Jeffco Union Prez Wants "Big Lift"; For Kids' Sake, How About Some Peace?

The school year is underway for nearly all Colorado kids. That includes all students in Jeffco Public Schools. Let’s calm down the heat and focus on a successful school year then, right? I sure hope so, but one group seems to be throwing a wrench into the situation.

Last night the Jeffco Board of Education “unanimously approved an agreement with the teachers union that governs how educators are hired, fired and paid.” We’re talking about a much better, leaner, more flexible union contract than the previous one — as my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow explained on Complete Colorado yesterday.

(Don’t tell Ben, but I learned something he didn’t. About the new salaries they agreed to: Because of the way the two sides agreed to fix the pay system to make it fairer, about 1,400 Jeffco teachers — more than one-quarter — come home with big take-home raises in 2015. This, after last year 99 percent of teachers got a salary boost, including 4.25 percent raises for highly effective educators. A total of $20 million this board has ADDED to teacher compensation.)

Beyond the pay increases, the contract opens the door to more important decisions made at the school level, more value on performance over seniority, more fairness and options for teachers, and maybe best of all: Teacher strike averted!

This is the same agreement the Denver Post hailed as a “good agreement” because “both sides aren’t fully happy.” It contains some positive developments for district teachers, and generally is less restrictive. So time to move onward and upward, to focus on excellence in classrooms and school buildings, to strive for more and better learning? Not so fast.

From last night’s Chalkbeat story:

Outside the board room, union president John Ford told members it was important they put the contract behind them and focus on changing the makeup of the school board.

“It’s a bad deal, we know it. We absolutely know it,” he said. “But we had to get rid of this distraction … We have to get to work. We have to get to work right now. We have a big lift in November.”

This leaves little Eddie to ask a rhetorical question: Who wants peace and calm, and who wants to fight? Sadly, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by the aggressive reaction. This is the same John Ford who late last year broadcast the message that “the fight is on” in Jeffco.

You remember? I pointed you to this video:

Look closely at the background of the JCEA president’s office. Hidden amid the multi-colored cluster of Post It notes is a pair of boxing gloves to fit the pugilistic theme. Now months later Mr. Ford says they’ve got a “big lift” ahead. I guess that means they’ve got to organize, organize, organize.

So union leaders and members come to an agreement with pay raises and some concessions from district leaders — an agreement praised by the Denver Post — yet JCEA wants to keep fighting for control. And they want us to believe their focus is what’s best for students? JCEA brass is focused on the “big lift,” leaving many great teachers and even more kids trapped in between.

Respected expert voices have told you what’s really going on behind the recall.

Once you break down the misinformation behind the recall campaign, see real Jeffco moms thanking the new school board, and follow the logic contained in the unending combative approach of JCEA leaders, it can become an eye-opening moment.

Dare I say an educational moment. Who’s going to #StandUp4Kids and say: “Let’s give peace a chance”?