Jon Caldara Pitches “Dougco-Style” Jeffco Schools Takeover

UPDATE: Jon Caldara responds via Twitter:

And there you have it, folks…


Jon Caldara.

Jon Caldara.

We were forwarded scanned copies today of a lengthy letter from the right-wing Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara, soliciting funds from members to wage war against “the teachers unions and their Leftist allies in Jefferson County.” We’ve posted all eight pages of Caldara’s letter below (click to pull up high resolution scans)–safe to say that this letter was not intended for consumption outside a very conservative audience, as the stated goals of Caldara’s campaign are distantly out of the mainstream.

For one thing, the “libertarian” Caldara launches into a defense of last year’s controversial AP History curriculum review proposal that would make Julie Williams blush:


That “the union” staged last year’s enormous student protests will come as a surprise to the students who actually organized them, and who explained to everyone who would listen that they were outraged by Williams’ AP History “review” proposal without anyone’s help. It’s worth noting that Caldara is aligned with Republican politicians who sent out mailers last year using doctored photos of student protesters to imply their support–even though the students were protesting against the GOP-dominated school board’s actions. Republican politicians who benefited from those mailers include Tim Neville, the brother-in-law of board member Julie Williams.

And again, isn’t Caldara supposed to be a “libertarian?” Don’t libertarians respect questioning authority in the classroom? We can only assume that Caldara wasn’t writing for a libertarian audience.

Here’s another tidbit that won’t sit well in swing Jefferson County. Ever since taking control of the school board in 2013, the new conservative majority has insisted that they were not modeling their agenda on Douglas County, the arch-conservative stronghold presently mired in a lawsuit over religious school vouchers, and which has seen considerable turnover of teachers and staff since a right-wing activist school board started enacting sweeping changes. Well folks, don’t tell that to Jon Caldara:



We’d say their cover is pretty well blown at this point, but in case you needed more proof, here you go.

You can read Caldara’s angry screed in its entirety after the jump–click on the images to pull up full-resolution versions. And next time somebody tells you that there isn’t a right-wing ideological plot afoot to radically alter one of Colorado’s best-performing public school districts, show them this letter.

Because apparently there is.

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31 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Miss Jane says:

    Targeting and executing sound so martial.  Someone sounds like he wants a raise, and like someone who has very carefully targeted his audience of faux addicted junkies.      

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    This ought to make the next board meeting interesting. I might even have to go.

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    Safe to say that Caldara didn’t just decide to do this all by himself for lack of having anything better to do.  “Follow da’ money,” please!  Who’s shoveling money upon the II for this week’s latest dirty work??  That’s as much the story here, as Caldara’s screed!

  4. Progressicat says:

    Pull the images if you care about the redactions.

    You should always use totally opaque materials, like black electrical tape. With a few minutes in a decent editor, I can tell you the recipient.

  5. Craig says:

    I’m shocked I tell you.  Just shocked.

  6. skeptical citizen says:

    Isn’t Jon Caldara the brother of ALEC Caldara?

  7. bullshit! says:

    Dang, he really let the cat out of the bag this time. Way to go, Jon!

  8. doremi says:

    Well….he didn’t just target conservatives or members with this mailer.

    I received one too, and I don’t qualify as either.  Also, I was a teachers’ union member.

    I’m not in Jeffco.  But I am glad to see he wasted about $1.00 in postage to me. 

  9. Moderatus says:

    But when Progressnow sends out an email attacking Julie Williams for things she didn’t even say and has already apologized for — that’s okay??

    More double standards from Colorado Pols. How typical.

    • The realist says:

      “. . . things she didn’t even say and has already apologized for –“

      Huh? Why would she – or anyone – apologize for something they didn’t do?

    • BlueCat says:

      Look who’s back. First, I don’t recall anything about Julie Williams claiming she didn’t say whatever it is you think she didn’t say but apologized for. It was about something she claimed to have shared on her page for parents’ information even though she said she hadn’t read it, begging the question of what gave her the idea that it contained any information, much less information that would be useful to parents. Second, Nobody’s attacking Caldera for sending out email. Just educating the public about what’s in it with some background and context. So your comment makes no sense. Let me help. What you probably meant to say was…. why do you libs hate freedom? Benghazi!

  10. pmattson says:

    Ummm, looks like Jon is trolling for money.  Is it true he’ll say anything to get people to give money to join Independence Institute?  Who bankrolls this organization?  This type of attack is all about getting political power and money.  What has changed about teachers’ unions in the past few years that the attacks have ramped up and gotten so vitriolic?  What the heck is he talking about with teachers pushing agendas? Perhaps we can move public education in Colorado to a Madrasa format – memorize and regurgitate. From what I can see he and the Independence Institute are all about agendas.  My progeny all went to public school and they are just fine in their ability to be critical thinkers. Perhaps Mr Caldera and his followers are afraid their children won’t be so able.

    • Duke Cox says:

      He gets it from here…it is part of the “Koch Doctrine”:

      “We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

      “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”

      “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”

      hat tip to Zap…

      You see.. the point of school is not to teach critical thinking (that creates those damned unruly Liberals)…it is to indoctrinate and train (religious schools are best at this..)

      • Miss Jane says:

        They are John Birchers, all dressed up and grinning ear to ear. Elitism oozes from their pores. They are so weird,  I would not be surprised to find they’re also scientologists. I’m not implying that they are, just that they present as so self absorbed and actually not fully socialized.

        Government schools, indeed!  They just don’t want to pay for an educated public.  We have public schools because private schools couldn’t fill the need to teach so many children. But who wants an educated public anyway?  Authoritarian plutocrats certainly don’t. They don’t seem to undertand how societies and modern economies work, so they could destroy the goose to corner the market on golden eggs. And the payout on that is a big “oops!”

      • BlueCat says:

        No compulsory education means an illiterate peasant class pool of cheap, helpless, ignorant labor and a small middle with enough money to educate themselves sufficiently to serve the professional needs of the elite. Could they possibly be more blatant in where they’d like to see society going? Of course, in their back to the future Gilded Age, with more and more automation and less and less use for much cheap human labor, the final destination they envision might be less Gilded Age and more Soylent Green Age. 

        • TCollins303 says:

          Lower labor costs is exactly the end goal … In the short run, it is also control of one of the largest school budgets in the country – the Board has made it clear their aim in accessing that money as much as they can to fill the pockets of those supporting their cause.  It is a reasonably smart strategy that must be stopped.    

  11. Zappatero says:

    Caldara and his pals are Fascists in Libertarian clothing…..albeit with Smiley Faces. laughing They would be OK with us going “full Lib” now — and who would that leave in charge right after the Koch Brothers and all their market-manipulating, Cash-is-King cash?

  12. ScottP says:

    I don’t even know what to say. This is bullshit. Finally someone stupid enough on the WNW side of things to tell the truth about their agenda.

    This is nothing more than blind union-hate and a political power grab for students’ minds.

  13. Clearly the students staged a collective action in protesting last year. If that isn’t “the union”, then what is? This is the same as those annoying class action lawsuits, where many people get together to gang up on a single, overworked and underpaid CEO to hurt his company.

    What ever happened to rugged individualism and FREEDOM?

  14. mamajama55 says:

    ALEC funded the Douglas County Board takeover, is probably funding the conservative board members as well. I’ll look into it. 

  15. Budded says:

    Among others, this part made me slap my forehead:

    “That level of influence – spread over many decades – has promoted a leftist worldview among many of our citizens that threatens Colorado’s position as one of the freest and most prosperous states in the country.”

    So, “leftist” teachings or not, you’re fully admitting that what’s been going on in the past decades, for the most part IS WORKING, those teachings are responsible for it. So, like any loyal right-wing nutjob, you want to throw a stick in the gears to make sure that success and prosperity comes to a screeching halt. Idiot!

    Our poor kids.

    • BlueCat says:

      All that lefty stuff seems to be working a whole lot better than all the rightie stuff in Kansas and where’s a scrap of evidence the that we’re less free here than they are?  We have a better economy and we can actually keep our public schools open. Oh wait. That must be the “freedom” agenda. Setting all those kids free from school and plenty of their parents free from jobs while slashing the safety net. That must be the kind of “freedom” Caldara has in mind.

      • Duke Cox says:

        the “freedom” agenda. Setting all those kids free from school and plenty of their parents free from jobs while slashing the safety net. That must be the kind of “freedom” Caldara has in mind.

        Well put, ma’am.

        I am so totally stealing this , BC. I think you are on to something. “The Freedom Agenda”…

        I like it..

        Freedom from rational thought…Freedom from social responsibility…Freedom from tolerance…

        The list is endless…

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