12/31/20 – Goodbye 2020! Let’s start 2021 strong and stand up for safety

Kicking January off with a yellow infused safety campaign – Sign up for actions HERE!

The new year is here any potential changes or collaboration on the return to in-person learning plan must happen quickly. A majority of Jeffco educators supported our continued advocacy on the plan but it will take collective action to compel the district to revisit the current plan. Although we appreciate the 600 stakeholders consulted on the plan, 294 people being the decision making body does not feel representative of all voices. Fewer than 70 licensed educators were offered the opportunity to participate in the district’s feedback gathering process. JCEA has been a partner in district decision making for more than 50 years and we firmly believe that should not slide backwards now.

We will start taking collective action as soon as we return in January. Our hope is that getting these dates and actions out now gives folks ample time to outreach, organize and plan to join us. Welcome and encourage all educators, support staff, parents, community, students and admin who believe returning in the RED portion of the dial may be too unsafe or too unsustainable for safe and consistent staffing to join us. Sign up here!

January 5th – Show your support on social media – change your profile photo, post about why your working for improved health and safety for our students, educators and schools.

January 6th – Car parade and rally for a safe and sustainable plan – RSVP on our form for time, location and further details RSVP HERE.

January 7th – Attend the virtual board of education meeting at 6:00 pm to support your colleagues giving public comment. Solidarity is simple with virtual attendance!

January 8th – Pre-k – 5th grade educator action meeting at 4:30 pm – you MUST register in advance to attend. Our focus will be current COVID rates in our community, health and safety and action steps moving forward.

When: Jan 8, 2021 04:30 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://coloradoea.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAqceypqDsoGNTAZAEG2kvqxl1xqOQSJoON

Reflecting on 2020

In 2020, the year of unimaginable change, you stayed true to collective action and a member led union.

Highlights of our collective work in 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, we reflect on the past year and begin to plan for the new year ahead. 2020 has most certainly been the most challenging year most of us have ever faced, both personally and professionally. We know it hasn’t been easy. Educators have been asked to reinvent their practice in a system already starved for funding and resources. The world around us often feels tipped upside down, and you all have done incredible, inspiring work.

Grub Club

We began the year with our annual grub club food drive and collected DOUBLE the amount of food from 2018 delivering more than 45,947 items! It was an incredible community effort and we are so proud of the work you all do every year to support the Action Center and the Jeffco students they support.

Shifting to emergency remote instruction

In March, as COVID-19 crept into our community Jeffco transitioned to remote learning with just a few days notice and JCEA immediately got to work bargaining an MOU to address a whole new working environment.

JCEA members elect their next leadership team

Also in March, JCEA members said farewell to outgoing President John Ford (who returned to the classroom at Standley Lake High School) and elected a new President, Brooke Williams. Brooke is an 18 year Jeffco educator and parent of two Jeffco students. She came out of the classrooms of Alameda Jr/Sr and worked with her elected leadership team to create a strategic plan and vision for the next 3 years.

Our plan is focused on four core values:

  • Empowering members to strengthen and grow their union to create the best possible learning and working conditions for all Jeffco schools
  • Democratic and thoughtful decision making processes
  • Transparency around our work, our values and our collective goals
  • Continuing our work towards racial justice and being an anti-racist organization

 

Brooke is joined by several other newly elected JCEA leaders: Vice President: Dale Munholland, Treasurer: Ernest Garibay, Secretary: Rhiannon Wenning, Negotiations Chair: Michelle Moehlis, Communications Chair: Sydney Slifka, and Organizing Chair: Cory Bissell.

Speaking of racial justice and anti-racist ally ship –  join the newly forming JCEA allies group – check out their google classroom here:https://classroom.google.com/c/MjIxMDc4ODUyMzI0?cjc=begnm6l

Bargaining 2020

Throughout the Spring and summer your bargaining team worked diligently to negotiate over wages and improvements to our collective bargaining agreement. We, like you, believe that investing in Jeffco educators and prioritizing funding into classrooms must be a top priority for our district to succeed and we will continue to work towards that end in every round of bargaining.

We made significant gains in contract language including:

  • Restoring important grievance processes including a neutral 3rd party
  • Won language improvements around teacher rights
  • Secured a 3% stipend for all Jeffco educators
  • Secured ongoing level movement for those who are eligible
  • Created a sick-bank which will help support educators health and wellbeing
  • Aligned our contract with state law regarding innovation schools

 

JCEA Safer return campaign

Joining the summer organizing, more than 100 JCEA activists worked towards a safer return to the fall semester calling for a remote start to the school year and improvements to health and safety protocols. We surveyed thousands of members and potential members every step of the way and have continued that outreached throughout the year.

Starting the 2020-2021 school year, JCEA negotiated an additional MOU to address working conditions and continued to advocate for safety in our schools.

Advocating for health, safety and teacher rights

The work of JCEA building representatives, articulation area reps, leadership and staff grew continually as the complexities of educating through a global health crisis added new layers to health, safety, and all aspects of your work.

JCEA joined Coloradans for the common good, JESPA, other CEA local Associations and community and faith groups to advocate for expanded internet access and additional food distribution sites for all Jeffco students. This work continues through our Community Outreach Action Team chair, Elizabeth Kantner (email?)

School funding and elections 2020

Yet again this year JCEA, CEA and pro-public education advocates worked hard to try to secure new funding and support for our schools. In an already starved system, we stand firm in our position that underfunded schools simply cannot continue to do more with less. Colorado’s BS factor, essentially an unpaid IOU to our students and schools, has grown to more than 1.8 billion over the last ten years. We MUST reverse this trend.

Although we fell short of the needed signatures to place funding on the ballot because of COVID-19 restrictions and major changes to how we safely outreach and engage voters, education advocates were successful in repealing the Gallagher amendment. Most of our endorsed candidates won both state and local elections – including one of our own JCEA members Andy Kerr who was elected Jeffco county commissioner!

December 2020 guides us into January 2021

Pivot towards safety campaign – Team Jeffco deserves a safe and sustainable plan

Your elected officers and AR council representatives debated and voted on metrics they felt would support the safest and most sustainable plan forward. We agree with the majority of the plans and solutions the district has created – but differ on the COVID case metrics in our community – planning to return while in the RED portion of the dial quite frankly seems untenable. Council believes a return to in person learning in the yellow portion of the dial (community COVID positivity rates of less than 10%) will set us up for a more sustainable semester, fewer ill students and staff, more consistency and clarity in which learning model we will be in and more in person learning days in the future as the vaccine hopefully creates a light at the end of the tunnel. Currently Jeffco is seeing a decline in cases, we genuinely hope that trend continues and we will all do our part to help flatten the curve.

In the fall when COVID community spread and test positivity rates grew exponentially, so did the cases in our schools. We saw schools unable to stay open when we reached positivity rates of 8%, 9%, 10% and beyond. Even with the best intentions our buildings must have safe staffing levels and there were not enough educators and staff to support our schools remaining open.

We hope that district management will take educators seriously and work in collaboration with us on the level (using the district and State’s COVID data dial) in which we return – the health and safety of everyone in our schools matter tremendously and we will continue to work towards a solution that supports a safer return.

We agree on more aspects of the plan than not, and believe a compromise is possible.

Sign up to join us in January HERE.

Wishing you a safe and healthy 2021!