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Yes, Election Night Happened, But Keep Your Chins Up, Colorado Reformers

Yeah, yeah, yeah, school board elections happened in Colorado this week. Ok, so I promised to give you a full report yesterday. But I got a little busy crying in my Cheerios with some important stuff to do.

Do I really need to review what happened with the Teachers Union Empire Strikes Back? After all, my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow donned his Captain Obvious hat for Chalkbeat Colorado, observing “You can’t deny it was a setback for conservative reform at the school board level in Colorado. The unions had their day. There’s no doubt about it.”

Another of my Education Policy Center friends, Ross Izard, did a pretty good job laying it out in more detail. He optimistically notes that conservative education reformers have been bruised, but not beaten by the big recall in Jeffco or setbacks in a number of other districts:

The past two years have seen a number of major policy shifts. Jefferson County Public Schools signed a collective bargaining agreement that exemplifies how a teachers union contract can—and should—look. The three members of the conservative board majority began paying teachers based on performance rather than simple seniority, and respecting parental choice by funding charter school students fairly. They authorized a new charter school serving nearly 500 Jeffco families this year, stood strong for fiscal responsibility, and have pushed forward with plans designed to help low-income Jeffco students who most need assistance.

Trust me. As Jeffco transitions to a new school board, your favorite little edublogger will keep an eye on what befalls the reforms that have been enacted to help students. Now is not the time to slink away into my room and play more video games. I never grow up, and I never stop watching.

Still, that won’t stop the left-wing spin machine from continuing to lash out at the Koch Brothers, or from quoting former politicians (who resigned rather than be recalled from office) to tell us that the election result was a complete repudiation of the kind of policy achievements outlined above.

It should be noted (and repeated) that just a couple days earlier, one of the recall organizers made a pretty strong statement to the local CBS TV news station:

“I’m not against pay for performance and I’m not against charters and I don’t really know anybody who is,” recall supporter Tina Gurdikian said. “It’s just a matter of how this board is implementing those reforms and the disrespect that they’re showing to the community as whole when they’re talking about these things.” [emphasis added]

So in spite of the clearly painful election night outcome (and today’s court ruling that doubtless has extended the celebration at Colorado Education Association headquarters… more on that later), my youthful spirit remains hopeful about the future. Because while elected reformers may drop the ball, the reform cause continues moving down the field. And as much resources and organization the unions and their allies have poured in, their defense isn’t as strong as, say, this year’s Denver Broncos.

Friends, go back and read the Izard article… and keep your chins up! Learn the lessons that need to be learned, smile through the pain, and let’s move onward and upward to open more doors of opportunity for Colorado students!!