Speaking at the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on July 3rd, Colorado Education Association (CEA) President Kerrie Dallman referred to the school district of Jefferson County (JeffCo) – where teachers have staged a “sick-out” and students left classes to protest throughout last week – as one of three in her state in which the teachers’ union was “working against hostile school boards.”
“I also want to say thank you to the staff and leaders from the 18 states around the country who were sending in 48 staff under the NEA shared staffing agreement to help with the crisis in our largest local, Jefferson County,” Dallman continued. “These staff will join our leaders and staff to conduct member to member home visits later this month.”
Dallman also told the nearly 9,000 NEA delegates present about the struggle of funding public education in a TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) state, saying, “You can thank Colorado for showing everyone else that TABOR is a really bad idea.”
Dallman’s words give credence to the assertion of many in Jefferson County that the student protests and teacher walkouts have been well planned, with the assistance of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, and come in response to the election of a conservative majority to the JeffCo Board of Education.
Dallman, a social studies teacher on leave from teaching assignments and former president of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), said that the Jefferson County, Loveland, and Thornton school districts – all with “hostile school boards” – were, thus, in “significant crisis,” and that, in response, the teachers’ union “led the public charge for transparency, accountability, and respect.”
However, in July of 2013, Dallman herself was sharply criticized after her op-ed appeared in The Denver Post in which she praised the student data mining that is a central part of the Common Core standards.
In particular, Dallman touted student data-management company inBloom, which later announced in April of this year that it would shut down due to privacy fears surrounding student data tracking.
Dallman discussed why student data collection would be a benefit for teachers:
For teachers, inBloom provides the technology that allows districts to more easily deliver the great tools that we want to fit the individual needs of our students. Improved efficiency frees up teachers to spend more time with their students, providing an ever-greater personalized education experience.
I know inBloom will be a great asset to every teacher and student, and I’m disappointed to hear that such a promising service has been mischaracterized, misinterpreted and undervalued by some. The thing is, those same people won’t tell you that without inBloom, getting better tools and content to help our students will take years and cost our districts hundreds of thousands of dollars. Saving money is critical, and a personalized learning experience for our students is essential.
Following Dallman’s op-ed promoting student data mining, an open letter was posted at a blog called teacherbiz, in which Dallman was criticized for allying with “billionaires like Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch” who “use their money, power and jargon to impose corporate reforms that will ultimately lead to privatization of our system.”
“And to see that you are advocating for one such reform (which, among other things, encourages an over-reliance on the standardized testing that accompanies it) is thoroughly disheartening,” the letter states.
The letter went on to reprimand Dallman for defending such “predators” and accused her of being “disingenuous,” like “so many corporate reforms that are bad for children.”
“In short, Ms. Dallman, you’ve fallen victim to the Gates bait,” the letter states.
“Perhaps it’s all a coincidence, but at the end of July, 48 NEA UniServ directors from 18 states were sent to Jefferson County to train local officers and activists in conducting home visits with members,” he wrote. “Once the school year began, there was a flurry of union activity.”
With NEA’s help, CEA was able to hire an “organizing specialist” for the purpose of bringing educators “together to fight back against the movement to privatize public education.” The specialist’s job is to coordinate campaigns in five Colorado affiliates in three “metro area school districts.”
Thus far, students from at least six area schools have participated in the protests that continued throughout the past week, with some stripping off their clothing and writing slogans on their bodies. Students were showing support for their teachers and opposing what they were told about a school board proposal to review the new A.P. U.S. History framework that has been introduced by the College Board, headed by David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core standards. No vote was ever taken on the proposal.
Teachers also held a strike, which they called a “sickout,” that resulted in the shutdown of two schools.
Additionally, as Breitbart News reported Saturday, investigators are looking into threats reportedly made against the children of members of the JeffCo Board of Education.
The next JeffCo school board meeting is scheduled for October 2nd.