So just a few minutes ago, Lisa Pinto (the former disastrous Communications Chief who left after a few short months due to not being qualified to do the job and an unprecedented number of complaints, now hired by some extremist organization to combat the recall) goes on KNUS radio and calls parents and anyone who questions the district names.
Wendy McCord is not a mother according to Pinto – she’s an attorney and a main agitator and harrasses the district staff so they can’t do their jobs. The reality – Wendy is the mom of 3 Jeffco kids and many Jeffco parents have or have previously held extremely impressive positions of employment and have extensive educational backgrounds. Tina Gurdikian is also not a mother according to Pinto but an agitator as well and one of the main authors of correspondence to the district. The reality- Tina is the mom of 2 Jeffco kids and was a tremendous volunteer during the 2012 mill and bond campaign and continues to be a amazing advocate for public education and our Jeffco kids.
Pinto says that there’s clearly a mill where correspondence is written and different names are added to these mill letters, it’s not the community and it’s not real. Pinto seems oblivious to the fact that there are more than 700,000 people in Jeffco and the more than 86,000 kids in the district have parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, aunts, uncles and friends. Pinto is oblivious to the fact that Jeffco parents are educated and many of us are tremendous advocates for our district and public education.
Answering our correspondence is a waste of their time according to Pinto. We aren’t parents according to Pinto. None of us are real, it’s some big, scary union machine behind everything. The radio host, Krista Kafer (also with the Independence Institute) promised that she will help ensure that we don’t win.
Well, Ms. Pinto and Ms. Kafer, you’re wrong – we will win. We are parents! We are community! We are friends and neighbors! We ARE Jeffco! These are our schools and these are OUR children! WE are vested in this community and we will (and have a right to!) demand accountability from this Board Majority and our school district!
Your mysterious and giant union machine doesn’t exist but thanks for inspiring us to work even harder and join together to do a little more when we’re already exhausted. Pinto already published a scathing piece in the Colorado Statesman when she left Jeffco after her disastrous performance as Communications Chief.
Jeffco Dad, Jim Early, responded with a great piece in the Colorado Statesman in response. http://coloradostatesman.com/content/995836-earley-microphone-belongs-people-jeffco
There is no question that Lisa Pinto’s short tenure as chief communications officer for Jeffco Public Schools was troubled from the start. From the flawed interview process and dubious qualifications, her connections to school board member Ken Witt and others through the Leadership of the Rockies program, her subsequent decision to hire known conservative media consultancy Novitas Communications for $50,000 to assist in what should be her core job duties, to a series of mind-boggling social media debacles, and culminating in a PR disaster when the district refused to host the governor for a bill signing, there’s little doubt that Pinto was not a good fit for the job.
Pinto’s resignation should have been the end of it. Yet, in a guest column published by The Colorado Statesman last week, Pinto combines what can only be considered as sour grapes about her time in Jeffco, with the standard, party line, union-as-thug rhetoric. It stands to reason that with so much controversy surrounding Pinto’s tenure that a little self-reflection ought to be the order of the day; perhaps, as Pinto herself noted, “a CT scan” would do to introspect on what really went wrong.
“… a billion-dollar professional services corporation is going through a necessary turnaround while under attack by a guerrilla group …” Pinto fails to recognize that many Jeffco residents do understand what is happening. Using terms like “guerrilla group” as a connotation for the JCEA is debasing, and serves no purpose other than to vilify teachers, and many Jeffco residents aren’t buying into the petty name-calling.
What’s more, Pinto obfuscates by calling Jeffco Public Schools a “professional services corporation.” This carefully selected phrase attempts to paint a non-profit public service into some sort of Wall Street consultancy in need of turnaround. Had Pinto looked beyond her rhetoric, she might have found a nationally recognized school district with a reputation for strong, experienced educators.
“The Board majority in Jeffco … were elected on a promise to exercise fiscal restraint…” Countless blog entries, letters, and articles have been written about the board majority’s “fiscal restraint.” Had the board’s majority truly exercised their fiduciary obligations, many Jeffco residents wouldn’t be nearly as concerned. Instead, the board majority consistently impose policies that are either penny-wise and pound foolish, or otherwise detrimental to the financial health of the district and the academic achievement of its 87,000 students.
For a real accounting, why would the board majority authorize $90,000 for an unprecedented attorney just for the board? Why would the board majority allocate $650,000 to two charter schools flagged by the district? Why would the board majority allocate $5.5 million to charter equalization, even though the community indicated this was the lowest funding priority? Why would the board majority only allocate only $15 million for a new neighborhood school costing $25 million in a fast growing area of Jeffco, despite the pleas from parents and residents?
“Savvy operatives for the union … work up independent and unaffiliated moms.” Here, Pinto’s short tenure seems to be on full exhibit. She assumes wrongly that the JCEA is the only organization involved in saving the school district from Douglas County or Wisconsin-style policies that hurt neighborhood schools. For the record, there are numerous student, parent and community groups, unaffiliated with JCEA, who are just as vocal and active. Truly more egregious, however, is Pinto’s assertion that it’s paid operatives manipulating unsuspecting moms. A lot of these moms have college degrees — many with advanced degrees — and are quite capable of ascertaining the situation for themselves. It’s also unfortunate that Pinto doesn’t recognize that there are numerous “dads” who are also very engaged.
“Veterans of Jeffco understand that he who holds the school district mic wins the election.” Pinto reveals her true political operative background and training. At what point did kids and education become instruments for political ambition and agendas? Many parents and residents are disturbed by this cynical and distorted view, and frankly resent the implications. There are countless other media outlets and forums available for political communication — schools are not one of them.
Rather, Pinto uses the “bully pulpit” of a guest column to protest her treatment:
“Their vitriolic attacks got to me … Pro-union Twitter feeds and websites launched a merciless blitz…” It’s somewhat surprising that someone with so much political acumen would allow social media to affect her professionally. Certainly, if Pinto felt that “controlling the mic” has political implications, then she should recognize that twitter feeds and websites opposing her political views should be part and parcel of the job she undertook. There is no question that attacks on anyone’s personal life are disgusting and reprehensible. In parallel, Pinto owes an apology to the underage student she used as political bait by scouring through her social media. Isn’t that just as bad, if not worse?
It’s worthwhile reminding Pinto of the first law of holes: When in a hole, stop digging. In this case, it would have been much better to simply chalk up the experience, and move on. Instead, Pinto continues to pick a fight while walking away. Isn’t that the definition of guerrilla warfare?
Jim Earley is a parent of three children enrolled in Jeffco Public Schools, an active community volunteer with the Boy Scouts, and a consultant working with publishing firms moving towards digital-first strategies.
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Unpaid Volunteer & Mom of Morgan