Saturday, October 4, 2014

As A Spectator to the Jeffco School Board Mess

This disaster has made national headlines, because let's be honest, the media loves a good train wreck.  Especially if it involves elected conservative officials.  It's one thing to read about what the media will tell you, and it's another thing to live in the middle of the quagmire.

Most of the time I try to convince myself to look away and go about my business, because I have my daughter in a charter school.  All this hubbub really doesn't affect us.  Our school is full of rational, adult teachers and a board of directors that really only has to deal with the parents of our one school.  I'm so thankful for that.  But, like the rest of the world, I'm itching to voice my opinion.  And while the platform of the dude holding up a sign that said "Recall the Stooges" was the corner of Wadsworth and Ken Caryl, sucking in the exhaust of the cars that sailed by him, this is my platform. 

I read this blog post yesterday that really helped me, at first.  I've been so curious to know what conservative teachers think about all this, because really they are the ones in the middle of the liberal teachers union and the conservative school board.  They have their feet in both pools.  And while I understand the sentiment to simply get the politics out of the classroom, I disagree with her point that our school board members have no business discussing curriculum when they themselves have never been teachers.  According to that logic parents have no business voicing their opinions about curriculum because the majority of them have never been teachers either.  And that is flat out wrong.  No, I cannot offer any advice from a teacher's point of view, but I can offer the view point of a parent.  And if you're saying that a parent's view is not valid then maybe you don't have any business influencing our children.

Every time I read an article about schools shutting down because 80% of the teachers are calling in sick because they're "sick" of the school board or about students walking out of class, and every time I drive past a corner filled with people holding up signs in protest of the school board, I become more entrenched on the side of the school board.  I pray they will stand strong, act with humility, and stick to what is right.  These teachers and this teachers' union have become terrorists, holding the education of these students hostage for the mere price of the heads of three school board members.  Their supporters are just plain bullies, holding up signs that say "Educate yourselves!" as if their intellect is superior and the only reason people disagree with them is because they are stupid and uniformed.  I could understand the protests if the curriculum in question had actually been changed and implemented, but they are causing this fuss over a proposal.  A PROPOSAL to review a new curriculum.  Maybe the school board member wasn't clear in her proposal on what she plans to look at, but it is still just an idea.  Not a law, not an action, but a thought to look at something with a different set of eyes.  Why do they automatically assume that the person who wrote the curriculum did so without any bias whatsoever? We all know that's not true.  Especially in the area of history.  I strongly doubt the new curriculum was just a list of facts. There is always analysis thrown in and it's foolish to blindly accept something just because someone wrote it.  No, the reason for the outcry is because these teachers HATE the school board, and are using their influence and the guise of "civil disobedience" to teach our students that tantrums and hysterics are all you need to get someone to act how YOU want them to act.  That the time to protest and walk out of class is the minute you get a hint of an idea of something that you might not like, rather than making a proper appeal and seeing how things play out first.  These teachers could have had such influence in this situation, but they wasted it the minute they escalated the situation to the level it is today.

I read a letter to the editor in our community paper once again bemoaning the fact that he's reached out to our school board and all he got back was a form letter.  I strongly doubt his initial requests were peaceful and kind, since that is not the MO of the opposition.  I do feel for him, though.  I too have written letters and called my elected officials in Washington, only to be met with the same form letters or complete silence.  It stinks to be on the opposite side, doesn't it?

I wish our school board had more humility and grace.  I know this is wishful thinking and not reality, but I always imagined that if I were ever in an elected position, I would spend more time corresponding with the people who disagreed with me than the ones who did, to let them know that I do hear them and have considered their points whether I agree with them or not.  Obviously that's not practical, or that would be how our elected officials operate.  But at this point there is nothing short of stepping down that this school board can do that will calm down the critics.

I've said my peace.  Maybe I can successfully look away now.


  1. Hi Fellow Jeffco Blogger! Often I think we imagine what those on the "opposite side" of an issue are like. Liberals imagine what conservatives are thinking, and vice versa. What I love about blogs is that we can take time to present ourselves, and if we are thoughtful, we can "hear" each others' voices. I'm glad to have had a chance to hear yours.

    I'm hoping you might visit my blog. I am a mom and a liberal union member, yet I think you might hear my voice and see that we are not enemies. We want the same things--we care about kids. When we listen to each other and refuse to imagine the worst, we can do great things for kids! (Sorry about the very occasional naughty word; I don't use them to denigrate, and I don't name-call, rather they are an intentional use of the vernacular.)

    1. Thanks for your comment and for reading! I know we ALL just want what is best for the students. I guess what I'm most afraid of is that your side has just made up your minds and refuse to see any other point of view. Glad to meet you and know that's not true.

  2. Hi Tori! Thanks for visiting my blog and even providing a link to it! It sounds like we have a lot of the same interests and I've enjoyed perusing your blogs as well.

    I am thankful that you, and others as well, have expressed their views on the topic and have pushed to have a bigger say about their child's education. As a parent who teaches in a public school, I am planning on sending my child to a private Christian school for precisely that reason. I think that that's why I was sad to read that you thought I was against the board, or parent, or even any community member's review of the curriculum. Per my blog post:

    "I'm not against the right of the general public, or even the board itself, to review any curriculum. In fact, I applaud involved parents and community members. But based on Ms. William's comments about the curriculum and by researching her background, I don't think she's an expert in curriculum development, and I fear that she's not valuing the opinion of those who are."

    I really do want parents to be actively engaged in their child's education. I have always valued their input in my classroom, and I will continue to. Ms. Williams had done some things (such as referring to MLK Jr. as a "founding father" on Fox News) that made me wonder why so many on the right were believing her over the hundreds of experts in History with their deep knowledge of the topic. I wasn't saying that questioning was bad, or that investigating curriculum was bad. I was simply saying that Ms. Williams was throwing around general statements about our AP History Curriculum without conferring with people who were experts or being an expert herself. That's all.

    Thanks for letting me clear that up on here. Good luck with your blog!