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!


 

7.9.15 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!


 

7.8.15 Jeffco School’s Communication Problem

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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!


 

 

7.3.15 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.