Jeffco Teachers Union Takes Political Spectacle from Boardroom into Classrooms

It’s ugly moments like what took place Saturday that can make me squeamish about watching this world of education policy. A staged spectacle of adult interests, where accusations of disrespect are bolstered by a loud and visible display of public disrespect. This 2-minute Revealing Politics video of Saturday’s Jefferson County school board meeting paints the unpleasant picture:

The day after three conservatives were elected to assume the Jeffco school board majority, the district’s long-time superintendent Cindy Stevenson announced she would resign at the end of the school year. Ever since she has been at odds with the school board in ways that caused havoc. Then, one week ago, we learned the lame duck superintendent has a cushy new job waiting for her to go along with the generous taxpayer-funded pension.

Stevenson apparently was dragging her feet and not interested in cooperating with the new elected board majority. According to her public statement Saturday, she initiated contact with the board in an effort to speed up her resignation. Rather than resolving the issue in a quiet dignified agreement, the other two (union-backed) members of the board forced the discussion into an ugly public spectacle.

After all, who would want to throw away the opportunity created by union leaders rallying the troops to drum up a disrespectful mob. Wait, where have I seen this before? Oh, yeah. Never let a manufactured crisis go to waste, they say.

Open negotiations are scheduled to start next month, and fears grow that the board will challenge union power and prerogative. What will happen to the one-size-fits-all dues structure that ships hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to Washington, D.C., to support a one-sided political agenda, and the local union’s power to heavily restrict when members can opt out of those district-collected payments?

The Jefferson County Education Association yesterday sent out another memo urging all their members to wear black to school. In other words, they are bringing their political disagreements in front of kids, moving their protest from the boardroom into classrooms. Never mind the potential ostracism facing teachers and other employees who disagree with the spectacle, or who may just want to do their jobs.

Without the looming threat to union and bureaucratic power in the equation, the whole scenario is hard to understand. But if you can motivate educators and other community members by convincing them to believe crazy paranoid horse hockey, it makes a little more sense. Fear can be a powerful motivator.

Rabblerouser deceit continues, even as the new school board has moved to institute more transparent procedures. Yet now is absolutely the time for the new Jeffco board majority to talk about the vision that won them broad support, the vision that will move the district forward on behalf of the students first. Time to rise above the dark cloud of politics.