Bill Owens–Yay! Bob Schaffer? Um…

We noted yesterday that Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper has selected former GOP Gov. Bill Owens as a statewide co-chair of his transition team. This is being widely viewed as an excellent choice, and we think the moderate Owens will do as much as possible to broker the kind of bipartisan cooperation that Hickenlooper wants to lead off his term with.

We’re a little less enthusiastic about another choice that Hickenlooper made–in addition to appointing Owens as a statewide co-chair, apparently his transition team saw fit to appoint former GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer as a committee co-chair dealing with education issues. Superficially, this would seem to make sense, since Schaffer does serve on the state Board of Education. But we can’t help but note that if the unthinkable had happened, and Tom Tancredo had somehow won the election, Schaffer’s role wouldn’t have changed much:

Which linked to this statement:

“Tom has always been a tireless leader on issues of education reform, tax limitation and economic growth,” said Schaffer. “I’m proud to support Tom Tancredo, and I urge all educators, tax reformers and business leaders across the state to do the same.”

Look folks, we’re not naive. We get that it’s natural to include the chairman of the Board of Education in the gubernatorial transition process, and that politicians who oppose one another in a campaign have to come back and work together afterward. But Tancredo was no ordinary candidate, and Schaffer is an open proponent of education policies that most Coloradans would thank goodness he doesn’t have the power to implement if they knew. Remember, this is a guy who’s past debating old hat issues like vouchers for religious schools, and prefers livelier topics like whether a paddling on the backside or a ruler to the knuckles works better on the kiddies.

Despite this, Hickenlooper has an opportunity for leadership here more than a problem, depending on how he handles it. At the very least, we know some nervous teachers who will want some reassurance that Schaffer’s fringy views aren’t what they voted for, and that they were making a choice on education policy when they voted for Hickenlooper. As in, not Tom Tancredo’s.

That shouldn’t be hard to do, right?

59 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    Ugh. Why not a nice sane BoE member? Sorry Pols, but I can’t swallow any angle on this as an opportunity for Hick. Bob Schaffer is a wingnut loser and he should stick to margaritas.

    And change the name of his tasty margaritas to something other than a joke about dog piss.

    • twas brillig says:

      Or Marilyn Musgrave?

      Or James Dobson?

      If a paleoconservative hack and bigot like Bob Schaffer gets a seat at the table in the Hickenlooper administration, it’s going to be a long four years of pious faux-moderation.  

  2. ardy39 says:

    Just take a look at Schaffer’s profile on the BoE site. What is the purpose of including this:

    The Schaffers are Roman Catholic and are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Collins.

    Especially when you’ve previously noted this:

    Upon his retirement from the Congress, Schaffer was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by His Holiness John Paul II.

    How is this relevant? Or even interesting?

    This is the type of person Hickenlooper is reaching out to? Has he mentioned this to McNulty?

  3. sxp151 says:

    SB191 let me know last year that teachers were going to be the enemy in any Colorado government, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans.

    • davebarnes says:

      The teacher’s UNIONS are the enemy of education reform.

      The teacher’s UNIONS are the enemy of education success.

      Let us hope that Hick crushes them.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      SB191 let me know last year that teachers were going to be the enemy in any Colorado government

      When Democrats passed that bill saying programmers could be fired at will.

      Oh wait, we’ve always been employed at will…

      • sxp151 says:

        Jesus Fuck you’re intentionally obtuse sometimes. Clearly it gives you some sick thrill to act like an idiot.  

        • DavidThi808 says:

          I assume your objection to SB-191 is it makes it will make it possible to fire some teachers. I was just pointing out that the rest of us have always had jobs where we could be fired – and for any reason.

          Leonard Pitts was much more eloquent on the subject

          My correspondent, a teacher, took issue with my desire to see that changed, noting that without those protections, she’d be at the mercy of some boss who decided one day to fire her.

          In other words, she’d be just like the rest of us. The lady’s detachment from the reality most workers live with struck me as a telling clue as to why our education system frequently fails to educate. When you can’t get fired for doing bad work, what’s your impetus for doing good?

          I understand your dislike of SB-191. If I had ironclad job security I might very well fight to keep it too. But I, and quite a few others in the Democratic party, put educating children first.

          • G Pulviczek says:

            At the whim of a publicly elected board, subject to all the politics that goes into electing such a board?

            Note that I would not have it any other way.  But with working in such a position (and with issues of academic freedom) I personally don’t begrudge teachers some amount of job security as long as they are not truly incompetent or criminal.

            Also, do you get paid as much as a teacher with equivalent schooling does?  I bet you get paid a lot more than 33% more.

            It tires me that people trot out the same old tropes year after year.  And what it means is that nobody is terribly serious about real education reform.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              I do want teachers to have security from both political actions and incompetent administrators. What I and many others want is a system that can also force the poor teachers to improve or move on.

              As to the pay level vs education, there are wide disparities in pay based on what someone gets an education in. People with a BS in Math are hired out of college for a lot more than people with a BS in English. But teachers are paid well and have some superb benefits including better retirement plans than almost anyone in the private sector and 3 months vacation/year.

              I think the key part of all of this is to continue the research on what makes for effective teaching, bring those practices to all of our teachers, measure the teachers to provide feedback on where they’re getting it and where they need to improve, and go on from there.

              I also think we should work to try and get parents more involved in their child’s education. Yes it’s hard for a poor family where both parents work 3 part time jobs to get that, but we should look for avenues where we can because the #1 influence of a child’s success is the mom consistently involved.

          • ardy39 says:

            for teachers in Colorado. Even though it is a nice sound bite. It’s always fun to demonize others that have a different flavor of pie.

            All that teachers in Colorado have is a guarantee of due process before they are fired.

            Write a damn program already, DavidThi, that will put all teachers out of work. And don’t tell me it can’t be done. Just do it.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              In BVSD over the last 20+ years, they have never fired a tenured teacher. Occasionally a district puts in tremendous effort and fires 1 or 2 – but it’s very very rare. So the contracts may say “due process” but the way it plays out is “ironclad.”

          • raymond1 says:

            Seriously, complain about the state of ed, and of reactionary teachers’ unions… but really, calling “eloquent” an ode to “employment at will,” and a complaint that if employees aren’t at will there’s no impetus for doing good… well, geez, you’re starting to sound like Roger Paul, Ron’s other kid.

            • Diogenesdemar says:

              Like I really needed to know that there’s more where Rand came from.  Thanks alot Raymond.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              I would phrase it differently.

              1. The possibility of truly being fired will make most people focus more on feedback about how they can improve. Most people want to do a good job, but some improvement is hard and the incentive helps.

              2. I think most teachers want to do good, and work at it. And most of them do a good to superb job. All this talk around “firing” is about a very very small number of teachers.

          • dmindgo says:

            I agree with you on most things, including school reform, but teachers are not spoiled brats.  You have 191, so why keep bashing teachers?  Any principal, and I mean any principal, can tell stories of having an irate parent come in and demand that a teacher be fired.  That the teacher is highly rated, highly effective, and highly regarded by all but this parent makes no difference.  Unfortunately, sometimes enough parents can make demands that alter that teacher’s career, even if those reasons are very poor.  The quote from Pitts is not logical in its conclusions.  A teacher has as boss every single taxpayer in the district.  So really, should the teacher be fired at the whim of one boss?  No, of course not.  That quote is an oversimplification of a teachers position.  If Pitts doesn’t know better, I think you do.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              I was just trying to make a point about SXP’s decision to withhold all support from the Democratic party.

              I agree with you about Pitts’ statement (see my replies above). I think this is something we have to structure very carefully. And the biggie will be providing teachers with guidance on how to teach better and give them constant feedback on where they need to improve.

              Firing the few that can’t or won’t improve receives disproportionate attention from everyone compared to all of what we need to do.

          • sxp151 says:

            But I often forget just how stupid you are about things that don’t personally affect you.

            1. Working for the government is different from working for the private sector. People need protection from arbitrary firing for political reasons and they don’t get that unless they have the explicit protections you hate.

            2. It doesn’t matter if you never had protection from arbitrary firing. It wasn’t there and then taken away with no compensation or amelioration.

            I realized last year that local Democrats have a lot of contempt for teachers and that it therefore doesn’t much affect teachers whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge at the state level.  

            • DavidThi808 says:

              1. People get fired for political reasons in the private sector all the time. By politics I mean office politics, but the impact and result is the same. It sucks, it’s inefficient, but we all face it.

              2. I think you have a fair point on this issue. I would like to see additional merit raises added in return for facing the possibility of firing.

              I think you’re totally wrong on saying there is contempt for teachers. Almost (not all) everyone I know on this has a lot of respect for most teachers. I can still name off the superb teachers my kids have had, some going back 15 years.

              What we don’t like is a system that leaves even the best teachers struggling and has not improved for decades.

              Finally, this is an issue that does personally effect me. I had three girls go through public school. In another 10 years I’ll have grandkids going through. My company depends on a system that graduates highly educated kids. The K-12 system personally effects me big-time.

              • sxp151 says:

                They have coworkers and direct supervisors and the big boss etc. But teachers can face trouble for giving homework that’s too challenging or takes too much time, or they can get complaints for discussing things that aren’t coming up on the next standardized test. In short they can face political trouble for doing their jobs too well. And that’s on top of general complaints from people like yourself who just want some number of them fired so we can feel like we’re doing something about education. These things will get worse, and maybe years later when they do you’ll say, “Oh look at those politicians, they passed a bill without thinking about the consequences.”

                And there is plenty of contempt for teachers, some of it expressed openly, some more subtly (many people think it’s just fine to talk about the “greedy teachers’ union” as though that’s somehow made up of something other than teachers). Respecting teachers means your base assumption is that they work hard because they love the job, and that’s not how your conversations have ever started. Your base assumption is that they are lazy and need a bit o’ the whip.

                You say you would have liked to see additional raises, but that wasn’t the option in the bill you supported. You supported giving the teachers nothing, and that’s what they’re going to get. Thanks Democrats!

                Do you think Democrats lost the House because teachers were unmotivated to work for them? I wonder.

                • DavidThi808 says:

                  Respecting teachers means your base assumption is that they work hard because they love the job, and that’s not how your conversations have ever started. Your base assumption is that they are lazy and need a bit o’ the whip.

                  I assume most (not all) work hard. And I respect them. However I do believe that teachers, like every other profession, will do better if they are measured and held accountable.

  4. RedGreen says:

    DavidThi has applied for. What could go wrong?!

    (I kid, David)

  5. Diogenesdemar says:

    . . . Ah, fuck! . . .  Who am I kidding?

    Even Bluecat isn’t going to fall for this one.

  6. Interlocken Loop says:

    Mike Merrifield one of the classiest and brightest guys around lost his race for El Paso County Commissioner.  I hope that the Governor elect realizes that no one knows more about education than Mike Merrifield and offers him a job.

  7. bullshit! says:

    Bob Schaffer is an epic classless moron. I keep wondering why these loonies keep coming back like zombies who can’t be killed, then I realize it’s because Democrats are more than happy to resuscitate them.

    Bill Owens is not Bob Schaffer. Bob Schaffer has nothing constructive to offer Hickenlooper on education.

  8. raymond1 says:

    … this is a worrisome early sign that Hick actually buys into his hype that he’s going to run an apolitical/nonpartisan/whatever-he-calls-it administration. Hopefully this suck-up to the right is limited to toothless transition teams, but I’m worried.

  9. Half Glass Full says:

    While Hickenlooper, Owens and Schaffer are acting like responsible grown-ups in trying to bridge their major policy differences to deal with Colorado’s severe problems, that bloviating, hypocritical, dishonest oaf Tom Tancredo is on air with his fellow oaf Peter Boyles talking about how they’re all in cahoots to raise taxes…

    It should be remembered that Schaffer was an honorable person who HONORED his own term-limits pledge to the voters even though he had come to realize that term limits was flawed. Tancredo, meanwhile, was a dishonest hypocrite.

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