Rick Akin

Steamboat Springs

Rick Akin 3 weeks ago on Latest campaign finance report shows jump in donations to anti-bond group

This is especially important since a Front Range PAC has spent thousands of dollars on print and radio ads for Ms. Dover and Ms Huron, the union candidates, with no disclosure of contributors. The PAC is supposedly independent of the candidates but it is sure odd that the print ads include posed pictures of the candidates with children. Some transparency.


Rick Akin 3 weeks, 4 days ago on Steamboat Springs Education Association: Informed, not reformed

You would think that educators would do some research before making allegations. This letter says that Leadership Program of the Rockies is funded by State Policy Network. This is false, which can be verified through IRS forms 990 that are filed by both entities and are readily available online. This kind of behavior is alarming.


Rick Akin 3 weeks, 5 days ago on Deirdre Boyd: Set record straight

Ok, here is some simple math. There are 171 teachers in the Steamboat school system. The Colorado campaign finance statute provides that political committees and small donor committees must disclose "the name and address of each person who has contributed twenty dollars or more." The CEA small donor committee contributing to the campaigns of Ms. Dover and Ms. Huron did not disclose the names or addresses of any individual donors, but donated a total of $3500 to the 2 campaigns. Even if every one of the 171 local teachers donated the maximum amount to the small donor committee, it is not mathematically possible for the donations to the small donor committee to have fully funded its donations to the campaigns from local teacher donations.

So, it is a mathematical certainty that one of two things is true—either A. Ms. Boyd’s claim is false or B. the CEA’s small donor committee is breaking the law.

So, which is it?


Rick Akin 4 weeks, 1 day ago on Division emerges among candidates in Steamboat school board race

Fair enough, Scott, but my point was that Ms. Jespersen is just wrong when she complains of school boards that "interfere with curriculum decisions." It is the school board's job to make curriculum decisions. Also, Jeffco took no action regarding the AP History curriculum at all, so that is hardly anything like interference. Ms. Jespersen's complaint can only be based on one comment made by one board member at one meeting. This is no basis for the complaint she makes, nor does it have any relevance to the Steamboat election. It is merely the creation of a boogeyman.

I have made no attempt to study the actual AP History curriculum itself, but I do know there was a lot of squawking about it from many sources (the Oklahoma legislature had taken up legislation to outlaw its teaching, for example) and I have not heard any further squawking after the College Board changed the criteria.

I think we all know that the real complaint that the state teachers union has with Jefferson and Douglas Counties is performance based pay.


Rick Akin 4 weeks, 1 day ago on Division emerges among candidates in Steamboat school board race

Actions in Jefferson and Douglas Counties are not very relevant to Steamboat Springs since those large suburban districts are about as different from Steamboat as they can be, but, nevertheless, it is disturbing when folks like Ms. Jesperen throw out falsehoods as fact.

--She says: “conservative school boards interfere with curriculum decisions.” Presumably she is talking about AP History. Here is the fact—Jeffco never took any action on AP History. No, instead, the College Board changed the criteria for AP History, which seems to have satisfied everyone. http://kidsarefirst.org/diverse-groups-see-balance-restored-college-boards-ap-u-s-history-revision/) What the Jeffco school board did do is reorganize existing curriculum review groups in the district to include students, teachers, and community members. (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26648641/jeffco-school-board-meet-thursday-discuss-controversial-proposal ) Also, here is what the Constitution of Colorado says about who sets curriculum:

“The general assembly shall, by law, provide for organization of school districts of convenient size, in each of which shall be established a board of education, to consist of three or more directors to be elected by the qualified electors of the district. Said directors shall have control of instruction in the public schools of their respective districts.”

So, while it is fair to disagree with what a school board does with curriculum, setting that curriculum is very clearly the board’s responsibility.

--Ms. Jespersen also says that the Douglas County and Jeffco school boards have been “reducing teacher compensation.” This is patently false. In Jeffco, average teacher compensation has grown by 7.5% over the past two years. (http://www.jeffcoobserver.com/volume-3-issue-2/2015/8/27/compensation-increases-average-75-over-the-last-two-years) In Douglas County for each of the past 3 years, the average annual compensation increase was about 3%. (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25777693/douglas-county-school-employees-get-raises-3-percent )


Rick Akin 1 month ago on Division emerges among candidates in Steamboat school board race

Scott, you would have no way of knowing this because I don’t think it was reported anywhere, but at the Rotary Club forum this week, the candidates were asked point-blank if they supported the bond issue. Anne Lowe’s response was, “You have asked a direct question and I will give you a direct answer. I voted against it.”


Rick Akin 1 month ago on Division emerges among candidates in Steamboat school board race

Thank you for noticing, Justin. My wife and I did receive the second annual Leasers in Action Award in 2013.

I do want to take issue with you on one point, however. Neither I, nor anyone else I am aware of, has made any negative comment about teachers. As is the case with most folks, outstanding teachers have made some of the greatest positive impact in my life. My oldest brother is now retired as a teacher. He taught high school science all his adult life.

It is the teachers union, their attempt to take over the school board and their utter lack of transparency that is at issue here. The union obviously wants to have complete control of the education system, and that is what I object to.

Back to the Leadership Program of the Rockies, I have been most amused by the uninformed commentary in this blog. LPR is an annual, nine-month training program focusing on founding principles of the country, economics (principally Austrian School), current policy issues, and leadership skills. Its participants are selected in a competitive application process and generally include conservatives, libertarians, objectivists, and classical liberals. Its participants have a lot of different views on a lot of different subjects. If you actually read the webpage linked by Anne Barounos above, you will see LPR’s one guiding principle: “LPR graduates choose liberty.” Despite the demonization employed above, this does not sound too scary to me.


Rick Akin 1 month ago on Division emerges among candidates in Steamboat school board race

This article strikes me as pretty well done. The one issue is the statement "Union members each donated $41 on top of regular CEA dues to be used for the small donor committee, Harris said." I strongly doubt this is correct because the PAC that received this money and made the donations did not list its donors. Under Colorado statutes, a PAC must disclose "the name and address of each person who has contributed twenty dollars or more." At least it is clear now that the state teachers union is funding Ms. Dover and Ms. Huron, almost exclusively, but the suggestion that it is local money is either inaccurate or the PAC is in pretty serious violation of the law.


Rick Akin 1 month, 1 week ago on Michelle Dover: Candidate promises to protect public education

I could not agree more with the principles that Ms. Dover lays out:

• Keeping politics out of the School Board;

• Local Control;

• Transparency.

Actions, however, speak louder than words. Let’s look at Ms. Dover’s campaign:

• Politics—All of her radio ads are paid for by a political action committee and about 76% of the contributions to her campaign are from a PAC;

• Local control—The two PACs that are financing Ms. Dover’s campaign are not local. They are from the Front Range and at least the one that has contributed to her campaign is run by the state teachers’ union.

• Transparency – It is impossible to determine who has contributed to these two PACs and despite my repeated calls for some explanation, Ms. Dover has refused to do so. Given the magnitude of this PAC financing from outside our area, it seems to me that some explanation is required.

It is easy to say you stand for particular principles, but it is another thing to live by them.

I am not suggesting in the least that Ms. Dover is a bad person or anything other than an exemplary citizen. Quite the contrary. Congratulations to Ms. Dover for having the courage to run for public office.

What we have here is a substantial difference of opinion. I just think that it is bad policy to have the state teacher’s union control our local school board. My dad served on the local school board where I grew up for at least a decade. I understand the value of independence in the school board because at the end of the day, when it comes to the local education system, the buck stops with the school board.