Public comment from Jeffco Schools supporter extraordinaire, Tammy Story:
November 19, 2015
Dear Jeffco School Board Members, Ron Mitchell, Ali Lasell, Susan Harmon, Amanda Stevens and Brad Rupert,
It has been a wild ride getting to this point over the last two to three years. Please accept my sincere gratitude for jumping on this rollercoaster with us! You have landed at the board table to provide guidance through governance policy for Colorado’s second
largest school district, Jefferson County Schools. Thank you so much for your immense commitment, because Jeffco Matters!
The outgoing board attorney, Brad Miller, and the past board majority, along with their supporters have identified several of their actions over the last two years as their “points of pride.” Their list includes equalization of funding for all students, increased
compensation for all employees, significant rewards to highly effective teachers, addressing facilities needs without a tax increase and transparency in the form of live streaming board meetings.
Despite the perceived benefits in the superficial titles of
these actions, I could spend the entire evening disputing these “points of pride” in their degrees, details and methods of implementation and their lack of defined dividends, as
employed for kids, staff and the community. Suffice it to say, each of these elements of district business require further scrutiny to determine if the manner and delivery of these actions are, in fact, adequate, appropriate and in line with improving student
achievement. All of these disputable “points of pride” fall within three categories, which coincidentally gave structure for the intent behind the recall of the past board majority: lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of respect.
A significant two-thirds majority of the voters, who, by the way, returned ballots in record numbers, rejected these “points of pride” and the past board majority who instituted them. Brad Miller’s guidance to direct the actions of the past board majority could not save them from recall. Jeffco Students First, a contradiction in terms, could not save the past board majority from recall. The overall Reformer’s playbook, which has been in use in Douglas County School District since 2009, could not save the past board majority from recall. The campaign season mailers alluding to support of the past board majority, paid for by Americans for Prosperity, a major funding arm of the billionaire Koch brothers, could not save the past board majority from recall. The loathsome network and cable TV ads, paid for by Americans for Prosperity and Kids are First, a funding arm of the Independence Institute, could not save the past board majority from recall.
What successfully provided the steam for the engine and the driving force for the recall was a well-orchestrated, organized and dedicated, growing force of grassroots supporters, who were informed, irritated, and motivated to vote. Some have incessantly insisted on calling it a “union-backed recall”. I take great exception to this characterization. Teachers did participate in mass, on their own time, to knock on doors and phone bank. And why wouldn’t they? They all have a dog in this fight and they were motivated to save Jeffco Schools for all the same reasons as the rest of the community of voters. The Jefferson County Education Association, JCEA, did contribute financially to the recall effort, as evidenced by the Secretary of State records.
However, their donation totals paled in comparison to the millions paid on behalf of the past board majority for robo calls, mailers and TV ads, by immense, dark money pouring in from outside of Jeffco and outside of Colorado!
The recall effort was a grassroots initiated, organized and led effort to oust a board majority. The past board majority was driven by state and national level ideology to dismantle Jeffco Public Schools, through corporate privatization. The push back by the community, resulting in the recall, was dramatically successful. This was a unique and significant, nationally watched election and the outcome was profound! We won! And we won BIG!!
Jeffco Board members, you are a collection of unique individuals with a broad variety of skills and experiences, who all hold public education and Jeffco Schools in high esteem.
I know you don’t all think alike, but I trust you will be transparent, accountable and respectful while you work magic at the board table, on behalf of all 85,000 students, their families and the Jeffco community. It’s your job and your duty! A powerful majority of this community stands with you, and looks forward to the great work you will do to right this ship, because Jeffco Matters!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your tremendous commitment and dedication!
Jeffco community member