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CO’s Jefferson County Schools to Cancel Classes on April 26, 2018, “Due to Labor Shortages.”

April 18, 2018

On April 26, 2018, Jefferson County (Colorado) Schools (JeffCo) teachers plan to demonstrate at the state capital in a effort to garner increased funding for their classrooms and their pensions.

In anticipation of high teacher participation in the protest, JeffCo “superintendent and chief learner,” Jason Glass, decided to cancel school. Below is the full text of his letter to Jeffco parents, which, according to KDVR.com, was circulated on Tuesday, April 17, 2018:

NO SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS APRIL 26

Dear Jeffco Families,

Jeffco Public Schools will be closed for students on Thursday, April 26, 2018 due to labor shortages.

As you are likely aware, K-12 public education funding and the long-term stabilization of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) system are problematic in Colorado. Public education staff, parents, and other supporters have become increasingly vocal in their advocacy for increased funding for our K-12 public schools and the stabilization of PERA. There is a belief among these groups that years of low funding is having a significant impact on our ability to attract quality candidates into the teaching profession, and is impeding the ability to effectively deliver the high level of educational experience our students deserve.

We expect many teachers and staff members are going to the state capitol to petition their legislators on this matter on April 26. The lack of sufficient staff could impact the district’s commitment to providing a safe learning environment. To ensure students’ safety, we will not have school for students on Thursday, April 26. This remains a work day for all Jeffco Public Schools staff members; leave time must be appropriately used if employees are not at work that day.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our families, but I’m pleased to be able to make the announcement well in advance so families may make needed arrangements. Perhaps some of you will be able to participate in “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” which happens to fall on the same day.

Extracurricular activities will proceed as scheduled, unless you hear differently directly from your school. Charter schools may not be closed, please check with your school.

We will not have to make up the school day unless we encounter a snow day before the end of the school year.

Thank you for your continued support of Jeffco Public Schools. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve your family.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jason E. Glass
Superintendent & Chief Learner
Jeffco Public Schools

On Monday, April 16, 2018, the superintendent of another Colorado district, Englewood Schools, also decided to cancel classes given that most Englewood teachers planned to protest at the state capital, as CNN reports. Below is the school closure announcement from Englewood Schools superintendent, Wendy Rubin:

Dear Englewood Schools Community,

As of this afternoon, district administration has received notice that over 150 Englewood licensed staff will not be reporting to work on Monday, April 16. This means that over 70% of our teacher workforce will not be present to staff our schools, and we expect that number of absences to continue to grow.  Because of this, even with calling in as many substitutes as possible, we will not be able to run academic programs or provide a safe number of staff members to supervise students on Monday. For that reason, ​we will be canceling school for students on Monday, April 16. All schools will be closed to students except the Early Childhood Education Center at Maddox, which will run its program as usual. Though students will not be present, this will still be a working day in the district for employees who are not using their annual leave. We expect that school will resume as usual on Tuesday, April 17.

It is our understanding that the high number of absences is due to a day of action taking place at the State Capitol. The following response with regard to planned teacher absences on Monday, April 16, 2018 was provided to Englewood Schools from the Colorado Education Association and Englewood Educators:

“​Our dedicated Englewood teachers care about your kids more than anything. They are frustrated and fed up with students not having the resources they deserve. Kids don’t have a voice, that’s why teachers are joining a statewide action at the Capitol to stand up for our kids on Monday, April 16. We know this will be inconvenient on Monday, but we hope you​ ​understand that teachers are doing this out of love for your kids. If you have questions about this action or the reasons behind it, please call 303-764-0140.” 

We have been told that teachers in other districts throughout the state will also be participating in this day of action, though it’s possible not all districts will be affected by absences to the same degree that we are experiencing in Englewood. More information is available on CEA’s website at https://www.coloradoea.org/. The phone number we have been provided for questions is 303-764-0140.

We understand that this unexpected change is inconvenient for families. Please know we exhausted all resources before deciding to cancel school for students. Our partners in childcare, Champions, will be open for the full day on Monday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to provide care for students. Care for all students will take place at Charles Hay World School (3195 S. Lafayette St.) The cost will be $30 per student for the day and breakfast, lunch and snacks will be included. Space is limited, so parents should sign up tomorrow at their school’s Champions location.

We truly appreciate your support in this matter.
Sincerely,

Wendy Rubin, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Englewood Schools

On April 15, 2018 (updated April 16, 2018), Denver 7 ABC offered this concise explanation of Colorado economics and school funding:

Colorado’s economy is red hot. The unemployment rate is just 3 percent. New skyscrapers and apartments are going up everywhere as more and more people throw cash at downtown bars and restaurants, but no one invited Colorado’s public schools to the party.

The National Education Association’s (NEA) annual report found Colorado ranks 46th in the country for teacher pay, with an average annual salary of $46,155; seven-thousand below the national average. …

The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week; Quality Counts, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show Colorado ranks 42nd in how much it spends per student, roughly $2,500 less than the national average.

Which means despite being the nation’s 12th richest state, our public schools land at the bottom of the list for both per pupil spending and teacher pay.

“The starting salary in some districts is $29,000. …” said Kerrie Dallman, a high school teacher and president of Colorado’s state teacher’s union. …

She also said some districts, especially in rural communities, are being forced to teach with decades-old textbooks and use outdated technology, while other services like mental health are left unstaffed. …

There are also those who argue teachers have PERA, the public employee retirement account, but that fund is also short about $32 billion.

Sometimes you just have to drill your own pipe in order to make those *trickle-down economics* actually trickle.

As Luke Darby of GQ notes, “smarmy” attacks on teachers for their advocacy feed into the public-school-damning, privatization-promoting narrative:

Opponents of well-funded public education, people like [US ed sec Betsy] DeVos and [Kentucky governor Matt] Bevin who want to see schools as privatized as possible, are relying on this same mindset when they attack teachers pushing for better working conditions. Teachers are caretakers, the argument goes, and therefore if some teachers are willing to walk out of school, then they’re just selfishly concerned with their paycheck and not willing enough to sacrifice their comfort for their students. …

Of course, this is all assuming that these politicians are operating in bad faith, trying to undermine and degrade public education as an institution so they can declare it a failure and shovel more public money into private schools. It’s always possible that they do sincerely have such a contorted worldview that they can look at a profession and earnestly say, “This work is vitally important. It’s so important that there’s no way we can pay you enough to survive without working one or two extra jobs on top of it.”

My best to Colorado’s teachers as they advocate for themselves and their students. And yes, DeVos and Blevin, their teachers’ earning a living wage does benefit students as it stabilizes individual teachers, the schools in which they serve students, and the communities in which both the teachers and students live their lives.

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__________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

3 Comments
  1. You misspelled “Chief learner”

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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