My Hopes for the Future

Shortly before going to press, a newspaper asked me to provide some words expressing my hopes for the incoming class of K-12 students, that is, America’s future Class of 2028.  By the time I got home and slipped my boots off, I’d scribbled down these lines: Here’s hoping that you’ll go through life and never stop inquiring Here’s hoping that you’ll face life’s knocks with grit that’s unexpiring Here’s hoping you’ll appreciate your public Education And the sacrifices that were made to bring about this Nation Here’s hoping that your Freedom stays unfettered and unbounded And that you’ll leave the place a little better than you found it John J. Newkirk Jefferson County Board of Education Fall...

Keep Moving Forward

“Don’t fix what doesn’t need fixing!” “Jeffco is a well-oiled machine!” “Our schools are brilliant, not broken!” I am very proud of my Jeffco diploma, yet when I hear statements like these I can’t help but think of the thousands of Jeffco students over the past 13 years who’ve been unprepared for college or career – and those who’ve received no diploma at all.  For too many years achievement has declined for too many students.  We must aim higher than this. Two years ago – the week I took my oath of office – marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  It struck me then, as it does today, that each of us would do well to channel our inner Abraham Lincolns during this...

What We’ve Accomplished So Far

It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. ~President Harry S. Truman Promises made, promises kept.  And with due respect to Mr. Truman, the recall effort now obliges us to give credit where credit is due. Ms. Williams, Mr. Witt, and I were elected with promises of Accountability, Choice, Transparency, and Security.  In the past two years: We supported efforts to decrease burdensome testing The controversial InBloom data mining initiative has been scrapped, resulting in greater data security for all Jeffco students Each child is now funded equally, regardless of which public school he or she chooses to attend We’ve taken bold action on tough, long-neglected issues We’ve established measurable goals to increase...

Why did I run for the Board of Education?

Why would anyone seek a four-year, unpaid, contentious public service position where at any given moment someone is upset with you?  Let’s begin with a little background: My Jeffco education prepared me for a wide variety of life options and I’m very grateful for this.  Over the past decade, however, things shifted in a way that had me concerned about the District’s direction and what this means for the next generation.  This shift has been both academic and cultural. Academic Issues Over 53% of recent Jeffco graduates were rated “Not Ready” for college and career in basic math, science, and reading skills.  In math, for example, the average Jeffco student has experienced decreased proficiency with each year in the system: Yes, this...

My History in Jefferson County

My family came to Jefferson County in 1967 when I was five years old. I attended Wilmot Elementary School, Evergreen Junior High School, and graduated from Evergreen High. After earning an engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, I returned to Jefferson County and started Colorado Computer Associates, Inc.   I was also the president of Colorado Biomedical, Inc. where I designed and manufactured electrosurgical instruments and employed over a dozen Jeffco residents. I’ve been a member of the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, as well as served on the board of the Evergreen Chorale, the Colorado Association of Funders, and was appointed by the Speaker of the House to the Commission on Judicial Performance (1st Judicial District). My...