Waiting, thousands of teachers feel their lives are on hold

With the new round of “super” talks coming up, these little, nuanced “conversations” with Superintendent McMinimee, it will be interesting to see just how much “responsibility” he actually has.  McMinimee is offering a “question and answer” format, that “will be closed to media” in order to insure that people feel safe asking questions that that might not want to otherwise ask.  It’s interesting that safe questioning environment is being promoted on the heels of a long-time communication department employees leaving because of a new culture of “fear and intimidation.”

 

 

So, I texted back and forth with a colleague last night about what were some questions that we’d like McMinimee to ACTUALLY answer.  A few quick ones came up, such as “Why do you hate teachers?” and “Why are you hiring so many marketing people and lawyers at the top of the District?” or maybe “Why haven’t you actively recruited anyone from WITHIN the District to replace the rapidly fleeing central office staff?”  But the one that hit us both hardest in the face, and caused us both to really reflect on work of the McMinimee and the Board majority was this: “Can you predict the scandal that will lead to you getting fired?”

 

 

We were flabbergasted when we started to go through the “list” of actions/decisions and prejudices pushed forth by WNW et al…  In no particular order, here is the list we compiled in the course of about ten minutes and half a dozen texts:

 

  • Taking on Brad Miller as a counsel to the Board to the tune of $7,000 per month retainer.  Currently taxpayer bill, in excess of $98,000.00, not including the charges billed which have been redacted from the Board minutes.

  • Hire the inexperienced and under qualified McMinimee from a “single finalist” candidate pool with a salary 50% greater than the previous Superintendent.

  • Diverting Mill and Bond monies promised and CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED to back to the classroom of community schools from the 3A/3B Ballot initiative to poorly performing and financially irresponsible charter programs.

  • Ignoring the results of the Spring 2014 community survey, repeatedly.

  • Refusing to fund full-day Kindergarten.

  • Refusing to bargain in good-faith with District employees.

  • Refusing to honor the Tentative Agreement brought forth by their own bargaining team and letting the the teacher’s master contract go unratified.

  • Installing a new pay scale that offers employees no incentive furthering their education NOR for demonstrating loyalty through years of service.

  • Installing a “pay-for-performance” model using data collected from a “hold-harmless” year of data input.

  • Utilizing faulty and disputed metrics to determine compensation packages.

  • Creating a “Curriculum Oversight” committee to look at the “correctness” of curriculum related to U.S. History and health education.

  • Attempting to re-purpose Jefferson Area schools halfway through the school year without consulting community stakeholders.

  • Refusing to look at systemic, long-term growth patterns in northern articulation areas to properly build capacity for rapidly expanding foothills communities.

  • Offering leniency, waivers, and ultimately awarding Charters to questionable to parochial and “non-profit” charter programs.

  • Positioning to move nurses from high-impacted programs at Fletcher Miller, again without community input.

  • Ken Witt’s lunch date with leaders from Douglas County (don’t ask Ken about DougCo!), Thompson Valley and other District leaders with connections to Brad Miller’s law firm.

  • Attempting to consolidate many programs into single buildings, with greatly disparate populations, Sobesky and Fletcher Miller, as well as Alameda High School with O’Connell Middle, and Jefferson Senior with Wheat Ridge Middle.

  • Enlisting community members, such as Tom Coyne, to attack teachers and blame their membership in a labor association as the REAL reason Jeffco schools are “failing.”

  • McMinimee sending two different versions of the same communication memo to parents, and then employees, in which he makes the same insinuation to parents, but the phrasing is removed from the employee message.

  • Enlisting media and polling tactics from Americans for Prosperity, and Leadership Program of the Rockies, both which have anti-middle class, anti-worker and elitist philosophies, as well as hiring candidates from the Leadership Program of the Rockies into District leadership positions.

 

 

All of this is in one year.  This has been a busy year, and WNW et al. well, they’re just getting started.  The master agreement for teacher’s will be “negotiated” this year.  That’s the “Elephant” that keeps getting referred to.  WNW and McMinimee have done nothing to relieve fears and suspicions that this Contract will be bargained in “bad faith.” With thousands of teachers who feel their lives are on hold, unable to buy homes, have children, provide for their children, progress in their careers or as Maslow would say “feel safe and secure,” a “good faith” CONTRACT would be just one sign that this Board respects the community and the employees they represent.  Many people would breath a sigh of relief, and the elephant could dance proudly, once again.

 

 

So, I guess that’s the grand question, Dan, what are you going to do to relieve our fears and change the course of this District, get it back to being Jeffco, not the North DougCo that you’ve helped create.

 

 

 

Matt Landon

Summit Ridge Middle School
19 Year Jeffco Teacher
21 Year Career Educator