Columnists, Douglas County, Education, Elections, Featured, Mike Rosen

Rosen: Students and parents win big in Douglas County schools

Apparently, the left’s love for democratic elections only applies when it wins.

Last November, a majority of parents and others in the Douglas County School district voted out a union-backed slate of liberal board members and replaced them with a conservative slate, flipping the board to a 4-3 conservative majority. Echoing a long-overdue national trend, those voters were expressing their disapproval of the way the liberal board was abusing their children with progressive indoctrination and politicized social engineering at the expense of basic academics.

The three embittered, liberal members still on the board have dug in their heels and retaliated with ungracious, belligerent resistance. Predictably, media liberals have rushed to their aid. Somehow, The Washington Post deemed a Colorado school board election worthy of national coverage. Its biased reporting reflected disapproval of the dismissal of the district’s superintendent. The Associated Press was just as bad. Metro-area coverage from liberal reporters in newspapers like the Denver Post, on TV, and on Colorado Public Radio were routinely spun to support the board’s liberals and attack the conservatives.

This included incomplete and misleading semantics. For example, when biased stories reported that Superintendent Corey Wise was fired “without cause,” it gave many the false impression that he was removed for no good reason. But “without cause” is common legal terminology in an employment contract. “With cause” can cover blatant incompetence or egregious, even illegal acts, like theft or rape that can void an employment contract. You’ve seen pro athletes fired “with cause” in those circumstances under a behavior clause in their contract. To be sure, Wise wasn’t guilty of any such behavior. In his interest, procedurally removing him “without cause” enabled him to secure a hefty severance payment. Nonetheless, he’s still suing the district for a bigger bite at the apple.

But any superintendent ultimately serves at the discretion and pleasure of the board. Wise was removed for perfectly legitimate reasons. He was ideologically a throwback, a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of the prior liberal board’s politically progressive policies. The new board majority has a different vision, wanted a super who shared that vision and was a better fit. They found one in Erin Kane who’s been the Executive Director of America Academy, a multi-campus STEM charter school that’s a model of academic excellence and a glowing example of the virtues of school choice.

Biased media accounts conspicuously labeled the new board majority as “conservative” but failed to label the holdover board members as the liberals they truly are, using sterile euphemisms, instead, like “longer-term members.” A more accurate description would be the “remaining union-backed liberals.” In fact, liberal accounts of this battle deliberately avoid mentioning the teachers union at all as if its power, ruthless methods and purely selfish motives aren’t the principal obstacle to conservative public school reforms within DCS – and everywhere else.  Liberal journalists have willfully echoed the spoon-fed gripes of this trio of sore-losers on the DCS board through their media megaphones, something you never see when a conservative board is dethroned.

Nitpicking about alleged violations of the open meetings law in the conservatives’ deliberations over replacing Wise are a desperate stretch. Open meetings are appropriate in many instances, like contract negations between unions and school districts, which Colorado voters instituted via a ballot measure (despite opposition from teachers unions). But the public has no role or authority in the hiring and firing of school personnel. That’s delegated to administrators and the board. The public gets its say in the next election, which is how they tossed out the prior DCS liberal board majority. It was inevitable that the DCS conservative majority would pick a new super and that the liberal minority would oppose anyone they chose. Do you doubt the DCS sore losers conspire in private?

Fundamentally, the conservative board members and the voters that elected them oppose the progressive education model that obsesses on progressive social engineering; bogus CRT anti-white divisiveness; a distorted, negative presentation of American history; rejection of meritocracy and capitalism; hypersensitivity and political correctness overruling free expression; identity politics; blurring of the genders; boys intruding on girls’ sports; politicized math; and a host of other distractions that crowd out serious learning.

Instead, parents want a focus on things like rigorous basic academics; proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic; economics instruction; homework; traditional letter grades; gifted and talented programs; patriotism; school choice; and, especially, a say in what and how their kids will be taught through school boards that share their vision.

Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for


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