Keeping our Dignity

The 2017 race is on for Jeffco School Board!

Earlier this summer, incumbents Ron Mitchell, Brad Rupert, and Susan Harmon announced their intent to run again for the Jeffco Board of Education. And, pending the successful certification of petition signatures, the incumbents will be joined on the ballot by Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields. Information about this November’s election (including upcoming candidate forums) can be found on the district’s website.

District one will feature incumbent Brad Rupert against challenger Matt Van Gieson (Van Gieson website coming soon).

District two will feature incumbent Susan Harmon versus challenger Erica Shields.

Ron Mitchell will run unopposed in District 5.

The origins of American school boards run deep in our country’s political beginnings. The founding fathers felt strongly that education was an important element for the survival of our new constitutional republic.

They also believed that the governance of education should happen at the state and local (rather than the federal) level. The Constitution contains no provisions for public education – and this is on purpose. Rather than give power over education to any branch of government, the founding fathers instead put forth the 10th amendment, which effectively makes education a function of the states (and by extension the local level).

In Colorado, school boards have a great deal of authority and power over how their local schools are run. Everything from hiring the superintendent, developing district-wide policies, holding staff accountable for strategic goals, to overseeing the district’s budgets comes under the purview of school boards.

The positions also come with no pay (other than reimbursements for actual expenses), but a lot of late nights and volumes of documents to review.

It’s a complex job and the problems which come before our Board of Education never have easy answers and almost always involve tough choices with significant trade-offs.

I’ve mentioned before that, over the past few years, Jeffco has become (arguably) the nation’s worst example of hyper-partisan politics in education.

But, we also have the opportunity to be the nation’s best example of a community which puts the education of its children above the political fray. And, that needs to start right here … and right now … with everybody.

The people serving (or running) for our Board of Education are worthy of our appreciation. Let us commit to treating all of them with respect, allowing them to be heard, and to keeping our own dignity through this election process.

Also, public employees don’t check their Constitutional rights at the door when it comes to elections, but there are some important restrictions on their behavior when they are at work. These restrictions are laid out in Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. For the convenience of Jeffco Public Schools employees, we’ve put together a memo on this for your review.

Let’s all commit to having a fair, nonpartisan, Jeffco school board race in 2017. Let’s work on putting the drama behind us, and working to understand (and get along with) our neighbors. This will be a critical next step for us in building a genuinely great educational organization.



One thought on “Keeping our Dignity

  1. “We also have the opportunity to be the nation’s best example of a community which puts the education of its children above the political fray.”

    I have met so many amazing, brilliant, caring, committed individuals in Jeffco who are passionate about helping to make Jeffco Schools strong and thriving. I truly believe we have game-changing thinkers on all sides of the political divide right now. If we could all find a way to communicate with each other with respect and with an openness to hearing each other’s struggles and beliefs, I do really believe as well that we could have a major *positive* impact on education nationally.

    It has been my belief that if we in Jeffco want real, lasting, POWERFUL change, then we should start by listening — carefully listening — to each other’s perspective. Sadly, as we gear up for yet *another* contentious season of election campaigning over Jeffco education issues — for the THIRD year in a row — people are hardly in the mood for patiently listening to each other with the goal of finding a common platform to inhabit. Someday, I do hope the people of Jeffco stop and truly look at the incredible talent we have within our midst on all sides and decide to work to build something innovative TOGETHER.

    Don’t mind me, though. I’m just the dreamer over on the side who never stops saying the same words over and over: respect, love, teamwork, neighbors, COMMUNITY. Jeffco is a special place because its PEOPLE are special. All of them matter and I think it’s important to value them all that as we begin the drama of the campaign season…yet again…

    Liked by 1 person

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