STORY #6 FROM 2013-2015 POLL RESULTS: WILLIAMS POSTS LINK TO ANTI-LGBTQ HATE GROUP, SUGGESTS KEEPING KIDS HOME FROM SCHOOL ON “DAY OF SILENCE”

Last week, we put forth a poll asking you to select the Top 10 most disturbing stories out of the 30 that we selected from the current Jeffco School Board majority’s tenure.

We are amidst counting down the Top 10, as voted on by more than 400 people. Today is Story #6:

What Happened: Julie Williams is well-known for posting hyper-inflammatory links on her Facebook feed (example: a speaker suggesting that parents pull their kids out of public schools because teachers are just ‘glorified babysitters’ and that the only reason parents haven’t done it sooner is because they’ve become lazy and dependent) and for not reading things before she develops a strong public opinion about their contents (example: the AP U.S. History framework).

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This regular combination of Williams’ habits came together in an explosive way this spring when she published a link on her Facebook page to a savecalifornia.com screed that encouraged parents to keep their kids home from school and “away from perverse indoctrination” on April 17, which had been deemed a “Day of Silence” designed to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. SaveCalifornia is on the official list of hate groups kept by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Williams claimed she didn’t read the SaveCalifornia newsletter before posting it, and later apologized and deleted it from her Facebook page.

By the way, notice the commenters and their comments in the above image.

Why It Matters: Time and again, Williams wrote and said during her 2013 campaign that her “door would always be open to all voices” in Jefferson County. There didn’t need to be any more evidence that she was just stating mindless political platitudes that someone coached her to say, but this kind of action made it clear that if she ever had such an intent, she didn’t understand what it really meant.

Certainly, it was better that she deleted and apologized than not having done so, but the public had by then grown so weary of both her carelessness and her creation of a hostile environment for so many in the district she is charged with helping lead.

Students struggling with sexual orientation have a far higher suicide and suicide attempt rate than average, and experience bullying, depression, and anxiety at significantly increased rates too. If Williams isn’t entirely personally comfortable with sexual orientation questions, the least she could do as a leader of an enormous organization would be to keep quiet about it.

Williams often does not seem to treat her school board behavior any differently than a private Tea Party meeting. She seems to think that her mandate from the voters is so broad that the totally unfiltered Julie Williams is what’s best for the county. While we are increasingly enamored of politicians who “speak their mind,” Williams represents a total lack of discretion when her duty to not be careless is doubled by the fact that the primary people she serves are kids. Even after two years, it’s obvious that she is simply woefully unprepared to be a public official, much less one “leading” an enormous number of youth coming from a variety of backgrounds.


 

 

Reader’s Thoughts on Being Told that WNW Vote is “Godly” Choice

Another Guest Column for our “Faithful and Fed Up” series, this time from a reader of faith who is beside herself that her vote is being tied to Witt, Williams, and Newkirk’s “Godly” attributes:

FaithfulFedUpSomeone told me today that voting against the recall would keep “Godly” people in their leadership positions.

I felt gutted.

I found the suggestion that I would prove my respect for God if I voted for Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk infuriating.

Let’s start by saying that I disagree with them.

To me, “Godly” people don’t shame and humiliate a student who is bravely standing up to voice her experience as a student in Jeffco to her school board.

To me, “Godly” people don’t comfortably compare the atrocities that Black people in the south suffered through during the 60’s to being in a charter school.

To me, “Godly” people don’t arrogantly run a school board while pompously ignoring the needs and wants of the very community they were elected to serve.

To me, “Godly” people don’t tell students to stay at home during Jeffco’s Day Without Hate. We have a suicide problem directly linked to hateful things like that.

To me, “Godly” people don’t speak at workshops co-hosted by a political group that openly suggests violent acts in order to defend and preserve White power.

However, I will pause and respectfully acknowledge that many people may agree and even feel grateful for some of the changes this board majority suggests. Some voters might like to see our history and health curriculum modified to align more closely with their religious beliefs. So, to them, I say, vote.

As one person who considers herself “Godly,” I retain one strong belief:

Those in public office need to run their office with honesty, transparency, and a willingness to listen to their community members. A quick look into the origins of most religions will guide you to leaders who follow those clear guidelines about respect.

So, this Godly person is going to vote for the Clean Slate. Ali Lasell, Amanda Stevens, Ron Mitchell, Brad Rupert and Susan Harmon all bring with them a strong commitment to doing what is right. I have no doubt that they will follow the Golden Rule and treat others and they would like to be treated.

They will think of their own children when they make decisions that impact mine, they will consider the needs of the many, and they will let community input guide their decisions.

7.9.15 In Her Own Words

Recently Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee sent a communication to parents in which he denigrated teachers, saying that “dedicated teachers” were staying, indicating that he thinks teachers who leave are not dedicated.  Let’s hear some factual information instead from an extremely dedicated, highly qualified, and highly effective teacher from of Jefferson County’s excellent high schools.

I am a veteran science teacher with a degree in my field, over 10 years of experience, and a highly effective rating.  I chose to leave Jefferson County because I do not support the direction or the methods of Witt, Williams, and Newkirk.  I left for a district that values and supports its teachers, students, and community members.

The new pay scheme that was introduced by Witt, Williams, and Newkirk does not support the achievement of all students.  It makes it more difficult to teach at high poverty schools and to teach courses offered specifically for struggling students.  It gives teachers no incentive to continue their education.

Teachers need to learn from each other.  The new pay scheme pits teachers against each other to compete for the top scores on their evaluations.  It makes the relationships between teachers and administrators combative when it should be collaborative.

Witt, Williams, and Newkirk chose not to help our neediest students at the point in their schooling when it could make the greatest difference. They chose not to completely fund full day kindergarten to needy kids across the district.  They do not want to invest in our kids.

Due to their interest in a review of the AP US History curriculum, I am worried that Witt, Williams, and Newkirk will try to exercise more control over science curriculum.  I expect that they will try to impose their radical views on the teaching of what they consider to be controversial topics in science:  evolution, climate science, geology, and vaccinations.

Last year, Witt, Williams, and Newkirk showed that they have no intention of working with the teachers to come to agreement over the working conditions in schools.  They rejected the findings of a mediator and instead unilaterally imposed a compensation scheme on the teachers.

I am worried that future changes to the teachers’ contract will cause class sizes to increase.  I am worried that future changes to the teachers’ contract at the high school level will be expected to teach more class sections.  This will leave teachers with less time to work with individual students, develop engaging lessons, and provide feedback to students.

The propaganda machine at the district communications department will do its utmost to spin the facts.  Don’t let them bamboozle you.  Listen to the voices of the people who make up your child’s learning environment.

Note: To minimize retaliation against this teacher we are choosing to allow her to remain anonymous.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

6.25.15 Hate in Jeffco

We received this letter from a reader in response to an extremely offense retweet by a Jeffco Schools principal.

I never questioned the importance of my education until my 7th grade science teacher drew a swastika on my test paper with a 0% written across the top. He told me Hitler had the right idea.

With two powerful red pen marks shaping a symbol of hatred, he erased a child’s belief that teachers are to be trusted and that trying my best was valuable.

I went from straight A’s to ditching regularly before my brain had any time to process. I had to. Processing that event meant facing the fact that the very person educating me believed me to be worthless purely because of my cultural and religious roots.

I never told anyone. I didn’t want my parents to worry and I didn’t believe anyone at school would help. If my own teacher could behave that way, I was afraid of how others might truly feel about me being Jewish.

Now, I am a stronger person. I’ve identified myself as a teacher and parent for many years and today I’m identifying myself as an advocate for the students at Connections Learning Center (CLC) in Jefferson County.

CLC is a school designed to give a second chance to students who have been expelled from a Jefferson County school. To that end, their principal, Lisa Mumma, principal at Jeffco’s Connections Learning Center, is responsible for protecting any student who is being bullied by another student – especially if it is racially-driven bullying.

Unfortunately, instead of protecting her students Ms. Mumma recently re-tweeted the following:

You Say Not All Muslims Are Monsters… Imagine A Bowl Of M&Ms. 10% Are Poisoned…’Would You Eat A Handful’??

My heart aches remembering my skinny twelve-year-old legs climbing up the bus steps to go downtown instead of to 7th grade. My heart aches again thinking of the Muslim students at CLC as they face each new school day.

They are in a school that is meant to offer them a second chance, but if they look up, they may have to face a principal’s eyes that are full of hate for them. If they misstep, they may have to sit in a chair opposite of someone who believes them to be poison purely because of their cultural and religious roots.

CLC’s mission is to “empower students to be responsible, respectful, and to know where they are going in school and in life.” I suspect that now, Ms. Mumma has created students who only want to go away from school and life.

A student in Ms. Mumma’s school who re-tweeted that tweet might get suspended, expelled, or would at least be asked to apologize. As a principal, I believe Ms. Mumma should be held to an even higher standard by Superintendent McMinimee and the Jeffco School Board. Instead, there has been no accountability. I’m hopeful that Ms. Mumma, the superintendent, and Jeffco School Board members will choose to acknowledge the importance of her hateful act and work to rectify it.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!