Education, Featured, Jefferson County, Original Report

JeffCo Union Head – The Fight Is On

Jan 8, UPDATE: The basis for this story — published minutes of the Boulder Valley Education Association on their website — have been edited since the publication of this story.  To view the relevant portions of the minutes, click here to view a screenshot.

Published minutes of a meeting of the Boulder Valley Education Association (BVEA) strongly suggest that national and statewide unions will converge on Jefferson County to force a recall vote of three conservative members of the Board of Education sometime this year.

The minutes summarize and paraphrase a talk given to the BVEA by John Ford, President of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA). “We have a unique opportunity to beat these bas_ _ _ _ _ back,” the summary said, with the “deleted” word presumably being “bastards.”

Just know the fight is on….A recall has to be organized by the community. They are doing community building. Many people who voted for these Board members don’t support them now. John [Ford] recommends reaching out to our friends in Jefferson County and telling them we support them. We have to think big for our protests and pull people from all over the state.

Ford did not immediately return an email request for comment, which asked if the “bastards” sentence was a direct quote from him.

Tweet this: #JeffCo union prez remarks summary ‘We have a unique opportunity to beat these bas_ _ _ _ _ back.’ via@CompleteCO

In addition to “thinking big” and pulling in people from all over the state for future protests, the same summary also shows how national and state union forces have already put money and personnel resources into Jefferson County, and will continue to do so through 2015.

“NEA has given [the JCEA] a fulltime organizer. CEA is dipping into the Crisis Fund. CEA hired another organizer.” (NEA refers to the National Education Association and CEA refers to the Colorado Education Association.)

Ford also mentioned 46 NEA organizers who “hit 5,200 doors” in JeffCo this past summer. In July, CEA president Kerrie Dallman announced to the NEA annual meeting in Denver that 48 national union staff operatives would come to JeffCo to visit teachers in their homes. Dallman said that several Colorado union locals, including JeffCo, are “in significant crisis, working against hostile school boards.”

The summary of Ford’s remarks to the BVEA suggests unions are in a struggle for their very survival, mentioning the decertification of the Douglas County teachers’ union as a touchstone.

“Douglas County has lost their Association. They are less than 50%. They are losing their best teachers to other districts. The JeffCo [union] contract is up August 31, 2015.”  On the same night in 2013 in which the three conservatives were elected to the JeffCo board, another group of conservative reformers were retained to the Douglas County Board of Education by voters in that school district.

Ford also published a video on YouTube roughly two weeks after the meeting with the BVEA, in which he tries to rally his union members.  “I’m telling you, the fight’s going to start in January.  I want you with me.”  Boxing gloves hang in the background of the video.

In the fall of 2014, JeffCo Schools became the focus of local and national media reports when students walked out protesting a motion by the board to create a review committee for AP History curriculum.  Teachers in many Jefferson County schools protested with “sick outs,” where teachers call in sick en masse, thereby forcing the school to close.  But as an email published exclusively by Complete Colorado shows, teachers were planning “sick out” protests before the proposal of the history review committee.

While there was a previous debate as to whether JeffCo students had been “pawns” in the teacher’s plans to protest the board last fall, the BVSD minutes show that Ford and the JCEA intend to get students involved in the 2015 fight.  “He agrees we need to get students involved,” the minutes say.

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