Volume 3 Issue 2

Community Voice

Thanks for Increasing Substitute Pay
     As a retired Jeffco teacher it has been exciting to be able to substitute in Jeffco classrooms. I enjoy the opportunity to be sure students are able to learn on days when their teachers are in training or have other reasons to be out of the classroom. As a substitute I make sure the teacher’s lesson plan for the day is carried out and the learning environment in the classroom is maintained. 
     During the economic downturn a couple of years ago Jeffco staff took a 3 percent pay reduction which was restored when the voters passed additional revenue in 2012. Substitutes took a 10 percent reduction in our pay rates which was not restored, so we as substitutes have now gone four years teaching at rates that are 10 percent less than five years ago.
     Many of my friends have chosen to take jobs in surrounding districts over Jeffco opportunities because the rates in surrounding districts are so much higher, so we were all very excited when the Jeffco Board began discussing raising substitute pay. It was such a relief when the board directed the superintendent to raise the pay for substitutes. It will be good to have so many of my friends choosing Jeffco opportunities again. 
Jeffco Substitute Teacher 

Why is Dr. Stevenson Involved in the Recall?
     I am not surprised at the news of Dr. Stevenson’s involvement with the recall. Before she was Superintendent, she was the Assistant Superintendent for the West Area. The school where I worked was in her area. She never once visited our school. (Area superintendents were supposed to visit all the schools in their area). When it was time to evaluate our principal, she called our principal and asked her to give her four or five names and phone numbers of the faculty that she could contact for evaluation information. Of course, the principal picked her “pals.” What a farce! It wouldn’t surprise me if she did that in all her west area schools. The last thing we need is to have her as Superintendent again! Yikes!
Retired Jeffco Employee

College Board 2015 AP US History Changes Recognize Previous Deficiencies  
     In the waning days of July, as covered by the Huffington Post and the National Review, the College Board, released a new framework for AP US History. According to the College Board, the new edition of the Course and Exam Description is based on feedback gathered over the last year. “Teachers and historians, parents and students, and other concerned citizens and public officials from across the country all provided feedback.”
     The College Board web site says, “Statements are clearer and more historically precise, and less open to misinterpretation or perceptions of imbalance. Key individuals such as James Madison, Jane Addams, and Martin Luther King Jr. and documents such as the Gettysburg Address and the Federalist Papers are now explicitly mentioned.” While the College Board does not produce text books their web site does say the new framework will require changes in assessment, instructional resources, and classroom teaching.
     The College Board shared the areas of the previous framework which received the most public comment and have received major overhauls. These areas include the productive role of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and innovation in shaping U.S. history; American ideals of liberty, citizenship, and self-governance, and how those ideals play out in U.S. history; and U.S. leadership in ending the Cold War. 
     The College Board announced that educators, including AP US History teachers who reviewed the new framework at the recent AP Annual Conference, have embraced the new framework. 
     As the new framework now includes exactly the balance that was discussed in Jeffco last year I wonder if the College Board will issue an apology to the Jeffco School Board.
Jeffco History Buff

Thanks for Site-Based Budgeting
     It has always been frustrating to me that our school communities were unable to prioritize the needs of the students in our building. Very often, we believed the top-down, one-size-fits-all formulas for allocating resources were not good for our students, but we were unable to make decisions locally. Now, with site-based budgeting, we are able to prioritize spending and choose whether more hours for our clinic makes sense for our students, or if it might be better to hire an extra math paraprofessional. 
Grateful Parent

The Recall Does Not Make Sense
     I am exceedingly disappointed in those members of our Jeffco community that would drag the district through a contentious recall when the main complaints are process issues. It is totally understandable that those people who have just started paying attention to school board meetings may feel like the board has not been transparent. However, they fail to realize this board has begun streaming each board meeting so anyone in the community can watch. How that process is bad for students or teachers is beyond me. 
     Instead of attempting a recall based on process, why not actually discuss how our students are performing in school? Why not ask questions about which policies actually help improve student achievement like: Does paying teachers based on their effectiveness lead to better teachers in the classroom or not? Does the new math curriculum help teachers and students in the classroom or not? Does enhancing site-based budgeting improve local control and accountability? Is it fair to fund charter school students at the same rate as neighborhood school students?
     As a business leader in Jeffco, I am proud of our community and want our schools to be the best they can be. Why would we keep doing things the way they have always been done when the results have remained flat? I certainly would try something new in my business if we were not meeting our customers’ expectations and I expect the same from our educators and the board of education.
Jeffco Employer

Thank the Jeffco Action Center
     As a young single mom sending my children through Jeffco schools it was often hard to find the resources to get everything on the school supply list for my children. Although it was difficult to ask for help, organizations like the Jeffco Action Center often provided just what we needed. 
     As my children have grown and I have become more financially stable I find it a real joy to be able to be one of the contributors to the Action Center’s school supply drive. I know the supplies will make it easier for some other family to make ends meet. If you want to join me you can get more information here: http://theactioncenterco.org/. 
S. Smith

Is the recall just a power grab?
     How is it that with a tentative general agreement, except for its duration, just reported between the Jeffco School Board and its Teachers Union re: a new contract, said union is still adamant about its Recall (of the Board) Campaign? 
     Could it be that it really wants to reinstall Cindy Stevenson, (the largest financial contributor to its effort) as “Superintendent for Life,” and damn the consequences? 
     Does it really want to return to the educational doldrums of the previous regime, with its seeming lack of its concern for unacceptable student achievement? 
     Or is it really just about a naked power grab reflecting the quote oft-attributed to the American Federation of Teachers’ President Albert Shanker: “When school children start paying union dues, then we will represent their interests?”
Russell W. Haas