I saw an email recently that talked about people being upset about the Board Majority’s actions being just “political fluff.” This one statement angered me to the point of having to walk away for a bit.
Over the past two years, we have watched in horror as this majority treated everyone who wasn’t a tea party friend with disdain and contempt. We have had our correspondence to the board ignored, only to receive a response 8 months later in a form letter that didn’t even make an attempt to answer questions or respond to the lengthy documentation we’ve all provided as to what is best for OUR own kids.
Every government entity has been contacted over the past two years as parents reached out for assistance to see what we could do to make this board majority STOP breaking policies, STOP violating open meetings laws and end their atrocious behaviors! Attorneys were contacted. We all have spent money out of our own bank accounts trying to make the train wreck of the Board Majority stop!
As parents became more and more vocal, the Board Majority attempted to slander and berate parents and scare them into submission and keep them from using their voices. Many of us have had our cars vandalized, homes vandalized, received anonymous threatening phone calls and have had our names appear on a variety of websites and social media pages with some wicked comments beside them. We aren’t politicians, we are parents. Yet supporters of this Board Majority seem to think that going after vocal parents is completely acceptable. John Newkirk received at least two cease and desist letters and the parents didn’t stop advocating.
What we learned is that the only entity that the Board Majority is accountable to is the community. We learned that our state transparency laws have no teeth whatsoever and no matter how much money we threw at attorneys, we’d never see a change and our children would continue to be hurt in the process.
We learned that there really aren’t many journalists or reporters who want to take the time to dig deep into the facts or really interview the people who have been on the frontlines. We have learned that there is a huge story in thousands of community members in a massive county coming together that reporters seem unwilling to cover. Real people are involved and working their tails off as volunteers but these reporters just do the easiest thing and grab the bait they’ve been handed by multi-million dollar organizations and label all of our efforts as “union.”
News stations are taking money from institutions like The Daniels Fund, which is supplying the Board Majority in Thompson with money to fight “the union” but they haven’t reported on this fact to the community.
Dear reporters and journalists – can any one of you say that you have sat down with any of us for more than 30 minutes and gone through the entire history? Do you know where we all work? Do you know what we’ve done before we became “riled up mommies?” Do you know what we’re doing every day with our time? Have you taken the time to shadow one or even TWO of the individuals who are working toward recall? What have you done to prove that this is “union?” You’re using the word repeatedly, so where’s your proof?
Did teachers make donations to an effort that they agreement with? Yes! Did the union make donations to candidates and campaigns that they agree with? Yes! Now show us how they’re running these campaigns and show us how they are telling us what to do. We know you’re using the union boogeyman word over and over in all of your articles and we know who we have donations from and it goes FAR beyond “the union.” So why are you doing this to us?
Are you telling us that because we became mothers and fathers, we no longer have value to the community? Are you telling us that because we had children, we are no longer qualified to organize anything or that we have no credibility despite many of us having more impressive resumes than any of the Board Majority?
It’s insulting and it’s upsetting. These are our schools and these are OUR children and these are our communities! We are the first people to advocate for them and, of course, we collaborate with the educators of our children. We rely on these people to help us along the way, to tell us how best to serve the educational needs of our children, and sometimes we rely on them to guide us in their fields of expertise – serving our children in a variety of ways.
As for the “union control” – a $15,000 donation from JCEA compared with the $125,000 from the community doesn’t exactly equal “heavy involvement.”
I found this online – “News reporters, also known as journalists, investigate, observe, interview and write news stories. Their general job duties include collecting information, preparing a factual story and creating articles or broadcasts that impart information to the public. These stories often involve local, state, national and international topics on current events.”
Every time you folks use the word “union” – you’re interrupting your factual story with a lie. When you call these people “reformers,” you’re also perpetuating a lie. What have they ever said that they want to reform? Every school board for the past 15 years has made “academic achievement” their focus. What exactly do they want to “reform?”
If we go back to their 2013 campaigns, we find:
Opposition to Amendment 66 – because the taxes didn’t all stay in Jeffco. Over the past two years, Williams, Witt, and Newkirk have all stated that they oppose taxes, period. Williams stated on her Facebook page – “We heard you! You want us to stop feeding the PIG!” That’s quite a way to talk about funding education for our children.
Opposition to inBloom – this caused an uproar over student privacy wherein multiple rumors scared parents. DMAC was formed in response to those issues and security professionals and parents from around the district gave advisory opinions and the previous board voted down inBloom before the Board Majority came into office. Interestingly, today some are spreading the rumor that inBloom will come back if the Board Majority isn’t retained. Yet, inBloom is out of business so this is completely false. Nothing has changed to make student data safer or more secure.
Educational Choice – the Board Majority has not expanded choice and we have already gone over the fact that only one school has been approved since they came into office and one neighborhood school no longer exists. Ken Witt’s website noted that Jeffco’s enrollment was declining and yet it has actually increased in the past two years. There is not “more choice” but there are more students.
Fiscal Responsibility – Ken Witt’s website states this: “Jeffco voters have been generous in voting to provide an additional $39 million dollars a year to support the public education of all of our Jeffco students.The board must make certain that these resources are spent attracting and retaining the most highly effective teachers and that the resources are spent directly supporting the work in our classrooms. Looking for efficiencies and the ability to spread best practices should be embedded in the Jeffco culture of excellence. Having run profitable businesses I know the importance of listening to all stakeholders and valuing all thoughts on process improvement.”
Did Ken Witt vote to send more money to attracting and retaining teachers? No, more than 1000 educators have left Jeffco in response to his and the Board Majority’s decisions. They have attempted to take credit for SBB and tout equality and ignore issues of inequity. If he valued ALL thoughts, more than 13,000 people who participated in the community budget survey wouldn’t have had their opinions ignored.
So how did this become about “union?” The first people to bring that up were from the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity, funded by Koch. If a teacher chooses to join JCEA, what makes their opinions as our education professionals less important or less valuable?
NFL players, policemen, firemen, electricians, steelworkers, plumbers, pipefitters, and other industries have unions. Why are reporters and organizations attacking educators for belonging to their education association?
If someone has a child, who decides that their voice no longer matters? When thousands of parents, grandparents, community members and teachers come together to take action, one would think that would be news.
It’s not fluff and it’s certainly NOT political. We have come together as a community to make sure our voices are all heard and 86,000 children are represented in an appropriate way. We want the extremist politics out of our schools and off the backs of our children. We want this outside money to go away and these organizations that can spend millions of dollars to take their rhetoric out of our community and let the people have the opportunity to make decisions for their communities.
When the pizza delivery person thanks you for what you’re doing and tells you how your efforts have touched her life, that’s pretty amazing and very out of the ordinary. That’s not political fluff, that’s called advocacy and a very impressive grassroots movement.