School board elections are on nearly everyone’s ballot. Please investigate every candidate and make sure you are supporting candidates that understand what it means to be on a board, and perhaps have had board experience. Pick candidates that don’t have personal and or political agendas that have little to do with what’s best for kids. You want candidates that foster the best education experience for all in your district. The best candidates will have some background or understanding of education requirements, of laws governing boards, negotiation skills, human and employee relations and laws thereof. Look for candidates with these qualities, not the ones who are obsessed with one issue or flavor-of-the-month social or political trends.
Unfortunately, we have examples in our state that show how destructive some of these extreme right wing candidates are. A cabal of chaos has been making its way around the state with expensive and disastrous consequences. Douglas County suffered recall elections and an $832,000 judgment against the district for wrongful termination of their superintendent brought about by candidates with an agenda and vendetta against the superintendent and prior board policies. They also have been embroiled in lawsuits over violation of sunshine laws. Jefferson County, too, has been involved with a myriad of lawsuits regarding wrongful termination, retaliation, sunshine laws and union disputes that have cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars. Probably the worst is Woodland Park in Teller County. A lawsuit has been filed against the newly elected Woodland Park school board and the district’s board of education due to extreme and poorly executed changes that included axing mental health staffing and any funding associated with it, adopting outrageous right-wing social studies curriculum, (which was totally rejected by the Colorado Department of Public Education) and putting a gag order on teachers’ free speech. A confrontational divide, scatter, conquer, tactic was employed against staff and parents who oppose them, even referring to their constituents as “the enemy”. A mass exodus of teachers and staff is the result, at least one-third have left and many students have chosen to attend school outside of Woodland Park. The agenda of this board is to run the district like a business and totally dismantle public education. They are intent on fighting the culture war right there in their school district.
The cost of this in dollars and in the lives of teacher’s, students, support staff and parents is astounding. The actions of this board serve as “a canary in the coalmine.” This is a train wreck headed for your district if you are not diligent in keeping them out. Elections have consequences, and this is a very disturbing and expensive example.
I know that in Greeley, the school district is the second or third largest employer. A school board with an agenda like Woodland Park would be as devastating to the economy and community of Greeley and Evans as it has been in theirs. This could be one of the most important local elections in decades.
Also on the ballot will be some initiatives you may want to investigate. Proposition HH will be on the ballot in November. A proposal to lower property taxes and also temper TABOR. There are many places you can go to read the pros and cons about the proposition. Generally, Democrats are supportive of the measure. The Colorado Democratic Party voted to support the measure, as did the Colorado Education Association and AARP, as well as the Governor and progressive billionaire Pat Stryker. The proposal does seem to have more favorable support than not, and it is a support for public education and a way to chip away at TABOR, so of course, Republicans are against it wholeheartedly.
We have many reasons to vote this November to support local Democratic leaning candidates in city council, school board, and other local government races for mayors, sheriffs, county clerks, and others. The outcomes of these races will surely affect your communities and day to day living. Don’t skip this important election and make mindful and educated choices.
Bev Wallace, Chair of the Weld County Democratic Party