Jefferson County's Ongoing Case of the Blue Flu

Whatever Jeffco’s teachers have, it seems to be pretty contagious. First it spread like wildfire through two high schools, then it infected thousands of Jeffco high school students. Now, it’s made its way to teachers in two more schools. We should probably start making warning posters: “The blue flu is active in this area. Symptoms include sign making, shaking fists, excessive use of words like ‘disrespect’ and ‘secrecy,’ and irrational protesting about non-existent threats to 1st Amendment rights.”

Eek! I’m not sure mom’s advice to wash my hands before eating is going to help with this one. What will help, though, are thoughtful pieces like the one posted earlier today by my friend Ross Izard of the Independence Institute.

Izard uses the piece to take apart the two most commonly cited reasons for the protests: Censorship of the new AP US History (APUSH) curriculum framework and the new pay-for-performance system in the district, which readers will remember I wrote about in detail when news of the sick outs first broke.

According to Izard, the censorship argument is a straw man. After all, the opposite of censorship is community discussion, and that’s exactly what the board proposal in question called for before being tabled. As Izard puts it:

“When we have legitimate concerns about something as crucial as our history, we talk about them as a community. That, my friends, is precisely the opposite of censorship. On the other hand, shutting down a discussion while some members of the community have deep concerns about the issue sounds decidedly authoritarian. The philosophical inconsistency of taking an anti-discussion stance in arguments for free speech and the vox populi is painful.”

So much for censorship. But what about that pesky pay schedule thingamajig? Well, that argument doesn’t hold much water either:

“There are still some wrinkles to be ironed out, but it’s hard to imagine that such a system would be a major sticking point in a district where 98% of teachers are rated effective or highly effective (and are therefore eligible for larger raises). The fact is that more teachers will make more money under the new pay structure than they would under the union’s alternative pay plan.”

Hold on a second. If the board isn’t really trying to censor history and the pay system isn’t actually as bad as it’s been made out to be, what exactly is going on? Why, politics of course. Izard’s take is that the union is fighting a “proxy war” against the school board using misinformed students and teachers as foot soldiers.

Not cool. Here’s hoping those running this sad show come to their senses and put an end to it before any more damage is done. In the meantime, make sure you wear a surgical mask if you go near a school in Jefferson County. You wouldn’t want to catch the flu.