In America’s early days, only the wealthy, the clergy, and the lucky received much education. Gradually, as the country grew and became more urbanized, a consensus emerged supporting the value of universal public education. The underlying reasoning was (and remains) that a democratic nation will not long prosper unless all of its citizens have the tools to make their way in the world and the intelligence to guide the nation through their free exercise of the right to vote. This approach propelled America to great heights.
More recently – say the last 30 years – our leaders and educators have struggled to keep our free public education system ahead of its global competitors. Efforts to improve have yielded uneven results. Taxpaying citizens have lost patience with the slowness of change. New voices have arisen calling for a return to an earlier era of local control, an absence of bargaining, and lower taxes.
In November 2013, less than 20% of Jeffco voters elected a slate of three conservatives to the Jeffco Schools Board of Education. With an immediate majority, the three new members elected one of their own as board president and are now proceeding to implement policy changes at a rapid rate. Where are we headed? The new members avoid articulating their vision so observers are left to speculate. So far, it appears that the new board members are part of a much larger, national movement to gain control of public school systems. The best we can do at the moment is refer readers to another district where a similar political outcome two years ago serves as an example of what we might expect in Jeffco.
We believe it wise to watch these developments carefully and engage where necessary. Stay tuned.