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!