My last post prompted a young person to reply. This young man or woman wanted me to know that he/she is a proud conservative, and to assure me that conservatives do, very much, care about kids. It is so discouraging that this person read my last post and came away with the idea that I believe conservatives don’t care about kids. That is not what it says at all.
The controversy around the JeffCo school board is not political. It’s not about Democrats vs. Republicans or liberals vs. conservatives. Citizens for Responsible Education, a website which describes itself as “dedicated to informing the entire Jefferson County community about the actions of the Jeffco School Board majority,” is run by politically independent, fiscally conservative JeffCo resident Michael Clark. Shawna Schantz-Fritzler, one of the founders of Support JeffCo Kids is a conservative Republican. Wendy McCord, a JeffCo conservative who truly believes in transparency, has been holding the board majority accountable by filing Colorado Open Records Act requests to reveal the secretive actions of the board three. At this point, they’ve taken to stonewalling her, pretending they can’t find documents and insisting she pay thousands of dollars for documents that she, as a taxpayer, has every right to see.
A broad range of people are now standing up for all students: On Facebook pages and websites, in letters to the editor and house party hosts, one can find Democrats and Republicans, people of faith and secular humanists, liberals and conservatives, parents of kids in neighborhood schools and parents who love their child’s charter school. As disparate as their personal beliefs may be, they are united in their passion and commitment to public schools.
The vast majority of conservatives do care very much about kids. The New Oxford American dictionary defines “conservative” as: holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion. There is nothing conservative in readily sacrificing resources meant for traditional neighborhood schools and long-standing homegrown charters for untried outside charters run by for-profit management companies. Where are the traditional values? Where is the caution? You see, it is specifically Witt, Newkirk, Williams, McMinimee, and their handlers I am calling out for not making kids their priority.
Fiscal responsibility? McMinimee is a much less experienced, less educated superintendent than his predecessor, yet Witt, Newkirk, and Williams are paying him $75,000 a year more than her. Brad Miller, the lawyer they hired despite the protests of two board members and a sizeable number of JeffCo residents, makes about $90,000 a year from the JeffCo coffers. McMinimee hired a communications chief who had no experience but who is a political cohort of Newkirk and Witt. He settled her with a salary around $5,000 more a year than her predecessor, a woman who had been in the position for 8 years. She’s in so far over her head that she’s calling upon Novitas Communications for help. Or maybe it’s just the board majority throwing more money at a politically affiliated company. Either way, JeffCo taxpayers will foot the bill with money that was meant for kids. This is not fiscal conservatism.
In the long run, they won’t win. There are simply too many people united in fighting for JeffCo public schools and the kids who attend them. Now that the board majority’s true colors have been revealed, people from the entire spectrum of politics, religion, and educational schools of thought are united by things far more important than money: kids, the future, the long-term well being of the entire country. Short-term personal gain doesn’t stand a chance!