Miao Zhu Lierheimer And The Handprints Of God

“God’s will”  can be a nebulous thing, Christian Visitors. Ever notice that?  We talk about it so casually, as if it’s immediately recognizable by anyone. We bandy that phrase around, as if it’s something we can readily influence.

Don’t get me wrong, God’s will never contradicts God’s word, and American Christians need to crack their Bibles more often. But the difference between God’s perfect will, and God’s allowed will?  Or even the big picture of God’s will? The farther along I get, the bigger, and more complicated it seems.

Consider this, Visitors. In about two weeks I’m boarding a plane with Christopher to go visit Abigail in Hong Kong. You remember she’s a design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and they have a campus over there.

Twenty one years ago I boarded this plane and made the same journey to meet her for the first time,  and I remember it as if it were yesterday.

When we went to China,  Chris and I flew to Hong Kong for a single day. We were so jetlagged we spent it in the hotel asleep, and then boarded a plane for Hangzhou, in the southeast corner of the Zhejiang province of China. We spent several days there, visiting the orphanage where our daughter lived, viewing the silk mills for which Hangzhou is famous, and this, the West Lake.

West Lake possesses a haunting beauty. It’s divided into five sections by several causeways, and is full of ancient temples, pagodas and gardens that have influenced Chinese design for centuries.

West Lake is also busy. Hangzhou, which numbers nearly three million, attracts all kinds of people. Photographers, painters, artists of all sorts come to West Lake to create. It is never empty.

It was here, somewhere in this lovely spot, that Miao Zhu Xu started her journey to become Abigail Lierheimer, my daughter.

Miao Zhu’s biological mother loved her very much. At the time, China’s one-child policy was in full swing. Neighborhoods were monitored, and unauthorized second pregnancies were dealt with harshly. Benefits were denied families, and sometimes entire neighborhoods if second babies were allowed to be born. Sex-selective abortions were routine, ultrasound technology allowed this with ease. As there is a prejudice against girls in China, first girl children were routinely aborted in favor of boys.

Miao Zhu’s mother was careful. She had her baby in secret, and wrapped her tightly against the cold.  She found a crate for her baby, and wrote out all she knew about her child. She tucked the paper inside the blanket, against the baby’s delicate skin.

Under cover of darkness, she carried Miao Zhu  into West Lake. Abandoning children is a crime in China, but Miao Zhu’s mother loved her too much to let  her die. She slowly crept to a policeman’s shack, and left her sleeping baby near the door, certain to be discovered. Anxiously she waited. Waited and waited until the baby woke, and started to cry. Soon, the wailing roused the policeman on duty, and he came and picked up her child.

Miao Zhu’s mother wept as her child was taken away.

Miao Zhu landed in the Hangzhou orphanage, where she soon developed an eating disorder. Miao Zhu was wildly intolerant of lactose, and all of the formula available to the children was made from cow’s milk. She couldn’t hold it down. The orphanage had one care provider for every ten infants, and Miao Zhu was rapidly becoming a time-intensive problem. It was 1995, and often the Chinese response to sickly, abandoned children was to allow them to die of neglect.

‘Dying Rooms’ were common. Dying rooms were rooms in orphanages where ‘too needy’ children were placed, and died agonizing deaths of thirst or starvation. Earlier that year, three Americans made a film about this phenomenon, and adoptions in China ground to an abrupt halt. Miao Zhu couldn’t drink much formula, and she grew smaller and sicker. Chicken pox raced through her rooms. Headlice was common, her head was shaved.

FullSizeRender (38)

On the other side of the world Abi’s father and I waited impatiently. Abi’s brother went to preschool, and her sister was learning to walk. We had news of Abi’s difficulties, and we would often plead with God to speed things up, and let us connect with our daughter. Time was short for this little one.

Finally, we got on a plane. Days later we were driven to Hangzhou, and met Miao Zhu.

She had the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

We were told that ‘Miao Zhu’ meant ‘Baby Pearl’ in Chinese. ‘Abigail’ means ‘Source of Joy’, so Miao Zhu became Abigail Pearl, our joyful third child.

Abigail’s journey presents many, many puzzling questions about “God’s will”. There were many junctures where we, mere humans, could have thwarted God’s perfect will for this child. Her mother could have denied her life. The policeman in West Lake could have taken her somewhere else. Chinese politicians could have not allowed any adoptions at all after the damning documentary. Or, most likely, Abi’s little body could have shut down due to a lack of nutrition and attention.

None of these things happened.  Abi was held securely in the hand of God through all these frightful events.  It seems the older I get, the less I really know about the will of our Heavenly Father, Visitors.  But, this I do know, as the psalmist says:

    He will protect you like a bird
    spreading its wings over its young.
    His truth will be like your armor and shield. (Psalm 91:4)

Abi in China


Much love,






“Unmasking” Americans for Prosperity

Good day, Visitors.
Last fall, as you all know, my brother was recalled from his seat on the Jefferson County School board here in Colorado. Jeffco, as it is known here, is a declining school district of about 85,ooo students and a budget of over a billion dollars. John ran as a fiscal and social conservative, he and two other like minded colleagues were elected and proceeded to implement the responsible promises they made during their elections.

This earned the ire of the national teacher’s union, who pre-funded a recall of these candidates by pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into an effort that started within days of the election.

One of the union targets in this process was the organization called Americans for Prosperity.

AFP  and it’s sister organization Americans for Prosperity Foundation were founded by the wealthy industrialist Koch brothers and are part of their broad based political network.  And, if the Scott Kwasnys and Wendy McCords of the world are to be believed, both organizations are the spawn of the devil.  AFP and the Kochs are the root of all right wing political evil. AFP is populated by rich white folks bent on denying opportunity to struggling Americans. AFP and it’s ilk are completely out of touch, disinterested in the struggle of hard working Americans and especially Americans of difference and color.  AFP and it’s nefarious agenda must be opposed at all costs.

That’s quite a false narrative, Visitors.

During the recall debacle, AFP largely flew beneath my radar. I was too busy doing my part to try and halt Jeffco’s continuing decline, busy attempting to spread some truth in my corner of the union-corrupted world.

After I spoke at one of the Jeffco board meetings, I was leaving the openly antagonistic audience when a lean, good-looking young man approached me. He stuck out his hand- “Hi, I’m Darrin Levy. I’m one of the local field directors of Americans for Prosperity. Can I have a word?”

Darrin Levy

Our chief torchbearer- Darrin Levy

Darrin suggested that I join an informal class that the local AFP Foundation had organized, called the Grassroots Leadership Academy. My curiosity was piqued. I didn’t know a blessed thing about AFP or the AFP Foundation, but if the union minions despised them they must be worth checking out.

What followed was a remarkable six week class that was marvelous in it’s simplicity. The mission of AFP  Foundation is refreshing- here it is.
Americans for Prosperity Foundation is dedicated to educating and training citizens to be courageous advocates for the ideas, principles, and policies of a free society — knowing that leads to the greatest prosperity and wellbeing for all — especially the least fortunate. http://americansforprosperityfoundation.org/

You folks know me, this resonates. But what does it look like? My time is limited, I’m a single mother and small business owner. I can’t be wasting an evening a week on something unless it is truly worthwhile.

What followed was a terrific collection of foundational classes on the benefits of economic freedom. We heard from immigrants who really did view America as this golden prize worth striving for. We heard about the history of this remarkable experiment in this country. We heard and practiced concrete, practical ways to tell our own stories about the benefits of economic freedom.

Part way through the class I had a discussion with Darrin. I was enchanted with what I was seeing, and was interested in some of the more community-oriented benefits of AFP Foundation. Darrin told me about this wonderful, down-to-earth AFPF community program called “Bridge to Wellbeing”.  Bridge is a series of empowering programs that unapologetically helps local community members grab life by the reins, turn knowledge into power, and live more prosperous lives. Organized by AFP Foundation, these programs are taught by local experts and experts from around the country. Local participants attend at no cost to them.

Here are some examples, Visitors.

Passion to Profit-  Hear from local entrepreneurs about how they turned their passion into a thriving small business. (LOVED this one, Visitors.)

Flip The Switch– Ways to lower your energy bill.

Healthy Eating, Happy Family – How healthy eating can keep you out of your doctor’s office, and benefit your budget.

My favorite, of course:

Is My Child’s School Any Good? -We teach you how to check.

(Look at more of these cool things here http://americansforprosperityfoundation.org/bridge-to-wellbeing/)

Well, I was hooked. This is great material, with immediate benefits to the people and community I love.

In addition to participating in the Grassroots Leadership Academy Class, I also got to experienced a one day event sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity, the sister organization to AFP Foundation.  It was a super day! I mingled with over 100 other citizens who were also gaining activist skills. We gathered at the capitol and listened to legislators and other everyday Americans who were also concerned about eroding freedoms in Colorado.

The goal here was twofold- to continue our education as citizen activists. Secondly, to help our representatives hear about our “Six for Sixteen” agenda. (Six for Sixteen is AFP’s attempt to educate legislators about six very impactful issues for Coloradans. You can read about it here.  https://americansforprosperity.org/36932-2/

Among these six issues is one  that spoke to me. The idea of equalizing the playing field for charter schools is simply foundational to bettering education in Colorado. It’s astonishing to me that publicly funded charter schools do not get the same amount of per pupil funding that other government-run schools get. This is clearly a union sponsored stranglehold that must be broken. Ideally, funding would be attached to the student, and parents can make the best choice for their kids. Equalizing funding for charter schools is a good start.

Another issue on the ballot  for November is  a proposed  amendment to the Colorado Constitution known as ColoradoCare, or Amendment 69.

“ColoradoCare bares a lot of risks for our state. Our new campaign will help citizens everywhere get the facts on this proposal which, if passed, would force Coloradans into government run-healthcare, push Coloradans out of their current plans, double the state budget, hike taxes on Coloradans by at least $25 billion per year, impose a new 10 percent payroll tax, while risking European and Canadian-style rationing of care and long waiting lists for procedures.” http://amendment69co.com/

AFP is actively campaigning against this trainwreck, thank heaven. The Colorado Heath-OP collapsed last year (http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/10/16/largest-health-insurer-on-colorado-exchange-collapses/) leaving local taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars. Amendment 69 is an expansion of this disaster,  a looming juggernaut of ‘feel-good’ politics that simply won’t work.

AFP is me, an activist citizen concerned for Colorado. AFP is anyone who will not sit in our comfortable situations, content that we have ours. Join me if you like, to help stop this gradual erosion of our freedoms in this America, the most wonderful country on earth.

Much love,







The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, 2.0

I started my teaching career in the fall of 1986 in upstate New York as a ‘paraprofessional’ or ‘para’.  I worked with small groups of immigrants, small groups of second language learners, and individually with students who had very intense special needs. I earned the lofty sum of $5.25 an hour, and considered myself lucky to get this foot in the door in a quality school district.  Paras are an immensely helpful piece in the puzzle that is public education-they free up important time for the classroom teacher, and often provide the extra boost of attention that  children of color, poor children and second language learners so desperately need. As a newly licensed teacher, I was glad to get into a building with experienced, quality people.

Meet some of the children of Stein Elementary, Visitors.


Stein Elementary is one of a dozens of Jefferson County schools that are staggering under the weight of the de facto apartheid that is Jeffco.

Stein is located in an area of Jeffco considered very undesirable.  Urban blight is present near Stein, unemployment is higher, and poverty is endemic. The student population reflects that. Consider these descriptors of Stein:

Nine out of ten Stein children are not white. 

Eight out of ten children at Stein get a free, federally sponsored lunch. (That means they are classified as poor. )

For my international Visitors, free and reduced lunch families qualify for this benefit when the adults in the household earn around 11$/hour US. For example, a family of four that earns about 44,000$/year can apply for free lunches for the children. This assumes two earning adults. Not a bad program, in my opinion.)

Slightly more than HALF of Stein children do not speak English, or do not speak it well enough to succeed in school. 

When sixth graders graduate from Stein, three out of four do not have a grasp of science.

One out of two Stein graduates cannot perform math anywhere near grade level. 

Thankfully, writing scores are creeping up. Only four out of ten Stein graduates need extra help with writing after graduating Stein. 

Now, consider this, Visitors. Teaching is a very time-intensive profession. The best elementary teachers I know, and I know many, plan for as much ‘face time’ with children as possible. The best grade school teaching happens in small groups, or individual interactions. When that teacher actually bends down by a desk, actually reviews the project, critiques the writing, oversees the activity, that is where children make progress.

Paras extend the reach of a classroom teacher considerably. Paras are used by Stein, often in positions of reinforcing critical language concepts, which these limited English speakers so desperately need. Yet, Stein has a long, long way to go. With HALF of Stein’s population speaking little English, Stein can benefit from any available Jeffco resources.

Enter this man- Michael Blanton.


Blanton is an attorney, of the type my 95 year old dad would call an ‘ambulance chaser.’ He runs a firm that deals almost exclusively in personal injury cases. You’ve seen the type of firm, the kind that runs advertisements in the middle of the day, aimed at the recovering victim who hopes to wring as much money out of the insurance company as possible, and will do so, with Blanton’s help.

Blanton and McCord were part of a group that successfully forced this recall down the throat of Jeffco voters. A few days ago, we learned that cost Jefferson County voters about 225,000$ US.

Now, those of us tracking with this remember when McCord, an established liar, and Blanton, the attorney, said this through spokesperson Lynea Hanson.

“We ( McCord, Blanton and third partner, Tina Gurdikian) have been told there will not be additional costs for the recall if we are on the November ballot with the existing school board election,” Wendy McCord told Complete Colorado last July in a statement through the group’s media contact, Lynea Hansen.(http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2015/07/02/jeffco-recall-organizers-face-short-time-to-collect-signatures-or-big-expenses-to-district/)


Gracious. You just can’t make this stuff up. Two lawyers in this effort, blatantly, provably lying about this entire recall. It’s pretty easy to figure out that this is a surefire way for Blanton self-promote, and McCord has her own reasons for being so hateful.

Visitors, I’ve often said that when you want to make a difference in the world, it doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t matter what you say. It certainly doesn’t matter what you feel.

It only matters what you do.

Sit with that a minute.

It only matters what you do. This is what Blanton, McCord and Gurdikian did for the children of Stein.

They spent $225,000 of our tax dollars forcing this misguided recall. Experienced paraprofessionals cost the district about 23,000 a year.

TEN paraprofessionals could have plunged into the population of Stein, working with limited English speakers, implementing teachers’ science plans, checking and reviewing math work.

Thanks to my brother and his colleagues, experienced teachers now start around 40k$, with full benefits. FIVE experienced classroom teachers could have started at Stein, decreasing class size, applying expertise to limited English speakers, reviving a dimming interest in science. That alone would have likely changed the lives of Stein students for the better.


Not going to happen,Michael.


Stein will continue to go without, Tina and Wendy.

Few problems can be solved with more money, but some can. We certainly could have gotten a head start at Stein, we could have made the difference for hundreds of children. Instead Wendy, Tina and Michael made sure that the Jeffco Apartheid stays in place for several more years. THIS is what recall supporters voted in.















The Lying Mouthpiece of Jeffco Teacher’s Union: Meet Scott Kwasny

Readers, especially Jeffco visitors, I’m almost boring myself here. Honestly, this whole Jeffco debacle is such a relentless drumbeat of hate speech, deceit and disruption, I find myself running out of adjectives. Those of you who have been with me for a while, remember the Louisa stories I developed a while ago?

Louisa (who was me, of course) was a medieval warrior princess. She had lost her prince in a terrible battle to the death. (That was Chris, dying of cancer). She was burdened heavily with the responsibility of her community, largely of families and children. Louisa discovered, as time went by, that this work suited her. It was tremendously consequential, and only successful with the aid and succor of local villagers.

In short, Louisa and her village had to come together to prosper. Corny, but true. We, all of us, have to band together to stand in the gap for Jeffco’s disadvantaged kids.

Check out this guy:



Meet Scott Kwasny.

Kwasny is Jeffco Teacher’s Union hired gun. He was hired by Jeffco Teacher’s Union one month after my brother and his colleagues were elected in 2013. Prior to moving to Denver, Kwasny was a well-paid agitator for the American Federation of Teachers in Detroit.(NINETY THREE percent of Detroit kids can’t read well. Mission accomplished, Kwasny? http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/detroit-public-schools-93-not-proficient-reading-96-not-proficient)

For my international Visitors, there a two chief education-related labor unions in America. One, the NEA, or National Education Association, was the union I referenced in a previous column. It was one of three unions that pre-funded the recall election with hundreds of thousands of dollars. (This is what made  Wendy McCord, Tina Gurdikian, Terri Straut et al, liars, as they swore this was a parent-driven effort. )

American Federation of Teachers, or AFT, is the other big-dog player in the pro-Union scene in American education today. As of this year, AFT has over a million and a half members. They give millions of dollars to political causes, all of the funds coming from rank and file members. 95% of AFT donations are of a liberal, left-wing bent. AFT has publicly endorsed Obama, both Clintons and has given tens of millions of dollars to political causes. AFT has given far more than any private corporation in America. AFT, and Scott Kwasny, are the epitome of education politics in America today.

Someone I respect greatly once said “Know where someone sits, before he takes a stand.” So, we know this about Kwasny. A fairly young man, he worked for several years for hard-left union causes in AFT. Jeffco Teachers Union is a hard-left organization, therefore, when they lost to conservatives in 2013, you can assume that they would hire a hard liberal like Kwasny to bring Jeffco back into the union fold.

This is where it gets interesting, Visitors. Kwasny is very, very good at what he does. Mainly, because the man has no moral compass, and will say, and do, anything to get a win. Check this out- This is the beginning of a  Facebook conversation I had with Kwasny during the election season:

Scott Kwasny

  • If you think that you have fought for social justice and that helps you sleep at night than so be it… you are only ten years older than me. I am a hard working father and husband who has a very different belief system than you and your brother…for example – I would not kick a child out of my daycare because they had 2 mothers or 2 fathers. I spoke to a woman this past weekend who said that is exactly what you did. Keep on pretending, Victoria.

  • 10/26, 10:02pm


    Victoria Lierheimer

    Scott, I will get on you every single time you post another lie like the ones you just said. I have never, not one single time, ever discriminated against a gay couple, and I will give you names of gay folks in this town who will attest to that. You are a liar of the worst sort, one in a position of influence and power, and I have dedicated my life to protecting innocents against people like you.

    Consider this, Visitors.  I make a point of wide-open inclusivity in my non-denominational Christian school, even to the point of irritating my more conservative friends. Why? Because I’m convinced it’s what Jesus would do. These days, we have family structures of all kinds. Young, old, May-December, divorced, not married, gay, straight and single, straight and living together-gracious, I have to write it all down or I get lost. It’s important to me, again, as I’m certain I’m pleasing God by doing so. Incoming family structure is not important at EA. How that child is parented, that’s the only important thing.

    Irrelevant to Kwasny. He makes it up as he goes along.

    Here’s another:

    Scott Kwasny 10/6 9:27 pm 

    John Newkirk is nothing but a gold plated trust fund baby who’s never done anything by himself, only slid along the coattails of his father, a well-respected man in the community. He doesn’t know anything about Jeffco kids, he’s never had to work a day in his life! Victoria Lierheimer, John Newkirk’s sister, isn’t even a teacher! She’s the ‘principal’ of a failed religious academy. #standup4kids

    10/6, 9:38 pm

    Scott Kwasny Actually, let’s deal with this here, you lying coward. As a union employee and hack yourself, you now have access to my teaching license? My 28 years of licensed teaching preschool, kindergarten, grade school, and middle school English? In both public and private settings? What, you don’t like school choice? Addressing the needs of languishing schools like Alameda? Ali Lasell, Brad Rupert, Amanda Stevens, Ron Mitchell, this is who you have fighting your battles for you.         Readers, remember these names, remember Scott Kwasny as an excellent, gold-plated example of the type of a lying union employee who doesn’t give a plugged nickel about the well being of your children, or the state of Jeffco Schools, and instead wants to shove his union agenda down your throat. #norecall#standuptounionbullies (that’s you, Scott Kwasny)


    Brrrr.  Absolutely chilling. Most of you know that I’m studying for a masters degree in Criminology, with an emphasis in pathopsychology.  I’ve always been interested in questions of behavioral deviance, and my course of study could not have been better timed. Kwasny, as you can see, is a sterling example of the hired-gun henchman who will discard all morality, engage in all kinds of deviance, all in the name of politics.

    As the election continued, all kinds of deviant and criminal behavior surfaced. I uncovered five artificial FB identities, three fake twitter accounts, and at least two stolen identities, all surfaced on line in order to spread slander and hatespeech in the name of this successful recall.

    Kwasny and his crowd won this round. One can only hope that the forces for good will win the next one.






The Damaging Exploitation Of Jeffco Children

Check this out, Visitors.


Braeden Adams, 7, reacts to the recall of three school board members during a watch party Tuesday, November 3.Photo by Chancey Bush/ Photo Editor/ Evergreen Newspapers


When I first saw this image in our local paper, I was so disgusted I  put it out of my mind completely. Surely, this was an aberration. Surely, Braeden Adam’s parents didn’t mean to exploit their child, sell his image, and use him as a poster boy for this hate-filled, deceitful recall.

Boy, was I wrong. You can buy Braeden’s image here.


For 17$ you can get a copy of Braeden nearly vibrating with the hatred his parents and other adults filled him with. For the same price, you can look at this image of innocent children dragging their little red wagons full of petitions to get the three deceit-filled issues onto the ballot.


You can also look at white, affluent, Jeffco teens, ALL of whom received prorecall propaganda IN the classroom, courtesy of the teaching staff of Jefferson County Public Schools. ALL of the information Jeffco teachers disseminated to these kids, (unethically and immorally, I might add) turned out to be false.



Visitors, I find issues like this to be tremendously discouraging. Most of you know that I’ve been a teacher and early childhood specialist my entire career. (30 years this spring! Astonishing.) I have spent those decades endeavoring to do my part to help make a generation of decent human beings. Generally, I’ve been successful.

The mind of a young child is a malleable thing. Most of you know I run an early childhood facility, and frankly, the kids in my school are lucky to have us. I have been studying children my whole adult life, and I clearly understand that the influence you have over a young child is permanent. So does my staff, and we never, ever influence a child in a negative way.

Do you love a particular food? Likely, your child will too. Do you find a particular sight or smell comforting? So will your child. Do you have an affinity for dogs, but can’t stand cats? Your child will have the same preference. (But hey, at least that one is reasonable.)

More importantly, do you carry around prejudice? Likely, so will your child. Do you hate someone? Sit with that for a minute.

Do you hate someone? Were you part of the crowd that cheered when my brother endured death threats? Were you part of the crowd inspired by Wendy McCord’s vicious lies?  Are you part of the crowd that looks at the plight of disadvantaged Jeffco kids and says ‘Meh’?

Discouraging. More than I can say. Visitors, think with me here. Edmund Burke said “Those who don’t know history are….. what?”
imgres-4images-4 unnamed-3


“Doomed to repeat it.” That’s what.


With great sadness,



The Endless Lies Of Wendy McCord

Jeffco School Board Recall Petitions Submitted

Tina Blackmore Gurdikian and Wendy McCord at today’s (7/28/2015) rally for submission of petitions in the Jeffco School Board Recall campaign.

Visitors, I have had it. Simply up to HERE. Wendy McCord and the bottom feeders at her organization Jeffco United were forced by a judge to disclose their donor list on Christmas Eve.  McCord, you remember, was the lying, hatemongering  spearhead of the recent successful recall.  McCord’s noise was characterized by treating  ‘union’ as a dirty word. This is a grass roots effort! A coalition of angry mommies! The donor lists show a vastly different story. This was, from beginning to end, a battle funded by the educational establishment as maintained by national and state teachers’ unions.

Most of you who have been with me since Chris died, know that I have an overdeveloped sense of justice. Chris would kid me about this all the time.

“You can’t fix everything, honey.”

“You are not the police officer for the world.”

“Sure, you’re right, they’re wrong, what of it?”

Often, he’d be right. I can’t fix everything. Unfairness and injustice abound in the world. The weak get overtaken all the time. Powerful people run roughshod over the powerless, poor folks get the shaft, people of color get discriminated against and children get neglected. As Christians, we are promised that trouble will always be with us.

So, what to do?

Seriously, I’d ask him. What to do? Ignore all of this around us? Be happy that we have made our way to an affluent white enclave like Evergreen, and be thankful that hey, at least we have ours? We’re OK? Everyone else be damned?

Hmm. Let’s look at the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 verse 40 for a minute.


THIS is why I fight. This cause is mine. I have been an advocate for children my entire professional life, and this verse contains the social justice imperative which cannot be ignored.

When I got my first teaching license in 1986, I was pretty naive. I thought that anyone in the profession was there for the good of our students. I honestly thought that everyone there was like me. Bright enough, interested, engaged, and convinced that some skill and intentionality would be rewarded with results in the classroom. Wages in the eighties were abysmal, so we weren’t in it for the money, obviously.

Fast forward to current day. Wages are actually competitive now, and compared to some fields for new grads, teachers actually do pretty well. We do get more than 14 weeks vacation, and PERA, or the Public Employee’s Retirement Account, actually does much, much better than Social Security. Add that to a powerful union that makes firing an incompetent nigh on impossible, and you’ve got a pretty cushy berth for a contracted Jeffco teacher.

Rewind to two years ago. A set of conservative board members which included my brother, John Newkirk, was targeted by a group called “Jeffco United”. Jeffco United was organized by lawyer Wendy McCord, pictured above. Wendy is an Evergreen local, which means she has a household income larger than most Jeffco families, by about 50%. (It’s a demographic fact that Evergreen denizens make more. Neither good nor bad, just a fact.)

Wendy went on a lawless, deceitful, and ultimately very successful jag to unseat the conservative board majority.

Jeffco United received 99.9 percent of it’s funding from the three teacher’s unions in Colorado.


99.9 percent, Visitors. Over a quarter of a million bucks, and this from the ladies who SWEAR this was a ‘grassroots effort’. An effort backed by citizens. Liars, through and through.

Visitors, this is the point where my verbosity gets the better of me. I am sorely tempted to pour out pages of statistics like these:

*Alameda High School, once run by Ron Mitchell, is a school of color. More than eight out of ten Alameda kids are not white. The same number of kids fall UNDER the poverty line. NINE out of TEN of Alameda grads can’t do math on an tenth grade level. This started during the ten years Ron Mitchell ran Alameda. Ron Mitchell is now Jeffco Board of Education president. This is just so bad as to be unbelievable.

*HALF of Jeffco kids are not at grade level for reading. HALF.

*ONE THIRD of Jeffco kids who go to college need remedial work. ONE THIRD.

The list goes on, and on, and on.

Our schools are broken. Wendy McCord successsfully campaigned that they stay that way.

(Can you imagine the HELL that would break lose if that kind of nonsense happened in Evergreen? I can tell you what would happen. All of the white soccer moms up here would jump in their late model SUVs and go looking for blood. )

Wendy McCord did an excellent job of orchestrating the chorus of lies, damned lies, and outright endless hatemongering. Check these out.


Uh huh. With 265,000 dollars coming from the unions, and what, 3 grand coming from your ‘coalition’.

McCord-Union-1 (1)

This one is particularly staggering. If you inspect the donation records that McCord was FORCED to disclose, you can see the 265k$ was there when this post was made. Nowhere near six figures, Wendy?  Lie much?

And my favorite. She posted this after some imagined slight from John.


From who, Wendy? You? While you were out there peddling the oppressive, sickening tales that Jeffco is just fine? Your destruction has set us back decades, and this truly makes me sick.

Well, visitors, I’m just about at my limit. For our next column, we’ll explore more destructive perfidy of organizations like Jeffco School Board Watch.

Until next time.

Warm regards,




The Overt Racism of Jeffco Recall Supporters

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I just had an interesting experience with a recent Alameda High School graduate. I had to take my car into the dealership, gone are the days where dealing with car keys involved a simple trip to the hardware store. I was directed to the parts desk, where an attractive young Latino man smiled at me.

“I was directed here because I need a new battery in my key fob. Can you help?”

“Sure!” he said pleasantly. He took my key and disappeared behind desk. A few minutes later he bustled out and said-

“Take this to your car and try it out. If it doesn’t work, we’ll go from there.”

I hustled out to my car, and the thing started right up, low battery woes are gone!

I brought the key back to the young man, and prepared to pay.

“OK, that’s eight dollars and thirty five cents. ”

I was delighted! I know nothing about cars, and a small car bill is a pleasant surprise. I handed the young man a ten dollar bill and four dimes. He looked at it, and scowled for a minute. He hemmed and hawed, then disappeared in the back again.

Oh, dear, I thought. He can’t possibly be struggling about making change. Say it isn’t so. He came back through the door to the back, beaming.

“OK, here we are! Change of a dollar sixty five. ”

Oh, goodness. I sighed inwardly and asked him-

“Are you, by any chance, a recent Jefferson County graduate?”

“Sure am! I went to Alameda High School! ” Oh dear. He handed me a dollar sixty five in change. Gracious. I put on my friendly old lady math teacher mien and smiled back.

“Look, hon, I owe you  8.35, right? I gave you 10.40. There is two dollars difference between eight and ten. So you give me two dollars. There is a nickel between 35 cents and 40 cents, right? So now, give me a nickel. Two dollars and a nickel back, make sense?”

The kid slapped his forehead and said  “Oh! Right! Brain fart! Sorry!”

Sigh. Well, that’s instructive.  Friends, those of you who have been with me for a while know that education issues, especially to kids who present unique challenges, are very important to me. I’ve been a teacher since I graduated in 1986, and challenging kids are fascinating.

My brother, John Newkirk, shares the same desire for an excellent education for all, which was why he was elected to the Jeffco School Board two years ago.

When he and the other two members of the conservative majority were ousted last week, some really ugly facts about the typical pro-recall voter began to surface. (A “pro” vote meant that you voted to replace the current conservative majority with the liberal, union-backed candidates).

Outright lies, lack of respect for law and order, and teachers advocating for the union point of view in the classroom dominate the list of ugly things that marked the race.  But there is a very real, very profound racism running through this election that I would like us to visit.

Consider Alameda High School. Jefferson county is huge, at 85 thousand students it is, I believe, the largest district in the state, and thirteenth in the nation. The demographics of Jeffco are all over the map, from white affluent mountain dwellers, to racially diverse populations in the Alameda articulation area. Currently, Alameda HS has about 850 students, grades 9-12. Eighty three percent of Alameda students are not white. Eight out of ten of these kids qualify for free or reduced lunch, which means they’re poor. NINE out of ten graduating seniors cannot do math on an eighth grade level. Nine out of ten. Sit with that for a minute, friends, and build a mental profile of a typical Alameda graduate.

Much like my parts helper, an Alameda graduate is not white. He likely was raised in poverty, and got substandard instruction during his stay at Alameda. She doesn’t have the money to go to college, or even trade school.  Instead, he got shunted aside, trapped in a poorly-performing school that the white kids can avoid. She depended upon Jeffco to provide an exceptional education, and Jeffco failed her miserably.

Friends, the conservative majority addressed this issue for the first time, ever. The conservative majority diverted resources to improve reading and math instruction at Alameda, and even changed curricula, all of which are beginning to show improvements for the students at that, and other racially diverse schools.

Enter the Jefferson County Education Association, or the Jeffco Teacher’s union, as we call it here. One of the candidates that was vetted and inserted by the union was Ron Mitchell. Ron is a thirty year veteran of Jeffco, starting as a teacher, going for two stints as a principal, and then retiring ten years ago due to health reasons.

Who ran Alameda for ten years? Ron Mitchell. Who is responsible for not meeting the special challenges of a diverse population? Ron Mitchell. Who disengaged from his position enough to let Alameda become a talking point for poorly performing schools? Ron Mitchell. Who did the Jeffco voters mistakenly think is more competent than the ousted majority? Ron Mitchell.

Who is now in charge of a billion dollar budget, very little of which supports the racially and linguistically diverse student? Ron Mitchell.

Well. You might ask, “I voted for the recall. I couldn’t stand the noise. How on earth does that make me racist?”

Friends, it makes you racist because ignorance of profound inequality is no excuse. If you have any sense of social justice, you have a responsibility to address these nagging social problems, like the failure of Alameda High. Your vote is how you do that, and you voted to keep Alameda the way it is.  You voted to keep instruction substandard. You voted for an incompetent administrator in Ron Mitchell and his union-supported colleagues; you voted for a return to the status quo. You voted to continue to produce class after graduating class of Alameda kids who can’t make change. You voted to keep an underclass from getting the tools to make a better life. You voted for yourself, and not for these kids who depend on an education to improve their circumstances.

That makes you racist. Please, reconsider in 2017.

With respect,