Jefferson County public schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee told Governor John Hickenlooper’s office and Colorado lawmakers that they’re a security risk and unwelcome to conduct bill signings in the district’s schools, says the governor’s Chief Strategy Officer Alan Salazar, who posted the news to his Facebook feed in a state of disbelief.
Still trying to get my head around learning last week that the Superintendent of Jeffco Schools informed legislators and our office that the Governor of Colorado could not do a bill signing at any district schools because his presence at such an event presented a “security risk” to students. Really? Seems to me that any school would welcome a governor and legislators for a real life example of our democracy in action. Apparently not in Jeffco.
Superintendent McMinimee found his district embroiled in controversy last fall when the newly elected conservative school board proposed updating AP US History curriculum to deemphasize chapters of “conflict” — such as Native American genocide, slavery, the civil rights movement –and to downplay the way protest and civil disobedience have brought tremendous social change.
The board’s proposal sparked a student protest movement, teacher walkouts, national headlines and Internet mockery. Eventually, the board backed off of the proposal.
Now, with the district refusing to host the governor and lawmakers, observers are wondering if the political history of the present seems equally suspect to the board.
UPDATE, 5/18/15: McMinimee wasn’t available for comment at this time, but Lisa Pinto, chief communications officer for the JeffCo public schools said:
For your information, the governor’s visit was unanticipated and it was a tremendous honor, but unfortunately, a week did not give us time to cover his security needs and figure out logistics for our students who are in final exams, and of course we have graduations on Wednesday, too. We would welcome the JeffCo delegation and the governor here in the Fall to see all the innovative things we’re doing here at JeffCo schools and see our incredible staff and students at work. And the fall would be better because students wouldn’t be distracted by exams or graduation.
Salazar’s Facebook commenters were unanimously appalled by the superintendent’s decision. They invited the governor to sign the bills at Summit County, Aspen County and Greeley schools. The sentiment in the comments on Salazar’s wall is best summed up by Michael Smith:
“Nice example to the students. Lying (about security) and acting childish (furthering petty political interests). What a jackass.”
In a video on the JeffCo school district website, McMinimee talks about his philosophy of education.
“In the end, what you want it to be is that the student actually personalizes what they have learned.”
UPDATE: 5.18.15: The original article was titled: “JeffCo superintendent won’t host governor, cites ‘security risk.'” Lisa Pinto clarified that JeffCo would host the governor – but not until the fall.
Photo credit: All images are from a Jefferson County Public School video.