Former Mayor of Golden, Jacob Smith, sent this phenomenal email out just a few minutes ago and we thought you should read it.
There are two important things happening in the school board election. First, there are two open seats on the board for which Golden residents will get to vote. I’m supporting Ali Lasell and Amanda Stevens for reasons I’ll get to in a minute.
Second, there is an effort to recall the other three school board members (“the school board majority”). I want to be really clear that I am very skeptical of recalls. Many of you probably remember Marion Olson’s attempt to recall six members of the city council, including me, over policy disagreements. If you don’t like someone’s policy choices, vote for someone else in the next election (and for those of you who weren’t in Golden at the time, community residents so fiercely and widely opposed the recall that we killed it before it ever got to the ballot … not only did Golden residents disagree with Marion’s policy views, they widely supported the City Council’s vision).
Recalls should be reserved, in my view, for willfully misleading voters, gross negligence, or severe ethical violations. Sadly, and truly unfortunately, the situation on the Jefferson County School Board is actually that bad and a recall is actually the appropriate response. It seems like these issues have been fairly well covered in the local press, but in case a recap is helpful, the school board majority:
- Has repeatedly gone out of its way to conceal information, limit public oversight, restrict public input, and make important policy decisions in secret behind closed doors. The point of Colorado’s open meetings and sunshine laws is to ensure that government decisions are made transparently; the school board majority has ignored and even flouted these rules. And as anyone who lived in Golden during my time as mayor knows, I believe these are some of the most important responsibilities of our elected representatives. A healthy democracy absolutely depends on honest and open access to the workings of government. And the school board majority has aggressively done the opposite.
- Attempted to inject an overtly ideological agenda into the curriculum, sparking mass student protests (which was both ironic and impressive, since part of what the school board was trying to censor was the role of dissent in American history and politics). This debacle was particularly revealing and offensive. The proposal included the mandate that AP History classes “not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” History teachers were understandably concerned, since the history of the U.S. is, in many ways, a history of people challenging authority in the name of fighting injustice and expanding liberty … the authors of the Declaration of Independence, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, etc.
- Forced out the beloved, highly regarded, and widely respected Cindy Stevenson as superintendent despite her impressive record of success. And they replaced her with a novice superintendent (despite Jefferson County being the state’s largest school district) at a salary that was $80,000 more than they were paying Ms. Stevenson.
- Are aggressively pushing an agenda that, in my view, is anti-public education, anti-teacher, and anti-kids. It’s an ideological agenda explicitly modeled on the far-right wing ideological agenda that’s been unfolding in Douglas County over the past decade. The results there: an exodus of the best teachers to other school districts, a national reputation that is now suffering, wasting millions of dollars on ideologically-fueled litigation (which they’ve lost, by the way), and, ultimately, the quality of the education itself suffering.
We made the mistake of electing people whose goal seems to be to weaken the very thing – the Jefferson County Public School District – they were supposed to be safeguarding. All of these school board elections are fundamentally about whether we will let our schools here in Jefferson County follow the same path as the schools in Douglas County – an ideological battleground that comes at the expense of our kids and our communities – or whether we’ll put our schools back on a thoughtful, non-ideological path.
Which brings me back to the two open seats. Ali and Amanda, in my view, are moderate, thoughtful candidates who actually support the idea of public education and are committed to putting our kids’ education above ideology. Their opponents, on the other hand, are supported by the same Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity organization supporting the Douglas County craziness and the school board majority in Jefferson County (and which has a rich history of attacking and undermining public education).
My recommendation: vote for the Clean Slate for Jeffco candidates: