Leave Us Alone! Koch Brothers Pouring More Money Into Jeffco

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We all know people who just can’t believe the idea that the Koch Brothers helped buy the 2013 Jeffco School Board elections. Well, share this new message with them. Not only do we know better about 2013, but now we know that they’ve committed even more resources to the fight, if they haven’t already: starting […]

7.17.15 Don’t mess with Jeffco parents

"Riled up" or not, our numbers are not small.

“Riled up” or not, our numbers are not small.

We recently received this letter from a Jeffco parent:

In this week’s issue of the Columbine Courier, former Jeffco School Board member Laura Boggs lumps the supporters of the Board majority recall into two groups: “teachers” and “riled up mommies.”

Wow! How condescending can the board supporters be to identify parents as “riled up mommies?” The term is clearly meant to demean the mothers that disagree with them. (Note a similar accusation was made by former Jeffco communications director Lisa Pinto on a recent radio talk show.)

Perhaps Ms. Boggs needs an introduction to the mommies of today.

The mommy authors of the petition are a LAWYER turned stay-at-home mother and an Environmental Compliance Specialist. (Let’s not forget a dad is also on the petition.)

And yes, I am a mother and I support the recall. By the way, Ms. Boggs, this mommy holds an aerospace engineering degree, not a degree from the school of hard knocks.

I worked as a Flight Design engineer for Atlas rocket launches for years before choosing to become a stay-at-home mother. During the years I have stayed home I have served on church council, board of directors of a non-profit, school accountability chairperson, PTA secretary, and I have served the community in a myriad of other ways.

I have volunteered time reading in the classroom with struggling readers and challenging advanced math students (oh yeah this mommy has a minor in math that required differential equations and a few courses beyond four years of calculus). I have been the quintessential “mommy” as I schlepped cellos for the elementary orchestra tour in my mini-van.

At the same time I was creating newsletters and doing the bookkeeping for a non-profit company. I returned to the work force part time so I could continue to volunteer in my community and in my kids’ schools, including most recently circulating recall petitions. And I am just one example of the parents in our community that are volunteering in this effort. I am in awe of so many of the women and men that I have met during this process, many with credentials far beyond mine.

So yes I am riled up. And if you want to use the term mommy, well as they say where I come from, “Bless your heart.”  Don’t underestimate the power of TODAY’s riled up mommies. We are educated. We are passionate. And when it comes to our kids, you really don’t want to see us riled up.

And to the voters I have one message: Who do you trust with the education of the children in your community? Personally, I think teachers and riled up mommies are a much better choice than politicians and businessmen that have never spent time in the classroom.

— Alice Wurst

P.S. Fellow moms (and dads, because I know you are part of this too) I invite you to comment. For a mother to attack in this manner is infuriating and disheartening. Show Ms. Boggs and the community who we are. Do not be painted as some “mommy” to be dismissed. Stand up for each other and most importantly STAND UP FOR OUR KIDS.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


7.15.15 Jeffco WNW Recall facts (part 1)

Recall The Facts - Updated

The spin machines are running wild these days, with fanciful claims ranging from the notion that the people supporting the recall are “so-called parents” (not true! My kids keep bugging me for snacks) to the notion that the petition is lying about key issues.

Today we’ll address the claims about Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee’s salary.

FACT: The total compensation package for McMinimee in 2014/15 was $280,000. That is the number in the Jeffco Schools budget, which you can see on page 117 of the 2014/15 adopted budget.

That number includes both base salary and benefits, plus $40,000 in bonus pay. The $40k has not been awarded to him yet because McMinimee just finished his first year at Jeffco on June 30 and the board has not met to conduct his annual review. Nevertheless, the $280k package was what Witt, Newkirk and Williams approved–and is a number to which we still object.

In contrast, the total compensation package for McMinimee’s predecessor, Cindy Stevenson was considerably less, largely as a concession to the teacher and staff budget freezes. Here are the actual numbers for her total compensation package she received each year, including base pay and benefits:

  • 2011/2012 budget = $215,728
  • 2012/2013 budget = $217,510
  • 2013/2014 budget = $241,613 (includes contract buyout)

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Click on the thumbnails above to look more closely at the budget documents.

McMinimee’s total compensation package is slated to rise to $282,200 next year as he receives a pay increase and as benefit costs continue to rise.

Need more data? Check out this video from Jeffco DataView explaining the reasons behind the recall.

For more Jeffco DataView information, you might also be interested in these videos:

Don’t forget to sign the petition! Drive & sign locations are updated regularly on the Jeffco United for Action website.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


7.13.15 Jeffco Parents Speak Out (Our First Guest Column — Non-“Union Operative” Division)

Remember this comments, by a former Jeffco communications director on a certain right-wing talk radio station?

The so-called parents that they’ve drummed up…

There’s no way young students could have put those together.

There’s clearly some sort of mill where they create this correspondence….

When a so-called scandal erupted, which was always created by this group, then there would be these, right away there would be this flood of correspondence about this “issue” by these same characters — the Wendy McCords, the Tina Gurdikians, their buddies, there’s a long list of names.

But we’re not “so-called” parents or “characters.” We’re parents, taxpayers and voters, and we will not be silenced.

Here’s one submission from our guest column contest:

As a parent in Southwest Jeffco, I am so glad that both of my kids went to Jeffco schools before the three “conservatives” were elected. What they and Superintendent McMinimee have done has ruined the morale for the teachers and the kids at the schools.

The trust that used to be there, the joy that teachers felt, and the fact that they have made so many good teachers leave this district is a direct result of their “teacher bashing” and their efforts to privatize the schools.

I don’t work in the education field and I find it sad to see how they have demoralized the profession and ruined what was a wonderful district. The teachers I know went into the profession to help kids; not to get the wage that McMinimee has. Shame on these three…they need to go!

We’d like to hear your voice too. If you are a parent, student, community member, it’s not too late to enter the contest. Details are here.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


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!