There was no school for two Jefferson County High Schools Friday, CBS4 in Westminster, Colorado reported. Westminster is located just Northwest of Denver and is considered a suburb of Denver.
Now, I spent the summer remodelling three separate Westminster schools for a recent voter approved upgrade to their school district, and I can personally attest to the community involvement in their school districts. The thought that teachers would feel compelled to call a 'sick out' is startling in it's abrupt nature.
While common core was not brought up specifically -- Thursday, two separate school board decisions were believed to be the straw that broke the camels back. One dealt with how history was to be taught, and the other was with how teachers are to be compensated.
In recent weeks, conflict has centered around a new teacher compensation model the board adopted earlier this month that bases teacher raises on their evaluation ratings, as well as around a proposed new committee to review curriculum on criteria such as whether it promotes patriotism.
The evaluation model is a direct tie to the state's misguided attempts to implement Common Core.
When teacher's feel compelled to take action of perceived wrongs, the administration has the perfect manipulation at their disposal. Immediately, Dan McMinimee, Jeffco’s superintendent began to use the classic manipulation technique that has been popularized by abusive spouses for generations...
“While I respect the opportunity for free speech and expression, I think there are other ways to work through these differences without putting kids in the middle,” said Dan McMinimee, Jeffco’s superintendent, at a press conference today.
Notice how the problems of the teachers was placed solidly behind the effects it would have on the children? Despite the fact that teachers were taking a stand against shoddy implementation of policies that would harm student's education, Dan still felt compelled to bring the children's well being into the equation. I've rarely met a teacher that didn't place their students first, and those I have didn't last. The simple fact that teachers actually took a stand demonstrates how strongly they felt that it impacted the students in the first place.
Colorado has a problem brewing. Being one of the nine states that still allows a full blown teacher's strike, many teachers are discussing this as the only alternative to a situation that has spiralled out of control. Many teachers took part in the development of Common Core only to find that the standards have been hijacked by malicious groups with hidden agendas. A well conceived plan has been used as a cudgel against the very people who would strive to make a better world for our nation's youth.
Students effected by the closure rallied in force supporting their teacher's decisions. Over 100 area youths took the time to show up on Friday and demonstrate their support. The Jefferson County Education Association (read: local teacher's union) came out with the following statement.
In a statement, Jefferson County Education Association spokesman Scott Kwasny said that while the union was not involved in organizing the protest, officials empathized with the feelings that motivated it.
For those of you not familiar with union speak, this is a statement that indicates support without entanglements. It's like when your friend makes a stand against an abusive spouse, and you are cheering inside, but you say, 'I understand.'
While a 'sick out' is illegal for teacher's in the state of Colorado, such actions are very difficult to prove. It's hard to demonstrate which teachers were actually taking an approved sick day, and those that were not. Such measures are therefore a very peaceful way of taking a stand, and involve a very low risk factor. To accuse these teachers of purposefully harming the students is just a manipulative way of enforcing control.
Many of the changes that have come down the tubes through the years have met no resistance among the teachers. They have adapted and overcame many of the heinous changes enforced by callous school boards and greedy school districts. From pay freezes to furlough days, teachers have long suffered attacks on their rights for the good of their students.
Federal tax code allows for a $500 out of pocket deduction for educators which requires no proof. Federal lawmakers have recognized that teachers have supplemented their meager budgets from their own pockets, and have tried to rectify this through the tax code. Still, teachers continue to donate excessive time and personal expense to the well being of their students.
Colorado has seen it's fair share of financial difficulties in recent years concerning education. The entire 'Great Recession' was blamed for a five year pay freeze felt by one of the states larger school districts, Colorado Springs School District 11, which is reported to have over 29,500 students. (note: this is the only school district within the state that I can speak of with any authority. I have the documentation to back this claim up.)
Many of the state's school districts have felt the squeeze financially, and have taken these hard times out on the teacher's pay checks. Currently, a special education teacher in D11 with 10 years teaching experience and a Master's Degree brings home less each week than a licensed union journeyman electrician. I know this since I am a licensed union journeyman electrician, and my wife has a Master's in special education along with 10 years of teaching special education in D11. The difference in our pay is startling. I also have a better health care plan, and much better retirement benefits.