1/24/21 – Reflecting and looking forward

Dear JCEA Members,

As elementary wraps up its first week in-person and secondary gets ready to head back into the in-person hybrid model, I want to acknowledge the wide range of emotions and feelings about returning. While no one wants to have schools open for in-person instruction more than educators, we have struggled as a union to agree on what metrics make us feel comfortable or safe. JCEA has sponsored a dozen surveys since the pandemic began and every time our data shows that we have members all across the spectrum on the issues of safety and when and how we will return to the classroom.. What we can agree on is that safety, transparency, equity, and respect remain important. That work continues – no matter which learning model Jeffco is currently working in. This school year has been so challenging, but I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the accomplishments we have achieved as our students remain the center of our work.

When I ran for President I never would’ve imagined we would be facing a pandemic. I am heartbroken reflecting on the loss of loved ones, the growing mental health needs among us, and the COVID patients who are facing ongoing health issues. Through all of this, we need to remember that COVID, not our colleagues or fellow community members, is the enemy. There is plenty of division in our country. As educators and union members, we must remain strong and stand together for our students and work to unite our community.

After almost a year of our lives being disrupted by this pandemic, we are seeing some hope as vaccinations become available. We will continue to advocate for educators to receive their vaccinations as quickly as possible and in a fair manner. Also, surveillance testing will now be offered for employees and students in Jeffco which will help us monitor the prevalence of the virus.

Thankfully, cases in Colorado are currently declining – it has taken a collective effort to flatten the curve and we must remain vigilant and encourage those around us to also do their part. No matter how dedicated educators, students and administrators are to proactive safety measures, our schools reflect the conditions in our communities.

Please encourage everyone around you to maintain safety practices and to take the statewide pledge to do their part to support our schools. takethepledgecolorado.org .

As we continue to advocate for safety in our schools we also need to look forward to two incredibly important campaigns which will impact our profession and our district in the future. It’s time to get to work on our contract campaign and building bridges and engagement around next fall’s Board of Education election. These are heavy lifts and it will take all of us to win.

Our contract impacts our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. Our work is to improve both. This year our entire contract is up for negotiation. This is the first time since the bad board we have had this opportunity. This year there are more opportunities than ever to get involved.

Saturday, January 30th from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm your bargaining team is hosting space for any member who is interested in getting involved. RSVP here to receive a zoom link.

Three out of five Jeffco Board of Education seats are up for election this fall. Our community, students, schools and educators deserve pro-public education candidates in these seats. Many of us know all too well what can happen if unsupportive board members are elected. If you know someone who would be an excellent candidate for the Jeffco school board contact Callie Orgeron COrgeron@coloradoea.org

Parent and community engagement is crucial for both bargaining and the Board election. It is important for us to understand what families and students need to improve their children’s educational experience. If you know parents or community members (or are a Jeffco parent yourself) who should be a part of these campaigns please email me directly at JCEApresident@coloradoea.org.

Although communication has been more difficult during the pandemic, I want to hear from you. I look forward to what we can accomplish for our students, our colleagues and our profession. Please continue to reach out to me or our staff with any concerns. Together, we make Jeffco Public Schools a great place to work and a great place for students to learn. Your involvement is key to our success. Together we can accomplish what we could never accomplish alone. I hope you see you at our all member meeting this Tuesday.

 

In Solidarity,

Brooke Williams