Not too long ago, John Ford of the Jefferson County Education Association told us that “the fight would start in January.” I wrote about his inspiring speech recently, but here’s the video in case you forgot:
And if that weren’t enough to get this little guy scared, Complete Colorado broke the story that he’s been discussing the “unique opportunity to beat these bas***** back” with his “brothers and sisters” in Boulder Valley (yeah, I find that language creepy too). I’m still not too sure what that blanked out word is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not friendly.
Jeffco’s board meeting last night was supposed to be the big kick off, or the opening bell, or some other vaguely applicable sports metaphor. Instead, the effort flopped harder than Shamoo in a lap pool.
In an embarrassing snafu outlined by Colorado Peak Politics, a pro-union group call Jobs with Justice failed to deliver its promised “Scrooge Award” to the board majority. The group has been touting the award for some time on its Facebook page, and one of the commenters at the meeting even hinted at it during his speech. Check this out (note CEA President Kerrie Dallman in the second row on the right):
But when the time came for the big show to start, it turned out that the person meant to present the “award,” a woman named Debra Brown, apparently did not sign up correctly for public comment. She wasn’t on the list. Board member Lesley Dahlkemper, apparently concerned about this development (though certainly not because she knew about it beforehand, I’m sure), asked for the list to be double checked. Nope, still not there.
This inspired no small amount of panic among the union folks in the room, who frantically began running around and attempting to determine what was going on. Facing the unsettling prospect that something had gone horribly wrong, they turned to their favorite rhetorical weapon: Accusing the board of censorship. Tweets like this one from JCEA flew fast and furiously:
But Peak Politics points out that, just like the last time this tactic was employed in Jeffco, the censorship argument doesn’t hold up very well:
The only problem is that once it was discovered that Brown believed she had signed up and was not on the list, a representative from the district sought Brown out and offered to let her speak. Brown declined the offer, went home, and told the district representative that she would just do it next time. In the second public comment session, Board President Ken Witt even called for Brown to come speak. To be clear – he was calling for Brown so that she could come to the podium and say horrible things about him. Twice he called for her.
Bummer. I bet she had a script and everything.
Unfortunately for the anti-reform and union crowds, this wasn’t the only setback of the evening. A meant-to-be-devastating delivery of 6,500 MoveOn petition signatures was neutered by a statement from John Newkirk calling on those people to put their passion into efforts focused on kids instead of politics.
To round things out, board minority members Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman found themselves in the awkward and philosophically confusing position of opposing a resolution to apply for a State Board of Education waiver from PARCC’s Performance-Based Assessment (Fellman abstained from voting entirely, which I’m pretty sure she isn’t allowed to do).
These waivers would be granted under the Colorado State Board of Education’s recent vote, which is still awaiting an official opinion from the Attorney General. Until that opinion is issued, there is nothing prohibiting districts from seeking the waivers—a fact clearly pointed out by the board’s attorney during the meeting.
So yes, last night’s meeting was what we on the playground would call a “Battleflop” for the JCEA and anti-reform crowd. Round one of the heavyweight bout was definitely a loss. But John Ford hasn’t been eating his Wheaties… erm, I mean SpaghettiOs, for nothing. Rounds one and two may have been serious losses for JCEA, but round three is coming. Maybe this time they’ll focus more on kids and less on pro-union political rhetoric.