense of that responsibility compels us to go over his editorial and point out where he did less than his most honest best.

Below is the text of his editorial, in quotes. After each paragraph are our comments.

Crowds of high school students have carried signs and gathered along busy streets during what should have been normal school days in Jefferson County. Our community members who witnessed or heard about these protests deserve to know the rest of the story.”

Of course the ‘rest of the story’ phrase is meant to harken back to Paul Harvey, a much beloved radio announcer who started broadcasting in World War II. It is meant to imply that there is more to things than meets the eye and he, John Newkirk, is about to tell you some deep, dark secrets.

This is a very old tactic. Pretend that you are going to ‘lift the veil’ so as to better hide what you don’t want seen.

After all, few things kindle more passion in a parent’s heart than the education and well-being of our children. This is a good thing. It’s a sign that we, as parents, understand society’s mantle of responsibility will all too soon be passed to the next generation — and we want them to be ready.”

This is a platitude, uttered to try and get you emotionally lined up with him before he even tells you something of substance.

As a new Jeffco School Board member, it’s surreal for me to walk the halls of the schools I attended decades ago. While my memories of those years are fading, the faces in the schools are fresh and there’s an energy, eagerness, and passion to learn that I find inspiring.”

Another platitude. We are three paragraphs into the 12 paragraph editorial and he has said nothing of substance yet. Instead, he has devoted the first 25% of it to working on your emotions.

“Regrettably, however, not every Jeffco student is getting what he or she needs to succeed in today’s global environment. Recent achievement data indicate that fewer than 60 percent of our graduates are college- and career-ready in math and science. Only a third are proficient in writing, and nearly 30 percent of our graduates need remedial work before they enter college. While there are many Jeffco students who fall outside these disturbing trends — and they have earned our applause — far too many are left behind. This reality has to change.”

Okay, here is the first actual data. He spouts off a bunch of numbers…without giving you the context in which to place them. Context is vital when it comes to changing data into knowledge. If you took out a loan that charged you $100 of interest a year, it might seem reasonable…until you found out that the loan was for just $10. Your reaction, now that the data has been placed in context, is very different. If the loan had been for $100,000 then your reaction would be different again.

So Newkirk is giving you raw data without a context to give it meaning. He is not telling you that JeffCo is above the state average in most of those rankings, nor that JeffCo has a greater percentage of its high schools making the U.S. News & World Report Top High School list than any other group or district in the state.

That being said, should the District work on improving those numbers? Absolutely! But that is not really in dispute. It’s sort of like us Coloradans saying to each other, “Boy, I sure hope the snow pack is better this year than it was last year!” We applaud the sentiment, but it is hardly in dispute.

Finally, he misuses the words “trends”. He used it in such a manner as to imply that things are getting worse. This is the exact opposite from what is really happening. Key JeffCo test scores improved in the last year. Do we want them to improve more? Yes! We also want the Broncos to do better in the playoffs against the Seahawks this year. He is pretending there is opposition to improving things when in fact there is none. We ALL want things to improve.

My physics teacher taught me that for every action, there is a reaction. How little I realized the degree to which this applies to public policy. The reaction to a new board majority of non-union candidates has been loud and prolonged. This is, I suppose, largely due to fear of the unknown and change in the status quo.”

Now we start getting to the real thrust of his writing. Note, he said a “board majority of non-union candidates”. This is a deliberate misrepresentation of facts. He is implying that the previous boards were dominated by union members. Nothing could be further from the truth. His logic, no doubt, was that since the previous Boards actually worked with JCEA (which is actually not a union) instead of trying to get out of its Collective Bargaining Agreement with them, those boards must have been dominated by ‘union’ board members.  Mr. Newkirk seems to dismiss out of hand that the District might find working with highly trained professionals in pursuit of commonly held goals is not possible.

Logical or not, it is a statement designed to lead you to a false conclusion. He then goes on to say that the reason for the growing opposition to him and the rest of WNM+Williams agenda is because the opposition is comfortable and is cowardly.

This is a straw man tactic, a logical fallacy (check it out in Wikipedia). He defines for you what the opposition is, using deliberate misleading statements. The follow-up to it will be a dismantling of this opponent made from his straws, and then he declares that he has won.

First year high school debaters recognize this trick.

“The situation has erupted in the past week, first with a teacher sickout at two high schools, then student walkouts at several others. While the board and our district leaders value the voices of students, cutting class to make a political statement is a different matter, especially when union-led teachers have misinformed those students rather than encouraged them to exercise critical thinking skills.”

There are three separate exclusion of facts, one serious downplaying of events, one outright falsehood, and one concluding gross misrepresentation in that paragraph.

He did not say that the sick out was after he, Williams, and Witt unilaterally, with no consultation with the teachers, no public comment, and no in-depth financial analysis, unilaterally imposed a radical new compensation plan on the teachers, and tied it to an evaluation system their own ‘fact finder’ found to be so inconsistent and inaccurate as to be of no value.

He did not say that the sick out was also after Julie Williams made her proposal for the “Curriculum Review Committee” that, contrary to the agenda title, was not to review Common Core, PARCC, and AP U.S. History, but to review ALL JeffCo curriculum for their version of political and scientific correctness. “Theories should be distinguished from fact. 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.” AP U.S. History was simply the first subject to be targeted, with 5th Grade Health Sciences being the second (can you say “sex education”?).

He did not say that the first student walk-outs were on the same day the of the teacher sick-out and that it was in support of their high school teachers and in opposition to the proposed “Curriculum Review Committee”.

He downplayed the extent of the walk-outs, not mentioning that it happened over six school days, in 16 of 17 high schools, and that it concluded with students of all grades attending class as persons from American history who caused ‘civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law’ and by doing so, made us into a better nation and people!

He alleges that the students were misled by their teachers…and offers no proof other than his assertion. On the other side, if you go to the various FaceBook pages the students put together to coordinate their walkouts, you will find over and over again that this was student conceived, organized, and executed. Anyone who saw Lakewood High School’s winning Katy Perry lip-dub video last fall KNOWS these are highly capable young men and women.

Finally, to say the high school students of JeffCo did not use critical-thinking skills simply because they did use them…and concluded your position is wrong and dangerous, is at best Aesop’s Sour Grapes, and at worst a deliberate belittling of our kids.

We will concede that Mr. Newkirk, or his PR writer knows how to pack a lot of distortion into a small paragraph.

For example, the revised AP U.S. History framework has been widely criticized for leaving out key parts of our nation’s underlying story, yet when board member Julie Williams suggested engaging the community in this discussion via a curriculum review committee (hardly a new practice), she and the board were instantly accused of “censorship.” No action has been taken on either the committee or the curriculum, but that didn’t stop opponents of the board majority from exploiting these flash protests to overshadow the truly positive stories.”

In this paragraph, Mr. Newkirk is slipping. He only managed to squeeze in one misleading factual exclusion, one gross misrepresentation, one self-contradiction while trying for an uninformative hyperbole, and one deliberate misrepresentation, all in a longer paragraph.

Only the right wing has been critical, with Texas being the most extreme…until Julie Williams proposal, which actually goes further than the Texas one.

This committee, per her proposal would not represent the community. Instead, it would have been made up of people that Witt, Newkirk, and Williams selected (since they would outvote Dahlkemper and Fellman). In short, it would represent WNW, not JeffCo.

Also there are already two review committees made up of parents, teachers, and

District staff, as well as formal process for a parent to use when they object to the use of a particular textbook.

The phrase “exploiting these flash protests’ is interesting. Newkirk was strongly hinting in the previous paragraph, and his confederates, Witt and Williams, have outright said that the protests were JCEA led. Yet here, Newkirk says they were ‘flash protests’, which implies they were sudden (instead of planned) and unexpected (instead of led). Which way is it, Mr. Newkirk? Finally, he tries to get you to believe that this proposal is genuinely a ‘good thing’ by saying it’s virtues were ‘overshadow’ed.

He implies the Board really took no action. He does not say that is because their own attorney, Brad Miller, told them they could not proceed since the original title was misleading! Even then, Ken Witt tabled the motion to a later date. This has not gone away. WNW is simply waiting for a better time.

Effectively, in this paragraph, Newkirk realizes he has a loser if the real content and purpose of the proposal is known. So he tries to hide 95% of the poison, and disguise the remaining 5% as a harmless substance.

To cite just a few examples, for the first time in years this board has taken steps to equalize charter student funding and increase teacher pay. We’ve upped entry-level salaries by up to 13 percent and approved significant raises for all our effective teachers.

“In contrast, in 2011, the prior board cut compensation by 3 percent. There were no teacher sickouts then. In 2012 and 2013, the board froze salaries and, once again, there were no sickouts or protests.”

Now we are back to the citing statistics without context (actually a VERY good way to mislead people).

Of course the previous boards cut the teachers pay in 2011 and then froze it in 2012 and 2013. Those boards actually worked with JCEA in this because the Recession had cut school district funds so drastically. Note, that Newkirk also left out the that the District then made an explicit promise for a return to step pay increases (which their comp plan does not do) as soon as revenues recovered. Unfortunately for the teachers, that did not happen before WNW took over. And WNW does not think that they are bound by any commitment given in the District’s name.

For the third ear in a row now, our two veteran board members have not approved a teacher pay raise, but curiously the protests are directed only at the three new board members. It makes no sense until you put it in the political context of a new era in Jefferson County, an era in which the teachers union no longer controls the Board of Education.”

A regurgitation of the misrepresentation in the fourth paragraph plus the failure to provide context in the previous paragraph, all wrapped up in a overly broad and unsubstantiated concluding sentence. In short, re-heated leftovers that were not any good the first time.

Shortly before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln admonished Congress that “as our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Here is the taken out of context historical quote that Newkirk loves pulling up. Lincoln was, of course, talking about the first step in freeing black Americans from slavery – an action that in large part got started because of the civil disobedience, willingness to cause social strife, and disregard for the law of many, many people who sheltered runaway slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. This is a far cry from trying to blame public reaction to their effort to censor American history on teachers. Mr. Newkirk might want to be careful if he ever visits the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The sheer effrontery of him using this quote might cause the building to quake.

It’s time to disenthrall ourselves with policies of the past that are leaving far too many students behind. Only then will we embrace what can be a very bright future for our children and thus, for our nation.”

His empty summary that actually says nothing about why JeffCo students chose to protest him and his cohorts. He even does not perceive the irony of him defending a highly edited past, while telling us we must leave the past behind.

We would also advise him to ‘disenthrall’ himself from the use of ‘disenthrall’.  Even if he knows the true meaning, it is pretty pretentious, not to mention repetitious.

Our Final Comments:  As we said before, the real sad part of this editorial is the fact that we are not surprised by it. It is entirely in keeping with Witt, Newkirk, Williams, and Miller wanting to keep their dark doings dark, all while not being troubled with small things, such as honesty, respect, or integrity.

 


 

9/27 Saturday Post: Trust, Respect, Integrity – A Primer to JeffCo School Board Issues

2014 Sept Protests 1 This last week, JeffCo high school students let out a roar that was “heard ’round the world.”

I want to start this post by thanking them. I thank you for what many adults have only been talking about, but somehow could not pull together. Unlooked for, unasked, unexpected, you students stood up and made everyone look, listen, and think. Along the way, you took responsibility for your own education.  We could not be more proud of you.

Next, I want to thank the teachers, staff, principals, and original JeffCo leadership, including Dr. Stevenson, for the work they have done with these kids. If anyone had any doubt about whether Jeffco turns out good citizens, they can put it rest now. JeffCo turns out citizens who not only know the meaning of freedom and democracy, but are willing to sacrifice to defend it. Thanks to you teachers, JeffCo students have the admiration of the world.

But now it is time for the entire Jeffco community to be alert and listen. We commend these students for taking a lesson from so many notable American heroes on the power of peaceful civil disobedience. In exercising their rights to free speech and assembly these students managed to shine a light on the board majority much brighter than anyone had before. They brought to light issues with the board regarding curriculum censorship and respect for teachers.

WNW is trying to dismiss their efforts by calling them “union puppets” and doubting their ability to organize in such a short time-frame. Anyone who knows teens, knows how ludicrous this is. Frankly, every teen I know has a mind of his or her own, and is quite willing, given the chance, to express it. I’m quite certain many teachers often wish they had the kind of power over students attention that Witt and Williams acuse them of, especially on Friday afternoon.

As far as planning and executing the protests, well, if you doubt the ability of teenagers to plan such a mass event in such a short time, then simply offer up your house to a group of teens for a party tonight and see how fast they can text, tweet and FB the details.

Now imagine that power in the hands of the best and brightest of our students. The students that will take so many AP classes (and pass the tests) so that they will enter college as sophomores.

But now that the week is over, we need to be be diligent and not lose sight of the bigger picture. The proposed curriculum review committee is just one small piece of what is happening in Jeffco.

For months JeffCo School Board Watch has been monitoring the actions of the current board majority. One of their first actions was a back door deal to hire a ‘board only’ attorney despite District policy BDG that expressly provides for representation through the existing district attorney. At a minimum of $90,000 per year that continues to mount did they knew they were going to need an attorney for themselves and not the District?

Next two of the majority attempted to kill the expansion of the Deer Creek STEM, making public comments that the extra space in the school would be a great place for a charter.

The next month WNW extended $650,000 in no-string loans to charter schools that were faltering and already had outstanding loans. This from candidates that promised fiscal responsibility.

This was only the beginning. After the resignation of Jeffco’s Superintendent the board spent $44,580 in the ‘national’ search for a replacement, only to disregard all candidates but an Asst. Superintendent from DougCo. This was despite pleas from the public and the board minority to be given choices of candidates. This was also against the advice of the firm that was hired with that money.

The litany of issues continued to mount as the board majority violated the teacher contract, then threw out months of financial planning to vote in a pay scheme with a mere two weeks of research and NO teacher input.

Then along comes the Julie Williams’ proposal to review all Jeffco curriculum beginning with AP U.S. History (APUSH) and Elementary Health (these children do not have the power to assemble like those affected by APUSH, but are in the same boat of losing a vital curriculum).

Her proposal, copied mainly from a Texas proposal, states among other things that the committee will “inform the board of any objectionable materials.” Coupled with a committee selection process that would prevent the seating of any minority board candidate Ms. Williams would now like for us to all believe we have misunderstood her intent. And according to her own press release that she “thought everyone, or at least everyone involved in education understood the huge debate and controversy surrounding the new APUSH.” And that to be accused of censorship – “…is just ridiculous.”

It is this type of language and lack of respect for other viewpoints that has created skepticism about her motives. Furthermore, the district already has in place two committees that review curriculum and a textbook committee. These committees have educators and community members. In fact there are 24 policies in place to review or establish curriculum. YES! 24 policies!

These policies have allowed for the successful removal of material from school libraries when deemed necessary (such as graphic horror novels in elementary school libraries). Since the District already has a curriculum review process in place, with public input, and a way for parents to file complaints against material, why does Julie Williams feel the need to create another committee? Perhaps to inject her own viewpoint into the curriculum?

With the recent bad press from this move, Newkirk has attempted to edit the language of the proposal that created so much controversy. This has come across as an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. Newkirk’s letter to parents that have voiced opposition says, “At the risk of sounding blunt, the distress underlying many of the emails I’ve received compels me to get straight to the point: Chill, folks.” I’m sorry, but have you ever written to your boss, the people that put you into your position “Chill”?

It is this kind of defensive response that has created months of angst throughout the district. Furthermore, rather than listen to the concerns he defends the proposed committee by citing the Texas BOE. Perhaps not the best line of defense given that Newsweek just ran an article on the errors and revisionist history in the Texas history books since Texas BOE has relented to an extreme conservative takeover. (Note the word EXTREME).

As with every controversial move made by this majority there seems to be the familiar retort from the board majority. We just don’t understand like they do.

Unless Witt is responding – then we get these gems: “Teachers are using students for political action” ~ Ken Witt 9/23/14, 9news. “the union message coming down through the teachers to get kids to deliberately get out and protest something they don’t have any facts about whatsoever.” ~Ken Witt 9/25/14, Denver Post.

Are we to believe the kids can’t even read the proposal, since they ‘don’t have any facts whatsoever’?

It is this complete lack of respect for any dissenting opinion and the accusations of being union puppets that have led us to this point. This writer is not, nor has ever been a union member. And this highly educated writer, does understand. I simply don’t agree. And until the board majority can possibly grasp that dissenting, well-informed, unadulterated opinions exist and have the right to be heard it seems we are at an impasse.

Perhaps the board would benefit from reading their own policies. Policy GP 02- 7 clearly states, “The Board will encourage diversity of viewpoints in discussion and policy-making. Each Board member, irrespective of their personal position, will be accountable to the public, not as individual Board members, but as a collective body, and, will support the final determination of the Board, as a legitimate Board decision.”

Take heed Jeffco BOE majority. You ARE accountable to the public!

In this case, the public means teachers, residents, taxpayers, parents and most importantly THE STUDENTS. They have voices and they are making those voices be heard loud and clear.

If you do not heed those voices, the next ones you hear maybe uttering a word that begins with “R”.

-JeffCoFacts

Endnote: Ms. Williams press release claims that the APUSH curriculum is “unresearched.” This seems ludicrous. I have to ask, what would a hand picked committee of 9 community members be able to add, that was not covered by the writers of the curriculum? Those writers are

Kevin B. Byrne

Emeritus Professor of History
Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN
Editor,
OAH Magazine of History and Assistant to the Executive Director of Organization of American Historians, 2004-2006

Edward M. Dickson, Jr.

History Department Chair and Teacher
Providence Day School, Charlotte, NC
Winner, Organization of American Historians Tachau Pre-Collegiate Teaching Award, 2002
National and State Winner, Daughters of the American Revolution, Outstanding Teacher of American History, 2011
Winner, North Carolina History Teacher of the Year, 2012

Jason George

Academic Dean and Assistant Upper School Director (former History Department Chair and Teacher) The Bryn Mawr School for Girls, Baltimore, MD

Geraldine Ann Hastings

Social Studies Department Chairman and History Teacher
Catonsville High School, Catonsville, MD
Winner, National Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year, National Council for the Social Studies, 2003
National and State Winner, Daughters of the American Revolution, Outstanding Teacher of American History, 2004

John P. Irish

History Teacher
Carroll Senior High School, Southlake, TX
National and State Winner, Daughters of Colonial Wars, U.S. History Teacher of the Year, 2014

Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner

Professor Emeritus of History
Haverford College, Haverford, PA
Member, Executive Committee, Organization of American Historians, 2003-2007 Author,
Neighborhoods in Transition: William Penn’s Dream and Urban Reality

Cassandra A. Osborne

History Teacher (retired)Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge, TN
Director, Oak Ridge Schools, SECME, Inc. (formerly Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering)
Second Place, Daughters of the American Revolution, Outstanding Teacher of American History, 1991

Suzanne M. Sinke

Associate Professor, History
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Fulbright Teaching and Research Award Winner, 1999-2000 and 2013 Member, Executive Board, Social Science History Association, 2003-06 Member, Executive Board, Immigration and Ethnic History Society, 2005-08 Author,
Dutch Immigrant Women in the United States, 1880-1920

Timothy N. Thurber

Associate Professor, History
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Author,
The Politics of Equality: Hubert H. Humphrey and the African American Freedom Struggle, 1945-1978

Hardly the kind of people who would develop a curriculum without research!

 


 

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.
PERTINENT FACTS:

  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)

AND

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

  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.
PRESENTING STAFF: none
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!