Vacation, Visions, and Visits

It’s summer again, and I almost don’t know what to do with myself. For the last two summers, I poured my heart and soul into preserving Jeffco’s public schools. Last fall I spent nearly every weekend fighting the good fight. I told John Ford a month ago that it wouldn’t feel like summer unless I knocked on some doors. Good news, it really is summer, so there are doors in my future.

Back in the fall of 2013 a couple of women from JCEA knocked on my door to ask me to vote for three pro-public school candidates. I felt a moment of guilt. My building association rep had asked us to knock on doors that day, but I was answering my door, so clearly I hadn’t answered that call. The idea of three such extreme candidates as Witt, Newkirk, and Williams winning that election was just inconceivable.

I kept using that word. Turned out it did not mean what I thought it meant.

I will not make that mistake again. JCEA has worked with other Jeffco stakeholders to create a powerful vision for schools our students deserve. I feel really good about it. I would love a district where all voices matter, where all schools are safe and welcoming and where high quality teachers are respected and supported. I hope for a district where students learn more and test less. I want strong public schools as public institutions and strong communities. I want them badly enough to knock on doors a couple of days this summer to talk to my colleagues about how to ensure all of these things.

I never again want to spend day after day going door to door to alert people to a nearly successful assault on our public schools. I want us all to be on the same page, pulling for the same things, alert and aware and able to avert a crisis before it happens because we’ve been talking to each other and our neighbors all along.

The Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity are not through with Jefferson County. There are millions of dollars going into classrooms instead of the pockets of these institutions and their members, and as long as that is the case, we cannot afford to be complacent. They are quietly publishing their strategies, hoping to correct past mistakes. They know that Jeffco loves its educators, so they are cautioning their members against directly attacking us in their messaging. They still think our kids are pawns, but they caution their members against openly saying so. They are really angry about the alliance that was built between teachers, parents, and other community members. The basic message: Make nice to teachers’ faces, but continue to undermine their ability to act collectively with each other and the community to protect their kids and the integrity of their profession.

JCEA has asked its members to give one day this summer to staying in shape, staying strong for our kids, sharing our vision, refining and more deeply defining it. These are the conversations we love to have with each other anyway—how we can make Jeffco the best place to teach and the best place to learn. These are not going to be the worried conversations of the two years before, but rather hopeful, visionary conversations. Won’t you join in?

First, please welcome those of us knocking on your doors. Second, please give one day of your summer. I really think you’ll find it rejuvenating and exciting. That’s why I signed up for two days! Follow this link to choose a day.


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Paula is an author of historical fiction as well as a wife, mom, and teacher.
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