Cooperation: A Sign of Health

When people come together for a purpose, structures form. Like a body needs a backbone and a house needs a frame, organizations need the support of shared policies and practices.

Cooperation is essential to the health of these structures in Jeffco Public Schools.

Students and schools don’t exist to serve school board agendas, but the other way around. The Jeffco school board exists to serve 86,000 students–whose goals and needs are as diverse and numerous as they are.

I will be uncompromising in my expectation that all Jeffco schools will work to prepare each and every student for success in whatever path they choose. However, I know my ability to cooperate and collaborate–and to compromise–is integral to supporting all students.

I will consider the input of community members in decision-making, and I will preserve the avenues through which it is offered, like public comment, committees, and surveys.

I will respect the voices of our classified staff, administrator, and educator associations.

I am committed to working with all stakeholder groups–educators, support staff, leadership, families, students, and community members. Their voices and input are the roots which nourish our schools. Without them we weaken and wither.

During my four years as chair and co-chair of my children’s elementary school’s Accountability team, I saw firsthand the importance of fostering a community’s ability to cooperate. Our success requires all stakeholders’ participation. All voices deserve respect; their input must be pursued. Disagreements are certain. Sometimes the temptation can be to control conversations or diminish stakeholder voices. Unilateral decision-making seems so much easier. In truth, partnering with stakeholders creates sustainability and durability, whereas acting unilaterally creates conflict. Inflexible leadership leads to brittle, breakable outcomes at best. Jeffco students deserve better.

Just as a growth mindset is important for students’ success, our efforts on their behalf must be dynamic and improving–not fixed. In that sense, the work of a school board is not to land on the right answer once and for all, but to have the right kinds of conversations. Through respectful debate, we can foster policies and practices that value stakeholders’ voices and build enduring structures for all students’ success.

The politics swirling around education must not be allowed to petrify or polarize our work as a school board. Cooperation, compromise, and an unwavering focus on the success of all students can protect us as an institution so that our efforts serve students rather than use them in service to other agendas.

We are better and stronger together than we ever could be alone.

Just ask Big Bird (click below):

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