Jeffco School Board Recall Underway: What's Really Going On?
It’s Friday afternoon in the summertime. I should be kicking back and enjoying the great outdoors, maybe playing in the pool or racing my remote-controlled cars.
But no. Teachers union leaders hide behind a group of parents to file a recall petition against the three conservative Jeffco school board members:
One of the stated reasons for the recall is the board majority’s consideration of reviewing the new Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum, which prompted waves of student protests in the suburban Denver district last year. But the group also accuses the members of meeting in secret and wasting taxpayer money, including paying the superintendent they hired $280,000.
So really… that’s it? Hire a superintendent for slightly more than his predecessor, at a rate comparable to or less than other large Colorado school district superintendents? Not increase transparency enough? Or maybe it really is based on the clever rewrite of history to concern people about non-existent censorship?
Nearly six months ago, the local teachers union said the fight is on. Now I guess they really mean it. But just for a moment, let’s review some of what this board majority has accomplished (besides the added transparency I mentioned earlier):
- Established unanimous goals to raise academic achievement
- Brought about fair funding for charter public school students
- Made free full-day kindergarten available to all low-income students
- Increased money available for teacher raises and approving compensation increases in back-to-back years (have the other two board members ever voted for a teacher pay raise?)
- Have given more flexibility and discretion over resources to building principals and school accountability committees through student-based budgeting
Why do I bring all this up? To make sure the rest of the story is fairly reported, of course. But also to help you think: What’s really going on here? Who is behind the recalls, and why?
Next week the district has scheduled four union bargaining sessions. The school board and union leaders have agreed to terms on next year’s pay for teachers, but there is still disagreement about other issues. The two sides have been negotiating a new agreement from scratch, and the district’s proposal severely cut back on union privileges.
I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that a (real or perceived) threat to union power is what’s driving the recall process. One thing is for certain. Having to report the facts, correct the misinformation, and share my views on this topic is likely to mean less time in the backyard or the pool this summer.
But sometimes you do what you’ve gotta do….