By John Graham, BOE president
Something you may hear every election is “this is the most important election ever!” It is always true — until the next election. Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” This has always been true.
He continues, “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same.”
I hear from many community members how discontent they are with government and public schools. Yet, national and local surveys show time and again that most parents like or love and trust the school their child attends. Their distrust is with “other” schools. I was already a Board of Education director and involved parent when these cultural issues became the “perfect” firestorm during and after COVID.
I had the choice to walk away or stay in the proverbial “fight” and make sure the truth was shared and our students remained the focus. I have always been a solution provider. To that end, I led, along with Rick Van Wieren and the other members of our current board, an effort to fence D 49 off from the culture wars. We focused on increasing security and safety of students, student choice in courses and programs, parent choice and rights, empowering teachers and staff, education transparency and a whole host of issues to further the path D 49 was on to improve student outcomes and achievement.
Now it is time for Rick and I to pass the baton. There is a new slate of BOE candidates, and our community will have to determine whether or not they want the positive trend to continue with career and technical — CTE (trades training) and Concurrent Enrollment — CE (college credits) and students having individual pathways, or go backward and be dictated to by an out-of-touch BOE. Informed voting is the way to keep our district free and moving forward. Do not just listen to what the candidates say now on the campaign trail. Listen to those who have addressed the BOE and community prior, either at public forum or in media to include social media.
There are a few candidates that will not be healthy for elected office in a free society and still others with a proven track record. Unless you want the chaos, disingenuous and destructive behavior that has occurred in the last two years to continue, be informed and vote wisely. Avoid being what the late Rush Limbaugh often spoke about concerning “low information voters!” There is a solution to the loss of liberty and truth that exists in this world where we are raising our children. The solution is to be involved in your children’s lives, volunteer in schools and model the behavior you seek in others. Be a solution provider.
Another ballot issue is the mill levy override, which will allow D 49 to be able to retain and hire highly effective teachers. D 49 has raised pay across the district as best we can. There may also be additional savings by cutting spending in one area and/or reducing duplicate or unnecessary positions. This is necessary for responsible governing. Limited government that is responsive to the needs of our students, community and employees takes work. Teachers and staff are working hard to keep kids safe and provide the education our community is willing to pay for. People in our community are working hard to provide for their families and themselves, too. The Gallagher Amendment to the state constitution has been repealed, having the consequence of skyrocketing residential property valuations.
Why ask for this ballot measure, especially now? I was asked by a teacher what the district was going to do to help them with inflation. My response was that I was not going to vote for anyone in this administration nor anyone that supports it. That did not go over very well, but more to the point is that inflation is a direct result of current federal policies. Some people just want to yell and shout and avoid the obvious solutions. We have focused more on making salaries competitive and will continue to find ways to spend more wisely.
I hear both sides of this issue. I feel strongly that this is a decision our community should make and that it is not a referendum on our teachers, but on the economic times thrust upon us by those in power in Washington, D.C. and Denver.
Our community cares about teachers, and our teachers care about kids. Get informed on this ballot issue. It will make a difference for D 49’s ability to retain the high-quality teachers your kids love and to hire new ones to keep up with a diminishing labor pool.