The Education Action Network

Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools


GPS has had a new board in place – since January – and certain people are NOT going to take it any longer! No, they’re circulating recall petitions at libraries and feigning outrage to the media because they really don’t like some board members. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

All of this recall mania is directed at GPS Board President Staci Burk and two newly elected members, Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin. There’s another fairly new board member, Jill Humpherys, who was elected and seated in November 2012 as a replacement member for a two-year term. No one is demanding that Jilly be recalled, whether or not they like her or her votes. No one is demanding that Lily Tram, reelected for another term, be recalled, whether or not they like her votes. No, this is all about a segment of the community that wants a do-over of the last election, and they’ll do just about anything to get a second bite at that apple.

Would it surprise you to know that the forces of evil the folks behind the demands for recalling board members are trying to hide? Yep, they’re trying to stir up all kinds of controversy so a ‘white knight’ can ride in and rescue Gilbert Public Schools by running as a candidate once the recall election is in place. They have set up Facebook pages and secret communities to coordinate their tactics. They complain about Westie as often as possible, which has inspired more, more and more birdies to chirp and share information. Hurray!

We saw some of the outrageous email messages circulated by Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted, courtesy of none other than Stephanie Newitt, someone who once had a great deal of credibility in the community. We supported and admired Stephanie Newitt’s efforts, and we did what little we could tohighlight the obvious board and administration opposition to gifted... in Gilbert Public Schools in the past. Assistant Superintendent Barb VeNard dragged her heels for so long, at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, theprevious board nixed a proposal for a self-contained gifted classroom at Pioneer Elementary School. Click the link - we feature video of the discussion and a short transcript. The previous board, led by E.J. Anderson, tossed this hot potato back to the GPS administration, who decided GPS couldn’t afford it. And it was too late to do it. And waaahhhh! Lily Tram voted nay.

In February 2013, we pointed out the ridiculousness of Barb VeNard’s new proposal for regional gifted centers in GPS. If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with b*llsh*t, right Barb? (No, Westie didn’t make that up, W.C. Fields did.) We supported gifted education and we were disgusted dismayed that GPS would spend so much money on non-educational priorities, but no....

The good news is that this NEW governing board approved a self-contained gifted center, starting in 2013-2014, with plans to expand and plenty of time to plan. You won’t believe, though, what gifted parents are doing behind the curtain.*  Stephanie Newitt sullied the name of the non-profit, non-partisan organization Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted in her zeal to get her buddies E. J. Anderson and Jill Humpherys elected to the GPS governing board  in 2012.  Stephanie Newitt headed up their campaigns.  E.J. really, REALLY wanted to be reelected. E.J. failed, and she’s bitter, bitter, bitter. So is Blake Sacha. When he failed in 2010, Blake Sacha said, “The voters get what they deserve. That was their choice.” Classy guy. He’s now part of the group that sulks and stalks at board meetings and says mean things and claps like trained seals every time JiLily says something they like. (“Override!”) No, the pandering isn’t obvious at all. Jilly, though, jumped the shark with her comment (or was it just an insinuation? we forget) that board members who didn’t vote with her would deserve what they got in the parking lot. Classy gal.

Apparently a light bulb went off in someone’s head … “Let’s disparage the new board, then set up a recall election so E.J. can save us!” That’s the best explanation we can figure. Now, if Westie can figure that out, it isn’t such a big secret, is it? Here’s another Blinding Flash of the Obvious: there are only a few people pushing this initiative, and they’re all well known to the community by whatever name they’re using in their feeble delusions ofgrandeur generating a groundswell. Citizens are painfully aware that their temper tantrum will be expensive:“Maricopa County election specialist Hope Olguin said in an e-mail to The Republic that GPS would have to pay from more than $225,000 to close to $281...

The latest temper tantrum consisted of emails from Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted attacking three board members and honing in on Julie Smith, because Julie did not support the curriculum Barb VeNard chose for the new gifted program. It gets worse: they disparaged Julie’s children, as other groups of mean girls have done.

She [Julie Smith] does not understand the emotional intensity that gifted children bring to DEBATE. At minute 51 Mrs. Smith states that she does not believe that “it is my right to impose my opinion on others” yet this is what she is doing my micro-managing curriculum options. Mrs. Smith does not have children who have been identified as gifted.  None of her children have participated in GPS ALP.  She has never reached out to GSG leadership in order to better understand the cognitive and emotional needs of gifted students.

… Contact parents at your schools and let them know that the academic needs of gifted students are being jeopardized by the majority of this school board:  Mrs. Smith, Mr. Colvin and Mrs. Burk.

Response: It is extremely worrisome to me and my husband that this is the norm for our Governing Board.

[Keyboard: Someone believes in their own superiority! It should be "my husband and me."]

Response: There has been talk of a recall for Burk, Colvin, and Smith. We need around 10,800 to recall.Anyone interested in helping collect signatures, let me know… It is so disappointing when ignorance and agendas block our childrens’ [sic] success.

[Keyboard: No, "children" is already plural. Some people just don't understand apostrophes or plural words that don't end in S. Wait! Could that be "ignorance"?]

Is this the way advocates repay the board that approved a self-contained gifted program when the previous board would not? Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s the way GPS rolls. Thank goodness we’re in the final countdown before a new superintendent takes over!

Back to how things have changed within a once-proud organization. Back in 2012, Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted wrote, “GSG, being a non-profit organization, cannot endorse a particular candidate; therefore, we have collected the statements below, including candidate websites when possible, for your education.” This is what Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted circulated as Julie Smith’s platform:

Overall, I do not think GPS is adequately addressing the needs of the gifted community. What I think needs to be addressed are:
- More professional development for teachers on gifted students
- More gifted endorsed teachers
- Options for pre-school through 3rd grade gifted
- A differentiated learning plan to address the spectrum of gifted students
- The twice exceptional students are forced to choose their special need or giftedness. These students must be incorporated into the gifted program in addition to meeting the student’s other needs!
- The gifted program must maintain a standard and only accept the students who have met a minimal test score. The highly motivated and intelligent child should not be mixed in a class with the gifted child since their learning styles and needs are very different.
I believe GPS needs to seriously consider and pursue a gifted school. Our district has lost too many gifted students to surrounding districts and charter schools.

 What part of her promise has Julie Smith abandoned? The answer is nothing. She is doing what she said she would do.

Just like Daryl Colvin, whose platform (also reported by Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted) included:

The district must be cautious not to water down these programs by casting the net too widely. It is important they do not mix different programs that do not function well together. A self-contained gifted program may prove necessary.

Just like Staci Burk. When Staci Burk was elected to the GPS Governing Board, this is what the local newspaper had to say about her expected infl...:

Expected to bring her fiscal conservatism to the board, as well as advocacy for special education. Has warned that if her expectations disrupt the status quo “then so be it.” She said she wants to avoid any financial cuts to the classroom by finding other ways to save. Hopes to improve board responsiveness to parents’ concerns and wants to increase district transparency by having more information on the district website and video-streaming board meetings online.

Seriously, guys, you couldn’t win seats on the board. Wait til next time. It’s only two years, and six months of that have already gone by. Plan a campaign worthy of winning. This recall stuff is truly silly, and you will not win friends and influence people. See, that’s the problem – you failed to win friends and influence people LAST TIME. Voters saw what you had to offer and said, “No, thanks.” They were polite. You should remember that and try to be polite, too.


* Big Fat Asterisk: Did “behind the curtain” lead you to expect X-rated dots to connect, knowing how much we’ve posted about  Brian Yee’s sexcapades? As far as we know, there’s no connection between Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted and the Loose Zipper Brigade. We believe, however, that people who received the venomous emails we excerpted above will be as disappointed as we are in what was once a fine organization, now led by a formerly respected advocate. Think this political activism might be problematic for a non-profit organization???

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Replies to This Discussion

I'm tired of the BIG BABIES tantrums, grow-up, or you won't be allowed to play  in the sandbox.  Julie, Staci, Daryl, you are HEROES. 

Yes, thanks for your service Staci, Daryl and Julie!


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