7.8.15 Jeffco School’s Communication Problem

quote-Melissa-Bean-mr-speaker-democracy-works-best-when-the-116929_1

I remember hearing the proverb, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” as a kid. I turned it over and over in my mind deciding what it meant. Now, I know.

The hiring of Lisa Pinto as Jeffco’s communication director was an act of foolery. She was unqualified, lied on her resume and had a past that made it no big surprise when she ended up embarrassing our district in her unprofessional, nasty and juvenile response to Governor John Hickenlooper’s staff. The hiring of Devan Crean is a second act of foolery, and it’s quite hard to sit by and watch.

Pinto and Crean have each been hired to work in the communications department for our district. Lisa Pinto resigned her post, effective June 19. Devan Crean was ostensibly hired for a different position — marketing and communications specialist — that Superintendent Dan McMinimee has said largely revolves around showcasing schools (supposedly both charter and neighborhood), but the proof is in the pudding.

A new communications director has not been chosen to replace Pinto. Crean, however, was working for Novitas Communications before she came to Jeffco. Novitas, you’ll remember, is the firm that Pinto hired to handle all the communication duties that Pinto apparently couldn’t handle (as explained in more detail here). On her resume, Crean claims she handled much larger duties for the district, including:

  • Managing social media content like Facebook and Twitter
  • Supporting all daily communications operations for Jeffco
  • Provided media relations
  • Managed editorial calendar for all publications and social media

If you’re wondering, the answer is yes, she also lists those same points under her current position, though it’s curious that social media feature prominently during the time when Pinto was clearly already devoting plenty of time to social media snooping research. Surely two full-time professionals didn’t both need to spend that much time managing social media.

Now, let’s do some simple math:

1 + 1 They are both under-qualified for the position.

+

They both have past professional experiences that demonstrate their downright offensive professional ethics. For example,

Pinto went on national TV and claimed that single parents have children who “don’t thrive. They commit crimes, they do drugs, they’re depressed….”

Meanwhile, Crean got tied into a scandal about tracking “liberals.”

 

= 2 These are political hires.These women were both brought in because they are comfortable working hard to help our BOE3 and McMinimee hide behind acts such as these:

  • Stalking a student’s social media account and then shaming them PUBLICLY at a board meeting
  • Posting homophobic content on their Facebook pages
  • Speaking at meetings funded by hate groups
  • Comparing being a charter student in Jeffco to being black in the 1960’s in the South.
  • Etc.

Why is this a problem?

For one, Pinto was given a $120,000 salary (nearly triple what our teachers make) as to work as our chief communications specialist. One of her first moves was to hire Novitas, a Republican communications company, to help her carry out duties that should have been her own. Now, Crean, a Novitas employee, has joined the department. Will Crean be paid by our district twice, as she has contracts for Jeffco to pay her by the hour through Novitas as well as a salaried position starting in June? The Novitas contract is through June 30, but Crean’s own resume shows that she started working as a Jeffco employee in May.

Why else is this a problem? It’s a problem because we actually need a good chief communications specialist. We need someone to help our students who are achieving great things get a megaphone announcement to the community. We need someone who can help us recruit and keep the best teachers out there.

Instead, we’re ending up with people hired for their love of political antics, who merely wordsmith form letters for the BOE3 and superintendent to use in response to our correspondence.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

7.6.15 A Response to Skeptics

20100830193250!The_Scream

Some WNW supporters can’t handle the truth.

Last week, 9 News ran a story featuring Jeffco Exodus, a parent-run website and Facebook page chronicling the stories of teachers, administrators and staff leaving Jeffco. In it, one Jeffco resident questioned everything, including the turnover numbers from the Colorado Department of Education. One of our Jeffco teachers responded and shared her response with us and Jeffco Exodus.
We’ve printed her story below, and encourage you to share this with your friends and neighbors. Whether or not Horn truly wants to know the truth is an open question, but there are many Jeffco residents who are truly interested. Let’s make sure the rest of Jeffco keeps hearing the stories of teachers like Susan Coveyduck so they understand what is at stake.
Ms. Horn,
I saw your interview as part of the story broadcast by Nelson Garcia on 9 News the other night. It was about teacher mass exodus from Jefferson County schools. In the interview you posed a question that I thought I would politely answer for you. You also made a statement that I would like to address.
You wanted to know why Jeffco teachers are not happy that they’re getting a raise.  Well, first let me explain to you that I AM happy that the younger teachers in my district and the new hires are going to make significantly higher salaries in September, something that is more competitive with other districts. This is completely thanks to the MOU that my professional association negotiated with the school district.  This is finally some financial relief for about 1000 of the 5000 teachers in the district, about 20%.
The remaining 4000 teachers (80%) will be receiving a 1% increase. Since the average teacher in Jefferson County makes 52,000, after taxes this equates to about $38-$40 per month. Given that the rate of inflation is many times more than that, and that the recession depleted many of our savings, do you think this is sufficient to convince effective, highly effective and mastery level teachers to stay with the district? What if the other districts were offering a greater increase in salary? Denver public schools is offering OVER 5% to its teachers. Boulder County is offering 3% plus the cost of living increase that’s close to 3%. Does this sound like a competitive business model to you? I don’t think it takes an MBA to see that this is a bad design. You claim to be supportive of public education, but it would appear that instead you would promote a model which would destroy our schools. Is that what you want?
You made a statement in which you questioned the quality of the teachers who are choosing to leave. Do you think that Jeffco teachers would leave a paid position, especially if they have children, if they didn’t think that they had a competitive edge at getting a higher paid position?  I would respectfully suggest to you, Ms. Horn, that it will only be the most talented people competing for those highly desired jobs in other districts. The best teachers are leaving Jeffco schools, not the weakest. The weak would cling to their jobs for fear they might not find another.
I am an award-winning, mastery level teacher with 20 years of experience in Jefferson County schools. My current public school has performed in the top 10 schools in the STATE since it opened, 14 years ago. I could get a job anywhere I want. I would leave this year, I am so heartbroken by what is happening to my district, except I can’t afford to. The salary freeze that we agreed to and the subsequent loss of increase in salary due to the board majority has resulted in a loss of $20,000 to my household income. Thankfully, my husband is not also a teacher, or that pain would be double as it is for many Jeffco teachers. Instead, I will save as much as I can for the next two years and leave then. THIS EXODUS, AND THE FUTURE DEPARTURES WILL BE A HUGE LOSS TO THE DISTRICT.
Who will mentor the incoming teachers, teaching them superior methods, methods only learned through years of experience, trial and error?
I just thought you would like some answers to your questions. If you would like to speak more, with greater depth I would be happy to talk to you sometime. Unfortunately, I think many of the people who support this board majority don’t really understand what is happening on the inside. They are doing massive, hemorrhaging damage to a beautiful school district.
Susan Coveyduck, MA
Science Department Chair, Instructional Leader
8th Grade Science and STEM Elective
The Manning Option School, Golden 

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

7.3.15 On Independence Day and Jeffco Schools

Dear Readers:

Our message today is brief. So much has been written about our schools and most readers here know many of the details. So today we share a single concept that hearkens back to our nation’s founding.

It is entirely appropriate to observe that the main power dynamics around the founding of our nation in 1776 are still being replicated today, in our own neighborhoods and in our schools. So much has changed, but human nature has not.

When celebrating Independence Day and thinking about our nation’s birth and freedom this weekend, recall that the basic problems described in the Declaration of Independence were related to outsiders ruling the emerging nation. They were not liberal issues or conservative issues. The Colonial Governors were sworn to the British Crown, and so those Governors and the authorities under them were loyal to their financiers across the Atlantic, not to the people they served. Sometimes that resulted in benefits for colonial Americans, sometimes it didn’t, but the colonial American people grew tired of being ruled by the outsiders. It wasn’t that the British wanted to simply share good ideas or work in partnership with colonial Americans, it was that they wanted to fully control them. Too often that meant that the needs and desires of American subjects weren’t heard or attended to. Americans yearned for that freedom and then fought tooth and nail for it, even against a well-financed empire.

As Americans, we prefer self-rule. Still, we know that the main financiers of the Jeffco School Board Majority’s election in 2013 were from outside of Jeffco. They have hired attorneys and communications professionals from outside of Jeffco. A disproportionate amount of their counsel comes from organizations and individuals based outside of Jeffco. We know that some in Jeffco support their agenda, and just as happened in the 1700s, those who do are paraded before our eyes to make it seem like these leaders do have broad local support. They back it up with stretched stories of magnanimity and successes, twisting information to manipulate as many people as possible. Yet we know that their loyalties are with these outside financiers: people who don’t have kids or jobs or histories or roots in Jeffco. We know that the independent-minded citizens of Jeffco would prefer their own excellent, if imperfect, schools, than schools controlled by those outside our community who do not really care about what’s best for us. These outsiders will try to crush this rebellion with funds, and winning won’t be easy.

While watching fireworks, we are asking you to consider what you can do in the coming weeks and months as we try with all our might to free ourselves from these strangers controlling us with their money, and their locals who have sworn allegiance to their ideas and that money, rather than to our real needs as a community. Our needs may be answered by conservative or liberal ideas, but they need to be our own.

Unlike in 1776, this fight will ultimately culminate at the ballot box. Still, it will take real sacrifice and real courage, but we think that the desire to be free of the control of outside forces is as powerful a motivator today as it was 240 years ago.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

7.2.15 JCSBW GUEST COLUMN CONTEST!!

JCSBW GUEST COLUMN CONTEST!!

Introducing JCSBW’s “Jeffco Community Supports the Recall Guest Column Contest! (Non-‘Union Operative’ Version)”

Why? Recently, Lisa Pinto, former Communications Director and political appointee for Jeffco Schools, proclaimed on radio that the recall can only be the work of union operatives, also implying that opposition to the recall can only stem from the teachers’ union. WNW’s sycophants at Jeffco Students First keep mindlessly parroting the same talking points too. Clearly they either lack good data about the opposition, or have too much of an active imagination. Time to both get serious and have some fun with this.

Who? Open to all Jeffco community members, except for Jeffco staff. Sorry teachers and other Jeffco staff; we’ll give you a turn later, and we do encourage you to keep submitting to Jeffco Exodus in the meantime. Contact us if you are a teacher but not a member of JCEA.

What? We are seeking submissions of between 100 and 300 words that include two things. First, you should convey that you’re not a member of JCEA, and that you don’t have any particularly close ties to it. Second, tell Jeffco why you support the recall in a few simple points. We will publish up to 10 throughout the coming months. Posting will be completely at our discretion.

When? Submissions must be received by August 1.

How? Submit to JeffcoOpportunity@gmail.com. We will do only light editing; any heavy editing will be returned to you for final approval. We understand the paralyzing fear out there, so your name may be included or kept anonymous at your discretion, but please be sure to let us know if you are a parent or community member and the general part of Jeffco (north, south, central, mountains) where you reside. We will not share your identity with anyone without your permission.

6.26.15 It’s time: Let’s recall WNW!

recallshirt

You’ve asked. You’ve waited. And it’s time. The recall process for Witt, Williams and Newkirk is off and running. We received this press release from Jeffco United in our inbox this afternoon:

Jeffco Community Pulls Recall Petitions on Three School Board Majority Members

The School Board Majority Members Have Failed to Do What’s Best for Taxpayers & Students

Golden, CO – Today, Wendy McCord a stay-at-home mother of three Jeffco students, along with Michael Blanton a Jeffco father and attorney, and Tina Gurdikian a Jeffco mother of two students and an environmental compliance specialist submitted language to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office to recall the three Jeffco School Board Majority Members – Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams.

“We can no longer wait! The Board Majority Members are taking away the opportunity for our Jeffco students to succeed by failing to do what we elected them to do, represent the voice of the entire community and not just those who voted for them. The Board Majority Members regularly disregard input from the community and district staff, including their solo pick for superintendent, Dan McMinimee. The Board Majority Members have gone so far as to limit public comment, and take up to a year to respond with shallow form letters to emails submitted to the Board by their constituents. In the case of facility needs to address increasing enrollment in the north, Board Majority Members have left families in a state of stressful limbo wondering where their children will attend school,” stated Tina Gurdikian.

“The language we submitted as the grounds for recall today clearly outlines why the Board Majority Members are not suited to continue in their elected roles. For over a year, the Board Majority Members have made decisions behind closed doors and violated their own rules as well as state and federal laws. All of this secrecy and lack of transparency has resulted in over 700 educators and countless families leaving Jeffco Schools – this is unacceptable,” continued Wendy McCord.

“Between the broken promises to voters, violating open meeting laws and privacy laws and wasting taxpayer money, I as a Jeffco voter felt it was time to stand up and put an end to the chaos that has overtaken our school board. The board majority members have consistently exhibited a fundamental disrespect for Jeffco parents and students, and their attitude and actions will only cause our students to fall behind their peers, locally, nationally and globally,” concluded Michael Blanton.

Below is the statement of grounds for the recalls that was submitted today. Jeffco United For Action “Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt and the School Board Majority have failed Jeffco taxpayers, parents and students. A recall now will:

  • Restore ACCOUNTABILITY: The Board Majority wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, including hiring a novice Superintendent for $280,000–$80,000 more a year than the previous nationally recognized Superintendent of 12 years—and hiding $90,000 each year in legal expenses from the public.
  • Restore TRANSPARENCY: They have repeatedly violated Colorado open meeting laws by secretly making major decisions behind closed doors. They have severely limited public comment at board meetings, bullied students and parents, and released a minor student’s private information in violation of state law.
  • Restore RESPECT: They attempted to censor US History classes, leading thousands of students to walk out of class in protest. Their unprofessional actions have pushed over 700 educators this past year to leave Jeffco schools, most to teach in other districts, because the educators believe the Board Majority’s policies hurt their ability to educate our students.

In the interest of our children, community and schools, we need to send the message that our kids’ education and fiscal responsibility come before politics.”

Once the recall petition has been submitted, the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder has seven business days to approve the language. Following that, circulators have 60 days to gather 15,000 signatures for each of the three seats they are seeking to recall.

We need every one of our readers to help spread Jeffco reclaim its schools and recall WNW. Please stop by the Jeffco United website to sign up for emails. You can also help with the recall effort by contacting Jeffco parent Tina Gurdikian at tgurdikian@hotmail.com.

Don’t hesitate. We need people to sign petitions, gather signatures, and most of all, to explain to Jeffco residents who don’t have kids in school why their vote to recall these three is so very, very important for the future of our children and Jeffco as a whole.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!